CIA Director William Burns has named a 30-year agency veteran David Marlowe to be the next Deputy Director of Operations. Marlowe will lead the Directorate of Operations which is at the heart of what the CIA does. It conducts espionage, including human and technical intelligence, as well as covert and paramilitary operations.

David Marlowe is a long-time veteran intelligence officer. He has served overseas as the senior Central Intelligence Agency station chief, “in several of the largest and most complex environments, including war zones,” a CIA spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal.

Marlowe will run one of the most storied and often mythicized CIA branches. Officers within the Directorate of Operations are tasked with recruiting foreign agents and running covert operations sanctioned by the executive branch, as well as the Special Activities Center which coordinates paramilitary operations with the U.S. Special Operations Command.

His appointment does not require congressional confirmation.

A Critical Point for the CIA

David Marlowe will assume his role at a critical juncture for the agency as it switches from two decades of counterterrorism operations to near-peer competition. It will have to face difficult and assorted challenges from both China and a resurgent Russia. The Chinese government, in particular, has been conducting aggressive human intelligence (HUMINT) and cyber espionage inside of the United States

Marlowe is replacing 37-year agency veteran Elizabeth “Beth” Kimber. She was the first woman to be the Deputy Director of Operations in the agency’s 73-year history. Kimber was the Acting Deputy Director of CIA while former Director Gina Haspel was undergoing the confirmation process.

A CIA spokeswoman said Marlowe’s appointment was a normal leadership change.

“Dave is a deeply experienced and broadly accomplished leader, and he picks up right where Beth — an outstanding Agency officer of 36-plus years — left off in positioning the Directorate of Operations for the future,” Burns said.

As per the normal operating procedure, the CIA did not release any of David Marlowe’s assignments to protect his cover and those who have worked with him. The agency did release that Marlowe was an Arabic speaker who has spent more than 20 years of his career in overseas field assignments. 

Marlowe was recently the assistant director of the agency’s Near East Mission Center, which combines operations officers, intelligence analysts, and other specialists to focus on the Middle East.

The CIA has announced that long-time veteran operative David Marlowe, will be the Agency’s new Deputy Director of Operations. (WSJ)

Burns told members of Congress that the need for spy agencies to conduct clandestine operations is more important than ever. 

“The international landscape is changing fast. We are in a period of profound transformation. The United States may no longer be the singular, dominant player we were when I worked for Secretary [of State James] Baker 30 years ago, but I would still argue we have a better hand to play than our major rivals and that’s because of our capacity for domestic survival — which I know has been tested in recent years. But it’s hugely important… it sets us apart from authoritarian regimes around the world.”

I learned that good intelligence, delivered with honesty and integrity, is America’s first line of defense. I learned that intelligence professionals have to tell policymakers what they need to hear, even if they don’t want to hear it. And I learned that politics must stop where intelligence work begins.”

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