Intelligence: January 28, 2005

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For many decades, the U.S. Army Special Forces have been working with the CIA to collect intelligence. Over the last few decades, Special Forces troops sometimes did this out of uniform. Multilingual, very intelligent, competitive and highly disciplined, Special Forces were often ideal for espionage operations. But in the last few years, the army has organized this operation for their own purposes, and has developed an intelligence collecting effort that sometimes surpasses that of the CIA. Part of the reason for this is that the Special Forces has more people, trained in the culture and language of foreign areas, than the CIA does. The Department of Defense recently admitted that it had formed the Strategic Support Branch to coordinate these intelligence gathering operations. Since the 1970s, the CIA has been placed under may restrictions when it comes to hiring foreigners to operate as spies. The Department of Defense does not have to operate under these restrictions. Moreover, for decades the Special Forces have trained with many foreign armies, and gotten to know the troops and civilians in these places. These contacts have proved valuable sources of information on what is really going on in many parts of the world. While CIA agents usually operate out of the local American embassy, the Special Forces work with local military forces, officials and civilians. The Special Forces operators are thus closer to what is actually going on in the country. The CIA recognizes the quality of military espionage operatives, but hiring a lot of them, when they leave uniformed service, for field work. Moreover, the Department of Defense has 50,000 people involved in intelligence operations (not counting over 10,000 Special Forces operators), and an intel budget of over $5 billion a year. 

 


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