Working with the CIA


2001 Garrett Jones

From Parameters, Winter 2001-02, pp. 28-39.

Go to Winter issue Table of Contents.

Go to Cumulative Article Index.

In 1993, I had the privilege of being a CIA student at the US Army War College. During the academic year, I had some frank exchanges with my military colleagues about the intelligence community and how those military leaders viewed it, rightly or wrongly. The two principal conclusions I came away with were: (a) the intelligence community does not know enough about the military and its operations, and (b) the military does not know enough about the intelligence community and its operations.

Immediately upon graduation from the War College, I was selected as the CIA Chief in Mogadishu, Somalia. Within 30 days, I was on the ground there, trying to come to grips with the quickly evolving crisis.

This article will not be about the policy disaster that took place in Somalia, however. Rather, it will seek to illuminate the working relationship between the military and the CIA, offering some of the knowledge I gained in Mogadishu and over a career. In a way, it is the incoming brief I wish I could have given to the Ranger Task Force commander and his senior staff when they arrived in Somalia.

This article is geared to the military commander and his senior staff who will be working closely with the CIA in the field, perhaps for the first time in their careers. This is not a guideline on how to do things; it is more a checklist of aspects to which you should give some thought. The article emphasizes field operations because that is my expertise; the headquarters-to-headquarters dance that occurs in Washington is a completely different animal.

Mogadishu, of course, was an extreme case. While many of the instances of close, tactical support of military operations by the CIA will in fact be in Third World countries, you can't get much more rock-bottom than Mogadishu was in 1993.

Spies Come in Different Flavors

All employees of the Central Intelligence Agency may share some commonalities, but the several types you are likely to encounter supporting you during an operational deployment will differ widely in their training, experience, and background. The type that military officers will most likely encounter during their career is an intelligence analyst. If you have attended a briefing at the Pentagon or another senior command that was given by the Central Intelligence Agency, the briefer was probably an intelligence analyst.

An intelligence analyst is an employee of the Directorate of Intelligence. Analysts generally hold advanced degrees in academic fields that may or may not relate to your mission. They are selected for their clear analytical thinking, and they are trained and experienced in briefing senior decisionmakers and writing for publication in finished intelligence reports. They may never have met a real live "asset" (a spy), and they almost certainly have no experience in directing clandestine operations in the field.

The second type you generally encounter in direct support of your operations is a case officer. Case officers are employees of the Directorate of Operations. They are the people who recruit and run the assets. They are generally selected for their adaptability, street smarts, and ability to function independently. They are all college graduates, and if they have on-the-ground experience in your area of operations, they will be a wealth of information on how the society and culture operate and what makes the locals tick. They probably have never given a stand-up briefing to an assembled group such as your command staff, and they generally would not know a PowerPoint slide if it fell on them. Their most common written work product is the raw intelligence report.

Which type is best for you? That depends on what you want. If you're looking for research, the collation of published background material, or excellent briefing skills, you're probably better served by an intelligence analyst. On the other hand, if you're trying to find out whether a piece of information can be obtained by human assets, or what's likely going through the head of an asset who reported a piece of information, an experienced case officer is probably your best choice. There are exceptional individuals who can do it all, but it is really incumbent upon you to find out the background of the individual that you just asked to make a judgment call. Is this what he or she is good at, or did you just ask a plumber about paint selection?

Like every other organization, the CIA is not going anywhere without its talented and capable support officers. These individuals come in the form of logistics officers, communicators, specialized technicians, and people with every other arcane skill set you can imagine. Much like your support staff, these are the people who keep the wheels on the organization so that the case officers and the analysts can devote their time to their specialties. You should encourage your support personnel to meet with their CIA counterparts early and often. Not only will this promote smooth liaison between staffs, but CIA support specialists also generally have long experience in dealing with the surprises that support and logistical operations in the Third World can present. Your people may well learn something from them.

Spy Stations Come in Different Shapes

Okay, now you have your own personal nest of spies attached to your command. What does this organization look like? As is usually the case, it depends. If you are at a large command, like an area CINC, there probably is a CIA office that predates you. An analyst usually staffs it, and it acts as the clearinghouse through which the command receives intelligence and analysis directly from the CIA as well as a conduit for the command's requests to the CIA for information and analysis. It will also arrange the travel and housing of any CIA experts or specialists brought in to support the command. It normally has an existing place on the command's TO&E (table of organization and equipment) and usually coordinates directly with the joint intelligence officer, the J-2, or equivalent.

Moving from the least to the most ad hoc structures, the next one you might see is an intelligence support element. This is generally called a National Intelligence Support Team (NIST), though it has also been called an Incident Response Team and other terms. This is a team of CIA personnel put together to support a command when a CIA office is not already in place. It carries out the same functions as an established office, transmitting your command's requests for information and distributing incoming CIA intelligence and analysis intended for your command. The team will bring its own communications, but it will rely on your logistics support for food, housing, and office space. While the equipment and procedures are off-the-shelf items, and efforts are made to man this team with individuals who have area knowledge about your mission, it is very much a pickup team--you essentially get the luck of the draw. Staffing will depend on the size and nature of the US forces involved, the location of the area of operations, the amount and type of intelligence available on potential targets, the presence or absence of a CIA field station, and other factors. In short, every NIST is different. The personnel will be very competent at what they do, but they may or may not have "on the ground" value-added for your particular mission.

The next sort of structure you might encounter is an established CIA station situated in a foreign country near the country or area that is your intended area of operations. Typically the station operates out of an in-country US installation, with or without the knowledge of the host country. A good example of this would be a situation in which your command deploys or stages to a friendly country prior to conducting operations in a nearby hostile country. This is also the first time you will run into a Chief of Station (COS, pronounced like the initials C-O-S, not "coz"). The COS is the personal representative of the Director of Central Intelligence, and he is responsible for all civilian intelligence and counterintelligence activities within his area of operations. In a country where a CIA station exists, the only civilian official technically senior to the COS in the areas of intelligence or counterintelligence is the US Ambassador. A good Ambassador will generally rely heavily on the COS concerning intelligence matters and will rarely overrule the COS's judgment.

This is also the first time you will run into case officers running assets in the field. These officers have real live people spying for them, and they are responsible for their assets' security and production. That said, you should remember that the CIA station was almost certainly not established to support your command or mission. The station's officers already have a full-time job going after their assigned intelligence targets; your mission is another full-time job they have just been handed.

Depending on the situation, the case officers may be able to immediately support your command with intelligence obtained from the host country's service, if they have a liaison relationship. Alternatively, some of their existing unilateral assets--assets recruited to report on another target--might just happen to have access to information that is useful to you. If you have been receiving this type of intelligence before your deployment, you are now face-to-face with the case officers who handle the assets and write the reports you have been reading. If they do not have preexisting unilateral or liaison assets who can report in support of your mission, they will have scoured the local scene to find someone who can report on the subject in an accurate and timely manner. Whatever the case, they will also transmit your requests for information to the CIA while receiving and passing along CIA reports intended for your command. Since they are already on the ground and operating, they normally will impose no drain on your logistics--in fact, they are frequently an excellent source of information for your logistics people on getting things done in the local environment.

The final configuration you're likely to see is a station that has been created especially for your mission. This station has probably existed with your force in some sort of informal limbo prior to your force's executing its mission and entering hostile territory. Its officers generally will have been running assets located in hostile territory or have a list of assets to reactivate upon the arrival of US forces. The COS and case officers in this configuration generally will have a background in the geographical area in which you are operating. Initially this sort of station will be a logistics burden on your command, until you have established a viable main supply route. Once the CIA's own logistics people can move in, the station will generally be self-sustaining except for perimeter security and force protection matters. From a force commander's standpoint, this is the best sort of station to have. There will be no Ambassador or embassy staff to divert their focus, and they will share your mission goals from the beginning.

They Are Green Tab Commanders, Too

The Chief of Station with whom you're working in the field is every bit as much of an operational commander (a green tab commander) as one of your infantry leaders or one of the commanders of your aviation elements. He has assets and case officers (Americans) on the ground and moving around in your operational area. In fact, if he's doing his job, he has assets and case officers focused in territory controlled by forces other than yours. That's why he is there. Whether it's the enemy's plans and intentions or advance warning concerning force protection, by definition the purpose of operational CIA elements is to provide you with information that you cannot obtain in any other way. The numbers and degree of intelligence operations in hostile territory will vary from situation to situation, but you should keep in mind that while the COS's operations can benefit you and your mission, your response to his intelligence--as well as actions you take as a result of other information input--can severely damage his ability to support you. The COS has the same responsibility to protect his people as you do for any of your soldiers. While both the assets and the case officers engaged in supporting your mission are aware that they must take risks, like everyone in your command they also want go home at the end of the mission.

The ever-present dynamic of protecting sources and methods versus acting on intelligence information will not go away on the battlefield. Whether you are executing an attack based on direct information obtained by assets in the field or responding to a threatening situation posed by the adversary, the conflict of protecting sources and methods and carrying out your mission will be an ongoing problem. The necessity for close liaison and communication with the COS and his officers is never more necessary than in these situations. No COS wants to lose the ability of an asset or assets to report on a target, especially when those assets have been expensive and time-consuming to put in place. That said, most COSs are mature enough to understand that sometimes that needs to be done. Where these situations arise, the COS can almost always recommend how you can go about accomplishing your mission while minimizing damage to the assets he will need to support you in the future.

Perhaps the most dangerous situation assets and case officers find themselves in, when they are operating in hostile territory in advance of US forces, is when they become inadvertently involved in combat actions aimed at the enemy. By the nature of what they're trying to accomplish, they are often near or attempting to get near enemy locations--i.e., your targets. The COS and his case officers have a legitimate need to preserve operational security as well as to retain sufficient flexibility in order to carry out their jobs. You, on the other hand, have a legitimate need to protect your forces and carry out your mission. There is no hard and fast rule about how to resolve these often-conflicting needs.

Perhaps a good example of this sort of conflict, and its solution, is one that occurred in Mogadishu when our case officers and assets were attempting to locate Somali warlord Mohammed Farrah Aideed. Not surprisingly, this required that our assets be located in positions frequented by Aideed's forces. The warlord's forces were hostile to both the US and the UN's presence in Mogadishu, and they regularly demonstrated their hostility by lobbing mortar shells into UN positions. The US commander supporting the UN mission in Mogadishu understandably responded to these attacks with counter-battery fire. Early on, this led to some quite excited and graphic protests from assets who were operating in Aideed's territory at the direction of our case officers. Friendly fire being no more friendly to intelligence assets than anyone else, this was a problem. Fortunately, an excellent relationship existed with the US military commander and his subordinates, and the organizations were quickly able to establish a simple procedure whereby case officers would be given a quiet heads-up should counter-battery fire be authorized. This permitted assets to safely depart the area, while still retaining for the commander the flexibility of responding as he saw fit to individual threats. While there were occasional glitches, and casualties did occur both to assets and case officers while operating in Mogadishu, they were never related to friendly fire.

Ops Tempo Literally Kills People

One of the primary concerns of a commander facing a hostile force is that the intelligence upon which he bases his actions, no matter from what source, must be both accurate and timely. While accuracy when dealing with human assets is often a function of the assets' training and their access to the target, timeliness often becomes a real security concern for both the case officer and the asset he is handling. Access to information is why the asset was recruited. The case officer handling the asset usually provides training in the clandestine arts. The skill of the people involved and the luck of the draw will often govern these factors. A smart asset with fair access can often through his own efforts outperform a not-so-smart asset with good access.

In normal circumstances, the timing of personal meetings with an asset or the receipt of impersonal communications from an asset is usually dictated by the level of hostility present or the threat of detection in the local operational environment. While meetings are on occasion dictated by events, as a general rule it can be stated that every personal meeting or impersonal communication holds the potential of compromising the security of an asset; thus, they occur no more often than is absolutely necessary. That being the case, the schedule of meetings or communications--i.e., the need for intelligence--is carefully balanced against the threat of compromise.

You may take it as a given that the arrival of US forces in a country, or in any nearby country, will generate an increased level of watchfulness on the part of both friendly and hostile counterintelligence services. This translates to a higher degree of threat for clandestine human operations. Your command's need for intelligence will always result in a dramatic increase in the frequency of meetings or communications. This increase in risk, no matter how careful the operational planning, will sooner or later result in the station or base "using up" its assets in support of your operations. While in a philosophical sense that is what intelligence operations are ultimately for, from a practical standpoint this will sooner or later affect you negatively. A source you find particularly useful may become compromised, access to information may dry up, and the difficulty in obtaining asset reports may increase. You should expect this. You should also expect that new assets will be brought on board to provide new access to targets of interest, or to replace assets who have been operationally spent. With new people doing new tasks, there are going to be screw-ups, mistakes, confusion, and missteps--one hopes they won't be fatal. Keep this in mind when dealing with information from new sources, but rest assured that both the case officers and the assets are paddling as fast as they can.

On a final note in this regard, in most countries the punishment for espionage is death or a long imprisonment for the assets, while the case officers are expelled if they are lucky. Everyone involved knows that each meeting or communication is dangerous and that the downside for mistakes is huge. Additional pressure from you or your staff is normally not constructive. Tell the case officers what you need and where your decision points are; extraneous screaming and yelling are counterproductive.

Combat Search and Rescue--We Need to Talk about it Now, not Later

No one ever wants to court misfortune, but Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) is a subject that must be discussed in advance. Waiting to figure out how to employ the CIA's human assets until you already have personnel on the ground threatened with capture is truly a losing proposition. Every commander being supported by a CIA element that has human assets in the field needs to address this subject before it becomes a reality. As the force commander, you can also expect to referee what will likely be the most emotional subject that will come up in the course of your relationship with your CIA counterpart.

While each situation will be different, several common threads will run through almost all settings. What do you tell the human assets, who among them do you tell, and how much do you tell them? What do you tell US personnel? Do you tell the assets to actively assist the US personnel to escape and evade, or tell them to just report the sighting and monitor the situation? It seems simple--you always have them actively assist, right? Not so fast. Can they really help, or will their active search for your personnel draw more attention from hostile forces than it will help? Does the asset in question have the gumption to help without falling apart from fear, or would he be more helpful providing you with accurate updates so that your own command can stage a recovery? Even if he has the nerve to hide your people, what does he do then? Try to pass them back to friendly lines, or hide them until you can get to them? How good is their security, and has the asset been upping his "profile" by reporting on hostile activity for your command? How hard are the bad guys going to look for your people--is everyone within ten square kilometers going to be slaughtered because someone helped them? Hard decisions are better made in advance, with time for reflection, rather than on the tarmac while trying to get a rescue mission in the air.

Working out search and rescue procedures will be an emotional experience. Your staff will be talking about rescuing their friends; the COS will want to help, but also will be rightly thinking about his responsibilities to his assets--people he probably knows personally. This can turn into a nasty "us versus them" debate if you as a commander don't make it clear from the beginning that everyone has real concerns and everyone is looking for the best answer. Don't make the mistake of ignoring or taking for granted this possible resource. Cooperative planning in advance will use up some staff time, but it may save the life of one of your soldiers.

We Believe Each Other's Propaganda

Ever since the elimination of the military draft in the United States 30 years ago, the population at large has grown less and less experienced with military operations and the military life. This is true of intelligence officers as well as the general population. Few of the case officers or analysts you work with will have personal military experience as an enlisted or commissioned member of the armed services. Their experience will be what they have acquired during their careers with the CIA, and it may not have any bearing on the mission you have before you as a commander. That being the case, you need to ensure that they understand what you need and why you need it.

In many cases the intelligence officers' pool of military knowledge is going to be what they have seen or read of the military in the media. This means they may believe that you are ten feet tall, that you jump from airplanes equipped with only thick rubber soles, and that your mere appearance on the battlefield will suppress the enemy's fire. You should expect that you and your staff will have to educate your CIA colleagues as to what your forces can and cannot realistically be expected to do, and most important, what kind of information you need and why you need it in order to make intelligent decisions involving the safety and success of your force. What you will have going for you in this situation is that the CIA personnel you will be working with will be highly motivated to provide the information you need.

While we are speaking of misinformation, you should remember that you and your staff are in most instances going to be no better informed about the details of the intelligence profession than the general public. Few case officers ever covertly break into an enemy installation la James Bond, and even fewer analysts ever get involved in field operations la a Tom Clancy character. You and your people need to educate yourselves by asking lots of questions. Don't worry about asking about something sensitive--if you don't need to know, they will tell you so. While we are on the subject, what should you as the senior commander be expected to be told about an intelligence operation or asset? Almost everything. This is not transferable to your staff; you are the commander, and they aren't. The only information a case officer will be reluctant to share with you is information that will directly identify his asset. The asset's life generally rides on the disclosure of this information, and the case officer would forget it himself if he could. Other than this area, ask questions. You will be surprised by the detailed replies you will receive.

We Are Divided by a Common Language

Since you became a professional military officer, you have been befuddling and bewildering the civilians around you with the use of initials, jargon, and slang. In dealing with CIA case officers in the field, you have just met your match. CIA officers routinely use initials, slang, acronyms, and terms that have only the vaguest relationships with their standard English definitions. They do it every bit as unconsciously as you do, and like you, they slip into it quickly when they are discussing work-related matters. They are no more trying to confuse you than you are trying to confuse the civilians with whom you interact professionally. You will need to do what I am sure has been done to you on more than one occasion. Stop them and make them explain in detail what it is they are talking about. If you as an experienced commander are a bit confused, your junior staff officer--who is sitting at the table and may be involved in the execution of the matter under discussion--probably got lost somewhere after the CIA officer said "Hello." With a little goodwill on both sides, this can usually be sorted out fairly quickly and a shared vocabulary developed, but never hesitate to make the CIA officer explain, in English, what he is saying.

A good example of this lack of a shared common language occurred in my own experience when a senior commander was informed that a CIA station was planning a "cross-border operation" in his AO (area of operations). The commander, to whom a "cross-border operation" meant a raid by an armed force to destroy or seize a target, was justifiably upset (an understatement) at not having been consulted. He was considerably mollified when it was explained that in this case what the CIA station had meant by a cross-border operation was to give an asset bus fare to his home village with instructions to look around and report back on what he had seen. Talk to each other in plain English; it will prevent a lot of misunderstanding.

An Asset Is Not a Commando or Hero

If you are going to be the primary recipient of a human source, you need to understand a little bit about what makes them tick. Before everything else, human assets are recruited because they have access to secret information that can be obtained in no other manner. This means that not only may the asset not be a nice person, it also means he was not selected because he was brave, smart, or particularly hard-working. He needs to be frightened enough of the consequences of being caught at what he is doing to be careful, while still being enough of a risk-taker to get his information to his case officer. This requires a strong motivation on the part of the asset, especially when the case officer is not close at hand to provide constant reassurance. While money almost always plays some part in any asset's relationship with his case officer, I have always found that the best assets are at the bottom driven by revenge. Money is just a way of keeping score. Whether he is getting even with his boss, secretly showing up his classmates, or working against his government to avenge an old wrong, revenge is the flame that keeps the best assets warm at night. Thus, by definition, the best assets are pretty strange people. The case officers handling these assets normally develop a fairly complicated relationship with their assets, becoming everything from father confessor to morale booster, from disciplinarian to best buddy. Like sausages and laws, if you have a queasy stomach, you don't want to see the case officer-asset relationship up close.

What you cannot expect from an asset is that he is a junior model of one of your own troops. He is not, nor was he ever selected to be, a commando. Unless he is a very unusual asset, lying in the tall weeds and watching a target all night is not going to be his strong suit. You need to remember that his normal mode of spying is by repeating what he hears from people he meets or by stealing documents that come across his desk. If you ask him to do something new and strange, he will react like most people. He will attempt to get out of tasks he does not like, lie to his case officer if frightened, and generally not show up if pushed too far. As noted earlier, existing CIA stations were not established in order to support your mission, and existing CIA human assets were not originally recruited to support your mission. There is going to be a learning curve, and you can expect a lot of frustration on both sides before the human assets finally get the hang of what you want from them. The situation eventually gets better, but it takes a while.

Odds and Ends

What is an Ambassador and Why Should I Care?

You have your orders from the CINC and your mission is clear. You are staging from a friendly country with an accredited and resident US Ambassador, but you can ignore him or her; after all you have your orders from the National Command Authorities. Right? Wrong. The US Ambassador is the personal representative of the President of the United States. Ambassadors can't exactly give you a direct order concerning your operations or force posture but they can have your orders from the CINC changed in Washington, D.C., quicker than you think. The best thing for you to do as a commander operating in an Ambassador's country is to consider him as a "four-star" who lives and works in your area of operations and has the authority to look over your shoulder. It is much better if the Ambassador is a friend, not an opponent. Most of them are bright, hard-working people, and, considering the way the United States selects its political appointees, they are generally better people than we have a right to expect.

A few tips on getting along with Ambassadors: keep them informed, treat them with respect, keep them informed, be polite with their embassy staff, keep them informed, remember that embassy resources are limited, and, finally, keep them informed. Keeping the Ambassador informed will make or break your relationship with him or her. If the Ambassador is on your side, he can become an advocate at the echelons that are inhabited by politicians and Joint Chiefs of Staff. Conversely, an unhappy and vocal Ambassador can generate a visit from a real four-star wanting to know what the problem is. You don't have time for that sort of thing. The easiest way to handle this situation is to assign to the Ambassador a personal liaison officer. Don't slide this off to some junior officer who doesn't seem to be too busy. This is an important relationship; treat it like one. You need a smart, experienced, mid-level officer who can answer questions and handle unusual situations without becoming flustered. If you have a Defense Attachassigned to the embassy, this can be an excellent place to put your officer, but do not rely on the Defense Attachto carry your water. He has his own agenda, his fitness report is written by the Ambassador, and he has a personal relationship with the Ambassador you may or may not want to inherit.

The presence of US forces in-country always results in a dramatic rise in workload for an embassy. Having one of your officers in the embassy that is familiar with the command structure and the individual units involved is a great resource for the embassy. Make sure your liaison officer understands that helping the embassy deal with the presence of your command is part of his job. Whatever else the liaison officer does, make sure he gets in to see the Ambassador at least once a day, even if it is to tell him that there is nothing important going on or planned.

Use the Same Maps or at Least Know What Map the Asset is Using

If you are fortunate enough to have human assets in the field reporting back on the location of targets or items of interest, try to use the same maps, or at least know what maps they are using to report or record the locations. It seems like a simple thing, but often it is not. The asset must preserve his own personal security, and running around in "Indian Territory" with a fistful of maps produced by the US National Imagery and Mapping Agency is not the way to do it. In the Third World, Michelin Tire Company's road maps are normally widely available, innocuous, and about as accurate as the average guy on the street can safely carry. If an asset is reporting back in person or by real-time communications, attempt to arrange to keep him available for questions. Recent overhead, which you will generally be working from, and commercial Third World maps, which he will generally be working from, often take a little finessing to match up. A few short questions early in the history of a report can often clear up any confusion. The case officer handling the asset will always do his best to accurately convert his asset's report to standard grid references. However, details of great interest to you--such as avenues of approach or the height of obstacles from the ground--can often get lost in the process. Explain your needs: good case officers will take all the help they can get to turn out a better intelligence product.

Station or Base--What's in a Name?

When you get involved with a CIA operational presence overseas, you will hear the terms "station" and "base" tossed around without a lot of explanation and with no apparent distinction. There is a difference, which may or may not become important down the road. The station is the senior installation, headed by a Chief of Station (the COS). A base is a subordinate installation, headed by a Chief of Base (COB). While a base normally communicates directly with Washington, the COS, even if he is not collocated with the base, is technically responsible for all of its communications and activities. The way this normally works out in reality is that the COB runs the base's day-to-day operational activities, with the COS reserving the right to overrule him if he sees something he doesn't like. This can get sticky if a COB commits to you as a commander on some subject and then the COS has a different view. This doesn't happen often, but if you have this sort of configuration in your operational area, you need to keep the possibility in mind. Very rarely, a base will be supervised directly out of CIA headquarters in Washington. As you can imagine, putting a headquarters in the decision loop when it might be several thousand miles away is awkward, to say the least.

Not All COSs Are Created Equal

Just as it is a political fact of life that all generals are not created equal, neither are all COSs created equal. This will come into play when you or your COS is attempting to get unusual or expensive support from CIA headquarters. A more politically well-connected COS will have an easier time than a less well-connected one, no matter the merits of their respective cases. You have seen or experienced this in your own career; it is simply an inescapable fact in any large bureaucracy. Try to get an understanding of your COS's "throw-weight." When you think he is going in with a difficult request, a pointed nudge through your own channels is often helpful. Talk this over with your COS in advance; he may be able to suggest improved timing or tactics.

Experience is Perishable

You are going to run into these folks on both sides of the operation: one of the intelligence people will have served in the military at some point, or one of your officers will have served with an intelligence organization at some point. They are going to try to anoint themselves as resident experts. Their enthusiasm is welcome, but their information and expectations are often obsolete and more than occasionally flat wrong. Make sure your communications with the COS are direct and clear, not interpreted by a resident expert on either side.


The purpose of this article is to give you someplace to start when working with the CIA in the field. I am sure that since my retirement, efforts have been made to institutionally address some of the problems I have raised. Unfortunately, I have found that "Murphy's Law" is a universal constant, and that Murphy always gets your forwarding address.

Remember the points discussed above; they might help. Good luck.

Garrett Jones is a 1993 graduate of the US Army War College. He served as a case officer with the CIA in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. He retired from the CIA in 1997 and now lives in the northwestern United States. The material in this article has been reviewed by the CIA. That review neither constitutes CIA authentication of information nor implies CIA endorsement of the author's views.

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Reviewed 19 November 2001. Please send comments or corrections to [email protected]