Subject: NRO's smallsat flip From: [email protected] (Allen Thomson) Date: 1996/12/08 Message-Id: <[email protected]> Newsgroups: sci.space.policy,alt.politics.org.cia Those who have been paying attention should have noticed that the NRO's position on small reconnaissance satellites flipped sign this past year, going from "monstersats rule" to "smallsats, prudently implemented, are great." The precipitating event seemed to be the Hermann semi-outside advisory panel's report on the issue, but just why the NRO caved so easily hasn't been clear. In similar situations most bureaucracies would hem, haw, delay, obfuscate, and the recommendation would be put on the shelf to be buried by the dust of the ages. Given the traditional NRO's extreme hostility to the external universe and its penchant for use of strong measures to suppress heresy, the events of 1996 clearly call for explanation. I can't claim to have a detailed explanation, but some slightly indirect input from a member of the Hermann panel that's come my way may be relevant. According to this Eminent Person, the NRO's opposition to smallsats was embodied in two senior managers, to wit Jimmie Hill, long-time deputy DNRO, and Julian Cabillero, director of the CIA's Office of Development and Engineering (sort of synonymous with NRO Program B). When these two powerful individuals left the scene (Hill because of the funding scandals, Cabillero through normal retirement), things rapidly changed. People (including, as I heard him say myself, Dennis Fitzgerald, next-but-one successor to Cabillero) who had seen the logic behind smallsats and Keith Hall, currently acting head of the NRO, were able to start changing course. All this looks to have the makings of some very interesting studies in the dynamics of bureaucratic politics. and I'd hope some grad students get good dissertation topics from it.