The CIA on Thursday announced new “adjustments” to its organizational structure and approach, which include two new mission centers, one of which is solely focused on China.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Bill Burns made the moves public in a statement from the agency. The agency said that the adjustments would best position the CIA to address current and future national security challenges.
“These changes resulted from the strategic reviews Director Burns launched this past spring that focused on areas including China, technology, people, and partnerships,” the CIA said.
The China Mission Center (CMC) will address the global challenge posed by Beijing. But Burns was quick to note that the threat is from the Chinese government, not the Chinese people.
Director Burns announces changes to best position #CIA for current and future national security challenges.— CIA (@CIA) October 7, 2021
“CMC will further strengthen our collective work on the most important geopolitical threat we face in the 21st century, an increasingly adversarial Chinese government,” Burns said.
The CMC comes after a similar task force was formed at the Pentagon by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Ties between Washington and Beijing have soured in recent years. The Biden administration has doubled down on efforts to reign in what it says is unfair competition and human rights violations by China.
The New York Times reported that the latest moves also including shutting down missions centers focused on Iran and North Korea, which former CIA Director Mike Pompeo created. According to the NYT, the two centers will now be pushed back into the regional centers for the Middle East and East Asia.
In the CIA statement Thursday, Burns said that the agency would continue “to focus sharply on other important threats,” including Russia, North Korea and Iran.
A senior CIA official told the NYT that closing the mission centers focused on Iran and North Korea was not a reflection of the CIA’s view that threats had lessened from the two countries.
Another center launched by Burns is the Transnational and Technology Mission Center. This will look at new and emerging technologies, economic security, climate change and global health.
In an effort to lure more people into applying to the CIA, Burns also announced changes to the application process. A CIA Technology Fellows program has been created to “bring promising experts” to the CIA for one to two years.
“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,” Burns was quoted as saying. “There’s no doubt we have the talent for the job.”