Back in my CIA days we sometimes used to describe our opponents in the KGB as "ten feet tall." It was, in truth, a tribute to their tradecraft and ability to operate in largely hostile environments. Soviet case officers were sent overseas meticulously trained in both the local culture and language, remained in a country for as long as they continued to be effective, and would engage in hours long "runs" to detect and eventually evade surveillance before making their meetings with their agents. They also drank heavily. We Americans, meanwhile, normally did two of three year tours, were frequently language deficient, and often spent a good deal of our time worrying about where we would be going next rather than concentrating on the job at hand.
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