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The CIA's "Secret" Army

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Sierra Mike, Jan 27, 2003.

  1. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    I'm popping this one here, because it's somewhat germane...do understand, however, that Special Forces still supplies most of the operational muscle at this point, which is contrary to what this article would have us believe.

    Read all about it at CIA Special Operations Group

  2. Stiofan

    Stiofan Master Po

    I always thought SOG stood for <a href="http://www.psywarrior.com/sog.html">"Studies and Observation Group"</a> from the Vietnam war. Am I correct? Obviously not the same group as these, I wonder why they have co-opted the name.
  3. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Well, an acronym is an acronym...they can be interchangeable. :)

  4. Jedi Writer

    Jedi Writer Guest

    Two pages of the article was all I could take. Were there some accurate facts and truths in what I read? Well, yeah. But it was only to prove the point that just because it is accurate doesn't mean it is true.

    TIME doesn't know dick about the CIA.

    Steve as usual you are right with your comment about Special Forces.

    It is true that at times the CIA personnel work closely with special ops but not as the fighters.

    TIME as usual is wrong about what they claim. Actually I can think of no single organization of substance that is so misunderstood and misrepresented by the media and Hollywood as the CIA.
  5. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Well, it can certainly be championed by the CIA that they need to rebuild the Directorate of Operations; and there are elements to the CIA mission that SOF couldn't effectively pull off. But when it comes to direct action attack missions and armed takedown of baddies for a snatch-and-grab, then SOF is the way to go.

    The Agency always recruited guys from the services. They never tried to recruit me, of course, because they had maybe one situation every ten years that required a pilot, and they had an entire Army of them to choose from. ;) The closest thing we ever had to being poached was by Delta, when they decided they wanted a dedicated heliborne unit to support them 24/7. At that time, the 160th was their primary delivery unit, but they felt they needed something more fulltime, even though to my memory Delta has never once affected a hostage rescue at a moment's notice, save for that guy Muse in Panama. And that happened during JUST (BE)CAUSE.

    I do see some utility in the CIA having their own direct action arm, but as far as the numbers go, if they need special reconnaissance, direct action, or foreign internal defense, then they will likely be using SOF for that.

  6. IamZed

    IamZed ...

    The CIA can not keep up with Special Ops. Ops wakes up in the morning and sees a window of opportunity around lunch time. They hit that by noon. That is why they are the mad dogs they are. You only turn them loose in dire straights. The CIA would plan for weeks how to handle the situation only to realize it has passed.
  7. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Well, I'm not so sure about that--I've run in the SOF world, and I've met only very, very few troops who were "mad dogs," if I'm interpreting your meaning properly. Everyone is definitely mission-oriented, which is how it should be, absolutely. But the article is correct in one instance--here, about the CIA entering Afghanistan:

    And here, an opinion about SOF trying to accomplish the same:

    I would say this has the ring of truth to it, though I must also confess my last operational actions were in 1994, and a lot has changed since then. US Special Operations Command and US Army Special Operations Command (USSOCOM and USASOC, respectively) were riding high on the hog in the 1980s with the Intelligence Support Activity, SOF's own variant of the CIA that was a black op funded and run by SOCOM. ISA provided stellar data, and we used them extensively during EARNEST WILL and PRIME CHANCE, where their intel was so superior to the CIA's that it was incredible. I didn't get to see everything, of course, but the guys in the S-2 shop (S-2 is the intel shop for a military unit, also known as "the spook shack") told us that in a side-by-side comparison, the Activity's data was far more developed and, since it was provided by organic military intel, did not need to be reinterpreted for dissemination into the field.

    As you might suspect, this pissed off the CIA considerably. They in turn began investigating the Activity without alerting SOCOM, and lo and behold, it turned out the folks running the Activity--who were, despite everything, doing their jobs and doing them damned well--were also skimming off the top. They were bombing around town in new Cadillacs and such, and the CIA figured it out and brought the good to SOCOM. I think GEN Lindsay was in charge at that time, and he had so much egg on his face that he spooled down the Activity. The CIA also went to Congress, touting the Activity as being mission replication and crying how their turf was being violated by the military. Lindsay didn't put up much of a fight, because he himself had been compromised as he didn't realize the Activity was misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal use, and was made to look like quite a tool. It didn't help that SOCOM had only come into "legitimate" being in maybe 1987, so to have roadblocks thrown up by the CIA was pretty tough for him to overcome right out of the gate. And the fact was, the folks running the Activity were crooked. They did their jobs, but they also helped themselves to some black money that was completely in SOCOM's control, and for it to be exposed by an external agency with an agenda and a history of dirty tricks was more than any CinC would likely be able to sit down and take like a man. So Lindsay rolled, ISA was shut down, and when we really needed it during JUST CAUSE, they weren't there. We had to rely on CIA data, which was pretty poor militarily.

    And that's always been the case. CIA data isn't tailored for military conflict, and CIA operations teams, while doubtless good at what they do, have their own history of being crooked and ineffective in some circumstances. This is one of those areas where the overlap doesn't overlap at all. It should, but it doesn't, and it likely won't. CIA won't allow it, and SOCOM screwed the pooch right off the bat.

    So when the allegation is made that SOCOM or USASOC will be mired in beauracracy trying to disseminate $3,000,000 in funds, that's no lie. The ISA fallout is responsible for that. Lindsay dropped the ball, and his replacement, GEN Carl Steiner, was left holding the bag--he had to rely on the CIA. It wasn't until Wayne Downing--who I believe is still the #2 guy at Homeland Security, and a great choice for the slot--came on deck that ISA became slightly more legitimate. It's still a tiny, tiny shop, and without a lot of portfolio because the CIA is so damned strong, but they might be on their way for a comeback.

    Which is only a good thing. The CIA took a lot of credit for the intel during DESERT STORM, but I have to tell you, there were nights when I'd crank up my helicopter and elevate to 150 feet and count defiladed Iraqi tanks on the other side of the border. The CIA takes a lot of credit just for knowing that there was a big army on the other side of the forward lines. Big deal.

    Hmm. I had a point in the middle of all of this, but damned if I can remember what it was.

  8. IamZed

    IamZed ...

    I will grant the paperwork bitch. You only trust people with lots cash if the are the CIA. You trust special ops with lots of bullets. When the CIA kills someone in the open large sums of money pass hands. They are a branch of our diplomatic arm and should have the freedom to solve a problem with the green stuff if possible.
    Special Ops is more like SWAT. They dont bribe foreign dignitaries. They shoot first and never ask questions later. At least I hope that is their job. They have been free to self direct their missions for about three months. That is the mad dog part. They need not report nor excuse themselves on their comportment. I dont want them handing anything but lead to anybody.
  9. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    There's a little more complexity to the SOF mission than what you posit--ask any PSYOPS or CA grunt--but in essence, I pretty much agree.


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