CIA reinvents itself to focus on cyber operations

The agency says restructuring will bring it to the digital forefront -- and digital intelligence gathering is now critical.


The CIA is transforming itself in order to prioritize intelligence gathering through technology.

The US Central Intelligence Agency's plans to overhaul itself were revealed in an unclassified letter. Posted on Friday, the "Blueprint for the Future," written by CIA Director John Brennan, detail new initiatives which will drive the agency into the future and allow the organization to leverage the "digital revolution."

Brennan says the overhaul is necessary due to two fundamental shifts in the national security landscape -- a "marked increase" in the range and complexity of issues policymakers now have to cope with, and the "unprecedented pace and impact" of evolving technologies.

The CIA director also says that new units will be created in order to leverage technology in missions more effectively, including a new top-level "Directorate of Digital Innovation" which will lead the agency in using digital tools and methods to gather intelligence.

Each new unit, dubbed "mission centers," will be responsible for preempting threats and furthering US national security objectives -- "with the best possible information, technology, analysis, and operations," according to the director. Each mission center will focus on specific tasks -- such as surveillance or weaponry -- as well as particular geographical areas, such as China.

According to Reuters, the 10 new mission centers will be multi-disciplinary and will bring together CIA officers with varying areas of expertise. In turn, these collaborative efforts will hopefully eradicate the "stove-piping" of critical information related to missions which has fallen through bureaucratic cracks in the past.

The intelligence agency currently operates two such centers, which focus on counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism.

Brennan writes:

"If we are to meet the challenges of the current national security environment, we must take some bold steps toward more integrated, coherent, and accountable mission execution [..] Mission centers will bring the full range of operational, analytic, support, technical, and digital personnel and capabilities to bear on the nation's most pressing security issues and interests."

In addition, a new "Talent Development Center of Excellence" is intended to improve the CIA's recruitment and training.

The CIA also plans to modernize the way it "does business." Due to the "pace of world events and technological change," executives need to improve their decision making -- and so a revamped corporate governance model and new offices are aimed at streamlining support functions and efficiency throughout different departments.

Brennan writes:

"Along with the rest of the CIA leadership team, you can expect my absolute commitment in devoting the necessary attention and making the tough decisions required to lead these changes.

We ask for your support as well as your input and feedback as we move forward with these changes. Together, we will make sure this extraordinary organization continues to reflect the absolute best this Country has to offer and to be indispensable to our Nation's security for many, many years to come."

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