A new intelligence service: Defense Clandestine Service

The Department of Defense on Monday announced that it was establishing a new intelligence service that would focus beyond war zones and immediate tactical needs. The Defense Clandestine Service will work closely with the CIA.

The official said the new service is expected to grow “from several hundred to several more hundred” operatives in the coming years. Despite the potentially provocative name for the new service, the official played down concerns that the Pentagon was seeking to usurp the role of the CIA or its National Clandestine Service.

The key point revealed here, in my opinion, is that this is part of the broader move to supplement imagery and signals intercepts (IMINT and SIGINT) with human factors. That is, the broader socio-political, demographic, economic and cultural factors. The new DIA Director, Michael Flynn, makes this point in the key graf:

While serving in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn published a harsh critique of intelligence operations in that country,criticizing collectors as being too focused on tactical threats and failing to understand the broader demographic and political context of the battlefield.

A DoD spokesman elaborated in another story on this:

According to Kirby, one of the unique aspects of the Defense Clandestine Service will be its Human Intelligence (HUMINT) capabilities, “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.” Kirby eased concerns about the new DOD initiative evolving into a competitor to the CIA. “This isn’t about supplanting anybody, it’s not about taking over anything, it’s not about militarization of intelligence collection; it’s about making us better contributors to the overall team effort.”

(“Technical intelligence” is often a polite way of referring to satellite imagery and intercepts.)

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