Toward the end of his administration, President Dwight Eisenhower appointed a Joint Study Group to examine the organizational and management structure of U.S. foreign intelligence. Its foremost concern was military intelligence coordination. The final report advanced the concept of a new intelligence organization which would act as the primary point of contact for the military intelligence community—a defense intelligence community, a defense intelligence agency.
In January 1961, President John F. Kennedy and his Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, took an immediate interest in the concept of an agency which would extensively integrate the military intelligence efforts of all Department of Defense elements. They had become responsible for national security in the era of Khrushchev, the U-2 crisis, a deteriorating situation in Southeast Asia, and the Bay of Pigs.
In August 1961, the Department of Defense established the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). DIA was responsible to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) for the integration of Department of Defense intelligence and counterintelligence training programs, and career development of intelligence personnel. The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) saw the logic and economy of consolidating duplicative strategic intelligence schools, and on 27 February 1962, issued a memorandum to establish the Defense Intelligence School.
The Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency was required to develop a plan for the Defense Intelligence School with a curriculum based on intelligence courses offered at the Naval Intelligence School and the Army Strategic Intelligence School. The Defense Intelligence School would be created by Department of Defense Directive 5105.25, establishing the school as a professional educational institution attached to DIA. Its mission was to enhance the preparation of selected military officers and key DoD civilian personnel for important command, staff and policy-making positions in the national and international security structure; prepare DoD military and civilian personnel for duty in the military attaché system; and assist the broad career development of Department of Defense military and civilian personnel assigned to intelligence functions.
The first class graduated in June 1963. In 1968, a Board of Visitors was formally authorized and recommended that the School reach out to civilian employees of the intelligence community, and that highly qualified civilian faculty should also be hired. And, in the interest of academic accreditation, authority to grant a master’s degree in intelligence should be sought. By 1973, the Director of DIA supported these recommendations approved the degree program concept, and on 10 September 1973, the pilot program for the proposed Master of Science of Strategic Intelligence (MSSI) degree began. In October 1980, Public Law 96-450 formally authorized the School to award the MSSI degree. It was passed by both houses of the Congress and signed by President Jimmy Carter.
Regional accreditation was obtained in 1983 at which time the School was re-chartered and renamed the Defense Intelligence College. It relocated to the new Defense Intelligence Analysis Center on Bolling Air Force Base in 1984. With the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s and the general desire of the country in the early 1990s to realize a “peace dividend,” budgetary cutbacks and reductions in force were made, not only in the Department of Defense but in the Intelligence Community as a whole. A major impact of these cutbacks in the 1990s was a transformation of the College into an institution that was devoted solely to intelligence education and research, with all training courses, to include attaché training, shifted elsewhere in DIA.
In 1993, the College was renamed the Joint Military Intelligence College. The College embarked on a new era in which its mission was more sharply defined. In 1997, Congress authorized the College to award a Bachelor of Science in Intelligence (BSI) degree. The BSI Program is a fourth year degree completion program. It affords those students who have accumulated three years of undergraduate credits a means to complete their degree requirements and to obtain a degree directly related to the field of intelligence. The Program enables BSI graduates to advance their careers within the National Intelligence Community.
In December 2006, DoD Instruction 3305.1 changed our name to the National Defense Intelligence College. The DoD Instruction was revised again in February 2011 to reflect the current designation — National Intelligence University — and the Director of National Intelligence formally and publicly announced that change as well as the expanded mission and vision of the NIU during the August 2011 convocation of the class of 2012.
In 2007 the Board of Visitors of the National Intelligence University established the Center for Science and Technology Intelligence. This set the stage for the creation of the School of Science and Technology Intelligence to advance instruction and research in S&T intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination. The School of Science and Technology Intelligence was chartered on November 1, 2010. The Department of Education and Congress issued degree-granting authority in 2012. The School of Science and Technology Intelligence offers a degree program leading to a Master of Science and Technology Intelligence degree.