TUCKER GLOBAL INITIATIVES'
SHADOWS PROTECTING THE LIGHT
SOLDIERS AS SPIES: HISTORY
Over the last five years SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and the CIA have persuaded Congress to sanction the merging of two of its networks to collaborate on operations and share personnel and other vital resources. This is a process that started during World War II and, despite some roadblocks and various administration changes, never completely stopped. By the time September 11, 2001 rolled around the CIA was routinely requesting Special Forces operators to work directly for them, a custom that goes back to the 1950's with the U.S. Army Special Forces.
In the last decade SOCOM (which controls the Special Forces as well as U.S. Navy SEALs and U.S. Air Force special operations aircraft) increasingly found that they could compete with the CIA in producing quality intelligence. The Department of Defense now allows Special Forces troops to be trained for plain clothes, and uniformed, espionage work in foreign countries. The Special Forces have unofficially been doing this sort of thing for decades, sometimes at the request of the CIA. In 1986, the Special Forces even established an "intelligence operations" school to train a small number of Special Forces troops in the tradecraft of running espionage operations in a foreign country. In practical terms, this means recruiting locals to provide information and supervising these spies, agents, and informants.
By law the CIA controls all overseas espionage operations. But the CIA and Special Forces were both founded by men who had served with the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) during World War II and the relationship continued after the OSS veterans retired from their CIA and Special Forces careers.
The army wants to more aggressively use Special Forces troops for espionage so that the "battlefield can be prepared" more quickly. This is seen as necessary in order to effectively run down fast moving terrorist organizations. Currently, the Special Forces depend on the CIA to do the espionage work in advance of Special Forces A-Teams arriving. In practice, some Special Forces troops are often there, along with CIA personnel, doing the advance work of finding exactly who is who, what is where and, in particular, who can be depended on to help American efforts. The CIA has not made a big stink about this Department of Defense effort, if only because the CIA is short of people and is still aggressively recruiting people for anti-terrorism operations. Besides, a prime source of new CIA agents has long been former, or retired, Special Forces operators. With the new espionage training Special Forces troops are getting, the CIA will be able to hire these guys later and put them to work without having to train them in a lot of espionage techniques. SOCOM is also believed to be hiring retired CIA personnel to help run SOCOM intel operations.
In 1998, the CIA revived an organizational name they originally created in the early 1960s: the Special Operations Group. The original SOG (which eventually had its name changed to "Studies and Observation Group" for security reasons) used CIA personnel, Special Forces troops, and local tribesmen to run intelligence patrols into Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam during the early days of the Vietnam war. Actually, the CIA was doing this since the late 1950s. But once SOG was set up the CIA handed it over to the Special Forces but continued to run their own SOG missions in other parts of the world until bad publicity and Congressional hostility pretty much brought the organization to a halt in 1990.
So, as the Cold War ended the CIA was getting out of the daredevil field work business. The 1998 SOG was created to do what the original SOG did, go into hostile territory and get the information any way you can and do something with it. The new SOG has only a few hundred agents. Most of them are former military, with preference given to Special Forces, SEALs, Air Force paracommandos, and marines with interesting service records. Some of the SOGs are retired military, with at least twenty years of experience. The minimum requirement is five years military experience. The starting pay was about $50,000 a year and you have to get through a one year training course first.
But while the CIA was recruiting military people for field operations the Department of Defense was setting up its own espionage service that duplicated a lot of what the CIA does. Part of this is driven by dissatisfaction with the inability of the CIA to provide the military with timely intelligence. These lapses have frequently come to light after the fact and the generals have not forgotten. When SOCOM was set up in the 1980s, a major capability it acquired was the thousands of Special Forces troops who spent several months to a year overseas working with foreign armies. This was always seen as an excellent way to collect quality intelligence and even the CIA depended on the Special Forces reports to keep current. This was one reason the CIA revived its SOG. While this growing duplication seems inefficient it also provides competition. If the president doesn't like what he's getting from the CIA he can ask SOCOM to take a look. This keeps everyone on their toes. Competition in the shadows, so to speak. The new law, if passed, would simply formally recognize a lot of the cooperation that has been going on for over half a century.
SPECIAL OPERATIONS GROUP
in the mainstream intelligence community.
Nearly every military and non-combative intelligence component has a Special Operations Group somewhere in its organization, but it is the Central Intelligence Agency's SOG that defines black-level covert and clandestine activity. Surreptitiously classified under the former Special Activities Division (SAD), now known the Special Activities Center, the CIA's Special Operations Group operates with little interference from the mainstream Intelligence Community. They are responsible for covert operations classified as either tactical paramilitary operations or covert political action. In either circumstance, they are responsible for executing high-threat military and covert operations for which the US government would overtly be disassociated with. Because of this need for anonymity, SOG's Paramilitary Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers are predominantly independent defense contractors working under a non-official cover (NOC) and are the exception to the operational standards and policies of the mainstream Intelligence Community. They are granted government immunity which allows them to pursue avenues other officers cannot -- often acting above the law in order to obtain their mission objectives. While many find this unconstitutional and even criminal, it has been proven to be a necessary evil to protect the innocent.
The Special Operations Group is considered one of the most covert special operations force in the United States. The group selects field support officers from other conventional special mission units such as Delta Force, DEVGRU, ISA, and 24th STS, and other United States special operations forces. For covert actions, only the best are considered. Only the best will survive.
Paramilitary Operations Officers account for a majority of Distinguished Intelligence Cross and Intelligence Star recipients during conflicts or incidents which elicited CIA involvement. An award bestowing either of these citations represents the highest honors awarded within the CIA in recognition of distinguished valor and excellence in the line of duty. SAD/SOG operatives also account for the majority of the stars displayed on the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters indicating that the agent died while on active duty.
The Political Action Group (PAG) is responsible for covert activities related to political influence, psychological operations, and economic warfare. The rapid development of technology has added cyber-warfare to their mission. Tactical units within SAD are also capable of carrying out covert political action while deployed in hostile and austere environments. A large covert operation typically has components that involve many or all of these categories as well as paramilitary operations.
Political and "influence" covert operations are used to support US foreign policy. Overt support for one element of an insurgency would often be counterproductive due to the impression it would potentially exert on the local population. In such cases covert assistance allows the US to assist without damaging these elements in the process.
The National Clandestine Service (NCS) is the undercover division of the Central Intelligence Agency and the authority on all clandestine operations pertaining to the nation’s Intelligence Community.
The CIA’s elite corps of experts is called upon to conduct clandestine missions worldwide. This is accomplished by collecting human intelligence (HUMINT) that is then used by the President, senior policymakers, and the military in strategic decision-making. This supports the CIA’s mission to strengthen national security and foreign policy objectives through the collection of human intelligence & covert action.
How the CIA's National Clandestine Service was Developed
The Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) National Clandestine Service (NCS), which was formerly called the Directorate of Operations, was created in October 2005 in response to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. It was discovered, through a 9/11 Commission investigation, that the agency’s human source intelligence (HUMINT) had become severely degraded in the past two decades.
The result of the investigation was the drafting of a bill that called for the creation of the National Clandestine Service (NCS). The newly formed NCS absorbed the CIA’s Directorate of Operations and began serving as the coordinator of HUMINT between the CIA and a number of federal agencies, including (but not limited to):
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Defense Intelligence Agency
Office of Naval Intelligence
Diplomatic Security Service
Marine Corp Intelligence Activity
Air Force ISR Agency
Activities and Operations absorbed by the NCS include:
Nuclear Proliferation Tracking
Special Activities Division
Special Operations Group
Today, the NCS accomplishes its mission through the service of four, distinct types of officers:
Collection Management Officers
Collection management officers serve as liaisons between operations officers in the field and the U.S. foreign policy community. Their work involves coordinating and overseeing the collection of intelligence and how that intelligence is disseminated. Managing the collection of intelligence means determining the significance of intelligence and what should be communicated to U.S. policymakers.
Staff Operations Officers
Staff operations officers, who work primarily from U.S.-based CIA offices, are tasked with providing the research and case management needed to support their CIA colleagues engaged in overseas operations. These CIA professionals monitor counterintelligence issues and provide the necessary support to foreign contacts, as well.
Operations officers, also commonly referred to as case officers, deal specifically with the recruitment of sources and the collection of intelligence. Their work requires them to ensure sources are in place and significance and relevant intelligence is captured and disseminated in a timely manner.
Paramilitary Operations Officers
Paramilitary operations officers work within the NCS’s Special Activities Division, which is responsible for raids, ambushes, unconventional warfare, and sabotage. It is common for the CIA’s paramilitary operations officers to be chosen from some of the U.S. military’s most respected groups, including the Naval Special Warfare Development Group and other SEAL teams, the Army special forces, the U.S. Army Rangers, and the United States Marine Corps Special Forces Special Operations battalions.
With the exception of specialized positions, such as paramilitary operations officers, the majority of NCS special agents enter the agency through four, specific channels: