Knowledge is power

An intelligence education plan that has caught President Obama’s eye had its start right here in Lawrence.

A recent news story in the Washington Post told of President Obama’s desire to improve this nation’s intelligence-gathering capabilities. He reportedly is interested in expanding efforts to attract American college students to consider careers in U.S. intelligence agencies.

The story cites the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program, named for the Kansas senator. This program currently provides financial assistance for intelligence agency employees to pursue advanced study in special areas and become far more knowledgeable about the religions, languages, history, culture and politics of various areas around the world.

This program was designed originally to bring current intelligence agency employees to a higher level of knowledge and understanding about world cultures and then to initiate a program that would enlist college students to become involved in the program. Those selected would be from colleges with Reserve Officer Training Corps programs in the four services: Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. They would enter the program just as other students enter ROTC.

The only problem was that there was such an urgent need to educate current intelligence personnel that the college student part of the program had to be delayed.

Now, Obama and his aides realize the excellence of and need for the Roberts plan and want to speed up the recruitment of college students.

Under the Obama plan, the Roberts program would become permanent under the director of national intelligence. It also would be expanded beyond its original blueprint to include study in science and technology.

Young people would be selected and enlist in the specialized study program in much the same way as ROTC members. They would receive financial assistance and, in return, would serve in the intelligence service for a certain number of years after graduation.

It is interesting and important to note the initial concept for the Roberts program was developed through discussions in Lawrence between Roberts and KU professor of anthropology Felix Moos.

Moos is a frequent lecturer at Fort Leavenworth, the Army War College, the Navy War College and various agencies in Washington and California, as well as abroad. He has long said American intelligence gathering efforts should be focused more on the efforts of knowledgeable individuals on the ground rather than relying on satellite or drone technology. He has worked closely with Fort Leavenworth officers and is strong in his advocacy of intelligence agents and those in our military units having a far better and broader knowledge of the areas of the world in which they are called to serve.

It appears the Moos-Roberts plan is likely to expand and receive greater federal support. It will pay dividends for this nation in terms of better, more knowledgeable, more effective and much more accurate intelligence gathering. This not only will protect this country but also provide the information that will help Uncle Sam be a more effective player in world affairs.

Moos, a highly popular faculty member among KU students, has compiled a distinguished career in the field of anthropology, in his active military service to this country and in his continuing work with military bodies. His concern about the need for better intelligence gathering is paying off not only with the Roberts Scholars Program but with President Obama’s plan to expand the initiative.

It’s another example of the excellence of many KU faculty members.