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to counter the technologically advanced, neo-fascist subversive
organization HYDRA, S.H.I.E.L.D. remains the planet's
largest and most effective force for neutralizing threats
to world security and combating terrorism and alien infiltration.
The bulk of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s operations are covert, but
a number involve public activities. The organization's
policy prohibits it from usurping the role of the nation's
armed forces by engaging in warfare on enemy soil. Domestic
matters falling under the jurisdiction of the militia
are coordinated jointly, with S.H.I.E.L.D. generally taking
an auxiliary role, as in the case of the U.S. Army's pursuit
of the Hulk. All covert operations are automatically S.H.I.E.L.D.'s
province, making unnecessary coordination with the armed
forces. Unlike the various national intelligence agencies,
such as the CIA, Mossad and M-16, S.H.I.E.L.D. is international
in membership, scope and jurisdiction. Most of the world's
free countries participate in S.H.I.E.L.D. and sanction
its activities on their soil.
S.H.I.E.L.D.'s founders remain anonymous; its advisers
include renowned heads of state and corporate leaders.
HYDRA assassins killed the organization's first director,
whose identity remains classified. His replacement was
CIA operative Nick Fury. As S.H.I.E.L.D.'s highest-ranking
known agent, Fury oversaw daily administrative affairs
and served as supreme field commander. The organization's
Executive Board of Directors, whose seven members maintain
their anonymity by communicating with personnel via video
screen, determines S.H.I.E.L.D. policy and directives.
S.H.I.E.L.D.'s greatest drawback is that it has become
so complex in its organization and vast in its operations
that a single person, even Sharon Carter, Fury's successor
as director, cannot personally oversee all its activities.