The Pentagon announced Thursday it would cut support to most CIA counterterrorism operations throughout the globe, in an action described by MSM as a “surprising move.” Reports claim Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller sent a letter to CIA Director Gina Haspel Wednesday informing her the Department of Defense would be reviewing its military support of the clandestine agency.
Defense One reported Wednesday citing anonymous sources that DOD was reviewing whether military personnel assigned as “detail” to counterterrorism operators should instead be aiding efforts in near-peer nation states like Russia, or China.
Defense One notes the move was set in motion by “Trump loyalist” Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who was appointed to the position last month by President Trump two days after Election Day.
In a surprising move, the Pentagon has told the CIA that it plans to end the majority of the military support it provides to the agency's counterterrorism missions by Jan. 5, according to a former senior administration intelligence official. https://t.co/FiElnqgLA6
— ABC News (@ABC) December 10, 2020
ABC News reports CIA counterterrorism operators frequently rely on US military for support in their operations:
The CIA’s Special Activities Center carries out covert operations and has its own paramilitary force that carries out counterterrorism operations. While they act as an independent force, they often rely on the military for transportation and logistical support.
Sometimes that means that military personnel end up being detailed to support the CIA’s counterterrorism operations.
While DOD spokesperson Lt. Col. Uriah Orland notes the move is an effort for the Defense Dept. “to better align its allocation of resources with the 2018 National Defense Strategy’s shift to great power competition” such as Russia and China, an anonymous former intelligence official told ABC the action was “surprising and unprecedented.”
Retired CIA officer and ABC News contributor Mick Mulroy also lamented “the end of a very strong and effective relationship between the CIA and the Defense Department.”
“A relationship that has resulted in countless successes in the last 20 years, especially in the area of counterterrorism such as the Bin Laden and al-Baghdadi operations, but also in many that will remain unknown,” Mulroy claimed.
On Twitter, the CIA slap down was widely interpreted as President Donald Trump moving to dismantle the agency and “finish what JFK started.”