The Defense Clandestine Service is a unit of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) staffed by military and DoD civilian personnel. It was announced on 23 April 2012 by the Pentagon to ramp up spying operations against high-priority targets such as Iran and China under an intelligence reorganization aimed at expanding on the military’s espionage efforts beyond war zones.
The new service would work closely with the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command in an effort to bolster espionage operations overseas. The plan was developed in response to a classified study completed in 2011 by the Director of National Intelligence that concluded that the military’s espionage efforts needed to be more focused on major targets beyond the tactical considerations of Iraq and Afghanistan. While in the past DIA was effectively conducting its traditional, and much larger, mission of providing intelligence to troops and commanders in war zones, it needed to focus more attention outside the battlefields on what is called “national intelligence” - gathering and distributing information on global issues and sharing that intelligence with other agencies.
The realignment is expected to affect several hundred operatives who already work in spying assignments abroad, mostly as case officers for the DIA, which serves as the Pentagon’s main source of human intelligence and analysis. The new service is expected to grow from several hundred to and estimated 1,600 operatives and is intended to rival the espionage network of the CIA.
Similar to how the National Clandestine Service subsumed the former Director of Operations at the CIA, DCS will absorb the former Defense HUMINT Service, the Defense Attache System, and the former Defense Human Intelligence and Counterterrorism Center (and the therefore the Counterintelligence Field Activity) to create an integrated Department of Defense espionage service. Further, DCS will more clearly delineated career paths will give DIA case officers better opportunities to continue their espionage assignments abroad.