A UK intelligence officer has been appointed to a post in the Pentagon, in what is believed to be the first time a foreigner has been recruited to a senior position in a US spy agency. Sean Corbett, who has the rank of air vice-marshal in the RAF, will be a deputy director in the Pentagon's main spy agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency. His role will be to enhance cooperation between US intelligence and the espionage operatives of other English-speaking nations.
The appointment was announced on 30 October by the Pentagon, which said that Corbett would be its first "deputy director for commonwealth integration". Corbett is currently the most senior intelligence officer in the RAF. He is now to become the adviser to Lieutenant-General Vincent Stewart , the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Corbett will brief Stewart on defence and intelligence concerns relating to the "Five Eyes" alliance, the Pentagon announced.
The alliance members are the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Historically they have enjoyed close relations. However, during the past decade the Pentagon said it had aimed at collaborating more closely and improving processes for sharing intelligence.
Organisations within the alliance that engage in telecommunications spying, notably the US National Security Agency and the UK's GCHQ already collaborate closely. Their partnership has come under closer scrutiny since the exposure of classified documents by Edward Snowden, who was a contractor for the NSA. The agencies are believed to demarcate their activities between different geographical areas and share intelligence to boost efficiency and save costs.
Mark Lowenthal, a former CIA officer, said in an interview with Reuters that Corbett's appointment was a first, though not as odd as it may seem. "Think of him as a senior liaison officer," he said. Corbett worked in intelligence during the first Gulf War and has been deployed in Bosnia, Somalia and Central Africa.