Intelligence and Af-Pak


Fixing Intel:
A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan

Major General Michael T. Flynn, USA
Captain Matt Pottinger, USMC
Paul Batchelor, DIA
Center for a New American Security, 2010-01-04

This Center for a New American Security paper,
discusses the signficance of the U.S. intelligence community
to the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan and
recommends a reorientation of focus
from the “enemy” to the Afghan people.

[All emphasis below this point is added by the author of this blog.]

This report critically examines
the relevance of the U.S. intelligence community
to the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.
The authors -
Major General Michael T. Flynn,
Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence in Afghanistan;
his advisor Captain Matt Pottinger; and
Paul Batchelor, Senior Advisor for Civilian/Military Integrations at ISAF -
argue that
because the United States has focused
the overwhelming majority of collection efforts and analytical brainpower
on insurgent groups,
the intelligence apparatus still finds itself
unable to answer fundamental questions about
the environment in which U.S. and allied forces operate in
and the people they are trying to protect and persuade.

Quoting General Stanley McChrystal, the authors write that

“Our senior leaders -
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense,
Congress, the President of the United States -
are not getting the right information to make decisions with ...
The media is driving the issues.
We need to build a process from the sensor all the way
to the political decision makers.”

This report is the blueprint for that process.
It describes the problem, details the changes,
and illuminates examples of units that are “getting it right.”
It is aimed at commanders as well as
intelligence professionals in Afghanistan, the United States and Europe.

Full Text of Document

[Michael Scheuer on 2010-01-07 gave what appears to be a harsh comment on
the plans outlined in this document.]

US spy effort in Afghanistan 'ignorant'- US report
By Adam Entous and Phil Stewart
Reuters, 2010-01-05

* U.S. military official says U.S. intelligence 'hazy'

* Report says spies too focused on killing insurgents

* Criticism follows suicide bomber's breach of CIA base

WASHINGTON, Jan 4 (Reuters) –

The U.S. military’s intelligence chief in Afghanistan
sharply criticized the work of U.S. spy agencies there on Monday,
calling them ignorant and out of touch with the Afghan people.

In a report issued by the Center for New American Security think tank,
[Army] Major General Michael Flynn,
deputy chief of staff for intelligence in Afghanistan
for the U.S. military and its NATO allies [CJ2],
offered a bleak assessment of
the intelligence community’s role in the 8-year-old war.

He described U.S. intelligence officials there as
“ignorant of local economics and landowners,
hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced ...
disengaged from people in the best position to find answers.”

An operations officer was quoted in the report as
calling the United States “clueless”
because of a lack of needed intelligence about the country.

The report,
which highlighted tensions between military and intelligence agencies,
urged changes such as
a focus on gathering more information on a wider range of issues
at a grassroots level.

Release of the report came less than a week after a suicide bomber
killed seven CIA officers at a U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan,
the second-most deadly attack in agency history.
NBC News reported on Monday
the bomber was an al Qaeda double-agent from Jordan,
citing unnamed Western intelligence officials.

The security breach was a major blow to the CIA,
which has expanded operations
hunting down and killing Taliban and al Qaeda militants
in Afghanistan and tribal areas in neighboring Pakistan,
partly through the use of unmanned drone aircraft.

The drone strikes have fueled public anger
and have been sharply criticized by human rights groups.

“Eight years into the war in Afghanistan,
the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant
to the overall strategy,”

Flynn wrote in the report with his chief adviser, Captain Matt Pottinger [USMC].


The report said U.S. intelligence had
focused too much on gathering information on insurgent groups
and was
“unable to answer fundamental questions about
the environment in which U.S. and allied forces operate
and the people they seek to persuade,”

the report said.

A revised war strategy unveiled last month by U.S. President Barack Obama
calls for sending 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan
and for expanding a counterinsurgency campaign aimed at
garnering Afghan public support and sidelining a resurgent Taliban.

Instead of mounting a counterinsurgency,
Flynn asserted that the intelligence community had
“fallen into the trap” of waging an “anti-insurgency campaign”
aimed at capturing or killing mid-to-high level militants.

An intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
defended the focus of U.S. spy agencies on insurgents, saying:
“You can’t be successful at counterinsurgency
without a profound understanding of the enemy.”

Flynn’s report said the intelligence community
had enough analysts in Afghanistan but
“too many are simply in the wrong places and assigned to the wrong jobs.”

The report described the main problems as “attitudinal, cultural, and human,”
saying U.S. intelligence community had
“a culture that is strangely oblivious of
how little its analytical products, as they now exist,
actually influence commanders.”

An operations officer at one U.S. task force was quoted in the report as
questioning why the intelligence community
was unable to produce more information about the Afghan population.
“I don’t want to say we’re clueless, but we are.
We’re no more than fingernail deep in our understanding of the environment,”
the officer said.

U.S. campaign to reform Kandahar is rife with pitfalls
By David Ignatius
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2010-04-01


Talking with U.S. officials about the coming campaign,
I heard a range of good ideas but not a clear strategy.
The American officials know they can’t deliver on
their counterinsurgency promise of protecting the population
without breaking the hold of the local chieftains.

they are wary of toppling the system and
opening the way for what might be even worse chaos --
and new resentment at American meddling.

The Kandahar campaign will have a military component
as U.S. troops clear Taliban strongholds surrounding the city,
such as Zhari, Panjwai and Arghandab.
But in Kandahar,

the problem isn’t the enemy so much
as our nominal friends such as Ahmed Karzai.
The battle for the city will be political more than military

-- and it will require skills and expertise that are in short supply.

“It’s amazing what we don’t know about Kandahar,”
says one of the top U.S. military commanders.
He just supervised a special push to gather intelligence about
power brokers, tribal leaders and their grievances
and, as he put it,
“who’s who in the Kandahar zoo.”
Unfortunately, the United States is starting from a low base
after years of intelligence collection that
was “only marginally relevant to the overall strategy,”
according to a report in January by Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn [and others].


Admiral Mullen and David Ignatius
by Patrick Lang
Sic Semper Tyrannis, 2010-04-01

[Patrick Lang addresses issues raised by Ignatius’s op-ed above.]

The rest of the editorial is marginally interesting.
At this point
the incompetence of the intelligence effort in Afghanistan no longer surprises.

You may remember that the Rumsfeld Pentagon had a highly developed PR and IO program that cultivated a number of groups of “opinion makers” so as to manage the “information battle” as they think of it. Journalists, retired military people, etc.
Many millions of dollars were spent in contracts for “Information Operations” both external and implicitly internal.
Eventually, the retired military briefings, meetings and distribution of talking points routine surfaced and a number of retired military people lost consultant contracts to the media.
I was invited to one meeting in Rumsfeld’s conference room.
I asked questions and was not invited back.
This was about a year after the invasion of Iraq.
I had always wondered how some of the ex military I was on television with were so precisely informed.
I found out at the meeting.
They were briefed in detail regularly by the responsible senior officials including Rumsfeld himself.
Interestingly, motives for the retired officers participating were not altogether mercenary.
A lot of them believed it was their duty to fill the media with the unattributed assertions of the Defense Department and thus to participate in the war effort.
A frightening thing.
The armed forces are the most trusted institutions in the United States.
To risk that for a momentary advantage and in service to the politics of the civilian side of the Pentagon was folly.

Now, we have Mullen, a political officer if there ever was one,
carrying Ignatius around so as to “inform him.”
How many others are so “informed?.”

Ignatius is usually the property of the CIA’s information program.
He carries their water.

I guess he is “branching out.”

Intelligence Reports Offer Dim View of Afghan War
New York Times, 2010-12-15


As President Obama prepares to release a review of American strategy in Afghanistan that will claim progress in the nine-year-old war there, two new classified intelligence reports offer a more negative assessment and say there is a limited chance of success unless Pakistan hunts down insurgents operating from havens on its Afghan border.

The reports, one on Afghanistan and one on Pakistan, say that although there have been gains for the United States and NATO in the war, the unwillingness of Pakistan to shut down militant sanctuaries in its lawless tribal region remains a serious obstacle. American military commanders say insurgents freely cross from Pakistan into Afghanistan to plant bombs and fight American troops and then return to Pakistan for rest and resupply.

The findings in the reports, called National Intelligence Estimates, represent the consensus view of the United States’ 16 intelligence agencies, as opposed to the military, and were provided last week to some members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. The findings were described by a number of American officials who read the reports’ executive summaries.


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