Pentagon to expand espionage role, sending more spies to global hotspots


An Iranian woman walks past a mural painting of a revolver on the walls of the former US embassy in Tehran during a protest marking the 27th anniversary of the seizure of the US diplomatic mission by Islamist students.

The Pentagon is moving further into the espionage business, sending more of its case officers to gather intelligence alongside CIA officers in places like China and Iran.

The new Defense Clandestine Service is part of an intelligence reorganization approved last week by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, according to the Washington Post.

A senior defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the move came amid concerns that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Pentagon’s existing spy service, needed to expand operations beyond the war zones — "at a time when the missions of the agency and the military increasingly converge."

According to Zee News, Pentagon spies already gather intelligence globally on everything from terrorism to weapons of mass destruction, mostly working out of CIA stations in embassies.

However, officers were not always rewarded for their espionage expertise — with promotions and the like — and so often left for the CIA, the defense official said.

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That was the finding of an internal study by the director of National Intelligence last year, according to the LA Times

The Times wrote that the new service would comprise about 15 percent of the DIA’s workforce and would focus on gathering intelligence on terrorist networks, nuclear proliferators and other highly sensitive international threats.

Intelligence priorities include parts of Africa and the Middle East, where Al Qaeda was active, the nuclear and missile programs in North Korea and Iran, and China’s expanding military

“You have to do global coverage,” the Times quoted the official as saying.

Several hundred case officers in the field — some military and some civilian — would answer directly to the top intelligence representative in their post, usually the CIA's chief of station, as well as their agency back home, the Associated Press reported

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