US sets up new spy agency to focus on Iran and China

US sets up new spy agency to focus on Iran and China

US sets up new spy agency to focus on Iran and China

Two Vietnamese border policemen communicate with port authorities in preparation for the arrival of USS Blue Ridge to Danang, for joint naval exercises. REUTERS photo

The Pentagon is creating a new intelligence agency that will focus on Iran and China as it begins to pivot away from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, the New York Times reported.

The newspaper said late April 23 that the new Defense Clandestine Service would make use of existing agents, authorities and assets and work closely with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to track emerging threats, Agence France-Presse reported. “It will thicken our coverage across the board,” it quoted a senior defense department official as saying. Case officers from the Defense Intelligence Agency already secretly gather intelligence outside of conventional battle zones, the Times said, and the latest move further cements cooperation between the military and the CIA.

The new intelligence service is expected to grow “from several hundred to several more hundred” agents in the coming years by shifting personnel and funding from existing assignments, the Times quoted the official as saying. The officers will be sent to beef up U.S. intelligence teams in areas that are now receiving more attention. Those include Africa, where al-Qaeda is increasingly active, to parts of Asia where the North Korean missile threat and Chinese military expansion are causing increasing U.S. concern, according to the Associated Press.

The announcement of the new agency comes a week after the Pentagon nominated Lieutenant General Michael Flynn to head military intelligence. The selection of Flynn, who had been a strong critic of military intelligence when he served as the top intelligence officer in Afghanistan in 2010, reflects the ascendancy of special forces in recent years.

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