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Thread: MG Flynn (on intell mainly)

  1. #101
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    My concern are the guys and gals who brief him up on his options prior to making those decisions. With an overly threat-focused intel community; and an overly state-foucsed policy team; we are ill equipped to provide him the type of analysis that is most relevant for the world we live in today. Between the "Good Cold Warriors" on one side, and the neo-socialists on the other the voices of reason are either too few or simply not allowed access to the debate.
    I suspect that after our guys and gals brief him on his options (or tell him what we want him to do), his own guys come in and tell him what they want to do... and I suspect he listens more to his own guys. It's easier for him to feed us BS than it is for him the feed it to his own crowd

    I think you're probably right about the exclusion of voices of reason..

  2. #102
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    Default Gigo

    When the debate in the White House is between "fortune telling" military advisers without the underlying research and supporting data, and optimistic civilian advisers attempting, without credible information, attempting to define politically acceptable positions (which may, in the end, prove to be BS), the outcome is predictably political.

    They reap what they sow.

    My lines can't seem to cross on the point that, if there is no subnational governance structure, there is nothing for us to align to, or turn over to.

    Like the Ambassador said, if President Karzai et al, whether through intentional or unintentional flaws, will not accept the burdens and responsibility for self-defense and self-governance, there can be no end game predicated on a free-standing and defensible government (not propped up by "foreign support"), and an effective turn-over of self-governing districts and provinces to a publicly-supported subnational structure.

    We are there until we are not---absent a substantive change in conditions.

  3. #103
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    We are there until we are not---absent a substantive change in conditions.
    I suppose the next question is whether we have the capacity to force any substantive change in conditions, or at least any substantive change that would be consistent with the interests that put us there in the first place.

  4. #104
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I suppose the next question is whether we have the capacity to force any substantive change in conditions, or at least any substantive change that would be consistent with the interests that put us there in the first place.
    The above quotation exposes the Catch-22 of the situation. If we (meaning outsiders, not the Afghan population) have the capacity to force a substantive change and exercise that capacity, then we have made no substantive change at all. We will have merely replaced one illegitimate government with another. Meaningful and legitimate change must come from within the AOR as an un-coerced expression of what the people living there want or are at least willing to leave with sans dysfunctional expressions of discontent (AKA violence).
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. — Sydney J. Harris

  5. #105
    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Sorry but breaking their will is required. The Taliban are not democrats. They do not care what the population want or think. They want to inflict their values on them.
    This is gap between Irregular Warfare and the ever-so context specific ideas about insurgency. The Taliban do not need popular support to take power. They just need to ensure no military force opposes them!
    That all sounds good in writing. It'd be nice if the Taliban lined up so I could break their will. What am I to do - start gunning down the 14-year old they get to dig the hole and the 9 year old they get to run surveillance?

    I still don't see this great divide between "pop-centric" or "enemy-centric" ways of approaching the problem that seems to be argued about here. I view it in a Clauswitzian trinity. This insurgency, like any armed force, rely on the trinity. The leadership is ensconsed in Pakistan while the armed force really doesn't present itself in time and space in a manner that suites me, so I'll go after the third leg, the people. You'd be surprised how well a friendly hand goes, especially if their is something more in the other hand that benefits them.

    Targetting the populace is a means to an end, not an end in itself (which some theorists have billed it as) - a mean to undercut them, push them into the open, and kill the guys who haven't given up because they can make better money with a bit of work than they can dodging aviation to dig a hole by a culvert.

  6. #106
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    Military launches Afghanistan intelligence-gathering mission

    By Joshua Partlow
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    KABUL -- On their first day of class in Afghanistan, the new U.S. intelligence analysts were given a homework assignment.

    First read a six-page classified military intelligence report about the situation in Spin Boldak, a key border town and smuggling route in southern Afghanistan. Then read a 7,500-word article in Harper's magazine, also about Spin Boldak and the exploits of its powerful Afghan border police commander.

    The conclusion they were expected to draw: The important information would be found in the magazine story. The scores of spies and analysts producing reams of secret documents were not cutting it.

    "They need help," Capt. Matt Pottinger, a military intelligence officer, told the class. "And that's what you're going to be doing."

    The class that began Friday in plywood hut B-8 on a military base in Kabul marked a first step in what U.S. commanders envision as a major transformation in how intelligence is gathered and used in the war against the Taliban.

    Last month, Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the top U.S. military intelligence officer in Afghanistan, published a scathing critique of the quality of information at his disposal. Instead of understanding the nuances of local politics, economics, religion and culture that drive the insurgency, he said, the multibillion-dollar industry devoted nearly all its effort to digging up dirt on insurgent groups.

    "Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy," he wrote in a paper co-authored by Pottinger and another official and published by the Center for a New American Security.

    ...
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  7. #107
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    So we are training analysts fundamental concepts afte they arrive in theater? Why aren't heads rolling?

  8. #108
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    We continually see excellent analysis of various areas of operation which describe components of the economic, governance, and security picture to which we allocate substantial blood and treasure to assess, describe, and influence. Our institutional knowledge is currently embodied in people however, and when they rotate out of positions of influence on regularly scheduled intervals, our forward momentum is lost until the newly arriving cohort has learned old lessons anew. Some would say that the promise of digital Knowledge Management is similar to Gutenberg’s printing press; people will only clamor for it if they have first-hand knowledge that it produces something of value that is easy to distribute and use.

    A working unclassified common operational picture of an area of operation is within our grasp and it does not require starting from scratch to build something new. Instead, we could require that all personnel who are preparing to head out into theater must have a common training/educational experience with respect to the topic of civil information management. The training cohort would include Military E1 to O-10, DOJ/USDA/USAID/OGA GS-12 to GS-15 as well as SES, DoS FS-09 to FS-01, all contractors, and NATO partners. A 16 hour training block could be required of all and all would use an existing system, designated as the digital Knowledge Management system of record for the civil information portion of campaign, to work through an exercise in which previously gathered unclassified PMESII (Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, and Information) and ASCOPE (Areas, Structures, Capabilities, Organizations, People, and Events) must be used to resolve a situation in a measureable way.

    Although not a silver bullet, unity of effort in the realm of Knowledge Management would be enhanced by requiring this common training/educational experience of all participants in the campaign. Economies of scale could be acheived by using the resulting after actions review comments process to continually improve the digital Knowledge Management system of record for the civil information portion of the campaign as each cohort goes through the initial training event and at regular intervals out in the field.
    Sapere Aude

  9. #109
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    Default Hi Steve

    Curious about why in this:

    from SB
    .... Military E1 to O-10, DOJ/USDA/USAID/OGA GS-12 to GS-15 as well as SES ...
    training for mil goes down to E1, but for civ agencies goes down to GS-12 (roughly = O-4). Are GS-11 and below untrainable ?

    I expect you have some rationale.

    Regards

    Mike

  10. #110
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    Curious about why in this:


    training for mil goes down to E1, but for civ agencies goes down to GS-12 (roughly = O-4). Are GS-11 and below untrainable ?

    I expect you have some rationale.

    Regards

    Mike

    Mike,

    Glad to see you are up, about, and sharp as ever.

    Could be wrong and mea culpa if so, however it is my observation in my small piece of the battlefield that on the civilian side GS-12 + (or equiv) are commonly out and about...

    As to the trainable question, I myself started as a GS-3 back in the day, most anyone is trainable it's the positions/opportunities/grades that are limited.

    Best,

    Steve
    Sapere Aude

  11. #111
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    Default Kinda thunk this ...

    from SB
    Could be wrong and mea culpa if so, however it is my observation in my small piece of the battlefield that on the civilian side GS-12 + (or equiv) are commonly out and about...
    was the rationale. Which I guess could bring up the question of where we would be if the military force consisted only of MAJs and above.

    As a practical matter, the civilian "force" is pretty much limited to the provincial level and above. It doesn't have the Willies and Joes to handle my little villages and hamlets. Is that observation about correct ?

    Regards

    Mike

    PS: looking at your DoS link, I find featured: Provincial Reconstruction Team Advisor (ASO), SALARY RANGE: 73,100.00 - 113,007.00 USD /year ... SERIES & GRADE: AD-0301-3/3; and Provincial Reconstruction Team Senior Advisor (ASO), SALARY RANGE: 102,721.00 - 153,200.00 USD /year ... SERIES & GRADE: AD-0301-IV/IV.

    Where do those fit (approx.) into the GS pecking order ?

    DoS's Office of the Legal Adviser basically is looking at GS-11 for regular, just out of law school hires and up into GS-15 for non-government laterals:

    Compensation and Benefits
    Attorneys are paid according to the General Schedule for Federal employees. For recent law school graduates with less than 1 year of relevant legal experience, the standard appointment is at GS-11, step one. Candidates with at least one year of experience, such as judicial clerks, will be appointed at GS-12, step one. Non-government laterals are appointed at the grade level (up to GS-15) and step that they would have earned had they joined the Office directly from law school. On a case-by-case basis, we may be authorized to compensate a newly appointed attorney with “superior qualifications” at a higher step level. Attorneys at the GS-11 level may be appointed at up to step 10 in their salary grade. The possible step increase varies for the higher grades. Salary levels for laterals from other Federal agencies are based on their current grade and step.
    Last edited by jmm99; 02-21-2010 at 08:40 PM. Reason: add PS

  12. #112
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    Mike:

    Your question:

    "PS: looking at your DoS link, I find featured: Provincial Reconstruction Team Advisor (ASO), SALARY RANGE: 73,100.00 - 113,007.00 USD /year ... SERIES & GRADE: AD-0301-3/3; and Provincial Reconstruction Team Senior Advisor (ASO), SALARY RANGE: 102,721.00 - 153,200.00 USD /year ... SERIES & GRADE: AD-0301-IV/IV."

    The answer is that they don't really. These are all term-assignment specialists whose links to any Common Operating Procedure or institutional framework was always tenuous at best. The first thing you learn about the State Department is how many people genuinely dislike/compete with each other within the organization. But all gather together around outsiders. Term-assignment folks are outsiders, even more so since Mr. Hoh's resignation. Just another of the many out-of-sync organizations and actors.

    Beetle's points about a COP are on target, but, if you create one: (1) How do you institutionalize it so that it continues to build and be supported?; and (2) How do you operationalize it?

    Right now, Afghanistan is a place of many actors, many actions, but little cohesive or sustainable traction or results. Militaries, civilians, internationals, NGOs.

    Hit Marjah; drop in stability and "government in a box;" move to the next square. Come back to Marjah in two years.

    So, what do you do with a COP if, for example, the first cut identifies deep structural and organizational divisions?

    The problem as I continue to see it from MG Flynn's critique is that Intel has become disconnected from both the field and the actors.

    It is not that some guys in some room didn't do a good job, and need to improve what they do in that room. It is that nobody has a clearly and effectively linked path between viable intel, actors and actions. (it is a very deep strategic problem that is not going to be solved in that hut in Kabul)

    Better intel must be grounded in operations to become both effective, and sustainable. More action drives the COP; more COP drive the actions. Iterative and inter-active feedback systems.

  13. #113
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Fixing Intel: Implementing MG Flynn's SOICs

    Taken from al Sahwa blogsite a commentary: http://al-sahwa.blogspot.com/2010/03...mg-flynns.html

    A recent report written by the RC-West SOIC Director provides an excellent summary of their efforts to stand up one of these SOICs in Western Afghanistan.
    There is a potential problem with the report al Sahwa cites, 'The Stability Operations Information Center (SOIC) Comprehensive Understanding for Comprehensive Operations' by Regional Command (RC) West SOIC Director; there are two copies available via Google: on Cryptome:http://cryptome.org/dodi/af-soic-2010.pdf and ScribD (which SWC does not use). Neither has clear markings as to released to the public and some diagrams used are marked Unclassified / FOUO (the lowest US classification?).

    The report and commentary are a reasonable read and will read again to follow better.
    davidbfpo

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    Default A Reasonable Read

    David:

    Having exhausted myself on the read of so many structural and operational issues, I am still back to several common problems.

    First, I still don't see a credible effort at "population-centric" problem definition. To define the problem of one or a series of exogenous actors is not defining "the" problem, but defining "their" problem. Knowing who is in the room certainly defines what their problems are, but it does not indicate anything new or different.

    Second, it is still to focused on defining the enemy, and the enemy's activities, rather than defining actual problems to which "breakthrough" solutions can be found. If the population is the target, do we know anything more (or less) about that population, or are we just regurgitating the same old tired crap that produced the same old tired answers?

    Third, how does this do anything more than incorporating the buzzwords of civ-mil into an organizational chart?

    We started this at the White House---their routine and traditional questions about "the population," the answers for which were non-existent: How many? How are they organized? Who is in charge? what do they need? How does what we are doing hope to change things?

    This was followed by reports of a group of intel folks being brought to a hut at Baghram where they were shown the difference between what they produced, and the richer, deeper and more accurate coverage that newspaper reporters were creating in the same AO (including problem definitions and reactions). Why did they know so much more? Why was their take so different? How do we catch up?

    Presumably, the purpose of the improved picture is to drive alternative solutions allowing us to, in theory, make substantive operational changes that produce substantially more effective results.

    Now, at long last, we have----an organizational powerpoint.

    As a consulting expert, I am usually brought in to solve a serious problem, the first step of which is to define the problem (usually a wicked one or I would not be involved). The next is to define options for solutions (usually Gordian Knot stuff).

    I cross my fingers that Marjah does not demonstrate the full value of this effort: bringing Karzai and Mullen down to hear local gripes about the lack of paved roads and university education hardly seems like a productive way forward.

    According to Bing West's coverage, Marjah was a McKeirnan effort planned months ago, so when does the fruit of the COP/SOIC ripen?

    What happens if, for the Kandahar example, we discover that the core problem is Walid, and the folks he is associated with? We say he is a bad actor. The CIA says he is a hero. And the cat-and-mouse game continues. Does it all just stop there (same old, same old), or, does the new improved intel provide a breakthrough?

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    From World Politics Review:

    http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/article.aspx?id=5358

    The Chowkay is one of those places on Afghanistan's fringes that are all but off-limits to foreign forces. The existence of such no-go zones, eight years into the Afghan war, represents a huge obstacle to NATO's efforts to uproot criminality and violent extremism. A lack of resources on NATO's part and the total absence of the Afghan government mean the zones are unlikely to disappear anytime soon.

    The Chowkay shura, led by local elder Abdul Ghafai, was the last stop on a mission lasting several hours for elements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. It was also a rare event: The last time NATO ventured deep into the valley was in February. Missions that far into the Chowkay are a roughly monthly occurrence, Snowden said. With small contingents of just a few hundred soldiers, each one responsible for several large valleys apiece across eastern Afghanistan, more frequent missions to the more remote locations are impossible.

    The Afghan government, for its part, never ventures into the Chowkay unless as part of a NATO patrol. A low-ranking district agricultural official was the only Afghan government representative at the March shura.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-31-2010 at 03:16 PM. Reason: Add quote marks

  16. #116
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    Wilf:

    My understanding about Afghanistan is that too many folks are holed-up inside the wire, have limited contacts or communication outside the wire, and not enough energy? creativity? focus? direction? until now.

    What's that all about?

    Steve
    Similar situation existed in Rhodesia where all traditional sources of intel dried up ... and so the Selous Scouts was borne to locate the enemy through pseudo and other OP type operations.

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    Default We found the enemy, and he's our guy

    Dexter Filkins' latest in NYT indicates that the decision has been made to keep Wali Karzai, then do the best "short-term" fix we can in Kandahar to work around him.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/wo...ai.html?src=mv

    You just can't make this stuff up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    Dexter Filkins' latest in NYT indicates that the decision has been made to keep Wali Karzai, then do the best "short-term" fix we can in Kandahar to work around him.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/wo...ai.html?src=mv

    You just can't make this stuff up.
    Sherzai gets removed and AWK stays.
    And we wonder why things get worse.

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    And that says it all.

    The limits of Fixing Intelligence comes when you know the right answers but can't put them into place, so, pretty soon, you stop looking. Something about banging your head against a wall....

    I was reading Tom Ricks latest post on a Galbreath presentation at Quantico. Citing an article by Catherine Cloud for Best Defense:

    We can't win, he said, because we have no credible local partner. Galbraith, who recently served as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Afghanistan, argued that General McChrystal was tasked with coming up with the best possible strategy to win a war in Afghanistan, not to determine whether or not that best strategy would actually work. The kind of counterinsurgency campaign McChrystal recommended requires an Afghan national army to provide security, a police force to provide order, and a government to provide services and win the loyalty of the people. Of these, we are closest to having a passable Afghan Army. The Afghan police force is far from competent, and -- most importantly -- the Afghan government is widely viewed as illegitimate. Karzai's eight years in office have been marked by inefficiency and corruption. Galbraith believes the next five won't be any better.
    Assuming he is still a close Holbrooke protege, it explains a lot about the likely success of the "Civilian Surge." The supposed non-military way out.

    That famous line from acting school: "What's my motivation?"
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-31-2010 at 06:01 PM. Reason: Quote marks added

  20. #120
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    Big question as to whether there is appropriate direction, organization. And, if the system is driven from the top, why are the tops so tardy in putting it together.
    Well merely my opinion would be, why have they not asked the exam question. In irregular warfare the enemy is HARD to find, not impossible. "How do I find that enemy so that I can.....?"
    The Emma Sky's and others, high-level local nationals and advisors, and the top folks were always out asking them questions, and they, in turn were out sniffing around.
    Do not know Ms Sky, and never met her, but unless she said "you need to find these guys and kill them," then the only thing left unsaid was "do not kill the wrong people. It's counter-productive."

    The flow down message from not focussing all military effort on killing the enemy is essentially the armies concerned are simply not good enough to do it. Is that true? I don't 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

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