Spec-Ops Troops Study To Be Part-Spy, Part-Gumshoe

Associated Press + More

That led to congressional alarm and a clash between the Pentagon, the spies and the diplomats over who should be able to operate where.

The White House eventually created an information exchange to allow elite military troops to gather intelligence, while keeping State and the CIA in the loop.

[See photos of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.]

To make sure spy did not stumble over spy, the Pentagon's top intelligence official, Stephen Cambone, and the CIA's then-top clandestine representative, Jose Rodriguez, created a mechanism that exists to this day to let each network know who was working for whom.

The next step was to find common ground among those competing tribes of intelligence and military operators — a step embraced by now-retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Then heading the military's Joint Special Operations Command, McChrystal embraced the "hostage swap" of JSOC troops and CIA officers, deploying them to each other's command centers and forcing collaboration through proximity.

But he upgraded the practice, sending his best people, instead of following the unwritten custom of sending one's least-valuable employee to get them out of the home office.

McChrystal used to lecture his people, Sacolick among them, to forge their own networks of one-on-one relationships in other agencies to counter the enemy network.

That's how Sacolick ended up at the CIA, and why he patterned his school on lessons the agency helped teach him.

The idea is to pass on the skills learned in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan, where special operators have had more intelligence backup and logistical support from the regular military than they will in the remote places where they usually operate, Sacolick said.

"I need to prepare a 12-man team to go anywhere on this planet," he said. "They need to be every bit as good as they are in Afghanistan, in the middle of Africa somewhere" or wherever the next conflict takes them.

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