The newly created Defense Clandestine Service would work closely with the CIA — pairing two organizations that have often seen each other as rivals — in an effort to bolster espionage operations overseas at a time when the missions of the agency and the military increasingly converge.
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.
Obama administration officials have said they want to switch US national security focus away from the Middle East to address long-term issues such as China’s rise and nuclear threats in North Korea and Iran.
Pentagon sources suggested the new service would also focus on Africa, where al-Qaida affiliates are on the rise.
The new service will be relatively small, increasing in numbers “from several hundred to several more hundred” over the next few years, according to defence department officials.
The US already has 16 different intelligence organisations scattered around the defence, state, justice, homeland security and energy departments, as well as the armed services.