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

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Old 01-07-2010   #41
Ken White
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Default I go along with Bob's World.

My experience mirrors his on the IC fascination with PROVEN threats -- and noting that they are reluctant to discuss possible threats. As one guy I knew once said, "They want to write history..."

I've gotten about an equal mix of bad and good threat info over the years and only from the rare and quite exceptional (in the good sense of the word) J/G/S2 / MI Det or unit any useful cultural or populace info.

Intel Trooper: I believe they are commonly referred to as "Half Fast Spooklets"

You're also correct in that the 'system' wants to be threat centric. I believe because that way it's hard to say that the system erred. Thank you for being one of the good guys who pushed that envelope...

Surferbeetle's right -- we have a major priority problem in funding and degree of support from on high.
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Old 01-07-2010   #42
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First, we are in awe of having comments from the illustrious Ken White.

Second, the problem goes way beyond the military.

The ground military is, in fact, the only current information source available for governmental collection and interpretation of the situation in Afghanistan.

The so-called three Ds (defense, diplomacy and development) are not equally shared.

If anybody actually believes that the CIA has a complete Common Operating Picture for Afghanistan, I have bridge I'd like to sell them. They just don;t do that kind of deep background information stuff.

NGA does geo-physical and sat/mapping stuff, but is too small and under-resourced to build Big Pictures, or even penetrate small ones like cadestral mapping.

DoS has no serious or deep country-level or below analytical capabilities, and USAID only has contract managers (and is in the limbo of awaiting a determination of its future under State).

So, if the ground military does not have the COP, nobody has it. And it is a house of cards (maybe) until one emerges---fortune telling is not a COP.

I really think that there are a lot more components to this than meet the eye.

How could the White House have a clear picture of an end game, if the basic info for it doesn't exist?

How can the hodge-podge of State/UN/USAID/NGO/FAS actors synchronize any meaningful actions on the civilian side?

There were actually three shots fired last week at Afghanistan. One from the UN "assistance" mission chief (serious risks of failure from lack of synchronized efforts), one from CSIS/Cordesman (winning battles, losing the war), and one from the guy that the whole-of-US-government is looking to for answers (McChrystal/Flynn).

The two new "implicit" impositions on the military must be recognized: (1.) as the only governmental source for relevant US ground truth; and (2.) under COIN, to develop an intel framework way beyond instant threat levels.

Talk about a challenge.

Steve
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Old 01-07-2010   #43
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Hmmm. A call for a shift from a threat-centric approach to a populace-centric approach; with intel being the ones who need to change the most.

I have read this somewhere before...

(though I do find amusing all the intel guys who have been pumping threat threat threat up their commander's backside for years now all crying how they were victims, and only giving the boss what he wanted.... Bull. If I had a dollar for every time I've asked the intel guys to stop dronning on about HVIs and to give us some info on the environment and the populace; and gave back 90 cents for everytime those same intel guys smugly replied "that's not our job, we just do threats," I'd still be rich. Sure there are plenty of commanders who only want to know about the bad guys, but that doesn't relieve one of the duty to develop the critical intel he doesn't ask for.)
Leadership comes from the top and Afghanistan, until very recently, has not been a COIN effort, population-centric or otherwise. Until this past year, resources for Afghanistan, especially intelligence, were under-resourced for anything but the explicit missions we were given which was not COIN. Those were decisions made at the highest levels. What you seem to be suggesting is that the intel people should have diverted some of those intel resources (collection and analysis) away from the Commander's explicit intent to something else. That's simply not going to happen.

Some of us who have been invested in Afghanistan for many years - long before the current COINdinista crowd became interested - took it upon ourselves to explore many of the issues you've raised in this forum in an attempt to gain a deeper understand of the environment and context in which we conduct operations. For me personally, this was done almost entirely on my own time and at my own expense (as my private library of Afghanistan publications attests) and consisted almost entirely of unclassified, open-source material. Why? Because I had no authority to formally task collection assets or to submit RFI's to relevant agencies to collect such information. Why? Because the Commander's intent, as clearly spelled out in his intelligence requirements, did not focus on these areas and our authority to task assets and spend analytical resources derives directly from those requirements. Outside of a good-old-boys network and informal RFI's (ie. emailing my buddies in other agencies) the system is explicitly designed to prevent intelligence assets from being used (or misused, depending on one's perspective) contrary to a Commander's published intel requirements. Even if I got my immediate Commander's approval to ask some of these questions, they were shot down at the theater level because of, guess what? The theater PIR's!

So your suggestion that intel people have a responsibility to "develop critical intel he doesn't ask for" is not possible for two reasons: First, we can't get information to develop such intel because collection is not driven by analysts but Commander PIR's. No information, no authority to collect information means no analysis and no answers to the relevant questions. Secondly, which intel is "critical" and which intel isn't is defined by the Commander and not the intel professional. Obviously if an intel person thinks something might be critical he/she needs to inform the Commander immediately, but it's still the Commander who decides. Additionally, because intel assets (both collection and analysis) are always limited, the system is purposely designed to prevent the very thing you are asking for - which is diverting assets away from a Commander's stated desire.

As late as last month the theater requirements had not substantially changed from what they've been for the past several years, which is largely threat-focused. Until they do change, pop-centric COIN information is inevitably going to play second fiddle. Maybe things are different today with the publication of this report and the orders that were reportedly promulgated through official channels. I don't yet know.

This passage in the MG Flynn's report struck me particularly:

Quote:
The problem is that these analysts – the core of them bright, enthusiastic, and hungry – are starved for information from the feld, so starved, in fact, that many say their jobs feel more like fortune telling than serious detective work.
Yes, that's been an enduring problem and it's a big reason why the vast majority of my personal research over the years has been confined academic and open-source work. That problem is not an intelligence problem, but a Command and leadership problem. The intelligence function cannot force units to provide us information - that can only be directed by Commanders. So, again, the issue comes back to Commanders and command responsibility.

Finally, if your intel guys are smugly giving you information and intelligence that you don't want - indeed, information that you are hostile to, then why are they still your intel guys? Where is the accountability? Intel people should be held accountable like anyone else and if they are not performing or if they are feeding you a line of BS then they need to be put in their place and held accountable. If my immediate Commander wants info that falls outside the scope of the HHQ and theater PIR's, then I'll try like hell to provide that while explaining the LIMFACs on collecting new information and answering that request. In essence, all I can usually do is search existing information which is often insufficient. So, as MG Flynn said in his report:

Quote:
This memorandum is aimed at commanders as well as intelligence professionals. If intelligence is to help us succeed in the conduct of the war, the commanders of companies, battalions, brigades, and regions must clearly prioritize the questions they need answered in support of our counterinsurgency strategy, direct intelligence officials to answer them, and hold accountable those who fail.
That about says it all, IMO.

And, just to be clear, I do think there are valid criticisms against intel people and the intel profession and system, particularly military intel people. Yes, we, as a group, are more comfortable with threats, but realize that's how we are trained. It would be interesting if any Army people here could tell us what the current MI curriculum is at the school house and how much of it, if any, deals with intelligence support to COIN. I know in the Air Force and Navy the school-houses have not changed much and support to large-scale conventional warfare requirements dominates. For imagery analysts, full-motion video analysis is still an afterthought in the imagery course. Our new IA's at my predator unit get almost no training in FMV exploitation despite the fact this is 95% of their job. That is one place we can start cleaning house.

Last edited by Entropy; 01-07-2010 at 08:07 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 01-07-2010   #44
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Default A very real and hearty and vigorous debate

From Abu M:
Quote:
Some folks in the public affairs shop at the Pentagon were predictably upset that they were not in the loop regarding the report's release, but this is Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell speaking today on behalf of his civilian boss, the Secretary of Defense:

[The report] is exactly the type of candid, critical self-assessment that the secretary believes is a sign of a strong and healthy organization. This kind of honest appraisal enriches what has been a very real and hearty and vigorous debate that, frankly, has been taking place within this building, within this department and within this government for years now.
Link:http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawam...at-crisis.html

Well that's my earlier puzzlement answered why in the public domain.
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Old 01-07-2010   #45
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Entropy has laid it out correctly.

In January 2008, MND-North held a conference on Reconstruction for Military and PRT actors.

MG Hertling's big point: If my orders now include reconstruction, and support or reconstruction, I need a plan to do that, or to know what the plan is to align my plan to it.

The week before, a big VTC was held at which TF Brinkley produced its "Plan" for recconstruction of Iraq. Disappointingly, it was like a generic textbook 101 edition of economic development, and had little use or purpose for ground direction. The consultant's answer was, we figured you would be responsible for ground-truthing our recommendations.

For the conference, the entire Embassy staff---Phyllis Powers (OPA Director) on down made presentations---each agency and department describing what they did.

After a few very disappointing Q&A's from the audience, MG Hertling took the mkie and clearly explained the problem. He ran a division of capable people with resources whose mission was now to deliver and/or support reconstruction and stability operations. They function on plans, and need to know what the civilian plan is to coordinate to and support it. What is the plan?

Stunning silence for a few minutes.

He asked again, looking directly at the OPA director. More silence.

Then he said. I need a plan to accomplish my mission. If you don't have a plan to reconstruct Northern Iraq, I need to create one. More silence.

Then he explained that, absent any plan form them, he would create one.

That's where and when the authorization, commitment and resources came to develop the research, analysis and strategies for Northern Iraq stability and reconstruction.

MND-North's entire operation yeilded and contributed to it. NGA got task orders. Systemic and synchronized strategies began. "Helicopter diplomacy" began---using MND-North helos to bring ministers to the problems. And conferences were held: Energy, Development, Water, etc... and things started moving.

Entropy's point: If they don't ask, they don't get. If they do, they do.

But, unlike Iraq, where there was one Crocker and one Petreaus working hand in glove, Afghanistan has many actors, and, many plans, and, I assume, no centralized responsibility chain equivalent to that of an MND CG in Iraq. "If everybody is in charge, nobody is!"

So, is MG Flynn really having the same "conversation," but at the higher level?

If so, does it create the watershed for resources that Hertling set off in Northern Iraq, or is it less than that?

How can the top intel officer indicate that his intel folks are reading tea leaves, and his field commanders reading the news accounts for current info, without a major signal to the White House and its civilian agencies that there is a huge gap between meaningful strategies and ground truth?

Entropy is right, but the question should not have ended with the intel folks.

Steve
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Old 01-07-2010   #46
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Default Blathering continued...

If, as Entropy indicated, so many of us are trying to build this picture on the side, from bits and pieces of open and not-so-open sources, isn;t that just so much amateur hour?

Where is the fruit of our multi-billion dollar intel investment?

It really burned me up last month at a national planning conference when it came up that Afghanistan was one of the countries asking for pro bono planning help from the Global Planners Network. The same listening to Mssrs. Hadley and Ghani talking about the need for immediate and substantive changes to the civilian effort.

Where are the resources for reconstruction analysis and planning....or is it just like Iraq---throwing projects at the wall to see if they will stick.

I think it's time somebody way above all of our pay grades sorts it out.

Steve
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Old 01-08-2010   #47
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My point is that the commander doesn't know what he doesn't know. The job of the staff is not to merely validate and inform what the commander cares about, particularly when those types of operations aren't being particularly effective.

And one can try to make an intellectual separation (many do) between "COIN" and "CT"; but that is kind of like the difference between rifles and bullets; or farts and bad smells. Most men who we slap the "terrorist" brand on are waging an insurgency in their home country. When they take those acts of terrorism to attack the populace or government of a totally separate country, one has to do the causal analysis to ask the question "why."

I realize the answer to the question "why" has been packaged up and handed to us up front by a bunch of politicians; but (to link this to other threads on Operational Design) when you are given a mission you have a duty to analyze the problem handed to you as well as the specific solution set you are asked to employ. And sometimes the answer is you go back to the boss and tell him he has it wrong, he's asked you to do the wrong thing, and here is why. Maybe he tells you "interesting, but just do what I told you in the first place," but at least you will have done your duty.

Why are most of the 9/11 "terrorists" Saudis? Why are most "foreign fighters / terrorists" Saudis? Is there an ideological component? Sure. Is there a leadership/influence component? Sure. But to my way of thinking there is some extreme arrogance when one's unassailable assumption is that those who attack you do it for a hate of your country that is greater than their love for their own country.

CT is a cop out. It places the entire blame on those who dare to attack the establishment and simply seeks to eradicate them. COIN (as currently practiced by the US) is a little bit better in that it recognizes that the countries many of these men come from have problems that need to be addressed. I just hope it’s not another 8 years before we make the next causal link as to how the nature of Western foreign policy over the past 2-300 years (colonialism followed by coldwarism) have combined to rob people of their culture, their dignity, and their right to self-determination; and united and empowered by the modern tools of this information age they are rising up and pushing back. Pushing back against governments at home that draws their legitimacy from others rather than themselves. Pushing back against the external powers has in fact provided the legitimacy for those same governments. Western foreign policy is dangerously obsolete and out of touch with the times we live in; and sending the military out to suppress those who dare to complain is a losing game that virtually every fallen empire has chosen to play. The British Empire is just one of many that were disassembled one military "victory" at a time. They too likely had Intel guys who could tell them all about "the threat," but very little about what really threatened them...
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 01-08-2010   #48
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Bob:

"all about "the threat," but very little about what really threatened them... "

Wow. I'm just going to let that great phrase percolate for a while.

Like one of those small books that takes years to understand.

Steve
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Old 01-08-2010   #49
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Default Adding Hot Sauce to the Mix

Latest quotes from Ambassador Holbrooke sounds like Bob wrote. Who is the "threat?"

http://www.eurasianet.org/department...av010710.shtml

Enticing non-ideological militants to quit the fight could help US forces turn the tide of the Afghan insurgency against the Taliban.

Quote:
They fight for various reasons; they are misled about our presence there. They have a sense of injustice or personal grievances. Or they fight because it’s part of the Afghan tradition that you fight outsiders and they have the [International Security Assistance Force]/NATO/U.S. presence conflated with earlier historical events, some of which are not too far in the past,
Holbrooke said, referring to non-ideological combatants.

The United States did not focus on winning over non-ideological militants to the government’s side during the first year of Holbrooke’s tenure largely because last year’s presidential election diverted his team’s attention. It will become a priority in 2010, however.
Quote:
"It’s absolutely imperative that we deal with this issue. If we don’t deal with it, success will elude us.
Holbrooke said.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-08-2010 at 07:31 AM. Reason: Add quote marks
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Old 01-08-2010   #50
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Talking I thought that had a nice ring to it!

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Bob:

"all about "the threat," but very little about what really threatened them... "

Wow. I'm just going to let that great phrase percolate for a while.

Like one of those small books that takes years to understand.

Steve

The point is that we are very focused on what I would call symptoms of a much larger problem. We have deemed these symptoms as "the threat", and the cure for the symptoms, to my way of thinking, actually makes the underlying root cause conditions worse. Temporary relief that lulls you into a false sense of security to continue to ignore that growing, malignant cancer.

"What really threatens" is the underlying root cause, but so long as we drill and drill and engage and engage on the symptoms, we never get to it. The role of the military is in large part to manage these symptoms; it only becomes a dangerous situation when one comes to see the symptoms as the actual problem.

Militaries cannot truly resolve an insurgency. I stand on that. Not unless you are willing to be absolutely ruthless and are cool with having a fearful, spiritless populace peacefully submitting to your benevolent rule. Until the Political / Policy types come to fully accept and address that these violent reactions among the people are a result of THEIR failures; and not some evil opponents SUCCESSES; you can't get in front of the problem.


As an aside, I had an interesting discussion with the head state department guy here in Kandahar earlier this week. Trying to make the case that for the Surge to truly succeed we need to take full advantage of this wonderful gift of popularly accepted democracy that exists uniquely here; and demand that Karzai call for a true Loya Jirga. It should be the condition precedent to any surge of US military power. It is beyond Karzai's manipulation, it is not constrained by the Constitution, and it cannot be controlled by Western Powers. It could well put guys like Omar or Haqqani (or people connected to them) into the government. "That would be beyond the pale!" he exclaimed. When I told him "Last time I checked, this isn't the United States of America, and it really isn't our call as to who the people choose to lead them." He gave me a look of shock and disgust, and spun on his heels and stomped off.

Sometimes you have to tell people what they don't want to hear.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 01-08-2010   #51
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Tom Ricks played his usual role of devil's incitor with a report from one of those unnamed experts that, within five years, Iraq would be carved up by Syria, Turkey and Iraq. Like he really believed that could be possible.

Of course, Afghanistan is a whole different thing. Who knows what could come out of a true national Loya Jirga.

The mark of genius is the ability to simultaneously maintain two opposing ideas in your head (some old quote)

If the Ambassador is correct that our 2010 focus will be aligning with the majority of Taliban, it certainly will raise the threshold for genius in the field.

In Iraq, the best way to get started on a relationship with provincial, local officials was to let them vent about the problems they experienced from the Americans, then start talking about solutions.

Problem was that, all too often, their problems were both accurately identified, and caused by the Americans. (Sometimes the locals do not what they are talking about).

Great to have all the answers before you get there, and to be immune from any learning or independent experience---oh, the unexamined life. The good news is that once State puts out that the Taliban are our friends, your Khandahar "colleague" will be on board with that, too. but not until.

Is it 1984 yet?
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Old 01-08-2010   #52
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Default In Re: Steve the Planner

"He asked again, looking directly at the OPA director. More silence.

Then he said. I need a plan to accomplish my mission. If you don't have a plan to reconstruct Northern Iraq, I need to create one. More silence.

Then he explained that, absent any plan form them, he would create one."


Hmmm...

for what it's worth... I wrote a plan for the stabilization and reconstruction of Northern Iraq on behalf of MG Petraeus Apr-May 2003.... It was the chewy of choice in the day (chewy = planner's product that the commander gives to visiting dignitaries as one would give a "chewy toy" to a dog)... not sure might even still have it (but unlikely since I've been retired for a couple of years...

I had recently spent 6 mths before the 101st initial deployment to Iraq on TCS assignment to CENTCOM... as you might expect I tried to use my connections to find out what was out there as a larger plan for me to link our plan to.... answer none existed (since I've ran across a couple of ARCENT Planners who insist a plan did exist, never saw it myself)...

So I staffed the plan with the Dept of Soc Sci at USMA and whomever they wished to share it with for a sanity check... not perfect, but I bet it wasn't that far out from what you developed....

Ironically, while I didn't participate in the writing of FM 3-24... and Petraeus really didn't provide any significant vector adjustment... for the most part it operationalized 3-24...

Does that mean I was well inside Petraeus head (a scary place I can assure you )... or did it mean we both looked at the situation similarly and came to same logical conclusions... I've often wondered...
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Old 01-08-2010   #53
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Every time we looked at a problem in 2008, I wondered how many time that same problem had been looked and a plan made.

1AD HQ had been around Bgahdad, Diyala, etc..., so they all knew the background---made a huge difference.

What was the biggest diff between 03 and 08? DoS.

But I tried to explain to some of the DoS folks that when a unit leaves, it takes everything with it. Some transitioning, but it really is "another group, another year." They never did get it.

Difference was we were on "Last Call," so we got done what we had to to make the transition work...

Go figure...

That's what I think about this Fixing Intel, too. It is not just about fixing one piece for one unit, but developing some kind of "process" that can continue and evolve (and be trusted and contributed to---up and down). Otherwise, it is just a report or plan from one bunch, forgotten by the next.

And where does it reside? I think the report has it right---at Division commands as the Goldilocks choice. Not too high, not to low.
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Old 01-08-2010   #54
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Not the most original thought I am sure, but, is part of the problem that we are trying to get "quantity" of information, without creating a sorting formula to prioritize what information is critical and needs to be acted on or shared? Minus a clearly defined mission, or better yet, a plan of action, how is the intelligence community supposed to be able to figure what information is critical and how to sort it? Isn't timely information more important then "complete" information too late? Or do we still believe on a subconscious level that modern technology should allow us to see and know all? Sorry for the rambling post, but to summarize, to fix intelligence, you need an effective way to determine and sort quickly what information is relevant and to whom it goes. In order to begin to create this "formula" you need to know what the plan or basis of action is. The clearer the plan of action the easier it is to create an intelligence plan to support it. (Note*: It is perfectly OK to have multiple plans of action, in fact, many small clear plans is preferable to one big fuzzy plan IMNSHO). SO, what specifically is the mission priority for intelligence to support? Go from there.
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Old 01-08-2010   #55
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My point is that the commander doesn't know what he doesn't know. The job of the staff is not to merely validate and inform what the commander cares about, particularly when those types of operations aren't being particularly effective.
That's certainly true and I admit my comments were a tad simplistic (for the sake of brevity). Ideally, a Commander and J2 will work together and the J2 will help the Commander explore options, identify intelligence gaps, etc. Unfortunately, that kind of collaboration is too often absent.

Quote:
And one can try to make an intellectual separation (many do) between "COIN" and "CT"; but that is kind of like the difference between rifles and bullets; or farts and bad smells.
While there is certainly a lot of commonality I think there are substantial differences in relative priority with CT more at the kinetic end. From an intel perspective that means comparatively more resources will be allocated to targeting, HVI's, etc. Allocation of resources can make all the difference.

Quote:
Most men who we slap the "terrorist" brand on are waging an insurgency in their home country. When they take those acts of terrorism to attack the populace or government of a totally separate country, one has to do the causal analysis to ask the question "why."
You'll notice I don't use that term with Afghanistan and I do realize that a lot of intel people (especially the junior ones) do and call anyone who opposes us "terrorists"
which makes me cringe. Of course, one gets that from Commanders and others as well and it's a difficult notion to disabuse once set.

Quote:
I realize the answer to the question "why" has been packaged up and handed to us up front by a bunch of politicians; but (to link this to other threads on Operational Design) when you are given a mission you have a duty to analyze the problem handed to you as well as the specific solution set you are asked to employ. And sometimes the answer is you go back to the boss and tell him he has it wrong, he's asked you to do the wrong thing, and here is why. Maybe he tells you "interesting, but just do what I told you in the first place," but at least you will have done your duty.
Agreed. Part of the problem here though is that ignorance on things Afghanistan is not confined to intelligence. When MG Flynn talked about the difficulty in scraping together basic demographic, economic and other information for a single province, it did not surprise me at all there was so little information available. The call to obtain that kind of information is nothing new - in fact it's mentioned in almost any report on the subject going back several years.

But identifying a need for information and obtaining the information are different animals. The problem of actually acquiring that kind of local information is extremely difficult since it requires people on the ground for extended periods of time that have the trust of local elites. That's not easy in Afghanistan where locals have an inherent distrust of outsiders (especially foreigners) and the local relations are very complex and in constant flux. It's not enough to understand one village or valley, you have to understand the adjacent villages and valleys not only to figure out the local interactions, but to ensure you aren't being played to settle a local conflict. We are still feeling the repercussions of the latter in places like Konar and Afghans have a long history of using outsiders to settle local disputes in their favor. So to fulfill this information requirement requires a lot of people on the ground for an extended period of time or a few academics working over decades - which not easy in a war zone. The intel function has few resources at its disposal to do that kind of extensive on-the-ground collection and those resources are concentrated elsewhere because of those PIR's I keep talking about. This is one reason the HTT's were created and it's kind of odd they aren't even mentioned in MG Flynn's report.

Prior to 1979 we had academics who went to Afghanistan and studied the populations. Louis Dupree is perhaps the best known American, but there are others. Of course, once the anti-Soviet Jihad began everything changed and that historic work has not been replicated except in a very few cases. Still, it represents some of the best - and only - information on locals we have.

So anyway, the question is how can we get this information? MG Flynn's report seems to suggest we'll use US troops for that which is fine as long as one understands the limitations.

Quote:
Sometimes you have to tell people what they don't want to hear.
Well, sir, then this might be one of those times!

Your characterization of Loya Jirga's is not accurate. They are not "democratic" because they are composed of elites and, most often, headed by whoever is in power. Since they are composed of elites, it would be impossible to put it beyond Karzai's manipulation, especially considering Loya Jirga's have historically be used as tools to legitimize the decisions of those at the head of government. In fact, that's exactly what Karzai plans to do - he announced after "winning" the election that he'll hold a Loya Jirga before this summer's parliamentary elections, though he didn't say if it would be a Constitutional Loya Jirga or something else.

A Loya Jirga also will not put Haqqani or Omar in government or any of their leaders beyond the sympathizers that currently exist in small numbers in the parliament. Haqqani, Omar and the other opposition leaders have clearly stated they will not negotiate or participate in any kind of negotiation or communal decisionmaking apparatus until all foreign forces are off of Afghan soil. That is a position they are unlikely to change except in extraordinary circumstances.

A Loya Jirga could be useful to fulfill its traditional purpose - which is legitimizing constitutional changes. The biggest flaw in the current government, in my opinion, is that it is over-centralized and gives the President too much power over the provinces by controlling the governorships as well as the flow resources through the ministries. A more federalized, distributed system based more on local governance would be preferable, though that also carries some significant downsides because one man's legitimate local leader is another man's tribal warlord.

Anyway, for more on Loya Jirga's read this and the source documents, particularly the Hanifi piece, which is informative but also entertaining for it's serious Gramsci slant.

Finally, I'll relate one intel community failure I find particularly galling:

The guy who wrote the post I linked to above runs a very useful site called Afghanistan Analyst. The first thing you'll find there is an Afghanistan bibliography which is very extensive and continually updated. To my knowledge, no one in our government has bothered to acquire all the publications on that bibliography, much less make them accessible over NIPR, SIPR and JWICS for analysts. Getting that done would be a minimal effort compared to the billions we are spending. It would require a few months, one or two people who know their way around a library, some TDY money to acquire some documents hidden in archives around the world, and someone to digitize the publications. It ain't rocket science and it should have been done eight years ago. That bibliography should have been created and maintained by someone in government (CIA or State probably) and not as a side project for a grad student who's dissertation and research isn't even on Afghanistan.

So, sir, since I have your ear and since you've got eagles and are in Kabul, maybe that is something you could make happen? It's a small start and much of the information is likely historic, but it would provide a good foundation and a base of understanding.
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Old 01-08-2010   #56
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Default McCreary's Blast (from Ricks/FP)

Tom called out Mr. McCreary's blast on Nightwatch>

Seems to hit everything...

http://nightwatch.afcea.org/NightWatch_20100106.htm
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Old 01-08-2010   #57
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Default Much to think about...

Posted on the Tom Ricks blog on FP The Flynn report (IV): Cordesman's take and written by Anthony H. Cordesman

Quote:
It may not be tactful to point out just how much the popular war has moved towards calls for an exit strategy, and how serious the level of Congressional and media doubt has become. The fact is, however, that the country team must now demonstrate competence, unity, and progress or lose the war.

This raises a key issue not addressed in Fixing Intel. How can the release of unclassified assessments and metrics reverse this situation and help win. Until the recent release of new unclassified metrics by USCENTCOM, no element of the US military or Executive Branch began to address this issue. The fact is, however, that intelligence should be a key element of a process of strategic communications that helps to correct the mistakes made in presenting and supporting the President's speech, that reinforces the broad themes raised in the testimony to Congress that followed, that establishes broad credibility, and shapes as much of the reporting on the war and perceptions of its progress as possible. This is as critical a part of Fixing Intel as any addressed in the paper.
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Old 01-08-2010   #58
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Beetle:

We've been beating these subjects to death for months now, haven't we?

Good to see them finally at front and center.

Steve
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Old 01-09-2010   #59
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D'oh. I wrote a rambling blog entry on this yesterday, not noticing that the discussion had already begun.

I am in near 100% agreement with what Steve (the planner) and Entropy wrote - particularly on the first page of this thread.

The most encouraging thing that I see in this (proposal/directive/idea?) is the establishment of some system that will reduce duplication of effort and reign in the ridiculous over-classification of information. An added benefit that I hope will occur is that there will finally be some consolidation of information that is continually added to. This was a pet peeve of mine on my 2nd and 3rd deployments. After a year in one location, the 2 shop and anyone who does any patrolling has a ton of useful knowledge about the AO. Where does that knowledge go upon RIP/TOA? It goes home with the outgoing unit and is immediately rinsed out of their brains with alcohol.

This was not just a problem at the beginning of a deployment, either. Seven months into a deployment, I would hit up my S-2 for information and he would direct me to a stack of raw intelligence reports that were six months old. I would always ask, "does this intelligence ever get compiled into a continually updated assessment of the area?" I would then be directed to a table of red, yellow, and green dots that signify some mysterious, arbitrary assessments of various "lines of operations." What does a yellow dot tell me? Oh, wait, here it is: . Apparently the yellow dots mean that everyone is happy.

What left me shaking my head as I read the document was that many problems were identified, but the solutions posed do nothing to address those problems. I think the solutions of the regional information efforts will help with over-classification and duplication of effort. Great. But what about the other problems cited? Units are unable to answer the most basic of intelligence requirements, personnel at BDE are being misused, and BN is often undermanned. I see no solution to those problems in this paper. Just to be clear - I don't think those problems are the purview of the CJ2 or any other staff officer. They are leadership issues that commanders need to address. If your unit is not gathering basic IR's (such as the examples given on page 8), then that is purely a leadership issue. Reinventing intelligence is not going to reverse a situation where tasks are assigned and not accomplished or no thought is put into the IRs by the command and staff. Why bother raising those issues? It seems like this solution is being presented as a cure-all. I suspect that was done because the scope of the changes is enormous, but the ills that will be cured are few and narrow.
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Old 01-09-2010   #60
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Schmedlap:

I figured you were keeping your powder dry...

Once I got known and accepted around MND-North (as an OK DoS guy), the folks at DivEng and CA would pass on their file dumps of good ideas they collected but couldn't get around to.

That was what convinced me that we had some truly bright and capable folks out in the field but no system to collect and use it all.

In Jan 08, a departing LTC gave me a file containing photos and field assessments of virtually every grain storage silo in the North. He had been collecting it for a while as a side project since, back home, he understood that area.

After a while, folks like that realized that MND-North's terrain folks would compile it if they passed it on, so they started to. Then, it became a measurable of contributing to MG Hertling's clearly stated effort of civilian engagement/Reconstruction, so it was not only good, but good for ya.

But that was in 2008. We all know that hundreds of bored and cuious US folks gathered this kind of stuff, but it didn't find a home, or build on an existing framework. We could have known twice as much in half the time.

In Summer 08, I went to a meeting on CIDNE about the Legacy data. They said: Sure, we have it." When we started, we sent out requests for all prior units to send it. So, we did that.

When asked the important question: How much did you get? the answer was, Well, none yet.

Go figure.

Steve
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