WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s secret intelligence fund received $23.1 billion in appropriated funds for the recently concluded fiscal 2020 — the highest total for the account in nine years.

The increased funding for the Military Intelligence Program, or MIP, comes after FY19 saw a rare decrease in year-over-year spending power for the classified account. The funding, which includes both base dollars and overseas contingency operations money, “is aligned to support the National Defense Strategy,” per a four-sentence statement from the Pentagon.

The department annually waits until after the fiscal year ends to announce how much money it was given for the fund. The Pentagon requested less than $23 billion for the MIP in its FY20 budget request, meaning Congress gave the fund a slight increase over requested amounts.

“The department has determined that releasing this top line figure does not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP,” the statement read. “No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons.”

According to a 2019 Congressional Research Service report, the MIP funds “defense intelligence activities intended to support operational and tactical level intelligence priorities supporting defense operations.” Among other uses, these dollars can be spent to facilitate the dissemination of information that relates to a foreign country or political group, and covert or clandestine activities against political and military groups or individuals.

MIP money also partly goes to U.S. Special Operations Command to pursue “several current acquisition efforts focused on outfitting aircraft — both manned and unmanned, fixed and rotary wing — with advanced ISR and data storage capabilities that will work in multiple environments,” according to CRS.

MIP funding went as high as $27 billion in FY10 and sat at $24 billion in FY11. But by FY15, it hit a low point for the decade, at $16.5 billion, per CRS.

The MIP then had three straight years of growth, going from $17.7 billion in FY16 to $18.4 billion in FY17, and to $22.1 billion in FY18. It dipped in FY19 to $21.5 billion.

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

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