Covert actions or operations in the United States emerged in the 1940s after the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (Bobich 2007, 1112). At the time, majority of the lawmakers in the country believed strongly that every secret operation was at the president’s discretion (Isenberg 1989). Such covert actions were necessary towards preventing the proliferation of communism. The government ensured that such operations would minimize the risks associated with them. That being the case, “a covert operation ensures the identity of the performer or sponsor is obscured” (Bobich 2007, 1113). Such missions or operations can create political changes or problems.
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The CIA conducts such covert operations unless the president thinks otherwise. On the other hand, clandestine operations are executed in such a way that they remain unnoticed by the citizens. Different government agencies and departments usually sponsor, plan, and execute most of these clandestine operations. In a clandestine operation, the government puts numerous resources and efforts on the “concealment” of the entire mission.
That being the case, an operation may be both clandestine and covert. This means that such an operation focuses mainly on the intelligence-related aspects and other operational deliberations. Such actions will have both covert and clandestine facets (Isenberg 1989). For example, the government might decide to use unmanned vehicles such as “drones” to carry out airstrikes or attacks. This will be a “covert” operation because more people will be aware of its outcome. At the same time, the method adopted to “identify” the target will remain a secret.
As identified in the above discussion, both clandestine and covert operations are equally important because they serve different purposes or goals. For instance, a covert action will be critical if the government does not want its people to know who committed the operation. However, the people will be aware of the operation. As a result, the public will make their assumptions about the “performer” of the operation. A clandestine operation is necessary especially when dealing with foreign enemies or groups (Berkowitz 2007, 3).
For very many years, clandestine operations have been politically motivated. Such operations assist most of the nations favored by the “performer or sponsor”. Some activities such as espionage and “theft of secret information” are critical towards the survival of any given country. However, experts consider such activities “illegal” because they might result in poor international relations. That being the case, the government supports these clandestine operations in order to hide both the performer and the act itself (Isenberg 1989). This explains why most of the clandestine operations rely on advanced technologies in order to make them successful.
Most of these covert missions include “paramilitary exploits”. As mentioned earlier, covert actions take place in a “strategic manner” thus concealing the performers of the acts. However, such a “covert strategy” does not hide the “act”. This explains why the operation creates room for “probable” deniability. Clandestine operations will always compel the planners to use the best technologies to hide both the performer and the act. Although these two operations might be different in nature, the outstanding fact is that they are equally important. Some desirable features of both covert and clandestine operations include dedication, commitment, and secrecy (Bobich 2007, 1119).
These two operations play a significant role towards promoting a country’s security and intelligence. The government and other parties should examine the nature of every operation and determine whether it should be a clandestine operation or not.
Berkowitz, Bruce. 2007. “The Logic of Covert Action”. National Interest, 1, no. 1: 1-10. Web.
Bobich, Joshua A. 2007. “Note: Who authorized this?: An assessment of the process for approving U.S. covert action”. William Mitchell Law Review, 33, no. 3: 1111-1142. Web.
Isenberg, David. 1989. The Pitfalls of U.S. Covert Operations. Cato Policy Analysis No. 118. Washington, D.C.: National Defense Intelligence College Press. Web.