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Intelligence What do we know, need to know, and how do we get there?

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Old 01-05-2010   #1
Jedburgh
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Default MG Flynn (on intell mainly)

CNAS, 4 Jan 09: Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan

Mod's Note the title of this thread was changed in 2012 to MG Flynn, Fixing Intel so Relevant in Afghanistan & beyond and in January 2015 was charged to MG Flynn (on intell mainly) (ends).

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This paper, written by the senior intelligence officer in Afghanistan and by a company-grade officer and a senior executive with the Defense Intelligence Agency, critically examines the relevance of the U.S. intelligence community to the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. Based on discussions with hundreds of people inside and outside the intelligence community, it recommends sweeping changes to the way the intelligence community thinks about itself – from a focus on the enemy to a focus on the people of Afghanistan. The paper argues that because the United States has focused the overwhelming majority of collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, our intelligence apparatus still finds itself unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which we operate and the people we are trying to protect and persuade.....

Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-16-2016 at 02:10 PM. Reason: Mod's Note before thread title change
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Old 01-05-2010   #2
Steve the Planner
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Jedburgh:

I read this yesterday and, for the first time, said to myself, "Eureka!"

Somebody was getting closer to the problems and solutions.

Having served in that capacity on an ad hoc basis in Northern Iraq for a year, it was nice to see that somebody is finally getting it---the need to synthesize a reasonable and cohesive picture across all the bands and boundaries.

On my first arrival in Iraq in December 2007, I started data gathering---only to find out how little anyone knew, or, if somebody did have a nugget, it all too often later proved to be of little value---especially the stuff I got from Baghdad and hauled up to Tikrit.

Start with the most basic elements:

I obtained three different provicial/district maps from US sources---on close analysis (which is what I do), I found that most of the boundaries and lines were different, and or inconsistent/irrational. Looked great printed on big official colorful maps, but, for example, How could the District boundaries of Bayji District in Salah ad Din not actually include the district capital, Bayji, which was shown as part of Tikrit District? How could parts of Taji, extending all the way into Baghdad, be part of Salah ad Din?

So I started collecting population data---just basic stuff like how many people in each province and district. Everybody had data, but, if you put them side by side, they were all different, and some were so way-wrong as to be foolish. How could there be either 200,000, 300,000 or 450,000 people in the walled enclosure of Samarra? It had to be one number or another.

Why did this kind of basic stuff matter?

First, if you didn't know where the provincial and district boundaries were, how could you build civilian capacity, align US civ/mil activities to civilian government, know who was supposed to be (or become) in charge?

Second, if you didn't know whether there were 200,000 or 450,000 people in Samarra, how could you plan and resource anything credible---civ or mil?

It was in the Odyssey that followed---collecting the right information---that I learned so much of why we were stumbling around for so long. Especially when you returned to the states and saw so much of the contracted intel---tribal maps, etc...---that were, too often, not worth the paper they were printed on. Or worse, the windshield "Humint" stuff "collected" by some PhD staring out the grimy window of a gun truck...

All too often, I found that folks in the field distrusted most of it, and for damned good reasons---but not having a clear picture left a lot to be desired, and precluded, in many instances, rapid and effective comprehensive strategies. (Iraq: Six years, one year at a time; A whole country, one battlespace at a time)

When I was re-targeted to the UN DIBS Team in August 2008, we began a systemmatic assessment of the disputed internal boundaries, and all the very successful COIN strategies which Sadaam had employed for twenty-five years---mass resettlements, genocide, town destruction, tribal and factional cooptation, etc....

Simply mapping and documenting that whole history was instructive---certainly, studying the ruthless and effective Sadaam Campaign, modelled directly on the "successful" British stuff, gives me a very uncomfortable perspective on many of the happy-talk COINISTA perspectives (it is about power). But it also laid bare most of the problems and potential solutions---not the windshield crap coming out of DC.

Why were we stumbling around so long getting hit high and low from problems we didn't understand and enemies that were unforeseen? I don't know all the answers, but I saw the path to them....

A few months ago, I started a blog about Afghan national population counts. Between input from Entropy and others, we settled on numbers far below the published figures of 33.6 million---around 25 instead. Then the CIA Factbook---oracle that it is---made a major revision. Instructive to me was not the revision, but the explanation: The figures had been developed by a desk jockey in the Census Bureau from old 1970's Era data projected forward. Here we are in a big war, and the best we know about the place is from outdated data projected forward by a Census Bureau deskjockey.

No wonder...

Now, at least, an authoritative group on the inside has laid out some of the basics.

A good start after a decade in this business.

Steve
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Old 01-05-2010   #3
Steve the Planner
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Default Fortune Telling

The AFP story quotes MG Flynn:

"Major General Michael Flynn, the top NATO and US military intelligence chief in Afghanistan, said US-led forces in Afghanistan were "so starved" of accurate intelligence "many say their jobs feel more like fortune telling.""

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...czFC7AtcHP8fnw

This article, more than anything, pounds home the points:

Quote:
US intelligence officers and analysts can do little but shrug in response to high-level decision-makers seeking the knowledge, analysis and information they need to wage a successful counterinsurgency
said Flynn's report, released by a Washington think-tank.

Quote:
A failure to understand who the local Afghan powerbrokers are and ignorance of local economics and landowners had contributed to "hazy" knowledge
, said the report on the website of the Center for a New American Security."

What Sadaam had, which made his operation work, was a huge network of intel and controlsinto every aspect of Iraqi life. Between the census data, and and formally adopted political governance structures, nothing got past central view.

One of the key things I was working on was development of a civilian declassified GIS system for Iraqi civ use. In the process, I worked with their internal census data, made based on UN guidelines.Even in 1990s, they knew every bongo truck, camel, irrigation ditch, well and internet cafe in the Country. They had maps of every major business, infrastructure component, and more often than not, the owners and associated details about each. Their land and tax records accounted for everybody and everything.

So, while we were stumbling blindly, it was all there.

What we were trying, and largely succeeded at doing in 2008, was not just pop/pol mapping, but basic infrastructure, industry, value chains, and trade patterns. Answering stupid questions like how much asphalt and cement capacity exists in a regionial critical, too, in determining how much reconstruction (especially for roads and bridges) can occur within available supporting resources. Dumb stuff, but critical.

I sat through a briefing earlier this year where a group had been trying to glean tribal/familial relationships in Iraq. I shook my head: They were trying to read tea leaves and fortunes while the Iraqi land records showed everybody by name, and every piece of property, and we had already digitized most of the cadestral/property records, so it would have just taken a push of a button to reconcile names/families/tribes to actual properties; from their, any kind of regionalized data analysis would have been easy.

The only gap, then, would be to field reckon the changes between pre-and post-occupation (resettlements, refugees), which, of itself was a driving measure of instability... Lots of accurate, easy targeting to do.

In Iraq, they didn't have computerization, so they put everything on maps and hand-written records. The Ottomans had started that, then the Brits refined it, and the UN in the 1990's taught the mastery of it---basic enterprise accounting and management by the numbers.

Afghanistan does, in fact, have a history of UN training, and some systems, like the Afghan Census agency (and UNDP), that follow that field. But, I suspect that for most places, the "shadow" has it all in his head, and doesn't need our technological approaches---but we do, if we are to out-maneuver him.

Fortune-telling will not work in defeating the Shadow.

Steve

Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-05-2010 at 08:27 PM. Reason: Add quote marks
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Old 01-05-2010   #4
Entropy
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Haven't read this entirely yet, but I have some problems with the introduction:

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The paper argues that because the United States has focused the overwhelming majority of collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, our intelligence apparatus still finds itself unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which we operate and the people we are trying to protect and persuade.
and:

Quote:
Having focused the overwhelming majority of its collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, the vast intelligence apparatus is unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which U.S. and allied forces operate and the people they seek to persuade. Ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced, incurious about the cor-
relations between various development projects and the levels of cooperation among villagers, and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers – whether aid workers or Afghan soldiers – U.S. intelligence officers and analysts can do little but shrug in response to high level decision-makers seeking the knowledge, analysis, and information they need to wage a successful counterinsurgency.
Oh boy, where to begin, especially with that second part.

CENTCOM and ISAF/USFOR-A Commanders set guidance with respect intelligence through their PIR's (priority intelligence requirments). PIR's are what drive intelligence collection and analysis. They tell the intelligence function what information a Commander requires in order to conduct the operations he/she wants to conduct. Higher priority requirements naturally receive the majority of collection and intelligence support.

PIR specifics obviously can't be discussed in an open forum, but let me suggest that one reason the intel community is "unable" to answer those questions is because it hasn't been directed to answer them. Anyone with SIPR or JWICS access can read the Commander's PIR's for themselves and what one will find is that the PIR's today are not substantially different from what they were five years ago.

In many ways, however, I do agree with the criticisms in that we are institutionally ignorant of some of the fundamentals. I know that I've personally tried to educate myself to at least address my personal deficits, but without institutional guidance from Commanders and policymakers the system isn't going to respond.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-05-2010 at 08:34 PM. Reason: Fix spacing in quote
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Old 01-05-2010   #5
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One more thing. We don't know about the economics, landowners and who the powerbrokers are at the local level because there is currently little capability to collect such information, even assuming there is a definitive answer (ie. who "owns" land is often in dispute). We haven't (and still don't) have the forces to spend time with locals to learn this information, we have a huge (and probably enduring) language deficit, and we continually run into the problem where Afghan expertise is, at best, biased and at worst, completely compromised. This is why much of our intelligence in this area is based on acadmic work, much of it historical. All the analysts in the world cannot overcome a collection deficit, nor the fact that Afghanistan, until recently, has played second fiddle to Iraq in terms of resources.

I'm going to read this today - hopefully it addresses these issues in depth.
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Old 01-05-2010   #6
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Entropy:

I think we're of a similar mind on a lot of this, though I applaud that a CJ2 is taking interest in the process to this extent.

I too, think commanders and prior S/G/J-2s are to be held accountable for not asking the right questions. PIRs were either nonsensical or simple-minded when I was in theater last year.

Also, I do have some trouble with fielding hordes of "analysts" who are also collecting while there is a simultaneous collection effort by HCTs, HETs, HATs, and other agencies. Perhaps they will refine the roles of properly trained HUMINT collectors to continue focusing on targeting while these "analysts" focus on more readily available information. I hope that is the case, because we were constantly pulled in every direction.
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Old 01-05-2010   #7
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Entropy:

Right. It is the system, and it is tactically driven.

The gap really underscores my on-going criticism of the Humint effort, too heavy on anthropology, and devoid of the basic background studies needed to understand the problems and solutions.

Myself and a group of NGA staff in Baghdad last summer could have written the same report, about a critical background problem that has been in our faces for at least a few years now.

Social sciences include basic geography, geology, economic, market and infrastructure information, demography and demographics (actually two materially different specialties), history, ... and anthropology.

We do not have the basic suite of tools for Afghanistan that would be a bedrock for any routine public administration functions---including analysis and planning. Why? Who is responsible?

Well, we can point to the stripping bare of US State and USAID in the 1960s-2000s as one answer, and to the fact that CIA, too, seems to be tactical, and not strategic. That defines the problem, but not the solution.

The bottom line of Humint was, as I understood it, supposed to be that we understood that the US no longer that strategic, background framework which the DoD knew it would need in these new missions. So, where is the product? When is it going to be created? Can't Humint or NSC jump on this immediately? Can't ISAF staff, and or direct an immediate solution (as you have described)?

In the field, and here, I find so many people reluctant to use US background data, and I agree. The stuff they get from the present system isn't worth the paper its printed on, let alone the millions spent for it.

But, as this report notes, the problem is not fixed.

I believe the recommendations are a good first step, but wisdom cannot be gained by scurrying from one place to another. Somebody has to take charge of and focus on establishing a background framework of what is needed, assign people with the appropriate training and wisdom to pursue and collect it, then compile it, and use it for immediate actionable results. The RC levels are the right place, linked both higher and lower.

But a lot of this work, from experience, could be better done stateside as long as it is directed and closely linked to the field.

If, like the DoS Civilian Reconstruction Corps, it becomes a bureaucracy in evolution that, at best, creates demonstration projects, the effort will be wasted. MG Flynn needs to target, resource, and direct it---now---or it will not happen.

Steve
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Old 01-05-2010   #8
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Default A Report Published by CNAS

Why do three members of the DoD have to use a Think Tank for publishing their analysis. I seem to remember a huge furor within the last year (AUG 09 IIRC) when their boss made comments about a broken system/strategy for ops in that region in a poublic forum in the UK.
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Old 01-05-2010   #9
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Default Help From Above

The issue in my tactical brain is that we have again brought in "help" from on high, when in fact, we have enough brain power on the ground to conduct the "analysis" that the paper talks about. In the case before us, we have analysts who will visit the tactical level to do collection - interviews of the ground forces. However, in a country the size of texas, we have a large number of troops all of whom have key data to the solution. Asking these analysts to fly around Afghanistan and interview these folks will only place a dent in the collection problem while increasing the helicopter mission requirements, likely taking them away from supporting tactical forces.

This issue is further compounded by the fact that all data in Afghanistan is contextual (like elsewhere, but maginified by the very specific and intensive tribal differences.) Sending an analyst to cover Helmand province one week and another the next may result in very skewed reporting. Like sending the Dallas reporter to cover the Philadelphia Eagles training camp and expecting unbiased reports.

In addition, this will not solve the larger investigative questions like project data and other information that requires longer term collection efforts. I think the paper talks about how many telephone poles are in a given area - shows infratstructure improvement - but there is no way a visiting analyst will capture that. In turn, we would need to get boots out on the ground to conduct these surveys.

Therefore, we need to get a real solution in place - one which allows us to capture information (whatever available information there is) right from the source - the warfighter. Feed these troops managed, real, and beneficial IRs from the commander, prioritized based on timeliness of the needs (rather than the 100 most important questions of the day). This information needs to be managed and stored and shared to these analysts as well as back down to the lowest echelons.

And after 4 years of screaming this message, we are still trying to force help from above (and after 4 years, I know the warfighter wants less help and just better requirements to respond to. . . )
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Old 01-05-2010   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Port View Post
The issue in my tactical brain is that we have again brought in "help" from on high, when in fact, we have enough brain power on the ground to conduct the "analysis" that the paper talks about.
I think the problem is and has been that far too many tasks demand the attention of the troops, and without an infrastructure and reporting system, not to mention people to maintain the records, that vital information has repeatedly been collected, reported, and lost.

In multiple meetings with government officials, village elders, etc., I was chastized as I ran down my list of questions -- "Every time a new one of you shows up, you ask us these same questions. Why don't you record this information somewhere, or why don't the people before you tell you about this?" It was incredibly embarassing to get schooled by rural Afghans, who have little understanding of the complexities of our ridiculous bureaucracy, and still understood that we were lacking this minor capacity.

Quote:
Asking these analysts to fly around Afghanistan and interview these folks will only place a dent in the collection problem while increasing the helicopter mission requirements, likely taking them away from supporting tactical forces.
I think the helicopter thing was a selling point for higher-ups, not neccessarily a realistic scenario. What I took away that instead of being static as part of the battalion or brigade headquarters, that these analysts could spend time in their assigned area of expertise. I hope that's the case.

Quote:
Sending an analyst to cover Helmand province one week and another the next may result in very skewed reporting. Like sending the Dallas reporter to cover the Philadelphia Eagles training camp and expecting unbiased reports.
My understanding was that analysts would be tasked geographically, so someone working on Helmand would only work on Helmand.

Quote:
In addition, this will not solve the larger investigative questions like project data and other information that requires longer term collection efforts. I think the paper talks about how many telephone poles are in a given area - shows infratstructure improvement - but there is no way a visiting analyst will capture that. In turn, we would need to get boots out on the ground to conduct these surveys.
I agree that using these analysts as collectors is not a good solution and that the troops need to be collecting the information. Again, I'm hoping that the real difference here will be having someone assigned and responsible to track and maintain these types of records for an extended period, rather than just getting assignments to collect information on a whim of the PRT S-2 or battalion S-3, which they eventually forget and all the collected information disappears into the ether.
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Old 01-05-2010   #11
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Default Good points Jason

I couldn't agree more that at the tactical level... it is more about arming a patrol with the right/managable IRs/questions than it is getting some data dump from on high... and to be honest from on valley to the next the questions may very well differ...

However, because of that nature... how do you/can you aggregate those data points into a coherent larger picture? and does it even make sense to do so??? Of course that begs the question and obsession with metrics of success because that is how "policy/strategy" has been quantified... ugh its enough to make the head hurt...

However I will say this... even though a series of local optimized solutions doesn't always add up to a perfect "big picture" outcome, its not a bad start... and all those PLT-sized local solutions are within the means of a company commander to integrate, and CO-sized for a BN to integrate, yada yada yada...

Am I wrong, but I've been under the impression that much of the junior officer and mid to junior grade NCO ranks have largely added this ability to their personal kit bag? I have far more faith in the ability of CO-level leaders and operations to get their piece of Aghanistan straight, than I do some top down effort... I'd think we (the Coalition) could live with that outcome...

now that i've spun myself into the ground I will end

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Old 01-05-2010   #12
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First, as many have noted, and I found in Iraq, most of the information, or the brain power and boots, was already there for big pieces of immediate solutions---they just needed to be drawn out and consolidated.

Second, drilling down for fine details in any region is at least a six month focused effort at teaching people and establishing links for what you are looking for---then it starts to feed together.

In MND-North, it took about three months, as a side project by DivEng/Terrain/CA to assemble a complete map and assessment of most individual infrastructure sectors. Then, you could understand the context of activities.

But some immediate sectors and problems--roads and bridges, electrical, etc..---where already there--just needed to be brought together, assessed on a coordinated basis---and used.

Putting the stuff together from on high would just be more of the same GIGO. It needs to be consolidated through networks of contacts up and down before people believe in it, use it, and feed it to make it work even better.

It is an information system, and a dynamic one. Just tracking populations, is a real-time thing which has to be coordinated with UN refugee trackers, and real-time field work. Using Now Zad as an example, the population has ranged from 30,000 to zero to maybe 3,000 in a year. If you are going to plan mil or civ activities, you need some clue of now, not then.

What was beautiful about the Sadaam Era systems, like those of any good totalitarian dictatorship or our techno-data, by knowing what was, what is, and what is changing, you can start to identify trends and patterns, chart trading systems (instead of stumbling across seven tractor trailer loads of pot), and finding where the key points are for whatever kind of targeting.

It's a process that has to link to the field, be dynamic, grow organically, and become useful and trusted. Otherwise, it is just another contract or a program.

In civilian planning and public adminstration, we use real-time, field tested stuff. The US needs at least some proxy of rough but actionable systemic data to see bigger pictures. None yet.

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Old 01-05-2010   #13
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I've not got time now to properly look at which of Gen Flynn's conclusions could be applied to the British, but a quick browse suggests 'lots.' It is so fundamentally important that this kind of introspection is taking place. Perhaps I'm pessimistic, but it's difficult to see the British military carrying out such rigorous and critical self review so publicly, irrespective of how much it might be needed.
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Old 01-05-2010   #14
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Woland:

No offense, but while I was in Baghdad (both for US and UN), I was hard-wired to US Terrain, NGA, etc...

But the one guy that guy that was always on my heels about maps, pop studies, etc... was the top British pol-mil---on duty, off-duty, we were always joined at the hip.

Brits understand maps. Whether they could use what they knew to shape or improve the US effort is an entirely different matter. What is emerging from the British Iraq hearings is what I expected---they had a hard time engaging the US on a meaningful level.

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Old 01-05-2010   #15
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Ok, I've read the piece now and there is some good and bad. I can't comment extensively at present so, for now, some bullet points:


1. The Good: I liked the focus on Commander responsibility and the fact that Commanders set intelligence requirements. The bad: If Commanders are responsible for intelligence and if they are not, as the authors seem to indicate, providing proper guidance to support COIN, then why all the negative waves at the intel community? One example of many: "The U.S. intelligence community has fallen into the trap of waging an anti-insurgency campaign rather than a counterinsurgency campaign." The intelligence community fell into that trap? Who is the tail and who is the dog here?

2. The Good: The report does a good job identifying many of the systemic problems. The Bad: Most solutions offered are unnecessary reinventions of the wheel. Example: Bandwidth should not be an issue for transmitting narrative reports from the field - you can't tell me we don't have the bandwidth to transmit a few pages of text daily.

Even if there is no bandwidth available, there are more efficient ways to get info from the field than sending people out to collect it by hand. We used to do this before we had all these fancy intel IP-based networks. You pop a disc into the theater mail system, or you mail actual paper containing written or typed reports! We can get stairmasters out to BFE Nuristan but we can't get a disc or some paper to HHQ without sending someone out to collect it? I don't buy it.

Additionally, we don't need a massive proprietary database to store information - all we need is info posted in web format and accessible by a search tool like google (and regardless, the best tools are made by enterprising junior folks in-house). All one needs to do is provide every unit a web-space where they can upload their text reports and any images (with metadata!) - search engine spiders will take care of the rest.

Alternatively, we already have wiki's that are ready to use but remain are largely unused and maintained by a few evangelists - mostly on their own time. To turn them into information clearing houses, all that's required is one order to institutionalize them along with a small staff of editors & researchers to maintain it.

3. The Good: "Information centers" focused on "white" information. The bad: The paper says these need too be staffed by civilians. How is ISAF/USFOR-A going to get national agencies to cough up the bodies and buy-in to this idea? Does the military really need outside analysts, over which it will have no operational control, to analyze and disseminate information derived from military units on the ground?

The biggest take-a-away issue I get from this paper is the lack of information sharing. This IS a real problem and information at the lowest levels is not shared or retained. Inteltrooper - your anecdote about meetings with locals and asking the same questions is no surprise to me and is an illustrative example of this. It just seems to me that is an easy fix - hold Commander's accountable for sharing information up the chain to senior Commanders and HHQ and provide a proven, existing and easy way to help them do so. Structural solutions that require buy-in from agencies outside the military are unnecessary and ill-advised. This is one area where KISS can go a long way.

Last edited by Entropy; 01-05-2010 at 08:48 PM. Reason: spelling, grammar
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Old 01-05-2010   #16
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Default An outsiders viewpoint

Well I enjoyed reading the CNAS report, forthright in places, without attributing blame or responsibility - perhaps another version within DoD calls for an explanation? I noted that the youngest officer is an ex-journalist, that aside I could not understand why it had been published by CNAS.

The "solutions" suggested were not convincing. Yes, they may provide lots of required and supplied information from collectors. Will this be manageable and converted into providing context and insight? I am not convinced from my faraway "armchair". 'Reach back' can work, a weakness will be that do these analysts really know the context?

My experience is that setting requirements for intelligence is rarely done, so the "experts" do what they consider is appropriate - hence the all too frequent criticism that intelligence is a "black hole". Providing a simple, robust search engine for basic information retrieval is vital: names, photos, phones, addresses and vehicles.
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Old 01-05-2010   #17
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PIRs are supposed to be tied to decision points: "I need to know this so I can decide A or B". How many of the PIRs out there actually do that, or are just "things to wake up the commander for" like the death of a soldier?
(Note: I'm not trying to minimize the death of any of our soldiers, just pointing out that it's likely not a PIR that's tied to a decision point within the context of an operation)


Additionally, the understanding of the environment and area in which people operate won't happen when we rotate units every 6-9 months, and rotate them back to different areas within the country, or different countries altogether. No one wants to advocate for longer tours, but that's probably what's actually needed for Joe-on-the-ground to really get a good understanding of his environment.


Finally, many of the digital toys that would support this level of information collection, management, sharing, and visualization already exist, but are held up in some form of contracting, development, certification, documentation, or outright miscommunication process within the current commands trying to get involved in the fight. Not everything can (or should) get dumped into CIDNE and there's a lot of information that could be disseminated that's not because of bureaucratic hold-ups.


Sigh. I'm depressed now.
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Old 01-05-2010   #18
Steve the Planner
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Entropy's comments:

Agree. Bandwidth ain't the issue. Even in Iraq, we were flying maps and DVDs around in helos. But basic stuff like large-format scanners were a huge whole, especially when we were trying to quickly borrow, scan and return sensitive stuff from the civilian side (yes, they have sensitive stuff too).

As a "blue badger" (DoS), I can assure you that that blue badge allowed me to cross many more boundaries than a DoD or mil badge could. Military folks felt comfortable passing on stuff that they couldn't float upward very easily, and civilians, including Iraqis in sensitive positions, and with important data, would not engage with.

As many people know, CIDNE has a great many holes (including Legacy data), and, as BayonetBrant pointed out, RIPTOAs are killers of data, when the computers are shipped away with all that good stuff on them.

What is needed is not a map, or a data source, but a data system--- a process to collect, update, and use current and valuable stuff. That's not going to come from an outside contractor, or just be tied to a rotational element or command.

It is something else. But the framework and templates already exist---they just need to be focused on this purpose. Example: NGA Country Teams go back and forth all the time on six month rotations---same folks, same work, same continuous links to the same mapping data. Some of thjem can get as much if not more work (of certain types) done in Bethesda than at Baghram, but they need a continuous feeder system back to Afghanistan to make it work.

NGA is one of those many agencies with the capability to tackle some pieces, but not all. It's something else.

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Old 01-06-2010   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
What is needed is not a map, or a data source, but a data system--- a process to collect, update, and use current and valuable stuff. That's not going to come from an outside contractor, or just be tied to a rotational element or command.

....

NGA is one of those many agencies with the capability to tackle some pieces, but not all. It's something else.
http://defense-update.com/features/2...ht_141009.html
http://mapht.org/
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Old 01-06-2010   #20
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BayonetBrant:

I'm still trying to figure out how to figure this out.

I spent two months in 08 listening to the drumbeat for CIDNE---the magical all-purpose elixir. Then, it gets to Iraq, and needs to be populated---it's like a GIS system with no shapefiles. Then the population problems.... Then the transitional control problems (iraqi turnover?). Then....

Now, we move to a new, and no doubt, very expensive mapht. Go figure?

Starts to sound like USAID. Why solve a problem if you can just let a contract.

OK. OK. HT is the way forward. Wasn't that the message a few years ago? So where's the result?

OK. It's complicated, and will take many years (strategic patience). Ok, but where's the path, what's the schedule? How many years? Who has the plan?

Is it so complicated that we can't have a plan until later?

It always seems to come back to the same old anthropological/tribal stuff but no hard data, no focused background information. Tactics. Tactics. Strategy requires something else.

I had a few interactions with people involved in the big review. Like MG Flynn describes, they were looking for normal and typical hard data, and nobody had it---fortune telling.

Then the double-barrels from UN and CSIS (Cordesman: Winning battles, losing the war). All of them need something more than: "It's complicated!"

And not just for us, but for the Afghans. A colleague send me the news about the 4 kids killed today; 80 injured. Real and focused answers are needed by everybody else. Or the mission will not be able to continue. (Just the facts of life).

I truly hope that Fixing Intel means more than "do more of what we have been doing."

Was it a call for something different, or just do the same better? Was it a path to better answers: How to be ahead of problems rather than just reactive?

I guess that's what we'll find out soon enough.

Steve
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