The director of the CIA announced this week a major overhaul of the agency’s organizational structure ending the traditional separation between spies and analysts, while also creating a new division to handle cyberwarfare.
Director John Brennan officially announced the restructure to agency employees on Friday. Thousands of spies and CIA analysts will be reassigned to new posts, marking one of the most significant changes to the agency’s core structure in its 67-year history.
“Never has the need for the full and unfettered integration of our capabilities been greater,” Brennan said in a declassified statement to his employees.
Under the new model, spies and analysts will be integrated and assigned to 10 new mission centers, which, according to Brennan, “will bring the full range of operational, analytic, support, technical, and digital personnel and capabilities to bear on the nation’s most pressing security issues and interests.” Describing the new mission centers, Brennan said, “Assistant Directors will be accountable for integrating and advancing the mission — in all of its various forms — and for overall mission accomplishment in their respective geographic or functional area.”
The reorganization will allow the CIA to “cover the entire universe, regionally and functionally,” Brennan told reporters in a briefing earlier in the week.
Further details on the mandates of the mission centers were hard to come by — the CIA declined to provide additional briefing materials beyond the director’s prepared statements.
The New York Times reported that the centers will focus on “terrorism, weapons proliferation, the Middle East and other areas with responsibility for espionage operations, intelligence analysis and covert actions.” The Washington Post, meanwhile, reported that, “long-standing divisions focused on Africa, the Middle East and other regions will give way to centers of corresponding geographic boundaries. The Directorates of Intelligence and Operations — as the analysis and spying branches are known — will continue to exist, but function mainly as talent pools: recruiting and training personnel that can be deployed to the new centers.”
The fusing of analysts and operatives reflects the influence and power of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. Formerly a small, somewhat maligned office, the Counterterrorism Center emerged in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks as the CIA’s premiere hunter-killer wing, directing lethal operations around the globe, including the agency’s highly controversial and secretive drone program.
In its effort to hunt down suspected terrorists, the Counterterrorism Center has fused thousands of analysts and spies under one umbrella of operations, a move Brennan has supported.
In his remarks Friday, Brennan also announced the creation of a new division called the Directorate of Digital Innovation, which will handle the CIA’s cyber-operations, taking on the responsibilities of two existing directorates — the Open Source Center and the Information Operations Center. The former monitors social media, while the latter conducts cyber-penetrations and attacks.
The new digital directorate will have significantly more leeway than both its predecessors, according Brennan. “What we need to do as an agency is make sure we’re able to understand all of the aspects of that digital environment,” he told reporters.
Defending his sweeping changes to the agency, Brennan compared the CIA to Kodak, the film company that folded in the face of digital technology. “Things just passed them by,” the spy chief said.