The Central Intelligence Agency will no longer be responsible for undertaking terrorist manhunts and drone strikes in the Middle East under a plan outlined by President Barack Obama Thursday, shifting authority for the anti-terrorism program to the Pentagon.
The move is designed to free up the agency to return to its traditional role of undercover intelligence gathering and strategic analysis in other parts of the world, The New York Times reported Friday
"There's a huge cultural and generational issue at stake here," said Mark Lowenthal, a former senior CIA official.
"A lot of the people hired since 9/11 have done nothing but tactical work for the past 12 years," he said, "and intellectually it's very difficult to go from a tactical approach to seeing things more strategically."
More than half of the CIA's work force joined the agency after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, according to the Times, and many of those officers have focused exclusively on targeted killing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The agency will therefore face a challenging task to retrain officers to be covert professional spies in countries such as Russia and China, for example, as the administration looks to refocus its foreign policy away from counterterrorism and the Middle East toward other parts of the world.
"A lot of things that pass for analysis right now is really targeting," said Michael Hayden, a former CIA director. "There has to be a shift in emphasis."
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