The CIA has appointed the chief of its Near East division, Robert Richer, as the associate deputy director for operations, according to U.S. officials.
Richer, previously chief of station in Oman and Jordan, has spent most of his career on Near East issues and assignments. He becomes the number two official in the directorate, which is charged with stealing secrets, recruiting spies and carrying out covert operations overseas.
One well-known story about Richer is that, as a young Marine Corps captain, he marched his company to a course in unarmed self-defense one morning. Perturbed to find that the Marine sergeant teaching the class was a woman, he volunteered to be the first challenger, according to former colleagues who have heard the story.
Within seconds, Richer was flat on his back.
Shortly after that, the instructor resigned from the Corps, which does not allow fraternization between enlisted personnel and officers, so she and Richer could marry.