CIA and Special Ops are “Deconflicted at All Levels”

02.21.12 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

“I will tell you the relationship between CIA and Special Operations Forces is as good as I have ever seen it,” said Adm. William H. McRaven, Commander of Special Operations Command, in congressional testimony last year. “Both under [CIA] Director Panetta, and now, of course, under Director Petraeus, I think we are going to see that relationship continue to strengthen and blossom.”

The conduct of DoD special operations, including coordination between DoD clandestine operations and CIA covert operations, was the subject of an informative hearing held by the House Armed Services Committee in September.  The record of that hearing has just been published.

“USSOCOM [U.S. Special Operations Command] and the CIA currently coordinate, share, exchange liaison officers and operate side by side in the conduct of DOD overt and clandestine operations and CIA’s covert operations, said Michael D. Lumpkin, acting assistant secretary of defense.

“Our activities are mutually supportive based on each organization’s strengths and weaknesses and overall capabilities. Whichever organization has primary authority to conduct the operation leads; whichever organization has the superior planning and expertise plans it; both organizations share information about intelligence, plans, and ongoing operations fully and completely. Whether one or both organizations participate in the execution depends on the scope of the plan and the effect that needs to be achieved. Currently all USSOCOM and CIA operations are coordinated and deconflicted at all levels.”

“USSOCOM reports all of its clandestine activities quarterly through DOD to Congress for appropriate oversight,” Mr. Lumpkin said.

See “The Future of U.S. Special Operations Forces: Ten Years After 9/11 and Twenty-Five Years After Goldwater-Nichols,” hearing before a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, September 22, 2011.

And see, relatedly, “Budget Requests from the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command,” hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, March 3, 2011.