John A. Gentry


Gentry, John A. "Intelligence Analyst/Manager Relations at the CIA." Intelligence and National Security 10, no. 4 (Oct. 1995): 133-146.

Gentry relates a negative change in the DI culture -- and in its effectiveness as an analysis production activity -- to the arrival of Robert M. Gates as DDI in 1982. The article is a concise replay of Gentry's book, Lost Promise (1993).

[Analysis/Critiques; CIA/C&C/DI][c]

Gentry, John A. "Intelligence Failure Reframed." Political Science Quarterly 123, no. 2 (Summer 2008): 247-270. The author "discusses the nature of U.S. intelligence 'failures.' He argues that excessive expectations for the performance of intelligence agencies mean that many charges of intelligence failure are misplaced and many reform proposals are misdirected. He concludes that policymakers and policy-implementing agencies often cause intelligence-related failures."

[Analysis/Warning; Reform/00s/08]

Gentry, John A. "Intelligence Learning and Adaptation: Lessons from Counterinsurgency Wars." Intelligence and National Security 25, no. 1 (Feb. 2010): 50-75.

The author reviews "eight counterinsurgency wars/campaigns conducted by four Western states" to suggest that "external factors largely influence the intelligence-related performance of whole governments" and that "the US intelligence reform debate focuses too narrowly and on the wrong factors."


Gentry, John A. "The Intelligence Reform Debate." Defense Intelligence Journal 2, no. 1 (Spring 1993): 65-79.

Gentry, John A. [LTC/USAR] "Knowledge-Based 'Warfare': Lessons from Bosnia." American Intelligence Journal 18, no. 1/2 (1998): 73-80.

"We delude ourselves if we think that technology designed to assist commanders and soldiers during the conduct of comparatively simple high-intensity warfare will be of major use in peace operations."


Gentry, John A. Lost Promise: How CIA Analysis Misserves the Nation; An Intelligence Assessment. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1993.

According to Peake, FILS 12.2, the book is a "chorus of woe with an anti-management leitmotif." The author finds fault in three main areas -- "politicizing intelligence, a faulty review process, and incompetent management." This is a "very redundant book in content and style.... [Robert Gates] bears the brunt of his attack.... Differences will occur with Gentry's judgments as to the meaning, severity, and prevalence of the problems.... [His] recommendations for correcting the deficiencies ... read like simplistic statements of the problem." There is "nothing new here and little constructive." The endnotes "are most often descriptive rather than documentary" and the "sources are mostly secondary." This book would better be "termed a personal assessment."

Surveillant 3.1 calls Lost Promise "[s]our grapes -- with a vengeance"; there is "much whining and bitterness here.... Many of the problems the author describes have been discussed before in other forums." McGehee, CIABASE, July 1993 Update Notice, says that "Gentry describes how CIA's intelligence is distorted through pressure, politicized reviews, and personnel selection. His book focuses on the confirmation hearings of Robert Gates where over 24 intelligence analysts volunteered to testify regarding Gates' politicization of intelligence -- which did not halt his confirmation."

For Allen, DIJ 2.1, Lost Promise is a "scathing treatise" that "tediously relies on Sherman Kent's signal work ... as a baseline." Gentry "says that the problems are systemic.... The comprehensive documentation ... lends credibility to his views.... While ... some of the charges appear to be overstated, his observations have some merit and need to be seriously considered." Farson, I&NS 9.4, notes that Gentry "clearly believes that the CIA has lost its way." He argues that the "review process ... had been corrupted and ... led to judgements that were politically opportune rather than independent of bias."

[Analysis/Critiques; CIA/C&C/DI]

Gentry, John A. "Warning Analysis: Focusing on Perceptions of Vulnerability." International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence 28, no. 1 (Spring 2015): 64-88.


Gentry, John A., and David E. Spencer. "Colombia's FARC: A Portrait of Insurgent Intelligence." Intelligence and National Security 25, no. 4 (Aug. 2010): 453-478.

"Like FARC as a whole, FARC intelligence is decentralized. Its strength is its focus on tactical military intelligence. Collection on strategic political issues, analysis, and counterintelligence are relatively weak. FARC's intelligence weaknesses limit its prospects for strategic success and its intelligence-related vulnerabilities offer the Colombian government opportunities to exploit."


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