WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is considering ending military support for the C.I.A. withdrawals, including the potential withdrawal of much of the C.I.A. Uses, according to current and former officials. The postponement could severely limit the agency’s counter-terrorism efforts, which have expanded significantly since the 9/11 attacks.
The administration is considering several options that could go into effect as early as January 5th. One would reduce the number of Pentagon personnel posted to the agency – many of them special forces deployed in the C.I.A.’s paramilitary division. work. However, other changes that are being considered would be far broader and more consistent, and would make it difficult for the agency to operate from military bases, use the Department of Defense’s medical evacuation capabilities, or conduct covert drone strikes against terrorists in hot spots around the world.
Former officials warned President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. can reverse changes immediately as soon as he takes office next month. However, depending on how quickly the Pentagon makes such decisions, it might be more difficult for the new administration to reverse them quickly.
It wasn’t clear why the Trump administration was pushing its review as Mr Biden could easily turn it back. Some former agency officials viewed the move as a final attempt by President Trump, who has long berated intelligence services over their assessment that Russia intervened to support its 2016 presidential campaign and the C.I.A.
The Pentagon is reviewing a 15-year-old Memorandum of Understanding with the C.I.A. With the aim of moving some staff from supporting the agency to other posts, said a senior administrator. Some in the Pentagon believe the C.I.A. received too many military assets and the Department of Defense would like more say in the allocation.
Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who was appointed assistant secretary of defense for intelligence last month and seen by some career officials as a highly ideological Trump loyalist, pushed the effort forward, current and former officials said. Christopher C. Miller, the acting Secretary of Defense and longtime Army Green Beret, supports it as long overdue and part of the business as usual for the Pentagon, which, according to a senior American official, has to constantly review how it is using its assets.
“The Pentagon has tried to better use its resources to focus more on what is known as the great power competition with China,” Air Force Lt. Col. Uriah L. Orland replied to a request for comment when asked for comment.
“A lot has changed in the first two decades of this century, and D.O.D. just works with C.I.A. to ensure that both D.O.D. and C.I.A. are able to work together to face United States national security challenges, ”he said.
During the C.I.A. Nicole de Haay, a spokeswoman for the agency, declined to discuss the deliberations. She is confident that the close cooperation with the Ministry of Defense will continue “for the coming years”.
“There is no stronger relationship and no better partnership,” she said. “This partnership has resulted in achievements that have greatly improved US national security.”
The review covers the assignment of counter-terrorism military experts assigned by the Pentagon to the C.I.A. were forwarded. However, the changes could be more extensive, according to those notified of the effort.
One version of the plan could reduce the number of military bases the Pentagon has allocated to the C.I.A. Use, and even contain, the number of places in the world where the Department of Defense offers medical evacuation and treatment for officials and contractors.
“That would be a setback for US national security,” said Michael P. Mulroy, former Pentagon chief officer in charge of Middle East policy and former C.I.A. paramilitary officer said in an email about the proposed changes. “As a team, this relationship resulted in some of the greatest successes in Afghanistan, Iraq and the global war on terrorism.”
Defense one reported earlier the Pentagon rating.
Since the 9/11 attacks, the C.I.A. has supplemented its small number of unscrewed armed drones with assets and pilots on loan from the Pentagon. Today, around two thirds to three quarters of the C.I.A. owned by the Air Force and, according to former officials, were loaned out to the agency.
The strikes of the C.I.A. are hidden and are not recognized by the agency. During the Bush and Obama administrations, the C.I.A. used the military’s drones to carry out increasingly deadly air strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. The C.I.A., not the military, has carried out some of the government’s air strikes in recent decades because some host countries prevented the American military from operating on their territory. The C.I.A. can move faster too, argued former officials.
“The C.I.A.’s process of authorizing lethal strikes against individuals is faster than the more bureaucratic procedures used by the military,” said Kevin Carroll, a former C.I.A. Officer. “In this way, decaying, time-critical counter-terrorism goals could be missed.”
C.I.A. Drone strikes have decreased in recent years and the agency has pulled back from strikes in some countries, such as Pakistan, that were once the focus of its operations, according to former officials.
Last year, the Trump administration began curtailing the nation’s counter-terrorism efforts to shift the focus of intelligence services to China. That year, Richard Grenell, then acting director of the National Intelligence Service, ordered a review of the National Counter-Terrorism Center, which resulted in its size being reduced.
Human rights groups are likely to further reduce to C.I.A. Air strikes. You have long spoken out against the targeted murder of terrorist suspects by the government, but you were particularly frustrated with the secrecy of the C.I.A. Program.
“The C.I.A. should not be responsible for targeted killings because it naturally cannot meet international transparency standards,” said Andrea J. Prasow, Washington assistant director at Human Rights Watch.
The Pentagon has notified Biden interim officers that it has closed its agreement in support of the C.I.A. as part of an effort to shift resources from the counter-terrorism mission to the Chinese threat.
Most administrations withhold important decisions in the final days of a president’s term with profound consequences. Former officials say they have signed the company agreement between the C.I.A. and the Pentagon is exactly that kind of global change that should be left to the Biden administration.
However, the agreement could serve to provide the C.I.A. conduct some of its operations in Afghanistan next month as the Pentagon seeks to reduce the number of soldiers there. However, those briefed on the matter say the military has expressed its support for the C.I.A. despite the drawdown orders.
The close relationships between the C.I.A. and military special operations personnel were underscored last month when a C.I.A. paramilitary officer killed in Somalia. General Mark A Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, publicly announced the official’s death in a comment last week to a think tank. General Milley noted that the officer had previously served in the military as a member of the Navy SEALs.
The Pentagon announced last week that virtually all of Somalia’s 700 or so troops – most of the special forces that have conducted training and counter-terrorism missions – will depart by January 15, five days before Mr Biden’s inauguration.
Military officials said the Pentagon will continue to conduct counter-terrorism operations from neighboring Djibouti and Kenya, but the withdrawal of American forces is likely to replace C.I.A. paramilitary officers remaining in Somalia.
For the past two decades, the partnership between the military and C.I.A. has “stopped numerous terrorist attacks” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a former C.I.A. Officer who has spent much of his career in the fight against terrorism.
“The fight against terrorism is not over yet, even if we turn to competition from China and Russia,” he said. “This reported move brings C.I.A. Personnel are also at great risk. At a time when a C.I.A. Officer recently killed in Somalia, it’s hard to imagine why the Ministry of Defense would pull the necessary medevac platforms for our officers at the tip of the spear. “