Pentagon builds military network to rival the CIA
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Sunday 02 December 2012
The Pentagon is planning a major expansion of America's international spy network, creating a new generation of undercover agents to get a better handle on critical issues such as China's growing military might and the rising influence of fundamentalist militants in Africa.
The enlarged military spy ring will rival the civilian Central Intelligence Agency in size, marking a major expansion in America's espionage network – something that reflects the Obama administration's preference for undercover operations over conventional force.
The US has conducted more than 300 drone strikes since Barack Obama took office in 2008, killing thousands in missions managed by the CIA and the military.
But with the CIA increasingly stretched, the Pentagon is planning to deploy hundreds of additional spies to work alongside civilian colleagues and elite military commando units, according to the Washington Post.
The expansion will change the complexion of the Defence Intelligence Agency, the military intelligence body which is expected to end up with as many as 1,600 intelligence "collectors" around the world. Unlike the CIA, the DIA does not have the authority to conduct drone strikes.
Although the total includes officials who do not work undercover, the newspaper cited unnamed US officials who said the bulk of the growth would come from a new cohort of spies trained by the CIA but directed in their activities by defence chiefs.
Their focus, given the Pentagon's priorities as US forces wind down in Iraq and Afghanistan, will be on hot-button issues such as fundamentalism in Africa, the growth of China's military, and weapons transfers by the secretive North Korean regime.
The DIA's team of undercover agents has already reportedly expanded to about 500, a figure that is expected to swell to as much as 1,000 before the decade is out. To avoid friction, the new agents will work closely with local CIA station bosses, who will also be able to block missions.
Casting a wider net of spies will not come easy, however. For one, defence intelligence bosses will have to work out how, given the limited number of slots at American embassies around the world, to find overseas jobs for the new covert agents. The old ruse of creating false identities and having agents live beyond embassy walls not only requires more work, but also means the operatives don't have diplomatic immunity.
According to the Post, the expansion will be financed from existing budgets.
A former senior military official involved in the planning told the Post: "The stars have been aligning on this for a while." The paper reported that the project was being overseen by Michael Vickers, the top Pentagon intelligence official.
Approval for greater co-ordination between the Pentagon and the CIA was given by the Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta, and General David Petraeus, the former head of the CIA who left abruptly last month following revelations of an extra-marital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
- 3 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 4 George Galloway attacked on Notting Hill street by man 'shouting about the holocaust'
Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
George Galloway attacked on Notting Hill street by man 'shouting about the holocaust'
Brother and sister, Christopher Buckner and Timothy Savoy, arrested for 'committing incest after watching 'The Notebook''
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
- < Previous
- Next >
£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...
£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...
£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...