Marcus Aurelius: The Pentagon’s New Defense Clandestine Service

Intelligence (government), Military
Marcus Aurelius

The Pentagon's New Defense Clandestine Service

American Thinker, 27 April 2012

Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported a new intelligence initiative coming out of the Pentagon. We are constantly reminded that intelligence agencies have difficulty sharing their work, yet the Pentagon has decided to create another intelligence agency — the Defense Clandestine Service. Many professionals believe that this initiative is doomed to fail.

Since the technological revolution, intelligence-collection among human activity has swiftly deteriorated. Technology has superseded human intelligence (HUMINT) collection efforts with tools such as Signals Intelligence, Measures and Signatures Intelligence, and Open Source. Today, HUMINT has become an endangered species. The good news behind the newly formed Defense Clandestine Service demonstrates that America's HUMINT is like the bald eagle — it may be endangered, but it is making a comeback.

America's clandestine activities and HUMINT operations have been crippled by years of internal feuding dating back as far as the Carter administration. Creating additional organizations will not fix the problem; rather, pre-existing organizational resolve is needed. As one operative who spoke on condition of anonymity stated, “[y]ou don't just go out and buy a new car because you need an oil change and some new tires.” When it comes to intelligence, specifically HUMINT, we don't have the money to purchase an entirely new luxury, so we need to fix the one we have.

“HUMINT is assuredly broken. A series of incapable DCI's and self-promoting Deputy Directors for Operations (now called National Clandestine Service) have converted what was once a stellar service into a cadre of messenger boys begging for scraps from foreign liaisons. This problem began long ago with Admiral Stansfield Turner[.]” -Robert David Steele

Will another organization fix America's intelligence crisis? Former Naval Intelligence officer and published author Edmond Pope doesn't believe so. He was quickly reminded of the U.S. Navy's 1966 covert unit, designated the Naval Field Operations Support Group (NFOSG) — also known as Task Force 157.

“CTF 157 in the past turned out to be a miserable failure due to the combination of (in my view) abuse on several people's watch. I vividly recall ADM Bobby R. Inman ranting in fury at what had been uncovered and how corrupt this organization had become. His options were: 1) put in place rules and regulations that would curtail such abuse but would have rendered the organization a totally useless structure of oversight offices watching each other and nothing more; or 2) shut it down, which was by far the preference and ultimate decision.” -Edmond Pope

Historically, this is what America does — we don't fix anything. Rather, we simply reinvent the wheel. Dismantling the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and creating the Central Intelligence Agency did not stop the Russians from placing nuclear weapons in Cuba, which later led to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Renaming the United States Intelligence Board the National Foreign Intelligence Board during the Carter administration did not stop Timothy McVeigh from blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The Church Committee did not prevent the World Trade Center from being bombed in 1993. As my good friend and retired CIA Operative Wayne Simmons reminded me, “the Church Commission succeeded in virtually destroying the CIA HUMINT capabilities in 1975.” Needless to say, none of these revisions to pre-existing intelligence apparatuses did anything to prevent the horrific terrorist operation conducted on 9-11, either.

“Creating a Department of Defense Clandestine Service is the ultimate manifestation of “those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.” The DoD is too cumbersome as it now stands. Conflicts among the various Commands are already problematic. Adding another organization or Command is wasteful and inefficient. Clearly, whoever came up with this idea did not read Steven K. O'Hern's book, The Intelligence Wars, Lessons From Bagdad. At the very least, as I pointed out in the book's foreword, the book should be required reading for every military officer, senior NCO, and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.” -Bart Bechtel, CIA, retired

Many intelligence operatives believe that creating another intelligence agency will not fix America's intelligence issues. As one undisclosed intelligence operative stated, “the United States Defense Department already has multiple organizations executing activities the Defense Clandestine Service is meant to fulfill. The most publicly known is called the Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center.”

The Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center was established in August of 2008, replacing the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA). According to its website, “the Defense CI and HUMINT Center was created in response to internal DoD assessments which identified substantial benefits of more closely aligning DoD CIFA and DIA HUMINT and CI functions. It is also consistent with DoD strategic guidance and the Defense Intelligence Strategy.”

In the original Associated Press article, a similar explanation regarding the newly formed Defense Clandestine Service exists. “An internal study by the Director of National Intelligence last year found the agency still focused more on its traditional mission of providing the military with intelligence in war zones, and less on what's called ‘national' intelligence — gathering and disseminating information on global issues and sharing that intelligence with other national security agencies.”

Creating additional organizations does not create additional security, and history proves this. If our government realized that the United States already has allocated assets designed to fulfill specific tasks and actually allowed these assets to accomplish those tasks, we wouldn't need more organizational structures. Reinventing the wheel seems to be an historical solution to America's intelligence dilemmas. Soon enough, we will find that the newly created Defense Clandestine Service, like many government organizations, becomes nothing more than just another risk-adverse, politically correct, bureaucratic nightmare within America's intelligence community.

Kerry Patton, a combat service disabled veteran, is a senior analyst for WIKISTRAT and author of Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies and the children's book American Patriotism. You can follow him on Facebook or at

See Also:

2010: Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Trilogy Updated

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Intelligence (Most)


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