Clandestine HUMINT Operational Techniques - Basic Agent Operations

Basic Agent Operations

This section deals with the general structure of running espionage operations. A subsequent section deals with Specialized Clandestine Functions, and another with Support Services for both basic and specialized operations

The agent may join, or even create, a new network. In the latter case, the agent may be called a lead agent or a principal agent. The latter term is also refers to access agents, who only help in recruiting.

Well-managed agent relationships can run for years and even decades; there are cases where family members, children at the time their parents were recruited, became full members of the network. Not all agents, however, operate in networks. A Western term for agents controlled as individuals is singleton. This term usually is reserved for the first or most sensitive recruitments, although specialized support personnel, such as radio operatives acting alone, are called singletons. In Soviet tradecraft, the equivalent of a singleton is a separated acting agent. Professional intelligence officers, such as Robert Hanssen, may insist on being singletons, and go even farther, as with Hanssen, refuse in-person meetings. Even as a singleton, the agent will use security measures such as secure communications.

Agents also may operate in networks, for which the classic security structure is the cell system.

The agent may join a proprietary, although that is more likely to be for access or support agents.

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