The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS – better known as MI6) is on a new recruitment drive and for the first time in its 111-year history it is reportedly prepared to accept foreign-born British nationals at officer level.
According to The Times (February 10), aspiring MI6 intelligence officers no longer need to have been born in the UK, however they still need to be naturalized British citizens.
The Times quotes a “Whitehall source” as claiming that the radical change in policy is driven by the need “to recruit from the biggest talent pool possible”.
According to the Times’ source, the new policy is about the “diversification of thought … not people who all think in similar ways”.
The source added that greater diversity among the workforce will make MI6 “more effective at spying”.
It is worth noting that the Times newspaper is close to British defense and security circles and tends to report favorably on their activities and often acts as a platform for the dissemination of their views and public messages.
Skeptics will argue that MI6 has been forced to retreat from its century-old position of only recruiting British-born officers because of a recruitment crisis within the organization.
Similar to its sister organization, the domestic Security Service (MI5), MI6 – which is tasked with spying overseas – is struggling to compete with its major rivals, notably the Russian and Chinese services.