John A. Gentry and Joseph S. Gordon update our understanding of strategic warning intelligence analysis for the twenty-first century. Strategic warning—the process of long-range analysis to alert senior leaders to trending threats and opportunities that require action—is a critical intelligence function. It also is frequently misunderstood and underappreciated. Gentry and Gordon draw on both their practitioner and academic backgrounds to present a history of the strategic warning function in the US intelligence community. In doing so, they outline the capabilities of analytic methods, explain why strategic warning analysis is so hard, and discuss the special challenges strategic warning encounters from senior decision-makers. They also compare how strategic warning functions in other countries, evaluate why the United States has in recent years emphasized current intelligence instead of strategic warning, and recommend warning-related structural and procedural improvements in the US intelligence community. The authors examine historical case studies, including postmortems of warning failures, to provide examples of the analytic points they make. Strategic Warning Intelligence will interest scholars and practitioners and will be an ideal teaching text for intermediate and advanced students.
John A. Gentry is an adjunct associate professor at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs and an adjunct professor with the Security Studies Program, Center for Security Studies, of Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He was for 12 years an intelligence analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency, where he mainly worked economic issues associated with the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries; for two of those years he was senior analyst on the staff of the National Intelligence Officer for Warning. He is a retired U.S. Army Reserve officer, with most assignments in special operations and intelligence arenas; he spent much of 1996 as a civil affairs officer in Bosnia and at NATO military headquarters in Mons, Belgium.
Previously, John taught at the College of International Security Affairs of National Defense University, George Mason University, and National Intelligence University.
John’s research interests primarily are in intelligence and security studies. His intelligence-related publications address aspects of the U.S. Intelligence Community as well as a wide variety of other intelligence topics. He is author of How Wars Are Won and Lost: Vulnerability and Military Power (Praeger Security International, 2012) and (with Joseph S. Gordon) Strategic Warning Intelligence: History, Challenges, and Prospects (Georgetown University Press, 2019). His current research projects focus on the nature and implications of the significant increase of current and former intelligence officers’ involvement in partisan politics since 2016 and statesmen’s use of intelligence officers as diplomats. John is a member of the editorial advisory board of the International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence.
He received a B.A. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. in political science from The George Washington University.