The Pentagon’s spy agency is to be reformed into a military sibling of the CIA with 1,600 clandestine operatives collecting intelligence overseas five years from now. The civilian spies will train and oversee them.

The prime targets for the overhauled Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) would be Chinese military, Iranian and North Korean arms transfers, and Islamist militant groups in Africa, reports The Washington Post, citing a number of officials. Most spoke on condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the project.

The plan is likely to raise concerns that the expansion of DIA’s clandestine operations will be accompanied by an escalation in lethal strikes and other missions outside public view. There is a potential oversight gap due to differences in legal requirements between military and civilian spies.

The Pentagon wanted to beef up overseas DIA operations as early as under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, but at the…

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