Written by Peter Fitzgerald
History of War - Spies
Gary Berntsen is the all American CIA agent who enjoyed and illustrious career in the Central Intelligence Agency. Gary Berntsen completed a full term of service in the CIA and left as a highly respected and decorated officer. This respect and the interesting career he had led Berntsen to run for the US Senate, although he failed in his attempt.
Like many CIA officers before him, while he served his country proudly Berntsen is not a hugely well known person other than to people with an interest in intelligence and espionage or politics. To set this straight and to let you gain a good understanding of Gary Berntsen you can read on about this great American.
The Young Gary Berntsen
From a young age Berntsen enjoyed a great youth in a suburb of Long Island in New York.
By the time he reached a teenage age, Berntsen had decided what he wanted to do in life and this was to join the US Army. At 17 years of age he attempted to enlist but his parents would not sign the release form so he was unable to.
By the time he was 18 Gary Berntsen was able to sign up for the forces without his parents say so, this meant he enlisted in the American Air Force. In the air force Berntsen served as a Crash Fire fighter for some four years, this position took him to as far afield as Korea. During his time in the Air Force Berntsen started to gain a huge interest in education and started reading many books.
Berntsen served for four years in the US Air Force before then going to college and studying politics and Russian studies, after this he then joined the CIA.
Gary Berntsen in the CIA
Gary Berntsen joined the CIA in October 1982, joining the Directorate of Operations.
Information on early operations in Berntsens career is hard to come by given the secret nature of the CIA and its work, but we do have information on latter operations.
The earliest information comes from 1998 when Gary Berntsen took a team with him to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The operation came about because the U.S. Embassy was coming under attack.
Berntsen’s reputation grew from this operation as the investigation he led finished with 21 people involved in everything from the planning phase to the attack phase of the attacked were captured.
Berntsen went into Afghanistan in March 2000 with a view of capturing high ranking Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, but politics from the U.S. post 9/11 meant that he was not able to carry out this operation to the level he wanted.
By December 2001 a change in President occurred in America and this paved the way for Berntsen to be able to carry out Afghanistan operations that he wanted. Firstly he became Commander of all CIA forces in Eastern Afghanistan; next he was told by top CIA officials he can go all out to kill as many Al Qaeda as possible.
During his time in the CIA Berntsen was awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal and the Intelligence Star.
After a long and interesting career in the CIA, Gary Berntsen decided to retire in June 2005.
Gary Berntsen after the CIA
Today Berntsen has had an interesting life post the CIA, he has become an author on fictional intelligence stories whilst also having run for the Senate seat in New York, although he lost this election battle.