|Special Activities Division|
The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency responsible for covert operations known as "special activities". Within SAD there are two separate groups, SAD/SOG for tactical paramilitary operations and SAD/PAG for covert political action.
Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations that include high threat military or covert operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated. As such, members of the unit do not carry any objects or clothing that would associate them with the United States government. If they are compromised during a mission, the United States government may deny all knowledge.
SOG is generally considered the most secretive special operations force in the United States. The group selects operatives from other special mission units such as Delta Force, DEVGRU, ISA, and 24th STS, as well as other United States special forces, such as US Army Special Forces, SEALs, SWCC, or the Army Rangers, etc.
Political Action Group (PAG) is responsible for covert activities related to political influence, psychological operations and economic warfare. The rapid development of technology has added cyberwarfare to their mission. Tactical units within SAD are also capable of carrying out covert political action while deployed in hostile and austere environments. A large covert operation usually has components that involve many, or all, of these categories, as well as paramilitary operations.
SAD/SOG has several hundred officers, mostly former members of Special Operations Forces and a majority from the Joint Special Operations Command. The CIA has also recruited individuals within the agency. The primary strengths of SAD/SOG Paramilitary Officers are operational agility, adaptability, and deniability. They often operate in small teams, typically made up of six operators, all with extensive military special operations expertise and a set of specialized skills that does not exist in any other unit. As fully trained intelligence case officers, they collect human intelligence—and most importantly—to recruit assets from among the indigenous troops receiving their training. These officers often operate in remote locations behind enemy lines to carry out direct action (including raids and sabotage), counter-intelligence, guerrilla/unconventional warfare, counter-terrorism, and hostage rescue missions, in addition to being able to conduct espionage via HUMINT assets.
SAD, like most of the CIA, requires a bachelor's degree to be considered for employment. Many have advanced degrees such as Master's and law degrees. Many candidates come from notable schools, many from Ivy League institutions and United States Service Academies, but the majority of recruits today come from middle-class backgrounds. SAD officers are trained at Camp Peary, Virginia "The Farm" and at privately owned training centers around the United States. In addition to the eighteen months of training in the Clandestine Service Trainee Program required to become a clandestine intelligence officer, Paramilitary Operations Officers are trained to a high level of proficiency in the use and tactical employment of an unusually wide degree of modern weaponry, explosive devices and firearms, hand to hand combat, high performance/tactical driving (on and off road), apprehension avoidance (including picking handcuffs and escaping from confinement), improvised explosive devices, cyberwarfare, covert channels, Military Free Fall parachuting, combat and commercial SCUBA and closed circuit diving, proficiency in foreign languages, surreptitious entry operations (picking or otherwise bypassing locks), vehicle hot-wiring, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE), extreme survival and wilderness training, combat EMS medical training, tactical communications, and tracking.