Undoubtedly brave, but after the U.S. Senate Church Committee in the early 1970's who monitors them?
ShadowSpear Special Operations: CIA Special Activities Division (SAD) CIA Special Activities Division (SAD) ================================================================================ ShadowSpear on 10 February, 2009 11:37:00 Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division of the Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service, responsible for covert action paramilitary operations, the collection of intelligence in hostile and/or denied areas and all high threat military and/or intelligence operations when the US government does not wish to be overtly associated with such activities. As such, members of the unit (called Paramilitary Operations Officers), when on missions, normally do not carry any objects or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States. If compromised during a mission, the government of the United States may legally deny their status and all knowledge of their mission. SAD officers are a majority of the recipients of the coveted Distinguished Intelligence Cross and the Intelligence Star. These are the two highest medals for valor in the CIA. Not surprisingly, SAD officers also make up the majority of those memorialized on the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters.
As the National Clandestine Service's action arm, SAD conducts military direct action missions such as raids, ambushes, sabotage, targeted assassinations, unconventional warfare (e.g. training and leading guerrilla and military units of other countries in combat), and deniable psychological operations, the latter also known as black propaganda or "Covert Influence". Special reconnaissance is another area that can be under either military or intelligence, but is usually carried out by SAD officers when in hostile areas. SAD provides the President of the United States an option when overt military and/or diplomatic actions are not viable or are not politically feasible. SAD can be directly tasked by the President of the United States or the National Security Council at the President's direction. This is unlike any other US national mission force. However, SAD is much smaller than most of the other special missions units such as Delta Force or SEAL Team Six.
The unit's existence became better understood as a result of the "Global War on Terror". Beginning in autumn of 2001, SAD teams arrived in Afghanistan to hunt down al Qaeda leaders, facilitate the entry of US Army Special Forces and aid the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan against the ruling Taliban. SAD units also defeated Ansar al-Islam in northern Iraq prior to the invasion and trained, equipped, organized and led the Kurdish forces to defeat the Iraqi army in Iraqi Kurdistan. Despite being the most covert unit in US Special Operations, numerous books have been published on the exploits of CIA paramilitary officers, including Feet to the Fire: CIA Covert Operations in Indonesia, 1957-1958 by Kenneth J. Conboy and James Morrison and Shooting at the Moon: The Story of America's Clandestine War in Laos by Roger Warner.
Most experts consider SAD the primary force for unconventional warfare, whether that warfare consists of conducting counterinsurgency operations or in creating an insurgency in a foreign country. When SAD is combined with the U.S. military's United States Special Operations Command many consider it responsible for the initial success in Afghanistan and in Northern Iraq. SAD selects its operators from the most elite units in the U.S. military such as the Navy's SEAL teams (especially the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group also known as DEVGRU or SEAL Team Six), the Army's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-DeltaSpecial Forces (also known as Green Berets), Rangers, and the Marine Corps' Force Reconnaissance detachments and the Marine Special Operations Command (also known as the Combat Application Group, CAG), (MARSOC).
The Pentagon commissioned a study to determine whether the CIA or the Department of Defense (DoD) should conduct covert action paramilitary operations. The study determined that the CIA should maintain this capability and be the sole government agency conducting covert action. The DoD does not have the legal authority to conduct covert action. The CIA's authorities to collect intelligence and to conduct covert action comes from the National Security Act of 1947. In addition, President Ronald Reagan issue Executive Order 12333 titled "United States Intelligence Activities" in 1984. This order defined the authority to conduct "special activities" that the US Government could legally deny and granted them exclusively to the CIA. This authority was also defined as the sole authority of the CIA under the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act and mirrored in Title 50 of the United States Code Section 413(e).
Unlike other special operations units, SAD operatives combine special operations and clandestine intelligence capabilities in one individual. These individuals can operate in any environment (Sea, Air or Ground) with limited to no support. These Paramilitary Operations Officer are from the Special Operations Group (SOG) of SAD, which is considered one of the most elite special operations units. SAD, like the rest of the CIA, requires a bachelor's degree to be considered for employment. It is not unusual for SAD officers to also have graduate degrees and/or degrees from Ivy League schools.
WORLD WAR II
While the World War II Office of Strategic Services (OSS) technically was a military agency under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in practice it was fairly autonomous of military control and enjoyed direct access to PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). Major General William Joseph Donovan was the head of the OSS. Donovan was a soldier and medal of honor recipient from World War One. He was also a lawyer and former law school classmate of FDR. Like the subsequent CIA, OSS included both human intelligence functions including espionage and special operations paramilitary functions. Its Secret Intelligence division was responsible for espionage, while its Jedburgh teams, a joint US-UK-French unit, were an ancestor of groups that create guerrilla units such at the U.S. Army Special Forces and the CIA. OSS' Operational Groups were larger US units that carried out direct action (DA) behind enemy lines. Even during WWII, the idea of intelligence and special operations units not under strict military control was controversial. OSS operated primarily in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) and to some extent in the China-Burma-India Theater, while General of the ArmyDouglas MacArthur was extremely reluctant to have any OSS personnel within his area of operations.
From 1943-1945, the OSS also played a major role in training Nationalist Chinese troops in China and Burma, and recruited other indigenous irregular forces for sabotage as well as guides for Allied forces in Burma fighting the Japanese Army. OSS also helped arm, train and supply resistance movements, including Mao Zedong's People's Liberation Army in China and the Viet Minh in French Indochina, in areas occupied by the Axis powersSecond World War. Other functions of the OSS included the use of propaganda, espionage, subversion, and post-war planning. during the
One of the greatest accomplishments of the OSS during World War II was its penetration of Nazi Germany by OSS operatives. The OSS was responsible for training German and Austrian commandos for missions inside Germany. Some of these agents included exiled communists and socialist party members, labor activists, anti-Nazi POWs, and German and Jewish refugees. At the height of its influence during World War II, the OSS employed almost 24,000 people. OSS paramilitary officers were parachuted into many countries that were behind enemy lines to include France, Norway and Greece. In Crete, OSS paramilitary officers linked up with, equipped and fought along side Greek resistance forces against the Nazi occupation. This resistance to the German operation to invade and occupy Crete delayed Adolf Hitler's planned invasion of Russia. This delay resulted in German forces being trapped in the brutal Russian winter and contributed to their eventual defeat.
OSS was disbanded shortly after WWII, with its intelligence analysis functions moving temporarily into the US Department of State. Espionage and counterintelligence went into military units. The paramilitary and related functions went into an assortment of ad hoc groups such as the Office of Policy Coordination. Between the original creation of the CIA by the National Security Act of 1947 and various mergers and reorganizations through 1952, the wartime OSS functions generally went into CIA. The mission of training and leading of guerrillas generally stayed in the United States Army Special Forces, but the missions that were required to remain covert went to the paramilitary arm of the CIA. The direct descendant of the OSS' special operations is the CIA's Special Activities Division.
TIBET After the Chinese invasion of Tibet, the CIA inserted paramilitary teams into Tibet to train and lead Tibetan resistance fighters against the People's Liberation Army. These teams selected and then trained Tibetan soldiers in the Rocky Mountains of the United States; this group still exists today.The SAD teams then advised and led these commandos against the Chinese, both from Nepal and India. In addition, SAD teams were responsible for the Dalai Lama's clandestine escape to India. US assistance to the Tibetan resistance ceased after the 1972 Nixon visit to China, after which the US and communist China normalised relations.
KOREA The CIA sponsored a variety of activities during the Korean War. These activities included maritime operations behind North Korean lines. Yong Do Island, connected by a rugged isthmus to Pusan, served as the base for those operations and were carried out by well-trained Korean guerrillas. The four principal US advisers responsible for the training and operational planning of those special missions were Dutch Kramer, Tom Curtis, George Atcheson and Joe Pagnella. All of these operators operated through the CIA’s front organization called the Joint Advisory Commission, Korea (JACK), headquartered at Tongnae, a village near Pusan, on the peninsula’s southeast coast. These paramilitary teams were responsible for numerous maritime raids and ambushes behind North Korean lines, as well as prisoner of war rescue operations. These were the first maritime unconventional warfare units that trained indigenous forces as surrogates. They also provided a model, along with the other CIA-sponsored ground based paramilitary Korean operations, for the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) activities conducted by the US military and the CIA in Vietnam. In addition, CIA paramilitary ground-based teams worked directly for US military commanders, specifically with the 8th Army, on the "White Tiger" initiative. This initiative included inserting Korean commandos and CIA Paramilitary Operations Officers (POOs) prior to the two major amphibious assaults on North Korea.
CUBA The Bay of Pigs Invasion was a CIA-planned and -led operation launched from Florida, intended to overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro in April 1961. The invasion failed to remove Castro and resulted in the death of 114 and the capture of 1,189 members of the Cuban exile force called Brigade 2506. Four US citizens were also killed in the invasion. The original planning for this operation began under President Eisenhower's administration and was continued under President John F. Kennedy's. The plan was created by the CIA and approved by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after review by all the military service Chiefs. The operation (code named Operation Zapata) originally called for an amphibious landing near the city of TrinidadEscambray mountains. The plan also called for a substantial air component to include preparatory strikes against the government forces prior to the landing and considerable close air support to cover the movement of the ground forces once they were engaged. The location for the landing was changed and a majority of air support was withdrawn by Kennedy because of fear of a public backlash. The force landed on 17 April and the fighting lasted until 21 April. CIA paramilitary officers Grayston Lynch and William "Rip" Robertson were the first on the beach and led the invasion. Cuban army casualties are difficult to determine, but sources estimate them to be in the thousands (between 2,000 and 5,000) mostly resulting from a number of failed counter-attacks to drive Brigade 2506 back into the sea. This invasion followed the successful overthrow by the CIA of the democratically-elected Mosaddeq government in Iran in 1953 and the democratically-elected ArbenzGuatemala in 1954., but was a failure both militarily and politically. by the government in
BOLIVIA In the late 1960s, the CIA deployed teams of SAD paramilitary officers to Bolivia to train the Bolivian dictatorship's army , in order to counter the Bolivian National Liberation Army. These SAD teams linked up with US Army Special Forces and Bolivian Special Forces to track down and capture Che Guevara, the military leader of the Cuban Revolution. Guevara was in Bolivia helping to train the guerrilla forces. On October 9, 1967, shortly after being captured, Guevara was executed by his captors.
VIETNAM AND LAOS The original OSS mission in Vietnam under Major Archimedes Patti was to work with Ho Chi Minh in order to prepare his forces to assist the United States and their Allies in fighting the Japanese. After the end of WWII, the United States ignored the attempts of Ho Chi Minh to maintain a friendly relationship. The lack of engagement between the US and Vietnamese independence groups, that were resisting the return of French colonial control after the end of WWII, angered Vietnamese groups.
CIA Paramilitary Officers trained and led Hmoung tribesmen in Laos and into Vietnam. This effort was considered a significant success, and the actions of these officers were not known for several years. Air AmericaSoutheast Asia. was the air component of the CIA's paramilitary mission in The ethnic minority forces numbered in the tens of thousands and they conducted direct actions mission, led by paramilitary officers, against the communist Pathet Lao forces and their North Vietnamese allies throughout Laos. Elements of SAD were seen in the CIA's Phoenix Program and the MAC-V SOG (Studies and Observations Group) (which was originally named the Special Operations Group, but was changed for cover purposes), both of which were created and active during the Vietnam War. While CIA was just one part of MAC-V SOG, it did have operational control of Phoenix. Many of the military members of MAC-V SOG joined the CIA after their military service. The legacy of MAC-V SOG continues within SAD's Special Operations Group.
NICARAGUA In 1979, the government of Nicaragua, led by the dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, fell to the socialistSandinistas. Once in power the Sandinistas disbanded the Nicaraguan National Guard and arrested many of the soldiers. The soldiers that escaped formed the backbone of a Nicaraguan terrorist insurgency and were referred to as "la contra-revolucion" (the Counterrevolution or Contra). SAD paramiltary teams were deployed to train and lead these terrorist forces against the Sandinista government. There were also paramilitary terrorist activities based in Honduras and Costa Rica. Direct military aid by the United States was eventually forbidden by the Boland Amendment of the Defence Appropriations Act of 1983. The Boland Amendment was extended in October 1984 to forbid action by not only the Defense Department but included the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Boland Amendment was a compromise because the US Democratic Party did not have enough votes for a comprehensive ban. It covered only appropriated funds spent by intelligence agencies. Some of Reagan's national security officials used non-appropriated money of the National Security Council (NSC) to circumvent the Amendment. NSC officials sought to arrange funding by third-parties. These efforts resulted in the Iran-Contra Affair of 1987, which concerned Contra funding through the proceeds of arms sales to Iran. No court ever made a determination whether Boland covered the NSC, and because it was a prohibition rather than a criminal statute, no one could be indicted for violating it. Congress later resumed aid to the Contras, totaling over $300 million. The Contra war was successful in terrorising the population into submission, and they voted the Sandinista government out of power in 1990.
AFGHANISTAN During the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Paramilitary Operations Officers were instrumental in training, equipping and sometimes leading Mujihadeen forces against the Red Army. Although the CIA in general and Charlie Wilson, a Texas Congressman, have received most of the attention, the key architect of this strategy was Michael G. Vickers, a young Paramilitary Officer from SAD. These efforts have been given credit for assisting in ending the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
SAD paramilitary teams were active in Afghanistan in the 1990s in clandestine operations to locate and prepare to assassinate or capture Osama Bin Laden. These teams planned several operations, but did not receive the order to execute from their President. These efforts built many of the relationships that would prove useful in the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan.
In 2001, SAD units were the first US forces to enter Afghanistan. Their efforts organized the Afghan Northern Alliance for the subsequent arrival of USSOCOM forces. SAD, US Army Special Forces and the Northern Alliance combined to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan with minimal loss to Americans lives. They did this without the need for US military conventional forces.
The Washington Post stated in an editorial by John Lehman in 2006: What made the Afghan campaign a landmark in the U.S. Military's history is that it was prosecuted by Special Operations forces from all the services, along with Navy and Air Force tactical power, operations by the Afghan Northern Alliance and the CIA were equally important and fully integrated. No large Army or Marine force was employed.
According to George Tenet in his book Center of the Storm, on October 9 2001 Hamid Karzai entered Afghanistan and linked up with his supporters to seize the town of Tarin Kowt. Taliban forces launched a counterattack against Karzai's lightly armed forces and he was forced to withdraw. On November 3, Karzai contacted a member of the CIA's paramilitary unit identified only as "Greg V." who immediately acted by linking up with his joint CIA/US Army Special Forces/JSOC team. From there, they made a nighttime insertion into Tarin Kowt. Karzai then went from village to village seeking support to fight against the Taliban. On November 17, a large battle ensued. Several of Karzai's new recruits fled, but Greg V. took command and ran from defensive position to defensive position shouting, "If necessary, die like men!". The line held and as the Tenet said in his book; "It was a seminal moment. Had Karzai's position been overrun, as appeared likely for much of Novermber 17, the entire future of the Pashtun rebellion in the south could have ended."
Later on December 5, Karzai was leading his resistance force against the Taliban at Khandahar, their capital and one of their last remaining strongholds. Greg V. was the lead advisor to Karzai in this battle, when as a result of a mistake in calculating an air strike, a bomb was dropped on their position. Greg V. threw his body on Karzai and saved his life. The same day Khandahar fell and Karzai was named the interim Prime Minister." Tenet wrote; "The routing of the Taliban and al-Qa'ida from Afghanistan in a matter of weeks was accomplished by 110 CIA officers, 316 Special Forces soldiers and a score of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) raiders creating havoc behind enemy lines--a band of brothers with the support of U.S. airpower, following a CIA plan, that has to rank as one of the great successes in Agency history." Several Intelligence Stars were awarded for these activities.
IRAQ SAD paramilitary teams were the first U.S. forces to enter Iraq. Once on the ground they prepared the battle space for the subsequent arrival of U.S. Military forces. SAD teams then combined with US Army Special ForcesKurdish Peshmerga for the subsequent US led invasion. This joint team combined to defeat Ansar al-Islam, an ally of Al Qaida, in a battle in the northeast corner of Iraq. This battle was for control of an entire territory that was completely occupied by Ansar al-Islam and was executed prior to the invasion in February 2003. It was carried out by paramilitary officers from SAD and the Army's 10th Special Forces Group. This battle has not been fully covered by the international media, but was a significant direct attack on a key terrorist organization. It resulted in the deaths of a substantial number of terrorists and the uncovering of a chemical weapons facility at Sargat. to organize the These terrorists would have been in the subsequent insurgency had they not been eliminated during this battle. Sargat was the only facility of its type discovered in the Iraq war. This battle may have been the Tora Bora of Iraq in that several key terrorist leaders escaped into Iran, but it was a sound defeat for Al Qaida and their ally Ansar Al Islam.
SAD teams also conducted high risk special reconnaissance missions behind enemy lines to identify senior leadership targets. These missions led to the initial strikes against Saddam Hussein and his key generals. Although the initial strike against Saddam was unsuccessful in killing the dictator, it was successful in effectively ending his ability to command and control his forces. Other strikes against key generals were successful and significantly degraded the command's ability to react to and maneuver against the US led invasion force. SAD operations officers were also successful in convincing key Iraqi Army officers to surrender their units once the fighting started and/or not to oppose the invasion force.
NATO member Turkey refused to allow the US 4th Infantry Division entry into northern Iraq. As a result, these SAD and US Army Special Forces joint teams and the Kurdish Peshmerga were the entire northern invasion force against Saddam's forces during the invasion. Their efforts kept the 5th Corps of Saddam's army in place to defend against the Kurds rather than their moving to contest the US-led coalition force coming from the south. The efforts of the SAD Paramilitary Officers and 10th Special Forces Group with the Kurds likely saved many lives of US and coalition forces during and after the invasion.
WORLDWIDE MISSION If there are missions in countries that are denied to U.S. forces, such as Pakistan or Iran, SAD units are the primary national mission force to execute those operations. In the Global War on Terror, SAD has the lead in the covert war being waged against Al Qaida. SAD paramilitary teams have apprehended many of the senior leaders. These include: Abu Zubaydah, the chief of operations for Al Qaida; Ramzi Binalshibh, the so called "20th highjacker" (a "very, very big fish for us," according to a senior official, "both because he is believed to have played a critical role in the September 11 plot and because he is believed to have been in contact with senior Al Qaida leaders since then"); and the mastermind of the September 11 attack Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. SAD officers have operated covertly since 1947 in places such as North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Libya, Iraq, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile, Bosnia, Serbia, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
CURRENT STATUS The division has several hundred personnel, almost all of them former members of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) units. These units include the U.S. Army's Delta Force, the Navy SEALs, DEVGRU, Army Rangers, Army Special Forces and USMC Force Recon teams. The CIA's formal position for these individuals is as "Paramilitary Operations Officers". These officers are then fully trained as clandestine intelligence officers, otherwise known as spies. There remains conflict between the National Clandestine Service and the more clandestine parts of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), such as the Joint Special Operations Command and the frequently-renamed Intelligence Support Activity. This is usually confined to the civilian/political heads of the respective Department/Agency and is largely a result of those individuals seeking credit.
The primary strengths of SAD paramilitary officers are agility, adaptability, and deniability. They often operate in small teams, typically with six operators, all with extensive military special operations expertise and specialized skills that do not exist in any other unit. They are also fully trained intelligence officers with all the clandestine skills that come with that training. These officers often operate in remote locations behind enemy lines to carry out direct action (including raids and sabotage), support of espionage by HUMINT assets, counter-intelligence, sabotage, guerrilla or unconventional warfare (UW), and hostage rescue missions. Within the Special Operations Group (SOG) of SAD, there are three elements. These elements are divided into Air, Maritime, and Ground. Paramilitary Officers are trained to operate in all of these areas. Because these officers are taken from the most elite units in the U.S. Military and then provided the additional training to be CIA clandestine intelligence officers and training to be SAD operatives in all the environments, most national security experts assess them as the most elite US unit.
This unit has several missions. One of these is the recruiting, training, and leading of indigenous forces in combat operations. This could be a source of friction with the US Department of Defense, which has organizations designed for such functions. However, often SAD and USSOCOM units combine their efforts to great effect. In addition SAD and its successors have been used when it was considered desirable to have plausible deniability about US support of the force (this is called covert operation or covert action). Only SAD is authorized by law to conduct this kind of mission.
SAD officers are trained at Camp Peary, Virginia (also known as "The Farm") and at privately owned training centers around the United States. They are trained in all weapons (foreign and domestic), hand to hand combat, high performance driving (on- and off-road), apprehension avoidance (including picking handcuffs and escaping from confinement), improvised explosive devices, Military Free Fall parachuting, combat and commercial SCUBA and closed circuit diving, small and in some cases large boat handling, foreign languages, hasty and detailed disguises, entry operations and vehicle "hotwiring", Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escapeextreme survival and wilderness training, first responder combat EMS medical training, tactical communications and tracking. These are just some of the skill sets required of these Paramilitary Officers. (SERE),
RECENT OPERATIONS For a recent example of an SAD operations see 2008 Abu Kamal raid raid reported on October 26, 2008 inside Syria. In addition, SAD has been very active on the ground inside Pakistan targeting Al Qaida operatives for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Predator strikes. Before leaving office, President George Bush authorized the SAD's successful killing of eight senior Al Qaeda operatives via targeted air strikes. Among those killed were the mastermind of a 2006 plot to detonate explosives aboard planes flying across the Atlantic and the man thought to have planned the Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing on 20 September 2008 that killed 53 people. Since taking office, President Barrack Obama authorized the continuation of these operations and on 23 January SAD successfully killed 20 terrorists in a hideout in northwestern Pakistan. A Pakistani security official stated that these strikes killed at least 10 insurgents, including five foreign nationals and possibly “a high-value target” such as a senior Al Qaida or Taliban official.