/// Covert Operations :: kō-ˈvərt ä-pə-ˈrā-shənz
Covert operations are so planned and executed to conceal the identity of or permit plausible deniability by the sponsor. They differ from clandestine operations, which agencies or individuals perform in secret and that stay confidential.
The ultimate goal of a covert operation is to secretly complete objectives without anyone knowing who sponsored or carried it out presently.
Covert action can broadly be defined as operations that seek to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad without exposing or highlighting the role of the state conducting them.
Covert operations are employed in situations where openly operating against a target would be disadvantageous. Operations may be directed at or conducted with allies and friends to secure their support for controversial components of foreign policy throughout the world.
Covert operations may include sabotage, assassinations, support for coups d’état, or support for subversion. Tactics include the use of a false flag or front group.
Usually practiced in military strategies, experts believe these ops have the beneficial effect of preventing the escalation of disputes into full-blown wars. Powerful countries, like the U.S. and Russia, have a long track record of covert operations abroad.
However, as a rule of thumb, smaller and less stable nations cannot conduct this type of action. That’s because they possess limited funds and have a narrower range of international interests.
Under U.S. law, the Central Intelligence Agency has the duty of leading covert operations unless the country’s president determines that another agency should do so and adequately informs Congress.
A department of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, called the Special Activities Division, is responsible for covert action and special activities. The latter include paramilitary operations and hidden political influence.
For the most part, the CIA has earned its current badge of mystery precisely due to this type of operation.
Similarly, the Soviet Union and Russian Federation have deployed covert operations for many reasons, such as to:
• Diminish the credibility of Western governments,
• Drive wedges into Western alliances, and
• Plan for coming wars.
• Covert Operations in the Private and Public Sectors
Interestingly, covert operations are increasingly conducted in the realm of the internet. Attacks originate from hidden bases and offices.
There, malicious actors, sponsored by the state, implement activities with a wide range of goals. These include disinformation campaigns, infrastructure sabotage, and contingency military intelligence collection.
However, they aren’t confined to the public sector.
Covert operations are no longer limited to government organizations and have flowed more prominently into the private sector.
Despite their risks and limitations, covert operations are a useful tool of policy. Covert operations are not simply direct action, and today’s discourse ignores their wider utility.
While strategic and political history can suggest situational principles of employment and tradecraft, politics ultimately dictates their shape and content