The Pentagon's new spy agency will send up to 1,600 agents overseas to report on military matters in close cooperation with the CIA—and possibly beyond the reach of Congressional oversight, the Washington Post reports. But the agency's director, Michael Flynn, promises to keep Congress "in the loop" and help Washington avoid more wars during this "era of persistent conflict." Called the Defense Clandestine Service, it will focus initially on Africa's Islamist groups, weapons in Iran and North Korea, and China's military modernization, officials tell the Post.
The DCS grew out of close cooperation between the Pentagon and the CIA during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But the CIA will keep the upper hand, training DCS operatives, approving their missions, and maintaining control of drone strikes while the DCS identifies military targets. The agency is a boon for the Obama administration, which prefers covert missions to armed conflict. It also frees the DCS from an earlier incarnation, the Defense Intelligence Agency, which functioned as a kind of private spy service for JSOC, the military's elite commando force.