Is Special Ops: Lioness Based on a Real CIA Team?

Paramount+’s ‘Special Ops: Lioness’ follows station chief Joe, who must train Cruz, a female Marine newly recruited to the Lioness program. Cruz is assigned to work as an undercover operative for a mission to curb terrorism and must quickly learn the ropes of her new job and form a friendship with the daughter of a suspected terrorist. Since Joe’s Lioness program has ties with the CIA, viewers must wonder if her squad is based on a real CIA team in ‘Special Ops: Lioness.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

The True Squad That Inspired the Lioness Program

‘Special Ops: Lioness’ follows Joe, the station chief of the CIA’s Lioness program, who struggles to balance her personal and professional life. In the series, Joe leads a group of military personnel who work to curb terrorist activities. The team uses female US Armed Forces officers to undertake missions in foreign countries that involve getting close to wives, daughters, girlfriends, etc., of suspected terrorists or people with ties with terrorist organizations. The team is known as the Lioness Task Force, and the first episode firmly establishes that Joe’s squad operates under the purview of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The series is loosely inspired by real events, primarily the experiences of the Team Lioness, aka Task Force Lioness. The squad name refers to the female US Army officers involved in counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The team engaged with local women and pacified the threat posed by using women to carry out terrorist operations.

The real-life Lioness Squad was reportedly created around 2003 to overcome cultural differences while carrying out military operations in foreign countries. It was also reported that the squad undertook intelligence-gathering missions and participated in combat. However, the show’s iteration of the Lioness Task Force slightly differs from the real version, which the US Marine Corps oversaw. A report released by the US Marine Corps confirms the service branch’s involvement with Team Lioness.

Meanwhile, there is no mention of the Lioness Task Force working under the supervision of the CIA or alongside the agency. However, considering the squad’s involvement in curbing terrorism and gathering intelligence, it likely had some coordination with the CIA. Nonetheless, we could not find any official documents that confirm the same. Hence, it is safe to say that the show’s iteration of the Lioness program that works directly under the CIA seems to be a fictional construct.

Ultimately, the series is a work of fiction despite its basic premise being inspired by real events. As a result, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the show’s makers took some liberty while creating the fictional iteration of the Lioness Task Force, which is the show’s focal point. The series is a hardcore action thriller with a military background but thrives when it embraces the espionage elements rooted in its concept. Consequently, the idea of the Lioness Task Force being a unit under the CIA seems to be fictional. It enables the narrative to explore the spy aspect of the titular team’s job.

Read More: Where is Special Ops: Lioness Filmed?