CIA Paramilitary Operations

July 28, 2024 | Check in 4:30 p.m. | Program begins at 5:00 p.m.

In addition to its role as the primary collector of human intelligence (HUMINT) for the United States, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) maintains and fields paramilitary forces that can lead and manage Covert Action programs and collect foreign intelligence vital to national security policymakers.  After 9/11, CIA paramilitary operations officers were the first Americans into Afghanistan and, in conjunction with Army Special Forces and aided by U.S. air power, led the defeat of Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces.  The book Horse Soldiers and the movie 12 Strong are popular accounts of the action on the ground, but the back story that explains how they got there within days of the attacks is less well known and goes to the core missions of the CIA.

Join us on July 28 at 5:00 p.m. to hear from our panelists, Rod Smith and J.R. Seeger, who played key roles in a legendary chapter in the CIA and military history.

Rod Smith

Rod Smith served as an enlisted artilleryman with the First Marine Division in Vietnam, after which he graduated from Dartmouth College and Boston University Law School.  He spent eleven years as a prosecutor on the local and federal levels, during which he participated in taking the first depositions of a Soviet citizen on Soviet soil in history.  Seeing the Soviet Union firsthand, he accepted a position with the CIA in 1986. He spent a career as an Operations Officer, culminating in tours as Chief of the Counterintelligence Center, Chief of the Special Activities Division, and, in an exchange of hostages, Associate Assistant Division Chief in the National Security Division of the FBI.

J.R. Seeger

J.R. Seeger is a Western New York native.  He has been an archeologist, a paratrooper, and a CIA case officer.   After retirement, he served as a trainer for the U.S. Army Special Forces and the US Army HUMINT Training Joint Center of Excellence.   He is a subject matter expert for Sandia National Laboratory and an open-source researcher for the intelligence community.   He has a bachelor’s degree from Eisenhower College and a master’s degree from the University of Iowa.   He has over a dozen articles published in the CIA peer-reviewed journal Studies in Intelligence and eleven novels.  J.R. is married to another retired CIA officer, Lise Spargo.  They split their time between a house in Socorro, New Mexico, and a house in his hometown in East Aurora, NY.  See his website at for more information and links to his books and for a great interview on Team House.