According to a report from Defense One, President Trump’s new Pentagon appointees are reviewing the Defense Department’s (DOD) support for CIA counter-terrorism operations.
Two sources told Defense One that CIA Director Gina Haspel had already received a letter from Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller that said a long-standing arrangement between the Pentagon and the spy agency is in jeopardy.
An anonymous senior defense official told CNN that the administration is planning to cut most Pentagon support for CIA counter-terrorism operations by early next year.
The Defense One report said the initiative is the pet project of Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who was appointed to his position during President Trump’s Pentagon shake-up.
According to CNN, the change could happen in January and would involve returning DOD personnel detailed to the CIA and some military equipment, including Predator drones. Another official told CNN that the incoming Biden administration would reverse the move.
One aspect of the plan is to determine if DOD personnel assigned to the CIA should instead be involved with missions to compete with Russia and China. The move is another sign of the Pentagon’s focus away from counter-terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa towards so-called “great power competition” with Russia and China as outlined in the 2018 National Defense Strategy.
A Pentagon spokesperson responded to questions from The Hill about the plan. “Much has changed in the first two decades of this century, and DOD simply is working with CIA to ensure that both DOD and CIA are able to jointly confront the national security challenges facing the United States consistent with the NDS,” the spokesperson said.