Saturday, December 26, 2009

CIA Paramilitary Operations: 9/11 Report Recommendations

Recommendation 32 of the 9/11 Commission report states: “Lead responsibility for directing and
executing paramilitary operations, whether clandestine or covert, should shift to the Defense
Department. There it should be consolidated with the capabilities for training, direction, and
execution of such operations already being developed in the Special Operations Command.” The
9/11 Commission’s basis for this recommendation appears to be both performance and cost-based.
The report states that the CIA did not sufficiently invest in developing a robust capability
to conduct paramilitary operations with U.S. personnel prior to 9/11, and instead relied on
improperly trained proxies (foreign personnel under contract) resulting in an unsatisfactory
outcome. The report also states that the United States does not have the money or people to build
“two separate capabilities for carrying out secret military operations,” and suggests that we
should “concentrate responsibility and necessary legal authorities in one entity.”

Some observers question whether procedures are in place to insure overall coordination of effort.
Press reports concerning an alleged lack of coordination during Afghan operations undoubtedly
contributed to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation regarding paramilitary operations.7
Although such accounts have been discounted by some observers, the Intelligence Reform and
Terrorism Prevention Act (P.L. 108-458) included a provision (Section 1013) that requires DOD
and CIA to develop joint procedures “to improve the coordination and deconfliction of operations
that involve elements” of the CIA and DOD. When separate missions are underway in the same
geographical area, the CIA and DOD are required to establish procedures to reach “mutual
agreement on the tactical and strategic objectives for the region and a clear delineation of
operational responsibilities to prevent conflict and duplication of effort.”


7 See, for instance, Jonathan Weisman, “CIA, Pentagon Feuding Complicates War Effort,” USA Today, June 17, 2002,
p. 11. Another account cites CIA claims that the DOD command process is “bureaucratic and slow-rolling because of
an execution-by-committee process;” as well as complaints by DOD officials that in past conflicts little information
acquired by CIA “could be used by the military for strike activities because it disappeared into the black hole of the
intelligence universe.” See David A. Fulghum, “CIA Trigger Men Trouble Military,” Aviation Week & Space
Technology, Nov. 26, 2001, p. 39.

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