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First Complete Look at the CIA’s National Clandestine Service Org Chart

October 27, 2015


A FOIA request filed by Archivist Jeffrey Richelson has revealed the first full organization chart for the CIA’s National Clandestine Service (NCS) – the clandestine arm of the CIA with “the national authority for the coordination, de-confliction, and evaluation of clandestine operations across the Intelligence Community of the United States.”

Richelson filed the FOIA request shortly after CIA director John Brennan’s March 2015 announcement that the agency would undergo an extensive restructuring intended to eliminate “seams” in coverage (as a result of the reorganization, the NCS is now named the Directorate of Operations).

Previous charts of the NCS had been heavily redacted, and this is the first look at what the actual NCS structure looked like before the March 2015 reorganization. The FOIA release shows that the NCS offices listed alphabetically are the: Africa Division; Central Eurasia Division; Clandestine Information Staff; Community HUMINT; Counterintelligence Center; Counterproliferation Center; Counterterrorism Center; Crime and Narcotics Center; East Asia Division; Global Development Center; Human Resources Staff; Intelligence and Foreign Liaison; Information Operations Center; Iran Operations Center; Latin America Division; National Resources Division; Near East Division; National Resettlement Operations Center; Operations and Resources Management Staff; Policy Coordination Staff; Special Activities Center; South Asia Division; Technology Management Office; Tradecraft and Training Division.

(FOIA tip: Org charts are useful not only for understanding the shifting bureaucratic structure of departments, but they can help requesters and FOIA officers narrow the offices most likely to have documents responsive to a particular request.)

On the left a CIA org chart from 2009, and on the right the CIA's org chart released to the Archive in 2015.

On the left a CIA org chart from 2009, and on the right the CIA’s org chart released to the Archive in 2015.

Brennan noted in his March reorganization announcement that, “The overhaul is designed to foster deeper collaboration and an intensified focus on a range of security issues and threats, replacing long-standing divisions that cover the Middle East, Africa and other regions with hybrid ‘mission centers’ modeled on the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center” (the CTC is the unit that ballooned after the 9/11 attacks and “became a paramilitary entity with its own fleet of armed drones”).

The reorganization, which went live earlier this month, creates 10 new centers that agency officials liken to the Pentagon’s establishment of operation centers like CENTCOM and AFRICOM. Six of the CIA’s new centers have a regional focus – Africa, East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, the Near East, South and Central Asia, and the Western Hemisphere – and four have a mission focus — counterintelligence, counterterrorism, global issues, and weapons and counterproliferation.

The most notable aspect of the CIA’s reorganization, however, is that it significantly expands the agency’s focus on cyber security with the establishment of the Directorate of Digital Innovation (DDI), “responsible for missions ranging from ­cyber-espionage to the security of the CIA’s internal e-mail.” The DDI “absorb[s] existing entities including the Open Source Center, which monitors Twitter and other social media sites for intelligence on such adversaries as the Islamic State, as well as the Information Operations Center, a secret organization that handles missions including cyber-penetrations and sabotage and is now the second-largest center at the CIA.”

Critics of the CTC model argue that the approach focuses too much on short-term objectives. Brennan, however, says that with the reorganization, the CIA “cover[s] the entire universe, regionally and functionally, and so something that’s going on in the world falls into one of those buckets.”

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