In the Intelligence Community (IC), the term tradecraft is used to describe the various techniques and methods used by clandestine intelligence officers working to support human intelligence (HUMINT) operations through the spotting, assessing, development, recruiting, and handling of foreign sources.
Thanks to foreign policy experts over at War on the Rocks, I was reminded that a favorite show of mine based on Cold War-era deep cover KGB operatives, The Americans, had just started another season. While a great show and definitely worth the watch, The Americans is loosely based on and inspired by the Russian “Illegals” program, a topic that SOFREP has previously covered. But that was just a snapshot. It’s time to enter a little deeper and take a look at some of the tradecraft behind the story.
While US and allied nations’ sources, methods, and tradecraft remain closely guarded secrets, as well they should, the same cannot be said of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) tradecraft. It is through the Illegals program that a very rare and valuable opportunity to study and observe the classified tradecraft employed by foreign intelligence officials attempting to collect on US and friendly forces is made available for public consumption.
It's not a bad thing, but I think that something viewers and most civilians fail to connect re. Cold War spying and today's intel ops is that in days not too far past, an asset, agent, CO, etc. who was rolled up was simply PNG'd and sent home. There are more instances these days where the only way you are going home is in a body bag, if they ever find your body. I don't think it is a stretch to say that with the exception of Russian/US spy games, the ante has been raised especially in the Middle East and Africa, as we have seen.
14Charlie Fred82 Unlikely. Syria is the big jihad at the moment, but there are still AQ types left in Afg-Pak. In fact, I bet they are laying low at the moment and prepping for an all out jihad against the Afghan government once we leave. North Africa, East Africa, Egypt, and Yemen continue to be AQ havens as well.
Fred82 14Charlie Hopefully they're all congregated in Syria and are busy tearing each other to pieces...
. ...Lately been reading about Soviet and later Russian blackmail of Western politicos and business figures. One twist that works very well for them is convincing the victims that they are not Russians... but Israelis. Guilt/suicide/surrender risk that could compromise usefulness thus reduced... . -YP-
JohnChristopher1 Free agents like Hanssen and Ames are limited in what they can do when compared to genuine "Americans." They are also less trustworthy and controllable. That said, it has been argued that Soviet covert influence operations in the United States have been quite effective.