Sarah Dillard served as the Director of the CIA. Following the assassinations of Navy SEALs Rowdy King and Keith Webb, as well as the attack on John Kelly and his wife, Dillard tasked Robert Ritter with briefing officials at the Pentagon. Dillard later directed Ritter to brief Secretary of Defense Thomas Clay of the FSB's involvement with the assassinations. Dillard made it clear to Ritter to only brief this information to Clay. Clay dismissed these concerns, however, and invited Karen Greer to the briefing. As the FSB's actions seemed to be in retaliation for the SEALs attack on a Russian arms depot in Syria, Dillard did not want to anger them further and felt it better to bury the matter. As a result, Clay told Greer that unless Dillard believed that they should act, his hands were tied.
John Kelly later learned that Andre Vaseliev had issued the FSB operative's passports and killed him. Dillard deduced that Greer had to have given Kelly the intel about Vaseliev as she had been the only other person besides Clay to have been briefed on the matter. Despite this, she and the CIA could not prove it. Kelly later offered to give Clay the information he had learned from Vaseliev on the condition he be released from prison. Clay agreed and brought Kelly to a CIA warehouse to meet with himself, Dillard, Greer, and Ritter.
During the meeting, Kelly told them a name: Viktor Rykov. After Dillard asked him how he knew that name, Kelly stated that he was the man who had escaped during the attack on his home. Ritter told Kelly that Rykov had special forces training with FSB connections and held beliefs that the West could be taken down with a series of strategic attacks. Ritter then said it was impossible for Kelly to have seen Rykov as he had been "sanctioned" by the CIA. Despite this, Kelly confirmed Rykov's face through a photo lineup. Ritter then suggested that they capture Rykov to prevent future attacks on the West. Kelly insisted on being placed on the recovery team. This idea was initially opposed by Clay who told Greer that she would be leading the mission. Kelly remained persistent and told Clay that if Rykov was as dangerous as they thought, they would need someone like him on the team. Greer recommended against it, citing Kelly's mental state, but Clay overruled her. Clay then told Kelly that he would return to prison as a felon after the mission.