By Greg Miller
Washington Post, Saturday, December 1, 2012
The Pentagon will send hundreds of additional spies overseas as part of an ambitious plan to assemble an espionage network that rivals the CIA in size, U.S. officials said.
The project is aimed at transforming the Defense Intelligence Agency, which has been dominated for the past decade by the demands of two wars, into a spy service focused on emerging threats and more closely aligned with the CIA and elite military commando units.
When the expansion is complete, the DIA is expected to have as many as 1,600 “collectors” in positions around the world, an unprecedented total for an agency whose presence abroad numbered in the triple digits in recent years.
The total includes military attachés and others who do not work undercover. But U.S. officials said the growth will be driven over a five-year period by the deployment of a new generation of clandestine operatives. They will be trained by the CIA and often work with the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, but they will get their spying assignments from the Department of Defense.
. . . . . . . . .
Former senior Defense Department officials said that the DIA now has about 500 “case officers,” the term for clandestine Pentagon and CIA operatives, and that the number is expected to reach between 800 and 1,000 by 2018.
Pentagon and DIA officials declined to discuss specifics. A senior U.S. defense official said the changes will affect thousands of DIA employees, as analysts, logistics specialists and others are reassigned to support additional spies.
The plan still faces some hurdles, including the challenge of creating “cover” arrangements for hundreds of additional spies. U.S. embassies typically have a set number of slots for intelligence operatives posing as diplomats, most of which are taken by the CIA.
Phi Beta Iota: There are a number of issues that this excellent article brings forward. First off, Vickers is not a “veteran” of the CIA, he served there for three years in a desk job. If DIA really has 500 “case officers” one has to ask several questions.
Did they take the MOTC “quickie”course or the full Ops I and Ops II? Bearing in mind that the Farm is merely administrative training, did they then get a full tour in the field as an entry-level case officer under close supervision? Are they language qualified at the 4 or 5 level? Are they fit uniformed types that stand out in civilian clothes, or over-weight civilians that also stand out?
Have they ever actually recruited anyone that produced useful intelligence and was not a double agent handled by local liaison? (CIA unwittingly funds many local liaison services, apart from its generous official gifts, via the locally-managed double-agent program).
The article mentions diplomatic cover, a huge “no no.” DIA needs to learn to refer to it as “official cover.” However, as long as Embassies are being talked about, we would observe that they are a) over-crowded; b) bunkers; and c) the quickest way to become blown and totally useless–less than two weeks, six if you are a communicator or not a street person.
Neither DIA nor SOCOM (or DHS for that matter) have come to grips with the reality that CIA training is not really clandestine training — it is reports writing, photography, a few tricks of the trade, a little sales and psychology 101, a dash ofsurveillance and counter-surveillance, a quick orientation to gadgets, and some “exercises” where ample supplies of wine and hors d keep the role-playing instructors happy and over-weight. DoD does have its own training capabilities, memorably described by one SOF Colonel with clandestine experience as “push-ups done silently” and it has many contract instructors and role players. This begs the question: are the right people being recruited, trained, immersed, covered, and ably managed, in the right order?
Then there is the larger matter of whether anyone is going to be in charge of the totality of “full-spectrum HUMINT” illustrated here to the side, or will each slice continue to be an out of control non-team-playing stovepipe? Would it make more sense to hire mid-career US and foreign individuals, each having unwittingly built their cover and access, while also creating multinational clandestine and covert action stations where the indigenous case officers do the street work, and the Americans provide financial, technical, and analytic support while staying close to the harvest zone, along with regular multinational analytic information-sharing and sense-making sessions (not the perfunctory one-way drills DIA is notorious for)?
Why does CIA persist in occupying official space in over-crowded embassies? Have we not gotten to the point that we can have distributed networks using secure communications that do not stand out for local interception and allow virtual networks to carry on? (any claims that we have this are highly suspect).
Would it not make more sense to kick CIA out of all official cover facilities and put in a mix of inter-agency all-source analysts (including commerce and energy) in with a single all-source collection manager and a single well-funded open source acquisition financial clerk, with the team being responsive to all four levels of consumer (strategic, operational, tactical, technical)?
As best we can tell, these questions have not been asked and answered — and that means, we are very sorry to say — that DoD HUMINT is going to go down the same rabbit hole that sucked up CIA, with little to show for it in five years. It is time to change how we do HUMINT. HUMINT, not TECHINT, is the core clandestine discipline. HUMINT includes OSINT and is essential to close-in technical as well as precision overhead.
Properly managed, full-spectrum HUMINT should be able to:
a) answer most questions within 24 hours if not less, from day one, with heavy reliance on properly identified and exploited open source humans; and
b) be able to craft a clandestine cover and entry and harvest anywhere on any topic within two weeks to one month, using personnel recruited for that specific mission. One size does NOT fit all, and one reason CIA is dead in the water and full of Khost Kathy’s is because they forgot that and became a bureaucracy….they can spend money; they cannot produce useful decision-support (but in fairness, neither can DIA, NSA, or anyone else].
DIA is capable of beating CIA across all dimensions of the craft of intelligence but ONLY if DIA leadership demands integrity in all respects and ruthlessly weeds out the frauds that have been promoted over the years for being inoffensive blobs [and desperately ineffective at the same time]; AND embraces the “new rules for the new craft of intelligence” — rules CIA has willfully refused to acknowledge for exactly ten years now.