WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is beefing up its spy service to send several hundred undercover intelligence officers to overseas hot spots to steal secrets on national security threats after a decade of focusing chiefly on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The move comes amid concerns that the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s spy service, needs to expand operations beyond the war zones and to work more closely with the CIA, according to a senior Defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the classified program.
The new Defense Clandestine Service will comprise about 15% of the DIA’s workforce. They will focus on gathering intelligence on terrorist networks, nuclear proliferators and other highly sensitive threats around the world, rather than just gleaning tactical information to assist military commanders on the battlefield, the official said.
“You have to do global coverage,” the official said.
Some of the new spies thus are likely to be assigned to targets that now are intelligence priorities, including parts of Africa and the Middle East where Al Qaeda and its affiliates are active, the nuclear and missile programs in North Korea and Iran, and China’s expanding military.