In 1943, in the darkest depths of the Second World War the British sent a small, select group of intelligence officers from the Special Operations Executive (SOE) into Nazi-occupied Albania. Living under extreme conditions, one step ahead of capture at all times and short on supplies and support, the SOE personnel began to produce immediate results. They weren’t on their way to winning the war singlehandedly. They were doing a superb job of tying down German forces desperately needed elsewhere by the Third Reich.

London took notice. The bureaucrats woke up. They did what bureaucrats do, even ones in uniform. They sent in a general. They sent in a staff. They sent in a radio transmitter so large that it required a train of donkeys to move it ponderously through the trackless Albanian countryside.

Image courtesy of The Imperial War Museum (Second mission: Major David Smiley, Captain Julian Amery and Colonel Billy McLean at Mal i Bardhe, September 1944.)

A lean, flexible outfit became a top-heavy nightmare. SOE went from being the hunters to being the hunted. The fixed headquarters the general had established was overrun by Nazi forces. The general himself was captured.

In the aftermath some lessons were learned. All attempts at creating fixed headquarters and establishing staffs were abandoned. SOE officers went back to working in small groups and living with the Albanian forces they advised and supported. London learned and adapted.

It is seventy-five years later. Washington is still trying to learn.

Ever since 9/11 we have responded to the threat of terrorism and the obvious weaknesses in our human intelligence collection capabilities by doing exactly the wrong thing. We have thrown money, people and processes at these problems ignoring the fact that in the world of intelligence, bigger is not better. Bigger is slow. Bigger is cumbersome. Bigger is hard to hide.

We don’t have time to continue to do the wrong things. Everywhere we look, threats are multiplying and they are multiplying with increasing speed. Our human intelligence on these threats remains weak and fragmented. We are paying the price, and that price is likely to continue to become ever more dear. It is time to get this right.

How President Trump and his key advisors will tackle these issues remains unclear. Here are five recommendations to get them started:

Eliminate the DNI.