The Institute of World Politics was honored to welcome the Director of Marine Corps Intelligence, Brigadier General Michael S. Groen, for a lecture titled Marine Corps Intelligence and the “New Normal” on October 14, 2014. This event was co-hosted by the Marine Corps Intelligence Association (MCIA, Inc.) and was introduced by Fritz Barth, IWP alumnus and President of MCIA, Inc.
In his remarks, General Groen discussed the work of Marine Corps Intelligence and how the military is adapting to a constantly evolving world of threats. The threats of today are not the same as the threats of the past, and these current threats are fought best through readiness and preparation. General Groen described many factors currently impacting the global geopolitical and social landscape including: globalization, identity politics, urbanization, 7th century ideology, lethality of modern weapons, and the cyber threat. General Groen discussed at length the impact of technological advances and the danger posed by the closing technology gap between groups and countries, and how the pace of technological advancement has increased.
In addition to threats posed by new technology, General Groen noted the power of ideas in modern conflicts. Today’s fights tend to be wars of ideas — not just weapons — and war is a social science, not just a physical one. One must understand that the goal is to change behavior, and we can learn how to create this change through intelligence.
General Groen went on to discuss the challenges of intelligence. While intelligence may not be able to predict the next move of the enemy flawlessly, it can create a deeper understanding that will allow for effective preparation. The goal of intelligence is to ensure that there are no “cold starts” and that the U.S. will never be blindsided. General Groen reviewed several additional points related to the challenges of intelligence, including the importance of precision, having a broad operational reach, and maintaining a qualitative edge, and most importantly outthinking our opponents and not just out fighting them. General Groen concluded his talk with a discussion of the importance of making sure that all moving pieces of the military and intelligence are aligned, working towards the same goals.