Tuesday, December 4, 2012

U.S. to transform the Defense Intelligence Agency into a massive force with THOUSANDS of spies around the world

U.S. to transform the Defense Intelligence Agency into a massive force with THOUSANDS of spies around the world

by Daily Mail Reporter, dailymail.co.uk
December 2nd 2012

  • Agency gets $100 million kickstart to begin program
  • Change will free up CIA resources by taking over more militaristic programs
  • Number of U.S. espionage agents will be 'unprecedented'

In an ambitious plan to transform the Defense Intelligence Agency into one of the nation's premier espionage networks, the Pentagon is sending hundreds of spies oversees.

Once the program is complete the DIA will become a spy service focused on emerging threats and aligned with intelligence operators like the CIA and elite military commando units.

'This is not a marginal adjustment for DIA,' the agency’s director, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, announced at a recent conference where he outlined the plan's broad strokes. 'This is a major adjustment for national security.'

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Security: Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn called the DIA change a massive expansion of America's espionage programs

Once complete, the DIA will have roughly 1,600 'collectors' in around the world.

That includes military attach├ęs and intelligence operatives who not work undercover.

However the main growth will be in recruiting clandestine operatives to be trained by the CIA to work alongside the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command.

Their assignments will be ordered by the Department of Defense.

In recent years, the agency's field presence has been in the triple digits.

Important targets for these 'collectors' will include Islamist militant groups in Africa, weapons transfers by North Korea and Iran, and China's ongoing military modernization.

Between the DIA's growth and the rapid expansion of the CIA following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S. will command a vast and unrivaled spy network.

The plan continues broader trends, such as the Obama administration’s preference for covert action to conventional warfare and efforts to be ready for future counter-terrorism initiatives when needed.

Military and intelligence programs have already been meshed in some ways, such as the CIA drone program that now carries out most lethal U.S. operations that don't take place in the the Afghan war zone, and the Pentagon’s plan to build a Defense Clandestine Service.

Unlike the CIA, the DIA is not authorized to conduct covert operations beyond intelligence gathering, and as such cannot perform drone strikes, political sabotage or arm militants.

Flynn promised the expansion would be done with oversight from elected officials.

'We have to keep congressional staffs and members in the loop,' Flynn said in October.

Sources said the planning for a DIA expansion has been long been underway.

The project officially began last year after a classified study found that key intelligence priorities being lost between the DIA’s focus on battlefield issues and the CIA’s workload. The best solution, officials suggested, was to reposition the DIA.

'The stars have been aligning on this for a while,' a former senior U.S. military official involved in mapping the DIA transformation told the Washington Post, asking he not be named because of the program's classified nature.

The project was spearheaded by top Pentagon intelligence official at CIA veteran Michael G. Vickers.

Also involved was retired Gen. David H. Petraeus, who resigned as CIA chief last month over an extramarital affair with biographer Paula Broadwell.

The plan will require 'cover' stories to be created for the flood of new spies, a difficulty as U.S. embassies typically have a set number of openings for operatives to pose as diplomats, almost all of which are taken by CIA agents.

Capitol Hill policymakers have expressed concern that the CIA has too much power in the expansion.

DIA operatives 'for the most part are going to be working for CIA station chiefs,' said a senior congressional official briefed on the plan. 'If CIA needs more people working for them, they should be footing the bill.'

Defense officials counter the plan will allow them to shore up holes other agencies don't have the resources to plug.

'We are in a position to contribute to defense priorities that frankly CIA is not,' said an anonymous Defense Department official.

The DIA will not be given a larger payroll or new authorities, but will pay for the new espionage agents by either cutting or converting positions across its workforce.

There are currently approximately 16,500 positions on the DIA payroll.

However Vickers will allot the DIA a $100 million infusion to kick-start the program.

As the program moves forward the CIA will free up its resources by transferring hundreds of Pentagon assignments to DIA operatives.

'The CIA doesn’t want to be looking for surface-to-air missiles in Libya' while still under pressure to keep an eye on threats in Syria, said a former U.S. military intelligence officer who worked with both agencies.

Because of their military backgrounds, DIA agents can be better suited to recruit people to answer specific military questions.

'The CIA would like to give up that kind of work,' the former officer said.

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