CIA Director William Burns announced on Thursday the formation of two new mission centers, with one focused on the communist Chinese government and the other dedicated to technological threats.
The China Mission Center (CMC) was established to “address the global challenge posed by the People’s Republic of China that cuts across all of the Agency’s mission areas.” Director Burns emphasized that the threat is from the Chinese communist government, not the Chinese people.
“CMC will further strengthen our collective work on the most important geopolitical threat we face in the 21st century, an increasingly adversarial Chinese government,” Director Burns said in a statement.
The CIA website states that Mission Centers “work closely with all Agency elements to meet national security challenges and “bring together a full range of operational, analytic, support, technical, and digital capabilities.”
“Officers from each directorate work together as one to address present and future threats,” the website continued. “Today, there are almost a dozen Mission Centers focusing on regional and high-priority issues.”
According to Burns, the CIA will still focus on other “important threats,” as well, including Russian aggression, a “provocative North Korea,” and Iranian hostility. Additionally, the agency will continue its work on combatting terrorism.
Burns also unveiled a new position, the Chief Technology Officer, and the formation of the Transnational and Technology Mission Center, which will be used to “address global issues critical to US competitiveness—including new and emerging technologies, economic security, climate change, and global health.”
In an effort to “attract and retain a diverse talent pool of the best and brightest,” Burns said new processes adjustments will reduce the amount of time it takes for applicants to join the CIA. The agency is also introducing the CIA Technology Fellows program to “bring promising experts to CIA for one to two years of public service.”
Deputy Director David S. Cohen will oversee the implementation of those changes.
“Throughout our history, CIA has stepped up to meet whatever challenges come our way…. And now facing our toughest geopolitical test in a new era of great power rivalry, CIA will be at the forefront of this effort,” Director Burns told the CIA workforce. “There’s no doubt we have the talent for the job. And with the right approach, and the right structure in place, I know we’ll help ensure American leadership and American success on the global stage for decades to come.”
A report last year issued by the House Intelligence Committee found China’s technological advances post a threat to the U.S. Lawmakers subsequently urged the intelligence community to “realign” its focus to Beijing.
“I think Director Burns made exactly the right set of moves here,” said Michael Morell, who served as the agency’s deputy director, according to CBS News. “They sharpen the existing focus on China and create a new focus on technology.”
“Of the two,” Morell said, “technology is the biggest area for growth because it’s evolving the fastest – and because the agency has a long way to go.”