An Intelligence Agency is an effective instrument of a national power. Aggressive intelligence is its primary weapon to destabilize the target. Indeed, no one knows what the intelligence agencies actually do so figuring out who the best intelligence service is can be difficult. The very nature of intelligence often means that the successes will not be public knowledge for years, whereas failures or controversial operations will be taken to the press. It’s a thankless situation. Still, from what little has emerged, one can have an idea of some of the better intelligence services out there, with the understanding that this is based on incomplete data.
10. ASIS – Australia
|Formed||13 May 1952|
|Headquarters||Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia|
|Annual budget||$162.5m AUD (2007)|
|Minister responsible||The Hon. Stephen Smith MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs|
|Agency executive||Nick Warner, Director-General|
Australian Secret Intelligence Service is the Australian government intelligence agency responsible for collecting foreign intelligence, undertaking counter-intelligence activities and cooperation with other intelligence agencies overseas. For more than twenty years, the existence of the agency was a secret even from its own government. Its primary responsibility is gathering intelligence from mainly Asian and Pacific interests using agents stationed in a wide variety of areas. Its main purpose, as with most agencies, is to protect the country’s political and economic interests while ensuring safety for the people of Australia against national threats.
9. RAW – India
|Formed||21 September 1968|
|Headquarters||New Delhi, India|
|Agency executive||K. C. Verma, Secretary (R)|
|Parent agency||Prime Minister’s Office, GoI|
Research and Analysis Wing is India’s external intelligence agency. It was formed in September 1968, after the newly independent Republic of India was faced with 2 consecutive wars, the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and the India-Pakistani war of 1965, as it was evident that a credible intelligence gathering setup was lacking. Its primary function is collection of external intelligence, counter-terrorism and covert operations. In addition, it is responsible for obtaining and analyzing information about foreign governments, corporations, and persons, in order to advise Indian foreign policymakers. Until the creation of R&AW, the Intelligence Bureau handled both internal and external intelligence.
8. DGSE – France
|Formed||April 2, 1982|
|Preceding agency||External Documentation and Counter-Espionage Service|
|Minister responsible||Hervé Morin, Minister of Defence|
|Agency executive||Erard Corbin de Mangoux, Director|
Directorate General for External Security is France’s external intelligence agency. Operating under the direction of the French ministry of defence, the agency works alongside the DCRI (the Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence) in providing intelligence and national security, notably by performing paramilitary and counterintelligence operations abroad. The General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) of France has a rather short history compared to other intelligence agencies in the region. It was officially founded in 1982 from a multitude of prior intelligence agencies in the country. Its primary focus is to gather intelligence from foreign sources to assist in military and strategic decisions for the country. The agency employs more than five thousand people.
7. FSB – Russia
|Formed||3 April, 1995|
The Federal Security Service of Russian Federation (FSD) is the main domestic security agency of the Russian Federation and the main successor agency of the Soviet-era Cheka, NKVD and KGB. The FSB is involved in counter-intelligence, internal and border security, counter-terrorism, and surveillance. Its headquarters are on Lubyanka Square, downtown Moscow, the same location as the former headquarters of the KGB. All law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Russia work under the guidance of FSB, if needed. For example, the GRU, spetsnaz and Internal Troops detachments of Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs work together with the FSB in Chechnya. The FSB is responsible for internal security of the Russian state, counterespionage, and the fight against organized crime, terrorism, and drug smuggling. The number of FSB personnel and its budget remain state secrets, although the budget was reported to jump nearly 40% in 2006.
6. BND – Germany
|Formed||1 April 1956|
|Agency executive||Gehlen Organization|
|Parent agency||Central Intelligence Group|
The Bundesnachrichtendienst is the foreign intelligence agency of the German government, under the control of the Chancellor’s Office. The BND acts as an early warning system to alert the German government to threats to German interests from abroad. It depends heavily on wiretapping and electronic surveillance of international communications. It collects and evaluates information on a variety of areas such as international terrorism, WMD proliferation and illegal transfer of technology, organized crime, weapons and drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal migration and information warfare. As Germany’s only overseas intelligence service, the BND gathers both military and civil intelligence.