The Pentagon will send hundreds of
additional spies overseas as part of an ambitious plan to assemble
an espionage network that rivals the Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA) in size, a newspaper report said on Sunday.
The five-year project is aimed at transforming the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which has been dominated in the past decade by the demands of the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, into a spy service focused on emerging threats and more closely aligned with the CIA and elite military commando units, The Washington Post said in its report.
Once the DIA expansion is complete, it will have 1,600 "collectors" deployed around the world -- something unprecedented for the agency, said the report.
In addition to military attaches and others who do not work undercover, more clandestine operatives will be deployed overseas. They will be trained by the CIA and often work with the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, but they will get their spying assignments from the Department of Defense.
"This is a major adjustment for national security," DIA Director Michael Flynn said at a recent conference while outlining the changes.
The sharp increase in DIA undercover operatives is part of a far- reaching trend: a convergence of the military and intelligence agencies that has blurred their once-distinct missions, capabilities and even their leadership ranks, according to the report.
The DIA overhaul, combined with the CIA expansion since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, will create a U.S. spy network of unprecedented size. It reflects the Obama administration's affinity for espionage and covert action over conventional force, said the report.
Pentagon officials added that sending more DIA operatives overseas will shore up intelligence on subjects that the CIA is not able or willing to pursue.
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