Sunday, May 02, 2010

CBNRC/CSE staff 1946-2013

Here's a quick look at CBNRC/CSE's growth over its history. [See updated version of the graph here.]

CBNRC had 62 people on staff (authorized strength of 179) when it opened its doors in 1946. It grew rapidly throughout the late 1940s and 1950s and then levelled off at about 600 at the beginning of the 1960s.

It remained at about 600 until the early 1980s, when the agency, by then renamed CSE, began its second major period of growth. This period saw CSE take on a number of new roles, including satellite monitoring, SIGINT interception from embassy sites, and supercomputer-based cryptanalysis. The Soviet target remained the agency's predominant focus, however.

By the time CSE reached a new plateau at about 900 employees the Cold War had ended, wiping out in the process a large part of CSE's role. There then followed a period of retrenchment during which a large number of Cold War-era employees retired and the overall staffing level of the agency remained static or even shrank somewhat. Economic and diplomatic intelligence-gathering are thought to have taken on greater prominence within CSE's target priorities during this period.

CSE's third--and ongoing--period of growth began in the wake of the 9/11 attack on the United States. Security intelligence and support to military operations have become CSE's new priorities, and money and resources have been virtually thrown at the agency. With 1752 employees at present, CSE has roughly twice the peak number of employees it had during the Cold War, and almost three times the number it had for most of the Cold War.

And this third period of growth has not yet ended. The government projects a CSE staff of 1825 in FY 2012-13, and the agency's new headquarters, scheduled for completion in 2015, is being designed to hold as many as 2250 (although the latter number will include contractors, and possibly military personnel, as well as CSE staff).

Now if they could just find one CSE Commissioner...

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