The intelligence arm of the Pentagon aims to recruit up to 1,600 intelligence “collectors” to create an international spy network that would rival the CIA in size, sources told The Washington Post.
The Defense Intelligence Agency is placing emphasis on the recruitment of civilians as it seeks to place agents in academic and business executive positions overseas.
Since 9/11, the CIA’s counterterrorism unit has grown from 300 to 2,000 agents. Even with all those new hires, the agency has been unable to keep up with expanding operations. Hundreds of military assignments await the new DIA agents.
With the US pulling out of Afghanistan and operations in Iraq winding down, government officials are looking to change the focus of the DIA away from battlefield intelligence and to concentrate on gathering intelligence on issues including Islamist militant groups in Africa, weapons trades in North Korea and Iran, and the military build up in China.
“It’s the nature of the world we’re in,” said the senior defense official, who is involved in overseeing the changes at the DIA. “We just see a long-term era of change before things settle.”
The DIA’s new recruits would include military attachés and others who do not work undercover. But US officials told the Post that the growth will be driven a new generation of spies who will take their orders from the Department of Defense.