Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast
Results 21 to 40 of 57

Thread: Relationship between the political system and causes of war (questions)

  1. #21
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    3,195

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    It was not blatant. It was flagrant.
    Or was that flatulent?

    In all seriousness, Tom, your book's on my "to buy" list. Only "Mars Learning" is ahead of it right now.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  2. #22
    Council Member Umar Al-Mokhtār's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Cirenaica
    Posts
    374

    Default Only an idiot could have won this war, and he did.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    You also must understand that capabilities are inextricably linked with intent. Neither intentions without capabilities nor capabilities without intentions pose a threat.
    It seems to me that it isn’t always true since the Grand Fenwick Expeditionary Force had intentions without capabilities yet still managed to bring the US to its knees.
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

  3. #23
    Council Member wm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    On the Lunatic Fringe
    Posts
    1,237

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    As a career HUMINTer, I have to say that any claim that only HUMINT can provide insight to intentions is false. SIGINT, when collection is targeted effectively, is also a valuable direct source of information regarding intent. When HUMINT and SIGINT are effectively coordinated to collect on a target set, each feeding into the other in a structured collection effort, then the degree to which intentions can be ascertained is greatly expanded beyond the individual capabilities of either. Of course, the other INTs often have significant value in corroborating, invalidating, or simply providing additional indicators of assessed intent - IMINT immediately comes to mind.

    You also must understand that capabilities are inextricably linked with intent. Neither intentions without capabilities nor capabilities without intentions pose a threat. A threat only exists when both are manifested together. The statement that "capabilities give no insight into intentions" is false. Capabilities, how they are obtained, structured and used in the context of the collection target, are often an important indicator of intent. So, it is not a question of capabilities vs intentions, but of coming to a logical judgment of intent in light of a host of indicators from the spectrum of collection assets available.

    It is rare that a single collection asset, no matter how well placed, will provide stark warning of a clear and unmistable intent (decision made, action about to be initiated) for a specific course of action to be taken at the national strategic level by a potential threat. If only it was that easy.....
    To piggyback on this post, I'd add that a failure to use an integrated intelligence effort is more likely to produce a false picture. I submit the August 1968 Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia as a case study in how not to do I & W intelligence. Or at least how not to use the data that assets used for I&W have collected.

  4. #24
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    DeRidder LA
    Posts
    3,949

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    Or was that flatulent?

    In all seriousness, Tom, your book's on my "to buy" list. Only "Mars Learning" is ahead of it right now.
    As a southern boy I don't do flatulence

    I merely fart

    More than ever or so my wife tells me

    And tells me...

  5. #25
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Umar Al-Mokhtār View Post
    It seems to me that it isn’t always true since the Grand Fenwick Expeditionary Force had intentions without capabilities yet still managed to bring the US to its knees.
    If you recall, the original strategic intent of Grand Fenwick was for their army to attack the US and lose, thus capitalizing on the perceived American willingness to fund rebuilding of defeated enemies - which appeared a foolproof plan, given the state of their army.

    However, it was only after they stumbled into attaining a unique capability - the Q-Bomb - that their designated military leader was able to bring the US and other world powers to accept terms. But this was in contradiction to the original intent of his political leaders, who never made clear to him in the first place that he wasn't supposed to win.....

  6. #26
    Council Member wm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    On the Lunatic Fringe
    Posts
    1,237

    Default

    In relation to the analysis of roaring mice and their wartime aspirations, I suggest this book.

  7. #27
    Council Member Umar Al-Mokhtār's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Cirenaica
    Posts
    374

    Default However...

    it was the United States’ blatant disregard for the fragility of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick’s pre-industrial economy, which was dependent almost entirely on making Pinot Grand Fenwick wine. After the US-produced the spurious "Pinot Grand Enwick" wine, the loss of revenue threatened to undermine Fenwick’s economy. Thus the Duchess Gloriana XIII was placed in a completely untenable position and, faced with total economic collapse, approved Prime Minster Count Rupert Mountjoy’s plan to send a punitive expedition to punish the US.

    It is a little known fact that the Grand Fenwick Expeditionary Force is one of the few foreign powers to successfully invade the United States. Consisting of 20 long bowmen selected from the 700 in the Duchy and three men-at-arms selected from the 20 who have the right to carry spear and mace, clad only in chain mail, and nobly led by that epitome of military professionalism the stalwart Tully Bascombe, the GFEF inadvertently snatched victory from certain defeat.
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

  8. #28
    Council Member Umar Al-Mokhtār's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Cirenaica
    Posts
    374

    Default

    wm, where did you get your hands on that French military doctrine manual?
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

  9. #29
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    806

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    As a career HUMINTer, I have to say that any claim that only HUMINT can provide insight to intentions is false. SIGINT, when collection is targeted effectively, is also a valuable direct source of information regarding intent. When HUMINT and SIGINT are effectively coordinated to collect on a target set, each feeding into the other in a structured collection effort, then the degree to which intentions can be ascertained is greatly expanded beyond the individual capabilities of either. Of course, the other INTs often have significant value in corroborating, invalidating, or simply providing additional indicators of assessed intent - IMINT immediately comes to mind.

    ...
    Hmm. I understand your points. Let me try to rephrase in way we might agree on: The other forms of intel serve to confirm (through observation of activity) our estimate of intent.

    The point I was getting at (perhaps poorly) is that no amount of SIGINT (for example) will inform you whether a telephone reference to "Uncle's birthday present" is to a terrorist event ... or a new tie.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

  10. #30
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Kansas
    Posts
    1,099

    Wink Too true but

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    Hmm. I understand your points. Let me try to rephrase in way we might agree on: The other forms of intel serve to confirm (through observation of activity) our estimate of intent.

    The point I was getting at (perhaps poorly) is that no amount of SIGINT (for example) will inform you whether a telephone reference to "Uncle's birthday present" is to a terrorist event ... or a new tie.
    If you happen to know that the "Uncle's birthday present" was recieved opened and being used for the last two months then one does know to further investigate what this "new" present may be
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  11. #31
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger
    ...The point I was getting at (perhaps poorly) is that no amount of SIGINT (for example) will inform you whether a telephone reference to "Uncle's birthday present" is to a terrorist event ... or a new tie.
    Here you are operating on the generalization that SIGINT is ineffective in collecting information on intent because the communication is coded in one or form or another.

    First off, many collection targets do make statements that help us to assess intent in the clear, with no attempt at disguising what they are saying. It may be because they are naively assuming that we can't intercept the mode of comms that they are using - or that they assume that we can't understand the language/dialect used in the conversation. In both cases they are often dead wrong. Sometimes literally.

    Secondly, as stated in my previous post, no collection asset operates in a vacuum. Each feeds into the others, in multiple continuous loops, that integrates both raw and finished intel in collection planning that is constantly updated. To follow up on your example, a HUMINT asset may learn that a specific code-phrase of the type you refer to will be used to initiate ramping up the threat attack phase, but has nothing more than a general idea of to whom - or exactly how - the code-phrase will be passed along. That will key multiple collection assets into the hunt for the phrase - which will also lock us on to some of the key players in the emerging event. If we are lucky enough to intercept that specific communication.

    As an aside, today's wireless comms, linking cell phones, internet, etc. fuses many operational aspects of both HUMINT and SIGINT and absolutely requires close collaboration in order to detect, intercept and exploit these comms and the human networks involved.

    All the collection disciplines must work together to be effective. Unfortunately, too often we see turf battles and conflicts over resources rather than true collaboration - especially at the national level in the IC.

  12. #32
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default Amalgamated Ints, Inc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    ...
    All the collection disciplines must work together to be effective. Unfortunately, too often we see turf battles and conflicts over resources rather than true collaboration - especially at the national level in the IC.
    I agree with your premise -- in all senses -- but we, as nearly as I can tell, have denigrated Humint to the point where it and on the ground reports (at strategic, operational and tactical levels) are virtually discounted by many analysts unless corroborated by technical means. Technical primacy isn't an unmixed blessing.

    I submit that isn't terribly smart...

    (I will forego my Stansfield Turner diatribe to avoid offending young ears)

  13. #33
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White
    I agree with your premise -- in all senses -- but we, as nearly as I can tell, have denigrated Humint to the point where it and on the ground reports (at strategic, operational and tactical levels) are virtually discounted by many analysts unless corroborated by technical means. Technical primacy isn't an unmixed blessing.
    Ken, I don’t agree with the across-the-board categorization of analysts discounting HUMINT. There are elements within the military and the broader IC that have long understood and valued HUMINT collection. However, I have to say - excepting those areas - I agree with your point. My previous post really speaks to the ideal, and those elements I mentioned are really the only ones that tend to consistently approach the smooth workings that I tried to describe.

    There are a couple of factors at work that I believe drive the problem you point out. Most importantly, you are absolutely correct in that many elements require corroborating information prior to acting on any single-source intelligence.

    The following discussion includes a healthy amount of my personal opinion on the matter. Be warned.

    Over the past few years, there have been a number of highly-visible unfortunate incidents as a result of targeting based on single-source intel that turned out to wrong – sometimes intentionally so from a manipulative source, sometimes just plain ol’ bad info. The numbers that have passed without mention is much larger. Also unfortunate is the fact that much of that originated with HUMINT.

    The reasons are both simple and complex, and essentially boils down to inexperienced HUMINTers operating in a challenging new environment. But it has much greater implications than that.

    We’re all aware of the massive cuts in military HUMINT during the draw-down period of the ‘90s – and of the recent rapid increase in HUMINT slots in the past couple of years. The former deprived the force of a huge amount of institutional knowledge – not only those who took the money and left early, or went into another field, but also those absent numbers that we did not train and put to work during the thin years. The latter was a rush to put bodies in the field, while relaxing standards and waiving or dropping some requirements (language skills, for example). So, the cherries are now both less prepared for ops than before, and have less access to operationally experienced mentors than they would have had a decade earlier (meaning the ratio of junior enlisted/NCOs to experienced SNCOs and WOs).

    The effects of the rapid expansion have cascading effects beyond that of the new enlistees into the field as well. Because there weren’t enough HUMINTers to fill all the new NCO & Warrant slots created, they were filled by a combination of promoting beyond experience and recruiting from outside the field. No need to expand on promoting beyond experience or capability, but I will harp on the issue of NCOs with no HUMINT, and sometimes even with no MI experience filling HUMINT NCO and Warrant positions. They are now expected to lead, train and mentor HUMINT soldiers in the COE. So, we have a severe lack of focused HUMINT experience across the entire rank spectrum, with a lack of leadership capable of catching and correcting errors.

    This ties directly into poor source handling and bad reporting. Bad reporting, when it results in mis-targeted ops, tends to eventually result in the analysts discounting the source. Even when it doesn’t drive mis-targeting, if the analyst (who is deluged with reporting) continually receives clearly poor reporting from a specific source or sources, he inevitably begins to discount that reporting, putting at the bottom of the pile to review, or simply not bothering to include it in a finished intel product unless something else comes up to corroborate the info. When the source tends to be in the majority from one ‘INT, then the analysts begin to either discount that ‘INT, or to not trust anything from that ‘INT until there is clear corroboration from another source – despite the level credibility formally given to the source.

    To finally get to a point, Ken (if you’ve stuck with me this far), this ultimately breeds bias into analysts against HUMINT. Its not the fault of the analysts – it’s the fault of the system that has produced so many HUMINTers incapable of effective collection and (just as important) effective reporting.

    The common excuse across the board for several of the issues I’ve mentioned is that, given the COE, the large group of rapidly accessed HUMINTers will gain invaluable experience and learn as they go along. Unfortunately, what I am seeing in reality is a lot of learning of the wrong lessons. When we don’t have a suitable proportion of operationally experienced NCOs and Warrants as mentors, to guide and correct the young’uns in this type of environment, this is what you get. Deploying entire teams with no experience – the entire team either gets it right, or gets it wrong. And when they get it wrong, they return home and, now being battle tested professionals, their wrong lessons spread like a virus. Please don’t misunderstand me – we do have some very bright lights in the field, natural HUMINTers who are doing an outstanding professional job. However, from the feedback I am seeing, there is an uncomfortable degree of mistaken learning going on in the HUMINT community. And when it comes from HUMINTers who now have operational deployments under their belts, it is too often taken as gospel by those who are not MI.

    Much of my rant, with some changes for context, can also be applied to other HUMINT collection assets in the IC – which has also undergone a rapid expansion. Again – we have some outstanding people doing great things out there that go largely unsung. But I am concerned that they are being overwritten by the others I discussed here, and that the right lessons may get overwhelmed by the bad – because the ultimate decision makers are not part of the HUMINT community, and what they absorb too often comes from the wrong people. Your "technical primacy" comment hits here as well - a disturbing trend in the HUMINT field is to look for hi-tech "assists" for HUMINT collection, when what we really need is just focused selection and training of HUMINT personnel.

  14. #34
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default Jedbugh, I agree with everything you said...

    Particularly this:
    "However, I have to say - excepting those areas - I agree with your point."
    Kidding but you'll have to admit that was too good to pass up...

    I'll also point out that I did caveat a tad; ""...are virtually discounted by many analysts unless corroborated by technical means. "" (emphasis added /kw)

    I have met a few with some smarts and the gumption to trust their instinct and the guy who's out there; just not enough of 'em.
    Over the past few years, there have been a number of highly-visible unfortunate incidents as a result of targeting based on single-source intel that turned out to wrong – sometimes intentionally so from a manipulative source, sometimes just plain ol’ bad info. The numbers that have passed without mention is much larger. Also unfortunate is the fact that much of that originated with HUMINT.
    Agree -- and I agree with your exposition of the various whys which leads us to this:
    To finally get to a point, Ken (if you’ve stuck with me this far), this ultimately breeds bias into analysts against HUMINT. Its not the fault of the analysts – it’s the fault of the system that has produced so many HUMINTers incapable of effective collection and (just as important) effective reporting.
    Yes, thus we have a systemic failure that gets swept under the table. Yet again, it all boils down to the training we pay lip service too but do not do well.

    On an allied note, An old Cav Colonel recently said, with respect to tactical reconnaissance; "We don't do that very well, Americans don't have the patience for it. We just go out looking for trouble and to do that, you've got to have Armor." On the surface he's correct about the national dearth of patience and he's absolutely correct about the US Army approach to combat reconnaissance since WW II. I submit that while he's correct, he's wrong on what should be -- patience can be trained; patience on the part of the kid you want to sneak about and patience on the part of senior commanders who are unwilling to take the time to do a job right -- or pay for the training so that can be done.

    I think that latter bit about commanders is a big part of why a lot of Analysts like tech means; it's rapid -- and it produces something to show the boss instead of a faceless troop, handler or agent.

    In both the cases of poor tactical reconnaissance and of excessive reliance on technical means, I think we have a philosophical and practical failure at high levels...

    And I know we have a training quality failure...

  15. #35
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Rancho La Espada, Blanchard, OK
    Posts
    1,065

    Default In my MI career

    I was an analyst who used Sigint, Humint, Imint, and Osint. Most of the Sigint either sucked or was so tactical as to be useless to those of us working on the strat level. But some ... some was pure gold! Much of the Humint was attache reporting and much of that was garbage. But there were some real gems. I kept a report from Vernon Walters as DATT in Paris for several years as much for the entertainment value as for the intel value. Imint tended to be very good but didn't always show you stuff that was useful. Finally, our Osint was great press reporting - consstently the best stuff out there. But none of it stood up on its own. there was a reason we were considered and all source analysis org - multiple types of source were always better than one alone.

    Cheers

    JohnT

    PS I'm not as old as Ken but in the same ballpark.

  16. #36
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,457

    Default

    With regard to the value of various "ints" every case is situational. None of the intelligence collection disciplines are inherently better than any other. The single piece of raw intelligence that clearly and definitively shows intent is something that pretty much exists only in novels and in Hollywood screenplays. Even something as definitive as the Zimmerman Telegram has to have supporting evidence and this is particularly true with Humint because of deception. The age when HUMINT was king was really the age when HUMINT was the only game in town. Furthermore, in the case of Stalinist regimes like Saddam's Iraq, North Korea and Stalin's USSR, Humint is really impossible, so the other disciplines are the only option.

    To get back to the OP for a minute, however, here's my take on the questions raised:

    (1) To what extent is strategic intelligence relevant to state decision making on war?
    A lot obviously depends on the state and political system itself. For example, in dictatorships the supreme leader often promotes himself to be his own intelligence analyst, usually with disastrous results. Much depends on who has the power to make war - is it a single person, a junta or a representative body?

    Secondly, in all cases intelligence is skewed to a greater or lesser degree by cognitive bias. Relatively few intelligence personnel and agencies make any attempt at all to correct such bias and in some regimes such bias is actually amplified (IOW paranoia). The term "rational actor" is often used when characterizing how another nation or leader may act, but I feel it is a dangerous term - one that allows and excuses mirror-imaging. IOW actions that appear irrational to one person or nation may appear perfectly rational to another.

    (2) In what ways has technology transformed, or modified, the relevance of intelligence, if at all? Does an increase in capabilities generate a proportional increase in dependence on the effects it enables?
    IMO, technology has greatly improved intelligence collection and dissemination but has hindered most everything in between, particularly analysis and production. First there are the hundreds of hours wasted on Powerpoint when most times a map and a pointer will do, or a simple oral presentation or a written summary. Secondly, there are simply many orders of magnitude more information to sift through that weighing and analyzing it all into a coherent picture becomes exponentially difficult. You'll find that many automated intelligence tools today are designed to manage that information flow and essentially act as a middle-man between you as the analyst and the raw data. Such measures are necessary given the torrent of information but there is always the danger that something important will get filtered out and never sea an analyst's eyes. Unfortunately, a side effect is that this middle-man and the glut of information tends to exacerbate the problem of confirmation bias - analysts looking through reams of data tend to focus and place more importance on those things which tend to confirm their preconceptions or tend to tell their middle-man filters to look for what they already expect.

    I've been an all-source analyst and even for relatively obscure topics the amount of information can be daunting, particularly when historical information and archives are taken into account. Furthermore, technology has made analysis more difficult in many ways because so much of the information is from or based on arcane knowledge of a particular collection discipline. Unless one has a good understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the collection system, an analyst can easily make a wrong judgment about the validity of a particular piece of information from that system. For example, it's important for an analyst to know that the SIGINT system is only capable of collecting, for instance, below the battalion level.

    Unlike what is commonly believed, all intelligence collection assets are limited in that they cannot collect all information at all times. Collection coverage of whatever subject of interest can be, and frequently is, adjusted for a wide variety of reasons. Therefore, there will be periods when certain targets or activities have more collection coverage and there will be less coverage at other periods. In general, more collection coverage means more reports on that topic are generated and a reduction in collection coverage means fewer reports. Now, if the all-source analyst is unaware of a change in collection status they are likely to misjudge because they may assume that the increased number of reports, for example, represents increased activity and not a simple increase in collection coverage. A sharp analyst will account for this but only if he/she is familiar with the intricacies of collection and the intelligence problem itself. But of course, there is always the possibility that an increase in collection coverage coincides with an actual increase in activity. This is another inherent factor an analyst must weigh on just one source of information.

    This effect is even more problematic for historical data, however. When looking at an archive of reports it's unlikely an analyst will know what the collection posture was when those reports were generated, which makes trend analysis much more difficult.

    An even bigger problem is that increased collection can expose what appear to be increased activities but are really just normal. For instance, suppose in country X a certain unit does a certain kind of out-of-garrison training on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Now lets assume the facility this unit resides in is normally imaged by satellite only once a week - say Mondays. Over time an analyst may build up a historical record that shows this unit does this particular type of training weekly and does it on Mondays. Now suppose that tensions between the United States and country X increase and, as a result collection against country X also increases. Now let's suppose the facility is imaged three times a week - Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Suddenly an analyst may see that there are two training events per week instead of one and may erroneously conclude that this type of training at this facility has doubled when in reality it hasn't. This "discovery" that "more" training is taking place my lead to further erroneous conclusions as the report that training "doubled" makes its way around the IC and to policymakers. Tensions may increase leading to even greater collection and the "discovery" of the third training event. So now the intelligence community may be reporting that a certain activity has "tripled" when in fact it hasn't.

    I've seen variations of the above scenario in various forms played out time and again, particularly with current intelligence analysts and new, inexperienced and poorly trained analysts, which there are an awful lot of nowadays. However, the technology is the root cause and it frustrates even experienced analysts.

    So technology is both a blessing and a curse for the intelligence analyst. The variety, ability and timeliness of both collection and dissemination have all increased, but the analytical resources required to process the information (and by analytical resources I mean people with brains) has also increased as has the complexity and, indeed, difficulty of the task itself.

    (3) What is the link between the causes of war and intelligence? Are states more likely or less likely to enter conflict with more effective information management?
    I don't think there's a definitive relationship or answer here. The decision to go to war often comes down to potential or perceived outcomes resulting from various courses of action - something that even the best intelligence analyst cannot predict with great accuracy. Additionally, in many governments intelligence has no real independence from policy and so intelligence is less able to influence a decision to go to war - rather it serves to promote a course of action that's already been decided.

    Ultimately I don't think it's a question of whether a state is more or less likely to enter a conflict. Instead, perhaps its a question as to whether the wisdom of a decision about entering a conflict might be marginally increased with more effective intelligence/technology, though the jury is still out on that IMO. After all, war is required to test such theories and so far the record is not good.

  17. #37
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    806

    Default I think we're in agreement ...

    And I may have given a false impression. Intel has to be all source. The point I was aiming at is the erosion of our HUMINT capability. (Ken, we're in complete agreement on who should bear responsibility for that stupidity.)

    But I will stick to the assertion that however good the other sources are, they can never completely replace HUMINT.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

  18. #38
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
    Posts
    3,947

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post

    @ The reasons are both simple and complex, and essentially boils down to inexperienced HUMINTers operating in a challenging new environment. But it has much greater implications than that.

    @ We’re all aware of the massive cuts in military HUMINT during the draw-down period of the ‘90s – and of the recent rapid increase in HUMINT slots in the past couple of years. The former deprived the force of a huge amount of institutional knowledge – not only those who took the money and left early, or went into another field, but also those absent numbers that we did not train and put to work during the thin years. The latter was a rush to put bodies in the field, while relaxing standards and waiving or dropping some requirements (language skills, for example).

    @ So, we have a severe lack of focused HUMINT experience across the entire rank spectrum, with a lack of leadership capable of catching and correcting errors.
    This speaks to my experience. I was recently approached about sharing my views and ideas on HUMINT, by a consultancy group, who claimed to be under a government contract.

    I declined to be involved because the level of naivety was staggering, especially as concerns some of the legal and even ethical issues that had to be addressed, and the failure to understand that it is almost this area alone that creates the "dark art" problems, - while the fundamentals of HUMINT are pretty easy to grasp, the complexity of the restrictions that have to be enforced seem to go unnoticed. Why? I'll never know!
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  19. #39
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Rancho La Espada, Blanchard, OK
    Posts
    1,065

    Default Rational actors and other things

    Hi Entropy--

    Good post. I will only take issue with you on an aspect of the rational actor approach/model. This is, as Graham Allison pointed out in his classic Essence of Decision, the realist model of international relations that has long dominated the field (Thucydides through Morgenthau and the Military decision Making Model). It tends to explain and predict better than any other single model as long as (1) the analysis is rigorous and (2) the analyst has a solid understanding of the explicit goals of the target. For example, if one had read Hitler's Mein Kampf and assumed that Hitler believed what he said in the book then all his subsequent actions were a rational strategy to achieve some essentially irrational goals. Use of the model would, under those conditions, have been an effective predictive tool - as it was for Churchill (who used it implicitly). Like Adam Smith's economic theory (which has been expanded but never overturned) the rational actor model assumes that individuals rationally seek to satisfy their interests. This works in the aggregate in economics. In IR/intel/policy it depends on a little more before the whole thing comes together. Again, Allison showed that much of what the rational actor model does not explain/predict can be explained by 2 other models: (1) organization theory and (2) an individual political model. But what he does not do is to connect the 3 models and show how they mesh in the way that Adam Smith did. For Smith the individual rationally sought to maximize his economic interest. He and his successors added the notion of the firm doing the same thing. The result was the entire economy rationally maximizing its economic interest moved "as if by an invisible hand." Realist IR theory historically starts with the state and never moves down. Allison made the move downward. The final step (and why the rational actor model explains/predicts better than any other single approach) is to bring it back up - individuals acting rationally in organizations tend to move the state into rational policies (with the caveat noted above in the Hitler example). So, the danger you note is not inherent in the model but rather in the way the analyst uses it - or misuses it, as the case may be. One other caveat - in some (few) cases what is rational for theindividual or organization is not rational for the state (or the economic system as a whole - hence the need for regulation).

    The only other comment I have is related to what technology can do. Your thoughts on that express most of the dilemmas and positive results very well. (I left the intel analyst business before the advent of the PC so I only experienced deluges of paper.) But what computer technolgy can do for the analyst is to call up all reporting on a given subject. Much of what we got from Humint was F6 (old term for "source has never reported before - reliability unknown - and validity of info unknown"). this stuff was often discarded unless the analyst saw it being reported again from a different source - in which case he could/should upgrade the source and the info. But given paper files, it essentially depended on the analyst to remember. Now a click of the mouse can bring ups all reports on the subject or from the source for comparison. A good capability of technogy, I think, as long as we know enough to use it.

    Cheers

    JohnT

  20. #40
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Belly of the beast
    Posts
    2,112

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Good post. I will only take issue with you on an aspect of the rational actor approach/model. This is, as Graham Allison pointed out in his classic Essence of Decision, the realist model of international relations that has long dominated the field (Thucydides through Morgenthau and the Military decision Making Model).
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but in essence what you're saying is the "rational choice model" is predicated on the "point of view" of the subject?

    Is this part of the Durkheim philosophy?

    My thought is that in some cases we talk about Tilly, and others who look at resource mobilization and extending that into concepts such as driving group think, and that resulting in collective action by intelligence analysts. This would be totally counter to independence of thought and analysis. Perhaps a simpler way to state it would be "rush to judgment".
    Sam Liles
    Selil Blog
    Don't forget to duck Secret Squirrel
    The scholarship of teaching and learning results in equal hatred from latte leftists and cappuccino conservatives.
    All opinions are mine and may or may not reflect those of my employer depending on the chance it might affect funding, politics, or the setting of the sun. As such these are my opinions you can get your own.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •