The Pentagon has created in the last ten years the largest secret army in the history of the United States. This is revealed in an investigation by Newsweek magazine, which after two years of work offers figures and data on the functions and composition of this contingent that would include both civilians and Army soldiers.
This military force, which is ten times larger in units than the CIA itself, is designed to carry out actions both within the country and abroad and its members act in military uniform and sometimes as civilians in covert operations. In some occasions they hide under private consultancies and companies and in other occasions with their own companies.
This military program has the name “Signature Reduction” and has been developing without public control or under the knowledge of the US Congress. “The military developing this gigantic clandestine force is in defiance of US laws, the Geneva Conventions, the military code of conduct and basic accountability,” the publication states.
The operation of this program leads civilians, military and contractors to move under false identities both for actions in real life and on the Internet, where cyber warfare has put into circulation thousands of spies operating under fictitious names.
But what exactly do the thousands of troops who are part of this program do and what kind of organizations support the clandestine strategy? The investigation highlights the existence of some 130 private companies working with dozens of little-known government organizations that oversee operations that are not publicly acknowledged. The companies raise more than $900 million annually to provide cover for this monumental army.
Their tasks include creating false documentation and paying the bills for people operating under false names; manufacturing costumes and other devices to thwart detection and identification; and building invisible devices to photograph and listen in on activity in the remotest corners of the Middle East and Africa.
The first tier would consist of soldiers working in war zones, either in Asia or Africa, looking for terrorist targets, but also in hot countries such as Iran and North Korea. The second tier is intelligence forces, including counterintelligence agents and even linguists, who are deployed with some degree of “cover” to protect their true identities.
The newest and fastest growing group, says Newsweek, are analysts with the ability to access publicly available information and engage in campaigns to influence and manipulate social networks. This figure is reminiscent of Edward Snowden, the US National Security Agency (NSA) paid analyst who fled the US after revealing to the world the gigantic spy network of US intelligence agencies.
The “Signature Reduction” program would not only deal with the fight against terrorism but would also assume powers to increase the advantages in that zone of conflict called “Gray Zone” (a kind of hybrid war or peace in the midst of a growing conflict) with powers such as Russia and China.
One of the companies cited by the researchers is based in North Carolina, and it is dedicated to the manufacture of listening devices but also to the development of techniques for the aging of people through materials that can transform the appearance of any person. They can age, change sex and increase body mass.
The report recalls that in 2015, the Islamic State released the names, photos and addresses of more than 1,300 U.S. military personnel, and ordered its fighters to kill those identified. The FBI later revealed that the release of this data was the work of Russian hackers posing as Islamic State members and threatening military families via Facebook.
Retired officer John Richardson assures Newsweek that “we are still in the infancy of our transparent world.” “We’re winning this war, even on the cyber side, even if the secrecy about what we’re doing makes the Russians’ image in the media look again like they’re ten feet tall.”