“The CIA doesn’t want to be looking for surface-to-air missiles in Libya” when it’s also under pressure to assess the opposition in Syria, said a former high-ranking U.S. military intelligence officer who worked closely with both spy services. Even in cases where their assignments overlap, the DIA is likely to be more focused than the CIA on military aspects — what U.S. commanders in Africa might ask about al-Qaeda in Mali, for example, rather than the broader questions raised by the White House.
U.S. officials said DIA operatives, because of their military backgrounds, are often better equipped to recruit sources who can answer narrow military questions such as specifications of China’s fifth-generation fighter aircraft and its work on a nuclear aircraft carrier. “The CIA would like to give up that kind of work,” the former officer said.
The CIA has agreed to add new slots to its training classes at its facility in southern Virginia, known as the Farm, to make room for more military spies. The DIA has accounted for about 20 percent of each class in recent years, but that figure will grow.