The American public greeted news of Osama bin Laden's death with cries of victory and celebration. Relief a long sought after enemy no longer threatened was palpable. Hope renewed that a time before fallen Towers, a shattered Pentagon and a cratered Pennsylvanian field could in some small way be had again. People smiled, and said they felt safer knowing bin Laden is dead.
The Intelligence Community cautioned back not so fast. A lot of work remains to be done. Al-Qaida is a multiheaded snake.
The success of the raid, and the counterintelligence operation that laid the groundwork, emphasized the importance of continued vigilance. A vigil government contractors have held alongside their government counterparts for the past 10 years.
Sept. 11, 2001, sparked an increase in defense spending, catapulting defense contractors from behind-the-scenes players to front-line allies. Since the onset of hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. has spent more than $1.1 trillion on defense, with intelligence programs alone costing billions a year. With little to show for it, an economy in crisis and a war weary populace, calls to slash defense spending have been growing.
Now, with the demise of bin Laden, many are saying the Intelligence Community is vindicated, and although a great morale booster, bin Laden's death does little to alleviate continued terrorist threats and intelligence operations are still crucial to America's security.
In an interview with Federal News Radio, Jim McAleese, founder of contracting firm McAleese and Associates, claimed bin Laden's elimination cemented contractor's roles in the Intelligence Community.
“If you are in the National Intelligence Program, which is basically CIA, NRO, a number of other entities; as a contractor going forward, it is highly unlikely that we will be seeing any funding reductions and those contractors are probably riding very high,” he said.
The nation exhaled a collective sigh of relief Sunday evening, a sigh that has now been tempered with concerns of retaliation. A vindicated Intelligence Community can’t rest on its laurels, but rather, continue its mission. That mission may well include additional assistance from government contractors.