Here is an interesting peek at the increasing militarisation of the Central Intelligence Agency or CIA, the premier espionage service of the United States – the one you see in all the movies and TV shows – from John R. Schindler, a conservative author with links to the clandestine world of the US’ über-spooks (I should note that the former Naval War College professor has been mired in controversy for some time now, from his critiques of Edward Snowden to his own personal peccadilloes, but he does present some valuable views from inside the intelligence industry).
Since the late 1990s and early 2000s the CIA has taken on a far greater role in armed operations against the perceived enemies of the United States around the world, notably of course in the so-called War on Terror. This has manifested itself in the career-advancing importance of the Special Operations Group (SOG), the CIA’s paramilitary wing, which is managed by the Special Activities Division or SAD (in typical American onion-layer bureaucracy SAD is in turn part of the National Clandestine Service or NCS). Through SOG’s “Paramilitary Operations Officers” and “Specialized Skills Officers“, and in co-operation with the alphabet-soup of acronymized secret armies under the direction of the hush-hush Joint Special Operations Command, the CIA engages in direct and indirect military actions against targets selected by assessors elsewhere in the organisation. As with Britain’s counter-insurgency operations in the north-east of Ireland during the course of the Long War it is frequently dirty work, where the ends justify the means, however debatable the final results (of course the UK’s inept strategies simply walked the country into a military-political cul-de-sac resulting in a face-saving compromise with its Irish Republican opponents in 1998).
To this highlighting of all things spook I should also add two recent articles by the Guardian newspaper in Britain on the importance of “cyber-warfare” for the Russian Federation. The headlines pretty much illustrate the stories, “Salutin’ Putin: inside a Russian troll house. Former workers tell how hundreds of bloggers are paid to flood forums and social networks at home and abroad with anti-western and pro-Kremlin comments” and the follow-up “Inside the Kremlin’s hall of mirrors
Fake news stories. Doctored photographs. Staged TV clips. Armies of paid trolls. Has Putin’s Russia developed a new kind of information warfare – fought in the ‘psychosphere’ rather than on the battlefield? Or is it all just a giant bluff?“. I know at least one Baltic observer here on ASF who will find much to agree with in the latter piece.
Talking of paramilitary wings, the legion of the rearguard in Republican Sinn Féin held a commemoration in Lurgan to mark the 99th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916. The event’s summation was the firing of several shots by an armed Volunteer of the (Continuity) Irish Republican Army or (C)IRA. Things, as you can see in the video, did not go as smoothly – or as professionally – as the organisers may have hoped for. Such is the nature of guerilla warfare. Of course you may legitimately ask yourself: which RSF and which (C)IRA were present in the graveyard? The “movement” has been in tatters for several years now, completely eclipsed by (formerly Provisional) Sinn Féin on one side and the likes of the 32CSM and RNU on the other (I could have mentioned Éirígí but since no one else does, why should I?). I stopped following the tribulations of RSF/(C)IRA some time ago following the emergence of rival factions based in Limerick, Dublin and Belfast, each claiming shrill legitimacy. All those splits were giving me a headache.
In a world where groups of politically-committed men and women can bring down the infrastructure of nation-states through weapons no more lethal than a computer with a good broadband connection you have to wonder about those dedicated to outdated (and frequently pathetic) displays of armed capability.