The Team B exercise was an alternative review of the CIA's National Intelligence Estimates commissioned by George H.W. Bush when he became CIA director in 1976, at the behest of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. It has been described by Tom Barry as a "classic case of threat escalation by hawks determined to increase military budgets and step up the U.S. offensive in the cold war".
The National Security Archive gives the following summary:
In the last few years of Kissinger's tenure in government, Nixon/Ford détente policies experienced strong criticism from Republicans on the right, led by Ronald Reagan, as well as from some liberal democrats and former socialists. Some of these tendencies began to crystallize into what later became known as "neo-conservatism." Reflecting the failure or the inability of the Ford administration to build a national consensus in favor of détente, critics of détente in and out of government began to take on the National Intelligence Estimates, arguing that they consistently underestimated the severity of the Soviet military threat to the United States. Conservatives on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) asked DCI George H.W. Bush to establish a special panel to assess the NIEs and develop an alternative analysis. Headed by Harvard Sovietologist Richard Pipes, the Team B panel included Paul Nitze, who played an active part. Other participants were Seymour Weiss and Paul Wolfowitz. Given Team B's ominous assumptions about Soviet intentions and capabilities, Raymond Garthoff later argued, "it [was] not surprising that it came up with more ominous findings." After Ford and Kissinger left office Nitze continued to play a role as a critic by helping to establish the Committee for the Present Danger, which brought together "neo-cons" and Republican conservatives, a number of whom would work for the Reagan administration four years later.
Strategic Objectives Panel
- Richard Pipes - team leader
- Prof. William Van Cleave
- Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham
- Dr. Thomas Wolfe
- Gen. John Vogt, Jr.
Missile Accuracy Panel
Air Defense Panel
- Anne Hessing Cahn, Killing Detente: The Right Attacks the CIA, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998.
- Team B Strategic Objectives Panel Right Web profile.
- Team B Strategic Initiatives Panel Sourcewatch profile.
- Tom Barry, Remembering Team B, Right Web, 11 February 1984.
- Tom Barry, Remembering Team B, Right Web, 12 February 2004.
- William Burr and Robert Wampler, "The Master of the Game": Paul H. Nitze and U.S. Cold War Strategy from Truman to Reagan, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 139, 202/994-7000, Posted October 27, 2004