But Thursday marked the formal launch date of more than a dozen new—or at least newly named—entities, all outlined on the CIA’s Twitter feed and Facebook page in social media posts that reflect the cultural forces reshaping the once-secret spy service.
Perhaps the most ambitious addition is the Directorate of Digital Innovation, which is responsible for helping the CIA adapt to evolving technologies and is the first new directorate at the agency since 1963. The unit is led by a career analyst, Andrew Hallman, who previously served as a briefer to President George W. Bush.
In an interview with the DefenseOne news site, Hallman said that virtually every aspect of the CIA’s mission is under digital assault. “We have to come up with new ways to operate in a much more connected environment and still be clandestine,” he said. He also cited the surging importance of social media as a source of intelligence, saying that the Islamic State’s massive presence online “is a rich source of info for us.”
The CIA also identified 10 new “mission centers,” which will combine analysts and operators in hybrid units focused on specific parts of the world or security threats. Most track longstanding CIA alignments, with centers devoted to weapons proliferation, for example, and the Near East.
The centers are largely modeled on what for years had been known as the CTC, the counter-terrorism unit that mushroomed in size after the Sept. 11 attacks and became a paramilitary entity with its own fleet of armed drones.
But even that center has faced changes. Its chain-smoking chief was replaced and given a lower-profile assignment evaluating CIA programs for Brennan. And the CTC name is giving way to the more cumbersome “Mission Center for Counterterrorism.”
The proliferation of such clunky acronyms, and the agency’s expenditures on management consultants during the reorganization , have drawn fire from CIA veterans otherwise supportive of the changes. One bridled at the jargon employed in Thursday’s announcement, with references to the agency’s “Modernization journey” and “cycles of digital innovation.”
“They need another directorate to teach them how to write in English,” the former CIA official said.