National Clandestine Service - Clandestine Technical Collection

Clandestine Technical Collection

The Agency also may be responsible for developing communications systems appropriate for clandestine operations. In 1962, the Central Intelligence Agency, Deputy Directorate for Research (now the Deputy Directorate for Science and Technology), formally took on ELINT and COMINT responsibilities. "The consolidation of the ELINT program was one of the major goals of the reorganization... it is responsible for:

  • ELINT support peculiar to the penetration problems associated with the Agent's reconnaissance program under NRO.
  • Maintain a quick reaction capability for ELINT and COMINT equipment."

"CIA's Office of Research and Development was formed to stimulate research and innovation testing leading to the exploitation of non-agent intelligence collection methods....All non-agent technical collection systems will be considered by this office and those appropriate for field deployment will be so deployed. The Agency's missile detection system, Project based on backscatter radar is an example. This office will also provide integrated systems analysis of all possible collection methods against the Soviet antiballistic missile program is an example."

Sometimes in cooperation with technical personnel at other agencies such as the NSA when the collection discipline is SIGINT, or the DIA when the techniques come MASINT, or other appropriate agencies such as the Department of Energy for nuclear information, the CIA may work to place technical collection equipment in denied territory. They have also cooperated in placing such equipment into U.S. embassies. Emplacing and servicing such equipment is another form of clandestine operation, of which the adversary should not be aware.These include:

  • Research, development, testing, and production of ELINT and COMINT collection equipment for all Agency operations.
  • Technical operation and maintenance of CIA deployed non-agent ELINT systems.
  • Training and maintenance of agent ELINT equipments
  • Technical support to the Third Party Agreements.
  • Data reduction of Agency-collected ELINT signals.

See MASINT from clandestinely placed sensors. The CIA took on a more distinct MASINT responsibility in 1987. The National Security Archive commented, "In 1987, Deputy Director for Science and Technology Evan Hineman established... a new Office for Special Projects. concerned not with satellites, but with emplaced sensors – sensors that could be placed in a fixed location to collect signals intelligence or measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) about a specific target. Such sensors had been used to monitor Chinese missile tests, Soviet laser activity, military movements, and foreign nuclear programs. The office was established to bring together scientists from the DS&T’s Office of SIGINT Operations, who designed such systems, with operators from the Directorate of Operations, who were responsible for transporting the devices to their clandestine locations and installing them".

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