The Pentagon plans to double the size of its intelligence gathering arm in order to fill a void that the CIA is too stretched to cover, reports the Washington Post
The Defense Intelligence Agency plans to add as many as 1,600 agents around the world in the next five years, growing a decades old role in military ranks.
Both the CIA and DIA are likely to use similar tactics, however the DIA will continue to be focused on military-related aspects around the world while the CIA looks to piece together the answers to larger questions that help government officials to form foreign policy and military plans.
“The CIA doesn’t want to be looking for surface-to-air missiles in Libya” when it’s also under pressure to assess the opposition in Syria, said a former high-ranking U.S. military intelligence officer.
The two agencies missions are not the same, with the DIA already focused on military intelligence as it relates to specific missions. The CIA, on the other hand, is authorized to gather information and conduct operations based on it.
This, officials told the Post, will allow for more information to be gathered in areas where the CIA is stretched too thin to cover.
“We are in a position to contribute to defense priorities that, frankly, CIA is not,” a senior Defense Department official said.
The additional DIA information “collectors” will work in many cases for CIA station chiefs or hop between Special Operations units, depending on their assignment and what they need to be doing.
Finding enough positions to place each of these individuals — either under cover or simply as employees of embassies around the Middle Eastern region — is going to be a challenge, said some sources.
While this blurs the traditional roles of each agency, the expectation that CIA can unload Pentagon-requested missions on agents actually working for them — and still receive intelligence unrelated to military-based efforts — is expected to enhance the abilities of both agencies and improve the level of information flowing into the Pentagon.
The expansion of the DIA, as well as the subtle realignment of missions, has been growing since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack and been emphasized by President Barack Obama as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan slowly have winded down.
Obama has made the case for using more espionage and smaller, covert military forces rather than traditional army deployments, the Post reported, so by gathering more information missions will be more specific and better tailored to nuanced conditions on the ground.
DIA Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn said the changes will help the U.S. get a better handle on what is going on in the increasingly volatile Middle East, as well as other places around the world, and hopefully keep Americans from being forced to wage traditional war in what he predicts to be an “era of persistent conflict.”
“This is not a marginal adjustment for DIA,” Flynns said. “This is a major adjustment for national security.”
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