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MikeF
09-04-2009, 06:39 PM
Two different articles on Afghanistan for consideration. The first reports on a former XO of mine now leading a RSTA Squadron. The second was sent to me by a former JTAC. His question is whether or not the limitations of the new CAS ROE is hampering progress for the marines engaged in daily firefights. I didn't have an answer for him.


Afghanistan: The Good War Gets Complicated (http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/09/04/afghanistan-the-good-war-gets-complicated/)
David Wood
Politics Daily


COMBAT OUTPOST ZORMAT, Afghanistan -- When a warning crackled over the radio of a suspected ambush ahead, Lt. Col. Rob Campbell swore softly and ordered his three armored trucks to a halt. What happened next illustrates why the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan is failing, why commanders here are asking for more manpower -- and why they are pleading for more time.


Leaping out with his M-4 carbine, Campbell, a tall cavalry officer with sandy hair and freckles, strode through the empty, sun-baked fields flanking the road while his men fanned out, checking the ground for IEDs, sweeping the fields for snipers. The Afghan police assigned to patrol this stretch of road? Nowhere in




Calm- then sudden death in Afghan War (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090904/ap_on_re_as/as_afghan_death_of_a_marine)
Alfred de Montesquiou and Julie Jacobson
Associated Press


DAHANEH, Afghanistan The pomegranate grove looked ominous.

The U.S. patrol had a tip that Taliban fighters were lying in ambush, and a Marine had his weapon trained on the trees 70 yards away. "If you see anything move from there, light it up," Cpl. Braxton Russell told him.

Thirty seconds later, a salvo of gunfire and RPGs rocket-propelled grenades poured out of the grove. "Casualty! We've got a casualty!" someone shouted. A grenade had hit Lance Cpl. Joshua "Bernie" Bernard in the legs.

v/r

Mike

MikeF
09-16-2009, 02:36 PM
David Wood continues his reporting. From the extracted quotes, it seems that the boys on the ground are debating the same force mixture that we are. The GPF says give me more infantrymen. SF says give me more civilians.

A Plea from Afghanistan: My Friend, Don't Go (http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/09/16/a-plea-from-afghanistan-my-friend-do-not-go/)
David Wood
Afghanistan Journal


"We are getting there, but not fast enough,'' Col. Michael Howard, the senior combat commander in eastern Afghanistan, told me. "The violence has to come down to a level where it doesn't affect the daily lives of people, to a point where people aren't afraid to take an active part in their government. Right now we're not at that level.'' Howard has asked for additional troops, knowing that manpower is limited. But, he argued, "if you apply an additional 100 infantry soldiers, then you will have a commensurate increase in the speed at which the violence comes down."

In a related program, soldiers are teaching village women to make high-protein baby formula from locally available produce. That's a project of the civil affairs teams led by Special Forces Maj. James N. Schafer. "I wish I had more teams,'' he told me. "We are doing better; things are better than a year ago. But we need more civilians we don't need more guys carrying guns.''

Schmedlap
09-17-2009, 01:21 AM
One guy wants Infantrymen because they can provide security. The other wants civilians because they bring with them a stream of funding and access to humanitarian assistance. Why don't we just give the chain of command for the infantrymen the stream of funding and access to humanitarian assistance?

We tried this on a smaller scale and it worked out fairly well. It was called CERP.

Pol-Mil FSO
09-17-2009, 01:52 AM
In a perfect world, we would provide each battalion with 50-100 HUMINT specialists. Our reliance on SIGINT, IMINT and single-source HUMINT is one of our biggest problems. Since we don't live in a perfect world, at least we need to start pushing intel assets down to the field level instead of concentrating them in fusion centers at FOBs. We also need to take a serious look at modifying, if not doing away with, the NOFORN caveat on intelligence.

tequila
09-17-2009, 12:41 PM
FSO,

What do you think about the USMC concept of the CLIC cell? The way it worked on my reserve unit's deployment in 2008, we just gave shake-and-bake training to some motivated NCOs and lance corporals during workup, mostly focused on site exploitation. I wasn't part of it, so I have no idea what they did for language support in country. Do we need dedicated intel specialists at the batt level, or is this sort of fly-by-night solution workable?

Abu Suleyman
09-17-2009, 01:45 PM
Do we need dedicated intel specialists at the batt level, or is this sort of fly-by-night solution workable?

We absolutely need dedicated intel specialists. Intel is an art and a science, and not something that can be taught in a two week course. In fact, part of the reason that our HUMINT is so bad in the force in general is that most of the intel collectors on the ground (outside special units) are less than five years in. It takes years to get to the chops for good interrogation and source cultivation, not to mention legalities.

This discussion is going to turn into a personnel issue, though, because there is a ready supply of experienced intel specialists, although perhaps not enough to fill the need, but they are all civilians(CIA, DIA, NSA, Contractors etc.) many of whom were in the military but got out for better pay and less jerking around. In fact, many of them have only gotten better doing work on the outside related to what they had done on the inside. Unfortunately, there is currently not a mechanism to bring those people into the military, which is, in part, why I think many intel focused people would like to see more civilian support: that is where many of the most talented soldiers of the past now are.

John T. Fishel
09-17-2009, 03:36 PM
I was learning how to be an intel officer, one lesson I learned was that the best source of intel information was our own troops. Now, the fact is that ordinary soldiers may not be the BEST source but they are a critical source. In my day, many intel folks didn't bother to do the 2 key things needed to take advantage of that source:
1. Brief the troops on what to look for whenever they went on a patrol or operation. And
2. debrief them on what they observed when they came back.

Cheers

JohnT

PS Also always ask the local civilians what you want to know. they may actually give you useful answeres.

Greyhawk
09-17-2009, 10:38 PM
But I've noticed there's a feedback loop that can't be ignored. Even guys downrange are prone to state as fact things they've read in the papers or online (and then there's the scuttlebutt...).

I've never heard/read a single troop quote that didn't make me wish I could ask the source the five obvious questions it brings to mind.

This is not to say any specific statement is wrong or to be dismissed, but from my experience virtually anything short of "the building is on fire" (or under fire) is worthy of a "how do you know this" or "please clarify" response prior to leaping into action.

Another side of that: seemingly innocuous statements are often worth a follow-up question or two also. Experience taught me that "why the hell are you telling me this?" is also usually worth asking - first to yourself and then aloud in a more polite way.

John T. Fishel
09-17-2009, 11:53 PM
but back in my day there was nothing like the feedback loop you describe.:)
That said, I agree with your comments - especially the "how do you know" etc follow up questions.

Cheers

JohnT

Pol-Mil FSO
09-18-2009, 12:36 AM
Tequila:

The Company Level Intelligence Cells (CLICs) are a good start, but I have heard that at least in some cases the Marines assigned to these positions do not have Intelligence MOSes. Intellectual curiosity and innate intelligence help but I do not think they can fully substitute for formal intelligence training, especially when dealing with military collection and production systems.

More importantly, I think one of the key required skills is the ability to evaluate the credibility of sources. This is not something one can learn from a book or in the school house, rather, it takes some instinctive talent and substantial on-the-job experience. It also obviously requires some cultural and historical knowledge to create a frame of reference about the source. To make it even more complicated, a source can be credible on some issues and not credible on other issues. To explain what I mean on this point - when assigned to a Latin American country earlier in my career, one of my contacts was a Major in the host nation National Police. This Major provided consistently accurate information on human rights and misconduct issues and consistently false/misleading information on the internal politics of the National Police.

In my experience, the two groups that are best at sorting this out are U.S. Army Foreign Area Officers working in Defense Attache Offices and DEA agents. Intelligence analysts at the Headquarters level (which I would define to include in-country FOBs such as BAF and KAF) tend to lack a feel for the country and the people. Some of my fellow FSOs are also good at this, but it is usually a matter of luck rather than any systematic planning or training on the part of the State Department.

Another key variable is what I call a "soft" versus "hard" collection environment. For example, I consider the Dominican Republic and Indonesia to be soft collection environments because these are countries where there is a vast amount of information in circulation with the key problem being a needle in the haystack issue of trying to determine the few truths in the sea of falsehoods. In contrast, the Bolivian Altiplano (high plateau) is a hard environment as this western third of Bolivia has many villages inhabited by indigenous peoples (speaking Aymara or Quecha as a first language) who are extremely suspicious of, and even hostile towards, outsiders.

I would rate Afghanistan as a very hard collection environment. In addition to the security, language, and culture barriers, I believe there is an understandable reluctance on the part of Pashtuns to provide outsiders with truthful information about social, tribal, and political dynamics. The Marines in Helmand have adopted a USAID-designed collection system called TCAPF (Tactical Conflict Assessment Planning and Framework) that can utilize any Marine to develop information about the needs and desires of villagers but I am skeptical about some of the claims of the proponents and think that it can provide only general information at best.

During my year in Kandahar I felt that I only got a few titillating glimpses behind the Pashtun curtain. Opening up the curtain and unlocking the secrets requires a steady and long-term cultivation of personal relationships, indirect elicitation of facts, and a patient piecing together of the information. I think I reached this stage in a few instances in Latin America, but it took a minimum of two years of cultivating contacts while using my fluency in the local language. The "Key Leader Engagement" format that we use in Afghanistan is not likely to provide a lot of the information that we need to really understand how Afghanistan works.

tequila
09-18-2009, 01:10 AM
In my very limited experience, the Marines in the CLIC most definitely were not MOS-qualified in intel or counterintel. They were basically the older, more mature, high-GP NCOs and lance corporals --- those who weren't doing staff duties. Most were 03s, and the training from what I understand focused mostly on site exploitation and evidence gathering, rather than interrogation or HUMINT-type collection. The idea was to get intel and evidence to convict possible insurgents in the Iraqi courts system rather than developing genuine intelligence about insurgent networks and the like.

Given the very limited training and experience available, I don't think the CLIC can work at genuine intelligence gathering that can allow commanders in the field to make strategic decisions about how to run their AOs --- whether or not to trust this leader or not, or the level of corruption within the local police force. I think the focus is more on tactical intel of the most basic sort, and that's all it's capable of.

John T. Fishel
09-18-2009, 01:20 AM
Don't make it harder than it really is - it is hard enough.:eek: Been on the Altiplano and the mountain valleys of Bolivia and Peru and worked fairly extensively with Quechua speakers. From what people I trust tell me, the Aymara speakers are not all that different. My experience with Quechua speakers was that there were various levels of trust - the more you got to know them the deeper that the level of trust (or animosity) could get. Much of it depended on your behavior toward them. From an information collection point of view I could usually get what I needed but not in depth until I had established a relationship. As you suggest, the kind of relationship is largely dependent on time and effort but a decent start could be made in a few hours or a few days although chunka would have been better and huarmey better still.;)

Cheers

JohnT

Pol-Mil FSO
09-18-2009, 01:32 AM
Dr. Fishel:

I'll defer to your expertise on Bolivian indigenous rural communities. My interaction with these communities has been limited to supporting Bolivian National Police and DEA counternarcotics investigations. During my time in-country (a decade ago) the BNP and DEA had much less investigative success in the Altiplano than in the Media Luna due to the cultural differences between the two regions.

John T. Fishel
09-18-2009, 01:39 AM
Might be interesting to ask BG Charlie Cleveland how he found the coca growers in the Chapare 25 years ago.;)

Best

John

Pol-Mil FSO
09-18-2009, 01:56 AM
Dr. Fishel:

I've never met BG Cleveland but I heard that he was with one of the first ODAs that established the Chimore UMOPAR Base Camp of which I have very fond memories. During my three years in Bolivia I spent two-three days a week at that Base Camp at least three and frequently four weeks each month. Although I lived in La Paz I had my own bedroom in the NAS Office at the Chimore Base Camp. I kept all of my fishing poles and most of my firearms at the Base Camp and was able to do a lot of fishing, hunting, and target shooting down in the Chapare. I would spend my weekends in Santa Cruz before flying back to La Paz on Sunday evening or Monday morning. Being a single guy in Santa Cruz, especially as a U.S. diplomat, was like being in heaven.

Surferbeetle
09-18-2009, 02:19 AM
...to Chontales Nicaragua and Cabanas El Salvador but both were good times. Bolivia sounds like fun, so does Peru, Machu Picchu in particular (http://www.edelweissbike.com/4DACTION/web_Send?webNavigation=0101020234&webNumber=21389&webLanguage=E&webCurrency=)...maybe one of these days :wry:

Steve the Planner
09-18-2009, 04:26 AM
On the reconstruction side in Iraq, I found a lot of the military folks to be great assets, but they didn't know it, or know what they had, until somebody could bring it into focus.

In Jan 08, we were trying to map out the ag system and existing econ/ag assets throughout MND-North. Once the Div CA and below got the drift of exactly what we were looking for, the info began to flow from everywhere. One major showed up at my office in Feb 08 at COB Spiecher with a DVD full of pics and assessments of every major ag asset (grain silos, feed mills, slaughter houses) for most of MND-North, and a detailed assessment of what it would take to make them operational. Did I say it was every major ag asset?

He had been collecting them on the side for most of his tour, hoping to find somebody who might consider them important. A common occurence in Iraq was the "bottom drawer" in which Div Staff put their personal ideas of what should be done in---the stuff they couldn't pass forward because it was out of their lane, or contrary to big picture. There were some really great solutions in some of those bottom drawers.

Once we peeled down a layer to chicken houses, hatcheries, and slaughterhouses, we got a lot of ribbing as the "chicken guys," and even a powerpoint slide of the PRT Plans for World Domination through chickens, but, again, once we explained what we were looking for and why, we were only a FRAGO away from a complete map and assessment of everything needed to build regional plans and programs around. Did I say everything?

One thing we were told was that the chicken business stopped because there were no hatcheries in operation in the North, and no grain, and no grain mills. But on one of our regular trips up Route 1 to Bayji, we got stuck in a traffic tie up, and one of our team saw, off in the distance, a sign with a chick on it, and the name "Khalid's Hatchery." Turned out he had a big hatchery operation, and plenty of grain, and an operating grain mill, and could easily double it if only he had customers... Once everyone knew what a hatchery, and grain mill looked like, they found quite a few. Another exploding Iraq myth, as we learned.

How did we know what to ask them to look for? Old maps, British ag studies bought from Amazon.com, and lots of discussions with locals about how things used to be, and what things used to happen in the economy, ag sector, etc... But the US had mobility, and these local folks only knew what they could recall. Put it together, though, and you get a rapid picture of how to rebuild sustainably.

Of course, that was 08, and everybody rotated out at the end of the year...

I always assumed that every year since 2003, somebody did the exact same things that we did, discovering Iraq over and over again, but never, as an organization, learning anything. A lot like FSO suggested, it takes a few years to put it all together, and nobody is in any of these places that long.

Organizationally, we need to move beyond field trials of scattered Afghan engagement, and start building and applying a real knowledge base around what they already know, and how to apply/improve that.

Front Line reports are great, but only, as was suggested, if you can ask the five questions for validation, and even better if they go out as informed analysts to find the things a trained researcher is looking for.

Steve

MikeF
09-18-2009, 01:55 PM
To help solve some of the gaps in intell collection, assessment, and distribution, I once heard an idea to push intel personnel down one level. It would look a bit like this.

Batallion S2: 04 or command-qualified senior 03 with accompaying staff.

Company S2: 02 or E6/E7 with several intel bubbas as a team.

Short-term personnel shortages could be filled by manuever officers and NCO's.

Thoughts as to feasibility?

v/r

Mike

Schmedlap
09-18-2009, 04:04 PM
I saw something that was simpler, much less manpower intensive, and worked great. Have an E-4 from the S-2 shop live with the company. Make sure that he is up to speed on what the PIR/IR's are and that he debriefs every patrol. This alone magnifies the value of intelligence by several orders of magnitude.

No need for another officer, another hand receipt, a bunch more equipment, etc. Just give the company an MI E-4 and make sure the company uses him appropriately.

Schmedlap
09-18-2009, 11:18 PM
In regard to my comment above, I would add that the initial reaction from the S-2 will likely be, "hey, you're taking away all of my guys - how will I do all of my analysis?" A good concern, imo, but not one that actually plays out. If that E-4 intel minion is down at the company level collecting intel from the returning patrols, then it is immediately put into the proper format, using proper terminology, and is generally easier to sift through and read. He can format it for immediate consumption by the 2 shop. Contrast that with having all of your 2 shop minions within your reach, but they're spending lots of their time collecting intel from the companies that is light on details, often sloppily put together, and they spend half of their time just rewriting it into a usable form. And, because much of it was not obtained via a proper debrief, it is usually much lighter on details.

I regret to say that no unit that I was in did this in OIF. The only time that I saw this attempted was in the Balkans and it worked like a charm. In that case, the 2 shop minion was not living with us, as we all operated from one base camp, but each was assigned to a specific AO and that AO was owned by one company, so the minion had a habitual relationship with that company and debriefed every returning patrol. The intel collected by a 2 shop debrief was so much better than even our best efforts at writing up patrol reports.

MikeF
09-18-2009, 11:36 PM
I didn't expand enough on my initial comment/question. Schmedlap offers a great short-term solution, but I was looking long-range.

If operations and intelligence should be considered equal, then the battalion commander should have an S2 and S3 of equal rank. I guess I was envisioning it from this angle- a battalion commander with 2-3 tours in Iraq/Afghan has a junior captain as his S2. Is he really going to listen to the analysis or is the BN XO going to be hamstrung trying to fill the gap?

Moreover, the enlisted MI dudes would get to experience intelligence collection on the lowest levels. As they rise in rank, they would have a better understanding of the data flow v/s the realities on the ground.

If we actually considered this, I don't think it would be as big a burden personnel wise as initially thought considering the massive intel staffs on the highest levels. In 2005, I counted 200 personnel working in the MNC-I G2 staff.

I think the prospect could be win-win for both communities.

v/r

Mike

Kiwigrunt
09-18-2009, 11:51 PM
... He can format it for immediate consumption by the 2 shop. Contrast that with having all of your 2 shop minions within your reach, but they're spending lots of their time collecting intel from the companies that is light on details, often sloppily put together, and they spend half of their time just rewriting it into a usable form. And, because much of it was not obtained via a proper debrief, it is usually much lighter on details.

Some very good points there Schmedlap. I’d be inclined to agree. Your suggestions seem to make it a lot easier for everyone to be singing from the same sheet.

In Timor I and some others were attached to Batalion S2 ‘information cell’. (We were not Intel trained at all but they didn’t know what else to do with us…..but that’s a whoooole different story.) We did indeed spend most of our time ‘translating’ info into our database. That included transforming a few ‘self designed’ Coy-databases into our own. Lots of vaguely overlapping procedure and timewasting with many people not really knowing where they fit in best.
I hope following rotations managed to streamline things a lot better….not sure.

Schmedlap
09-19-2009, 01:22 AM
I didn't expand enough on my initial comment/question. Schmedlap offers a great short-term solution, but I was looking long-range.
Actually, I thought it would make for a great long-term solution, as well. Does it seem inadequate for a long-term plan because it is so simple?


If operations and intelligence should be considered equal, then the battalion commander should have an S2 and S3 of equal rank. I guess I was envisioning it from this angle- a battalion commander with 2-3 tours in Iraq/Afghan has a junior captain as his S2. Is he really going to listen to the analysis or is the BN XO going to be hamstrung trying to fill the gap?

I think ops and intel should be considered different. Also, I have not encountered any commanders - good or bad - who equate rank with competence, credibility, or any other attribute (at least beyond 2LTs). Is he really going to listen to the analysis? Why wouldn't he? The credibility of every S-2 that I've seen, in the eyes of his commander, has been based directly upon how well he did his job. So, yes, the commander will listen to the analysis. Maybe our experience differs, but not all of my Bn XOs were always up to speed on current intel or ops. They were usually up their eyeballs in admin/maint/other issues.

The rest of your comments make sense to me (though I'm not an MI guy), but I wonder if you're addressing problems that don't actually exist. Is the knowledge gap really significant for the S-2 shop in regard to company level ops?

IntelTrooper
09-19-2009, 04:15 AM
I'm not sure that there is a problem with battalions hoarding intel assets, at least not from what I've seen. Currently, in Afghanistan, HCTs are distributed geographically, not organizationally. Things may be changing but with the relatively few HCTs available, our AOs encompassed two to three companies, but we were not necessarily stuck with the BN HQ.

Just by way of quick explanation, each BDE has an OMT/J2X which coordinates HUMINT collection activities. Therefore, HCTs are not directly subordinate to BNs, although they are assigned to and work for a BN. I think this is how it should be. I highly resist collection assets being placed "under" someone at the company level. Collection needs to be highly autonomous and not subject to the whims of young captains or upper enlisted who are not familiar with the requirements of running a HUMINT mission.

That's not to say that we didn't coordinate a lot with the company leadership responsible for our AO (and a wise intel guy knows the value of liaison relationships above all else). And that's also not to say that there shouldn't be someone responsible at the company level for tracking intel activities and reports for their AO. But I don't think it should be the BN's already-limited intel assets.

MikeF
09-19-2009, 04:29 AM
Actually, I thought it would make for a great long-term solution, as well. Does it seem inadequate for a long-term plan because it is so simple?

but I wonder if you're addressing problems that don't actually exist. Is the knowledge gap really significant for the S-2 shop in regard to company level ops?

I don't know. That's why I posed the question for discussion. I've directly observed seven battalions and three brigades in combat (hardly a statiscally relevant number). I've seen good S2s and bad ones.

As we move from a top-down to bottom-up level of assesment, I would submit that the intel community is falling behind. Moreover, the inverse proportion of their pyramid hyarchy brings question to its structure in this type of war. I guess I was just suggesting a more bottom up structure.

v/r

Mike

Schmedlap
09-19-2009, 05:49 AM
And that's also not to say that there shouldn't be someone responsible at the company level for tracking intel activities and reports for their AO. But I don't think it should be the BN's already-limited intel assets.
Not sure if that is a response to anyone/thing in particular, so I'll just clarify my comments. I was not suggesting that the intel guy should be OPCON to the company and/or act as their intel cell. I think it makes sense for the S-2 to retain control of his guys, but to push his guys down to the company so that the shop can work more efficiently and so that it can obtain more valuable intel. While he and the S-2 NCOIC might prefer to have their guys within arms reach for various admin/control reasons, he loses a lot of valuable intel by not having them do the critical work of debriefing patrols.

If he keeps them within arms reach, then what he gains in analysis, he loses in collection... which begs the question: what is he analyzing? And what is he getting out of it? I would assert that the answers are: "very incomplete information" and "not as much as he would get out of it if he had more complete information."

Tom Odom
09-19-2009, 06:05 AM
Mike et al

Good discussions on a subject I have worked for the past 7 years. There are a number of CALL products on this that I put together, sone with help from folks on here.

the first step in the bottom intel process is recognizing that reality; that is very hard to sell to rice bowl owners, usually tied to branch-centric definitions concerning what is real intelligence and what is combat information.

I first used the Brits Northern Ireland Bluebook as a model working with the exchange officer we had at JRTC Ops Grp. That model uses infantrymen--junior NCOs--to establish a company informartion collation cell and the Brits run a short course to satisfy the need to train them.

The Marine Corps has also pursued this with a similar out of hide approach.

Army units vary. But we have intel cells, company TOCs, O/I cells or whatever they are called near universally now at the company level. I still believe we need to standardize with the aim of building organic capacity through the M&TOE and training.

Best
Tom

MikeF
09-19-2009, 04:24 PM
Thanks Tom. I haven't been on the CALL site for a long time. I'll have to brush up on it and see what y'all published.



Army units vary. But we have intel cells, company TOCs, O/I cells or whatever they are called near universally now at the company level. I still believe we need to standardize with the aim of building organic capacity through the M&TOE and training.

Schmedlap is correct with his suggestion of sending one guy down from the BN level to help out, and the Company intel cells are a great ad-hoc solution as long as you get the right people. I am just looking at a totally different approach to try to better optimize capabilities. In my own company, I held intel as one of my primary functions as a commander.

Everyday, along with the required patrol reports, my platoon leaders would submit operational summaries. After discussing the information in an informal huddle session with E6 and above, I would consolidate and publish an operational summary and intelligence summary. These reports were sent higher, but they were also distributed down to the E5 level. Every sergeant had the responsibility to brief their soldiers.

This process worked well. It helped to get everyone on the same page, understand how I viewed the battlespace, and it helped the NCO's have a better understanding on what to look for when answering the CCIR and PIR.
Every once in a while, a young soldier would spot discrepencies in what was reported based off what they had seen. So, we had feedback loops to continually try and gain clarity within the fog/friction of war.

Simultaneously, two or three scouts would volunteer to work with me at night to translate recovered documents, review confiscated DVD's, and search the intelligence web for anything relevent to our AO. We were able to conduct our own analysis and summaries at the company level. Talking it over with the BN S2, this effort was greatly appreciated.



the first step in the bottom intel process is recognizing that reality; that is very hard to sell to rice bowl owners, usually tied to branch-centric definitions concerning what is real intelligence and what is combat information.

My version of problem-solving is usually to try and determine the best COA, and then apply the realities of rice-bowls, competing stakeholders, etc. Often times, that is just wishful thinking :cool:

v/r

Mike

MikeF
09-20-2009, 03:20 PM
I wonder if you're addressing problems that don't actually exist.

I probably should have started by defining the problem. With exceptions (Strykers and SF stick out), there are fundamental systematic problems with intelligence collection, assessment, and dissemenation. These problems have existed for a long time, and they were exasperated as the MI community had to switch from the Top-Down to Bottom-Up Intel of COIN (Or in Cav terms, recon pull v/s push:cool:).

One issue is stove-piping and rice bowls. Many will hold on to intel and not pass it on to anyone they feel is outside the need-to-know.

Another more grieviace issue is analysis. Back on my time in staff, I would follow reports from battalion, to brigade, to division, and onto Corp. What I observed was best described as editing rather than analysis. This is a problem. IMO, this issue caused us to NOT understand the true nature of the war in Iraq b/c we (collectively) were afraid to tell the boss what was really going on on the ground. So, we'd edit any bad news. This editing left the highest commands unaware of many of the problems brewing and simmering on the ground.

In organizational design, one can adjust process, structure, or culture to effect change in an system. The proposal that I posted is a structure change.

v/r

Mike

davidbfpo
09-20-2009, 03:36 PM
Mike,


So, we'd edit any bad news. This editing left the highest commands unaware of many of the problems brewing and simmering on the ground.

This is not an issue unique to the US military intelligence community and I can recall, in the Afghan context, a marked reluctance to be polite, to permit analysts reporting back to the UK the extent of the drug trade at the begining of our involvement (2001-2002). Such reporting was not appreciated by the politicians, so stop.

There are a few notable, public examples of that happening in UK law enforcement; for example a warning of mounting tension on Broadwater Farm, an urban flashpoint, was "edited" and within days there was a lethal riot.

How to stop this practice has been debated in the academic community, for example in the journal 'Intelligence and National Security'. I cannot recall a "consumer" or a senior officer commenting on the issue. A direction from the top 'Tell me the bad news always' is needed.

davidbfpo

MikeF
09-20-2009, 04:21 PM
This is not an issue unique to the US military intelligence community and I can recall, in the Afghan context, a marked reluctance to be polite, to permit analysts reporting back to the UK the extent of the drug trade at the begining of our involvement (2001-2002). Such reporting was not appreciated by the politicians, so stop.

David,

I should have added some caveats. First, this happens in every bureaucracy and probably every other organization :D. Second, I'm sure it has happened in every war that was ever fought. Third, the intelligence problem is only one of other issues with the military. I was not trying to imply the intelligence problems led to our initial failures in Iraq.

If we're fighting a village war or bottom-up approach, then I think we should have as many people close to the village as possible.

v/r

Mike

IntelTrooper
09-21-2009, 05:16 AM
Not sure if that is a response to anyone/thing in particular, so I'll just clarify my comments. I was not suggesting that the intel guy should be OPCON to the company and/or act as their intel cell. I think it makes sense for the S-2 to retain control of his guys, but to push his guys down to the company so that the shop can work more efficiently and so that it can obtain more valuable intel. While he and the S-2 NCOIC might prefer to have their guys within arms reach for various admin/control reasons, he loses a lot of valuable intel by not having them do the critical work of debriefing patrols.

If he keeps them within arms reach, then what he gains in analysis, he loses in collection... which begs the question: what is he analyzing? And what is he getting out of it? I would assert that the answers are: "very incomplete information" and "not as much as he would get out of it if he had more complete information."

I'll also clarify -- collection and analysis are two different processes, and two different organizations are responsible for them. The processes are also fairly regimented, in true Army fashion, and even a very perceptive analyst with excellent situational awareness is not going to change the system enough to really justify pushing them down to the company level. The targeting process is set, with the thresholds and requirements being set at RC or theater level.

Ultimately, in my opinion, HCTs should sensitize platoon leaders and squad leaders to the kinds of information and people they are looking for, but the responsibility for creating an environment where important information is noted and reported belongs to the battalion and company commanders who are creating the PIRs and CCIRs.

Perhaps in coordination with the collectors and analysts, units could distribute a set of notecards with EEIs (Essential Elements of Information) to line leaders to ask if they run across certain types of people, locations, or information.