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Defense Clandestine Service Formed by DoD

The Department of Defense (D0D) announced on April 24 the formation of the Defense Clandestine Service, approved by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta last week.

The Defense Clandestine Service could be thought of as DoD’s counterpart to the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA’s) National Clandestine Service, one of the four main components of the CIA, along with the Directorate of Intelligence, the Directorate of Science & Technology, and the Directorate of Support. Plans are for the new organization’s agents to work more closely with their CIA counterparts.

“It’s essentially designed to integrate defense intelligence capabilities with the broader intelligence community by leveraging unique military capabilities,” U.S. Navy Capt. John Kirby, the deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for media operations, said in a DoD release.

“It’s also designed to further professionalize our intelligence workforce and offer some career progression inside the intelligence community,” Kirby said. “And we’ll also provide general direct support, not only to DOD collection, but also to the intelligence community’s collection.”

The creation of the service is intended to use existing capabilities and personnel, who will be drawn from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and to be “complementary to other intelligence efforts.”

The move came in response to an internal study by the director of national intelligence last year that found the DIA concentrating more on gathering tactical intelligence for existing war zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq, and not enough on “national intelligence” in areas like Africa and Asia. While the DIA has traditionally gathered intelligence on terrorism and WMD proliferation worldwide, a new concern with emerging threats was one spur for the creation of the organization. The DoD was also criticized in the past for having concentrated on the gathering of intelligence via technological means rather than human intelligence, or HUMINT, which emerged as a glaring capability gap as the war on terrorism ramped up.

“I think the practical result will be a rebalancing of our efforts and our focus on the human side of intelligence collection,” Kirby said. “We’re very, very proficient at the technical side of intelligence collection and I think this will help us get a little bit better at the human intelligence effort.”