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Archive for January, 2013

I Am Profoundly Disappointed In All Of Our Elected Representatives

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

I’ve tried to stay clear of using this blog for any political purposes, and I believe the topic here to be apolitical.  If you perceive it otherwise, my apologies.

I am so profoundly disappointed by all of our elected representatives in Washington, DC, including the Senate, House of Representatives and the White House.  We sent them to represent our interests and to work to make the best possible lives for all of us.  Instead, I perceive them as disconnected from all of us out here across the country; completely ignorant of and uncaring about what we think of all of them; plotting, preening and positioning; lurching from crisis to crisis; doing incredible damage to our confidence, economy and our nation’s pride in what we can represent. 

It just doesn’t seem like a good way to run a country.

How do we hold them, all of them as a team we sent to Washington to work together, accountable for their actions and lack of action on important initiatives?  Each of us has to decide what we can do to let them know how we feel about them, and to make things a little better.  If you’ve got ideas that can make a bit of a difference, let me know and I’ll publish them for our readers. 

 

Send me a note at john@lsi-llc.com, will you.

 

Thanks.

John

American Foreign Policy and Grappling With The Threats of Terrorism

Monday, January 28th, 2013

What follows are a few bits from a January 25th Washington Post article, “In Mali, a harsh dose of reality for French”. The entire article can be found on the Roundtable, at www.lsi-llc.com.

But, first, a couple of my basic beliefs to provide some context.

Terrorism, in its many forms, has always been part of our world, and it will continue to be so in the future.

The many advances in communications, electronics and travel have enabled small dissatisfied groups to have much more influence across greater distances.

Wack-a-mole may be the best we can do to deal with the threats……very much like they do, keep them off balance and wondering what is next.

Terrorism proves all politics is local.

Many of the approximately 60 nations that are the most likely sources of terrorist threats would not even be countries but for their creation decades and centuries ago without knowledge or thought being given to what are now the core sources of the dissatisfactions that give rise to terrorist threats: tribes, cultures, religions, geography, economic resources, etc……any common ground that people would chose to self-select into that is the basis for creating a national identity. As currently geographically defined, many of these countries will never have the ability to reach an agreement on a common governing platform on which to build any common beliefs or goals.

As we can see in our nation’s central government, it’s very easy for our representatives to lose sight of why we voted to send them to Washington…..to represent our interests and make the best possible lives for all of us. They’ve lost sight of why they are there, and we’ve lost faith in them. Sounds like so many of the weakly- or un-governed countries we see as the most likely source of threats to our way of life……the degree is just different.

You can “check in” to these situations, but it is very hard to ever really “check out” of them…….by simply surviving, the threats get a “win”.

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The Post article, written by Sudarsan Raghavan and Edward Cody, includes several comments that show the parallels with prior involvements by the US, and some of the potential pitfalls that these involvements hold:

“When France entered the world’s newest war against terrorism, French officials boldly declared that the ragtag radical Islamists they planned to oust from northern Mali would scatter in the face of a modern fighting force.

But two weeks later, reality has sunk in. Even as they bombard Islamist targets, the French troops are facing a military landscape that is far more complicated than it appeared at the outset, raising questions about France’s long-term goals.

With no clear exit strategy, the French are encountering a host of problems: Mali’s interim government is weak, its military is disorganized, and a long-promised African intervention force is far from ready. Even as French troops worry about killing civilians, it is unclear who the civilians are and where their sympathies lie. Ethnic, religious and regional rivalries, as well as old and unsettled vendettas, also are posing obstacles.”

“Already, French forces have faced immense difficulties in dislodging the Islamist fighters from two central Malian towns, Konna and Diabaly. In both cases, senior French and Malian officials explained away the problems by saying that they wanted to avoid civilian casualties. But community leaders and residents in Diabaly and surrounding areas offer a more complex portrait of the obstacles faced by France, including Islamist sympathizers and enemies of Mali’s military.”

” “The fear of a new Afghanistan is haunting people’s minds,” wrote Yves Threard this week in Le Figaro newspaper. “Increased by the fact that our soldiers seem very alone on the ground to pursue the terrorist hunt.”

“What happened in Diabaly last week shows how old animosities, religious divides and the unpopularity of Mali’s military could haunt the French in the weeks and months ahead.”

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Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali and the other poor, weakly-governed, nations-in-name-only……each a unique combination of many complex and dynamic phenomena. The Post article follows.

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In Mali, A Harsh Dose Of Reality For French
As troops encounter host of complications on the ground, questions about length of military intervention emerge.
(WASHINGTON POST 25 JAN 13) … Sudarsan Raghavan and Edward Cody

DIABALY, Mali — “When France entered the world’s newest war against terrorism, French officials boldly declared that the ragtag radical Islamists they planned to oust from northern Mali would scatter in the face of a modern fighting force.
But two weeks later, reality has sunk in. Even as they bombard Islamist targets, the French troops are facing a military landscape that is far more complicated than it appeared at the outset, raising questions about France’s long-term goals.
With no clear exit strategy, the French are encountering a host of problems: Mali’s interim government is weak, its military is disorganized, and a long-promised African intervention force is far from ready. Even as French troops worry about killing civilians, it is unclear who the civilians are and where their sympathies lie. Ethnic, religious and regional rivalries, as well as old and unsettled vendettas, also are posing obstacles.
The Malian army, which France sought to bolster with its action, has been accused of committing abuses, particularly against the Tuareg ethnic group, some of whose members launched the March rebellion that has divided this West African nation. That could erode popular support for the military intervention here and in France, and it could complicate France’s ability to recruit secular Tuareg militias to battle the Islamists.
On Thursday, a new Tuareg militia emerged as Ansar Dine, one of three groups fighting in Mali, split. The new group, led by Tuareg leader Alghabass Ag Intalla, calls itself the Islamic Movement for the Azawad and says it is ready to negotiate.
French soldiers also could find themselves caught in the middle of growing tensions between the lighter-skinned Tuaregs, who are from the north, and black Malians from the south, who run the government and the military.
“It’s hard for the foreigners to know who is helping the Islamists and who are not,” said Demba Diarra, 82, a tribal leader in Niono, a town near Diabaly. “It’s so complicated.”
Already, French forces have faced immense difficulties in dislodging the Islamist fighters from two central Malian towns, Konna and Diabaly. In both cases, senior French and Malian officials explained away the problems by saying that they wanted to avoid civilian casualties. But community leaders and residents in Diabaly and surrounding areas offer a more complex portrait of the obstacles faced by France, including Islamist sympathizers and enemies of Mali’s military.
The concerns arise as the first criticisms of French President Francois Hollande’s decision to send troops have emerged in Paris, a rupture in what had been unanimous endorsement. Although opinion polls still show 65 to 75 percent support for the move, the political sniping has betrayed doubts about the length of France’s involvement.
Jean-Francois Cope, the conservative opposition’s pugnacious leader, was the first off the blocks. In a National Assembly debate, he said he and his opposition colleagues were worried to see France “so alone” on the ground despite plans for a pan-African force and promises of training by European Union military officers.
Alain Juppe, who was foreign minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy, qualified the intervention as “extremely risky.” He expressed fear that “we could get put into a spiral that we are going to have a lot of trouble getting control of.”
‘Fear Of A New Afghanistan’
France’s strategy was — and officially remains — to secure Bamako, Mali’s capital, and the southern third of the country, then hold back on the ground while African troops, backed by French air power, recapture the Islamist-controlled northern cities of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal, French officials said. But that
has become a more difficult and longer-term proposition. The African force, they acknowledged, is far from ready to assume its planned role.
About 1,000 African soldiers from five countries have been sent to Mali, out of the more than 3,000 planned, according to the French Defense Ministry. Their European Union trainers are nowhere to be seen except on the drawing board.
Against that background, specialists in Paris have begun to suggest that French forces should push on northward and secure the region’s main cities rather than sit idle on the new front line waiting for the Africans. But after the cities, the question would become: What about the 250,000-square-mile countryside?
“The fear of a new Afghanistan is haunting people’s minds,” wrote Yves Threard this week in Le Figaro newspaper. “Increased by the fact that our soldiers seem very alone on the ground to pursue the terrorist hunt.”
Konna was recaptured only last weekend, despite 10 days of bombing attacks. Similarly, a column of French armored personnel carriers entered the city of Diabaly, which was captured by the jihadists three days after the military intervention began, only on Monday.
“The war against the Islamists is not at all easy, and there’s a very small part of the population which is helping their cause,” Lt. Col. Seydou Sogoba, the Malian force commander in Niono, told reporters. “That is what is making the fight against them tough.”

Harbinger Of Future Battles
What happened in Diabaly last week shows how old animosities, religious divides and the unpopularity of Mali’s military could haunt the French in the weeks and months ahead.
On the night of Sept. 8, Malian soldiers in this desert town stopped a truck coming from neighboring Mauritania carrying 17 preachers, all members of Dawa, a nonviolent Islamic sect. The soldiers then sprayed bullets into the vehicle, killing all but one of the unarmed preachers, according to residents and human rights activists.
Residents say the deaths were one reason that the jihadists targeted the town.
“Some people say it was a kind of revenge for the Dawa preachers killed by the army,” said Adbullahi Dagnon, the interim tribal chief of Diabaly.
Some residents welcomed the jihadists, clapping and saying, “This is the real way of Islam,” Dagnon recalled.
The Malian army clashed with the Islamists but retreated before the French began launching airstrikes. The day the militants attacked, two Malian soldiers were killed. Residents were divided over burying the bodies, with followers of Dawa and Sunna, a conservative Muslim sect, wanting to throw the corpses into a canal, said community leaders. The bodies were tossed there but later buried in secret, residents said.
The Dawa and Sunna members, however, helped bury the bodies of Islamists killed in French airstrikes, residents said. The jihadists spread out across the town, deploying in neighborhoods, using civilians as human shields. That forced the French to target residential areas, perhaps foretelling at once the nature of future battles and the risks of alienating local populations. In Diabaly, the strikes were precise, but they injured some civilians.
At the Sunna mosque in town, members denied aiding the Islamsists. “They lied about us,” said Seydou Keita, the brother of the imam. “It’s because [the Islamists] wear their pants short and so do we. They have long beards, and we have long beards.”
Still, some residents voiced support for the jihadists.
“They didn’t do anything wrong to the population,” said Sisogo Khailoou, standing near a house were the jihadists had kept weapons and ammunition. “They just came here to rob the bank and take the army’s stuff.”

Animosity Toward Tuaregs
In Dongole, a town about 15 miles from Niono, Malian soldiers killed a Tuareg man and his son last week, according to Human Rights Watch. On Wednesday, the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights reported that Malian troops had summarily executed more than 30 people they suspected of
aiding the jihadists, including Tuareg soldiers who had defected from the army after the French intervention began.
Sogoba denied the allegations, adding that “if it’s true, they have to bring us the proof.”
Many Tuaregs have gone into hiding in Dongole, said Adama Coulibaly, 31, a farmer. “People are pointing fingers because they are Tuareg,” he said. “I don’t trust them.”
French officials said contacts were underway before the intervention to entice Tuareg militia forces to join the anti-Islamist campaign. But since the French arrived, talks have fizzled amid the abuse allegations.
The Tuaregs would be vital to helping the French navigate the vast and inhospitable desert terrain of the north, gather intelligence and gain the support of local populations.
But many in the Malian military have not forgotten that
Tuareg fighters, who had just returned from Libya with an ample stock of weapons and pickup trucks, had pushed the army out of northern Mali.
“You can’t trust someone who is fighting against you,” Cpl. Mamadou Kone, a Malian soldier in Diabaly, said of the Tuaregs.
Among civilians in Diabaly, too, animosity is growing.
“The Tuaregs think they are smarter, and they think the blacks should be their slaves,” Dagnon said.
Diarra, the tribal elder in Niono, said many towns would be just as complicated for the French. “It’s going to be hard to find a solution,” he said.”

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We’d love to hear your views and share them with our readers. Please post a note on the Roundtable, at www.lsi-llc.com, or send me a note at john@lsi-llc.com. I’ll share them later this week.

Thanks.
John

Africa Is Different: “Terror Threat Prompts U.S. Rethink on Africa”

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Developments in Mali and Algeria Spur Debate Within Obama Administration About America’s Military Role on Continent 

by JAY SOLOMON and JULIAN E. BARNES, The Wall Street Journal, January 19,2013

WASHINGTON—The White House has promoted a strategy of keeping as light a U.S. footprint as possible in Africa, focusing on training and funding local militaries and providing logistical and intelligence support to African Union-led combat operations. But events in Mali, Algeria and other countries are now spurring a reconsideration of the military role the U.S. should take on the continent, U.S. officials said. The White House and African analysts have voiced fears that a more direct U.S. role could weaken local governments and further inflame Islamist extremism. U.S. officials have also questioned the direct national security threat posed by such Africa-based militants as AQIM, Somalia’s al-Shabaab militia and the Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa. 

Obama administration officials said this strategic view is being challenged by the rising terrorist activities in North Africa, including the abduction this week of Western hostages, including Americans, working at a natural-gas field in Algeria. Reports that the militants are demanding the release of two Islamic extremists from American prisons have emphasized their conflict with the U.S. The hostage crisis follows September’s terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans. Piracy linked to Islamist extremists also is posing a rising threat to international shipping off Africa. 

Some American military officials said this week that AQIM, which is also active in Libya, Morocco, and Algeria, has grown more dangerous, more quickly than many assumed several years ago. The Obama administration this month said it is providing limited logistical and intelligence support to a French military intervention in northern Mali, where Islamists militants fighting under the banner of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, have carved a regional haven. 

The quick rise of Islamist militants, officials said, may mean that drones assigned to hunt al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan, or al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, could be reassigned to Africa. Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview that he still doesn’t see a cohesive administration approach to countering gains by al Qaeda and Islamist militants across the continent. “You have to have an overarching policy that puts pressure on these groups from every corner,” he said. “That is what’s missing.” 

President Barack Obama could visit Africa this year, making stops in several democratic countries, administration officials said.  Africa emerged as a national-security challenge for Mr. Obama during his first term, even as he sought to focus on winding down the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and pivot U.S. military assets to Asia to deter the rising power of China. Hostage Crises 

The Obama administration launched military airstrikes in Libya in 2011 in support of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization campaign that helped overthrow the late leader Moammar Gadhafi’s government in Tripoli. The Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency have also lent significant support to countries including Somalia and Uganda in their fights against powerful Islamist militias.  The current U.S. strategy emphasizes both counterterrorism operations and what the administration calls “building partner capacity.” As part of the military’s strategy under Mr. Obama, an Army brigade will send small teams of soldiers to Africa to train local militaries. 

The U.S. also has special operations teams conducting training missions in central Africa, where governments in Uganda, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo are combating the Lord’s Resistance Army, a regional Islamist militia. Somalia, in particular, is being touted as a success story by the Obama administration, which renewed U.S. diplomatic relations this week with Mogadishu for the first time in 20 years. Somali troops have been fighting a protracted war with the al-Shabaab Islamic militia, which looked poised just a few years ago to take power. 

“Today, thanks to the extraordinary partnership between the leaders and people of Somalia, with international supporters, al-Shabaab has been driven from Mogadishu and every other major city in Somalia,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday following a meeting with Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. U.S. officials involved in Somalia said the weakening of al-Shabaab was achieved through extensive American military training and intelligence cooperation with Mogadishu, as well as economic assistance. They also cited the role of African Union troops, from countries including Uganda, Burundi and Kenya, in supporting the Somali government’s fight against al-Shabaab. 

Though weakened, al-Shabaab this week claimed to have executed a French hostage; French officials said he was believed to have been assassinated days earlier during a failed rescue attempt. Roger Carstens, a former Army Special Forces officer who helps train Somali forces in East Africa, said America should embrace a lean strategy that avoids sending in its own forces to fight wars across Africa. 

“The future of warfare in Africa is going to be an odd mixture of odd tactics from the 1970s and new technology like drones, with less boots on the ground,” said Mr. Carstens, who serves as a country manager in Somalia for Bancroft Global Development, a private firm that helps train the nation’s military forces. Some counterterrorism experts in Washington question if the Obama administration will be able to keep itself out of a more direct fight. They cited, in particular, the French intervention in Mali, and the risks posed to the region if Paris is unsuccessful in crippling the al Qaeda-linked militias fighting there. 

“Now that the intervention has been made, now that we are providing at least some aid to the French, it’s better to ensure we finish this off than to let it drag on,” said Bruce Hoffman, an al Qaeda specialist at Georgetown University. He noted that last year’s NATO campaign in Libya should serve as a cautionary tale to Washington. The U.S., he said, was able to limit its direct military involvement and succeeded in helping to overthrow Gadhafi. But he said Islamic extremists maintain a strong presence in the North African country, and were directly involved in the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi in September. 

“In Libya, we led from behind, and I don’t think the long-term outcome has necessarily been to our advantage,” Mr. Hoffman said. “It hasn’t left a stable country, and it’s created new problems. I don’t think we can afford to repeat the situation in Mali or Algeria.” 

Africa Is Different: “Making Intelligence Relevant for the Missions of the 21st Century”

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

Friend Chris Haakon pointed me to this article, “Making Intelligence Relevant for the Missions of the 21st Century”, by James Howcroft, pulished on December 19. 20-12, in the Small Wars Journal.  In conjunction with lots of thinking about national security concerns originating in Africa that is going on across the Military and intelligence Community, the article makes many points that can be of great value to policy-makers, planners, intelligence professionals and operators.  For example:

We take great pride in our ability to “improvise, adapt and overcome”. We can continue to do business this way and struggle each time until (hopefully) we eventually are successful. Or we can look ahead at the most likely problems, anticipate the needs and evolve our training, techniques and procedures to deliver intelligence that is relevant and useful for consumers and partners across the interagency spectrum. We have to innovate and learn faster than our adversaries. The role of intelligence is to learn and advise our leaders in ways that allow open and constant innovation to outmaneuver our latest adversary. Producing close-hold intelligence, applicable only to military forces and releasable only to a small fraction of our civilian and military partners is not sufficient for success in the missions of the 21st century. We can do better.”

“Each of these groups may have diverse and multiple motivations. Each of these groups will have a unique composition, varying levels of commitment and differing levels of support from the local population. We can certainly expect that they will have different tactics, techniques and procedures. This in turn will create disparate weaknesses to be identified, assessed and exploited by intelligence professionals. There may not be clear lines and distinctions between these various groups. Often membership may be interrelated or overlapping. Attacking or weakening a particular group may cause another to gain strength by filling the void created by our original action. Friendly actions are a dynamic within this threat spectrum; we change the web of interaction within the society every day.”

“The U.S Department of Defense (DOD) describes Stability Operations as: Military missions, tasks, and activities conducted outside the United States in coordination with other instruments of national power to maintain or reestablish a safe and secure environment, provide essential governmental services, emergency infrastructure reconstruction and humanitarian relief .”

 “There are numerous, complex challenges to producing and disseminating timely, accurate and fused intelligence to support these operations. Each step of the intelligence process must be adapted to meet the evolving needs of commanders, decision makers, soldiers and civilian partners on the ground. In this era of declining defense budgets, what lessons should intelligence professionals be incorporating into training and educational programs to make success more likely during the next deployment to a fragile or failed state?”

“Repeatedly, nations are surprised when they initially deploy with a humanitarian assistance mandate, mindset, manning and toolkit, but find themselves in a more challenging and dangerous peace enforcement or counterinsurgency mission.”

As complicated as it may be to share intelligence within a military coalition, the presence of the essential civilian developmental and assistance agencies and organizations on the team exponentially confuses the issue. International organizations, specifically the United Nations, are important contributors.”

“Each of these operations will have a learning phase, not only in learning about the situation- but in learning about each other on the team in such extemporaneous situations.”

Here’s the entire article for your enjoyment: 

“The international challenges which threaten the security of the United States and our partners in the 21st century are not primarily posed by conventional military forces. Despite the “pivot” toward a conventional peer competitor in Asia, the predominant source of conflict in the 21st century has been and will continue to be driven by events in fragile or failing states. Of the 27 active conflicts in the world today, only one is a traditional interstate war. Due to the forces of globalization, strife and conflict in these regions now can directly impact the security of citizens within our borders. Unaddressed conflict in these regions gives rise to organized crime networks which engage in trafficking of weapons, drugs, people and WMD components. Ethnic violence results in civil wars which often lead to humanitarian catastrophes and refugee migrations. Ungoverned space may result in terrorist sanctuaries and the spread of radical ideologies and beliefs. The most likely deployment mission will not be to engage against a traditional state’s military, but to engage in an unconventional conflict against non-state foes that use asymmetric tactics.  International security organizations and individual nations have various terms and definitions to address the range of possible operations to address security problems in fragile or failing states: Peace Operations, Peace Support Operations or Stability Operations are commonly used terms. The U.S Department of Defense (DOD) describes Stability Operations as: Military missions, tasks, and activities conducted outside the United States in coordination with other instruments of national power to maintain or reestablish a safe and secure environment, provide essential governmental services, emergency infrastructure reconstruction and humanitarian relief (Department of Defense Instruction 3000.05, “Stability Operations,” September 16, 2009, para. 3). Most often, regional security organizations, such as NATO or the African Union, empowered by the legitimacy of a UN Security Council mandate, form the headquarters or nucleus for ad hoc “coalitions of the willing” to carry out these missions. ISAF in Afghanistan, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the NATO-led coalition operations in Libya are recent examples of this model. Due to the nature of the missions the military, while a major actor, is only one member of a wider interagency, comprehensive, “whole of government” team assembled to address security, governance, humanitarian and economic developmental needs. 

There are numerous, complex challenges to producing and disseminating timely, accurate and fused intelligence to support these operations. Each step of the intelligence process must be adapted to meet the evolving needs of commanders, decision makers, soldiers and civilian partners on the ground. In this era of declining defense budgets, what lessons should intelligence professionals be incorporating into training and educational programs to make success more likely during the next deployment to a fragile or failed state? The following eight examples provide some insights to performing well in a complex environment. It is incumbent on leaders to communicate with and empower their intelligence officers to anticipate mission and information challenges. Incorporating aspects of these examples in training and education programs will help to ensure success on the next deployment. 

1. Anticipate a wide range of dynamic requirements

In Stability Operations, the intelligence professional is challenged by the need to provide information and analysis about a wide range of topics and issues beyond the traditional threat-based focus of intelligence work. No longer is there the luxury of primarily focusing on finding and targeting enemy tanks or artillery pieces – as was the focus of my Marine Division’s effort when invading Iraq in 2003. In a matter of weeks after capturing Baghdad, our efforts transitioned to a focus on the composition of insurgent cells, networks and attacks. While this was important, it too quickly proved to be insufficient for success. To be successful in the long-term it is necessary to examine the local environment beyond the immediate enemy. Monitoring and assessing legitimate force protection concerns throughout the deployment still remain a major focus of the intelligence effort. Part of this assessment is the requirement to continually assess whether the nature of the mission is changing or has been changed by events on the ground. Once again in Afghanistan, as was the case in Iraq, we have been surprised by the scale of “green on blue” attacks as we drawdown our forces. Repeatedly, nations are surprised when they initially deploy with a humanitarian assistance mandate, mindset, manning and toolkit, but find themselves in a more challenging and dangerous peace enforcement or counterinsurgency mission. 

In Stability Operations, analysis must also be oriented towards the population’s concerns and needs. Deployments are undertaken in order to meet the need of a population, whether a short-term humanitarian need or a longer-term need for security to support the development of legitimate and capable local institutions. Cultural and ethnic dynamics must be understood in order to provide accurate, useful assessments of the likelihood of success of ongoing or planned courses of action. Political issues and motivation, as well as local trade and agriculture patterns and needs will figure into the requirement. Building and mentoring local institutions are vital parts of the mission. Capable, legitimate institutions are the desired end state of any operation. Making your military presence irrelevant is the mission. This requires an objective, ongoing effort to assess the capability, legitimacy and effectiveness of local institutions and forces. This evolving assessment is an important, difficult and usually short-changed cornerstone of success.  2. Be ready to task and use a broad array of sources

Fortunately, to help answer this wide range of intelligence requirements there is a correspondingly wide range of sources of information. In today’s environment, the challenge facing an intelligence officer is not a lack of information – but the challenge of dealing with an exponential explosion in the amount of data to be collected, processed and analyzed. Certainly the traditional disciplines of Imagery, Signals and Human Intelligence are still huge contributors and play an important role in this environment, but the expanded interagency nature of the team brings onboard a diverse array of information gatherers. Each civilian or international organization represented in the Task Force has knowledge and expertise. International humanitarian organizations and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) usually have a presence on the ground that predates the current crisis. They have knowledge of local relationships and hierarchies, often know the local language and understand firsthand the effects of local weather and environmental conditions on operations and health and medical issues. International and regional businesses, such as rental car agencies, mobile phone providers, major hotels and international delivery services have information and perspectives of value. Media reporting through traditional sources as well as insights available via social networking sites offer access to timely information about the needs, attitudes and opinions of the population. Social networking sites offer the opportunity to tap into a nearly infinite range of diverse contacts and expertise. 

Each member, both uniformed and civilian, of the team can be valuable observers and contributors to collecting and reporting data. Logistics and supply drivers can be asked to observe and report changes along their route in a way that doesn’t interfere with their primary job. They can be asked to note changes in political posters or to take pictures of graffiti along their route. They can easily report things they already no doubt observe; such as where people treat them differently along sections of the route or where they see no children, only fighting-age males. The Task Force security unit will know the pattern of life around the base. They will have regular contact with the local security forces and be able to assess if the local forces are respected or perceived as corrupt and abusive by the local community. They can judge if discipline is based on a sense of fear or a sense of duty. Engineers, both civilian and military, will have the earliest and best idea about infrastructure and lines of communication. They will quickly get to know local working practices and gain insight into resource availability and distribution. Contracting Officers will be the first to learn about corruption and be able to identify local powerbrokers. Local woman are an often overlooked source of information, recent efforts by US forces to form female only engagement teams have been successful in Afghanistan and Iraq at addressing this shortfall. Working with these “nontraditional” sources of information will be challenging and time consuming. Each individual involved will need to be instructed and encouraged to observe and report in a productive manner. Ample resources will need to be devoted to debriefing and the data entry of the reporting into a format or system to store the information in a way that is it is easily accessible to all the military and civilian members of the team. Feedback to these information gatherers regarding the value and relevance of their information is an often overlooked, yet crucial piece of the effort. 

3. Create intelligence products that can be shared with a wide range of consumers

Intelligence officers have to be aware when developing their products that their nation’s military force will be only one member of a wider international, interagency team. Intelligence must be developed that goes beyond fulfilling the requirements of a single nation’s military or a purely NATO Task Force. Differing classifications and clearances and incompatible systems usually make it difficult to share intelligence even within a single nation’s military force. Adding that nation’s other agencies and ministries to the distribution plan presents huge challenges. These challenges are compounded exponentially when the need to disseminate to international partners are considered. NATO has invested a great deal of effort over the past 50 years to developing methods and tools to ease the sharing of intelligence within the alliance – but recent missions have shown that this is only a start. Increasingly our coalition partners will be from non-NATO nations. Twenty-two of the fifty troop-contributing nations in ISAF are not NATO members. Sweden, Jordan, Qatar, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates contributed military forces to NATO’s Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya. Only one NATO country is in the top 25 of military and police contributors to UN Peacekeeping Operations

As complicated as it may be to share intelligence within a military coalition, the presence of the essential civilian developmental and assistance agencies and organizations on the team exponentially confuses the issue. International organizations, specifically the United Nations, are important contributors. In some cases, the UN will be the lead agency and the military task force will need to participate in their information architecture. Local government is the focus of the operation. Local governmental officials, ministries and organizations need to be included in distribution – in their language. Private companies that provide security as well as logistics and support are ever-present features on operations today – they play increasingly important roles and certainly need intelligence to be effective. As previously noted, NGOs are extremely important contributors in those regions where Stability Operations occur and need to be included as consumers of Intel support. 

Despite the acknowledgement that future missions will routinely be international and interagency, there is still a lack of responsive and transparent means to share intelligence within this broader community. Not sharing inhibits the effectiveness of the team’s decisions and efforts, leads to mistrust and impairs collaboration and coordination. To help meet this requirement, intelligence analysts are burdened with spending time creating multiple versions of each classified product. For example US analysts in Afghanistan must create as many as six different versions of a single product – US NOFORN, 5 Eyes, REL NATO, REL ISAF, REL GiROA and an unclassified version of the product. Other ineffective “work-arounds” include channeling intelligence to be shared through the bottleneck of a Foreign Disclosure Officer. Another current unproductive method involves the mental gymnastics of analysts having to make a determination whether they are allowed to give a product to a partner (release) or whether he is allowed to only to show or describe the contents of a product to that partner (disclosure). 

Understanding and acknowledging upfront that a wide range of diverse organizations will need to consume an organization’s intelligence products must drive intelligence professionals to rethink how and why production is classified. There is currently a practical and philosophical bias against sharing and release … a consumer must demonstrate to the producer a “need to know”. Instead there needs to be a bias towards sharing…… “Why can’t I share this?” A refocus on when and why intelligence is classified may be in order. According to the US Executive Order 13526, intelligence is classified when “unauthorized disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause identifiable or describable damage to the national security” or to protect sources and methods. Classification is not intended to prevent embarrassment, keep positions private, or for ease of moving data around on a more robust classified network. If identifiable damage isn’t likely or it doesn’t reveal sources and methods – it shouldn’t be classified. Maintaining our current dysfunctional business practice undermines the mission and prolongs the operation. 4. Anticipate the challenges an ad hoc team will present

Each particular crisis/deployment will feature a different team of actors and contributors- depending on the nature and location of the operation. An earthquake relief deployment in Haiti will have a very different team than an armed intervention in Africa to protect a civilian population at risk from its own leaders. This impromptu nature of the team presents a number of challenges. Each of these operations will have a learning phase, not only in learning about the situation- but in learning about each other on the team in such extemporaneous situations. 

A number of variables will determine what capabilities and skill sets nations chose to contribute to the effort and how long they will stay deployed. Members of the ad hoc team will bring whatever collections platforms their nation has available and has decided to send to the mission. How these teams are tasked, what exploitation support will be provided and the length of their deployment will all be variable and unpredictable. As an example, a small Brazilian prototype was the only UAV available to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in 2006-07. When the Brazilian battalion that brought it was rotated out, the UAV was also withdrawn with no replacement (Walter Dorn, “Intelligence-Led Peacekeeping,” Intelligence and National Security Vol 24, #6 (December 2009): 820). The Commander of the United Nations Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) was provided a dedicated aerial photo reconnaissance unit with a P-166 aircraft, photographers and support personnel, but no photo interpreters or interpretation equipment (Patrick Cammaert, “Intelligence in Peacekeeping Operations: Lessons for the Future” in Peacekeeping Intelligence: Emerging Concepts for the Future, ed. Platje Wies et al. (Oakton, Virginia: OSS International Press, 2003), 22). Other members of the team may not be familiar with the capabilities and limitations of each platform and the nuances of how to best task the platform. Similarly, the collectors will not be aware of how best to portray their findings for their consumers i.e. do they need an annotated picture, a description of what the photo interpreter saw in the image, or a data mashup on a social network site ? 

Dissemination or moving intelligence within an unplanned organization raises a number of additional challenges. Radios and computer systems, the primary means of moving intelligence within military alliances, may not be compatible. Given the disparate makeup of the team, Intel will need to make products in a variety of formats to meet dissemination capabilities- e.g., classified email, radio, internet, paper products, and briefings. Questions that should be asked to improve this are as follows: Will intelligence products be pushed to consumers or pulled by them? If a supported entity needs a picture – how is it sent to them? What size file can they receive? Can it be read on a blackberry or iPhone? Is the picture posted somewhere and users are expected to know where to look and be able to pull it down themselves? These challenges will cost money, manpower and time to resolve and hinder mission accomplishment. 

As noted previously, intelligence products are usually classified to limit distribution only to those who have demonstrated a need to see them and who have shown an ability to protect the data appropriately. There are formalized, formally negotiated agreements in place that govern how intelligence can be shared within an alliance. Ad hoc military and civilian coalitions of the willing will not have these prenegotiated agreements in place – limiting the ability to share intelligence and analysis. 24 hours after the tsunami hits is not the time to work this out. 

The widely varied makeup of the impromptu team will mean that team members will have different concepts of what the threat is and differing ways to characterize events and activities. Was the attack on the relief convoy carried out by terrorists? Insurgents? Criminals? Or miscreants? How the attack is characterized determines the actor’s threat assessment of their area. Is the region’s stability threatened by terrorists, insurgents or criminals? How the attack is characterized determines which tools the international force uses to address it. Alliances have over time developed standardized definitions, terminology, formats and means of dissemination. Unless the ad hoc international civilian and military team anticipates and identifies common terms of references, procedures and formats, intelligence analysis will be incomplete and consumers will not get the products needed to accomplish their mission. Transitions, exchanges and reliefs between units and organizations will be incoherent and incomplete due to frustration caused by differing terms, definitions and characterizations. 

5. Don’t focus on a single, hierarchal foe.  

Modern militaries perform best against hierarchical organizations, i.e. organizations which are similar to themselves. Thus the desire to “cut off the head” or decapitate the organization we are fighting. In Stability Operations this approach is insufficient for success. Our opposition will come from a wide variety of sources, usually without a hierarchical structure. These may range from desperate hungry civilians to local militias, or warlords to criminal gangs, or drug traffickers to former regime remnants or foreign extremists. Yesterday’s foes may be tomorrow’s friends and vice versa. The same person could be your ally, an indifferent bystander or your enemy all within the same day. Each of these groups may have diverse and multiple motivations. Each of these groups will have a unique composition, varying levels of commitment and differing levels of support from the local population. We can certainly expect that they will have different tactics, techniques and procedures. This in turn will create disparate weaknesses to be identified, assessed and exploited by intelligence professionals. There may not be clear lines and distinctions between these various groups. Often membership may be interrelated or overlapping. Attacking or weakening a particular group may cause another to gain strength by filling the void created by our original action. Friendly actions are a dynamic within this threat spectrum; we change the web of interaction within the society every day.  6. Targeting in stability operations isn’t only “warheads to foreheads”. 

Targeting in Stability Operations is more difficult than targeting in a conventional conflict. Targeting in Stability Operations is a broader concept that is geared towards helping the commander decide how to best apply his finite resources to affect the needs, attitudes or loyalty of an individual or group. There will be dangerous men or groups that will need to be the focus of direct kinetic action, but targets can also be friendly or neutral members of the population. Often the target/focus of the effort may be the capabilities of the local ministry or mayor’s office, to make the applicable organization more capable of meeting the needs of its citizens. This broader approach to targeting opens up a wider range of targeting tools; a road or a bridge, communications gear or salaries rather than bombs or bullets. This more nuanced form of targeting requires added precision. Not merely precision as measured in meters or grid coordinates – but precision regarding relationships and leverage points. What is it that mayor or village leader needs to be effective? What does he want or need to support our efforts? Culturally, can he be seen to meet with us in public? What are the likely second or third order effects of our actions? Who have we made stronger? Who have made weaker or caused to lose face within society? Effective targeting is no longer the prevue of a small cell within the Intel or Operations section- but will involve input, communication and assessment from throughout the Task Force or interagency team. 

7. Plan to create intelligence that can be used as evidence.  

Military forces in Stability Operations will often, if not always, fulfill some type of law enforcement role. Referring back to the original DOD definition, Stability Operations are “to maintain or reestablish a safe and secure environment.” The military is often involved because law and order has broken down and the supported government is unable or unwilling to provide for the security of its citizens. The deploying military force may have responsibility for this task, or there may be an international police force as part of the mandated task force. There are currently over 13,000 police serving on UN Peace Support Operations. An important function of the international military and police forces is to train and mentor the local law enforcement agencies and organizations. This is complicated by the fact that the military trainers and advisors usually will not have arrest authority or civilian law enforcement experience in their home country. The military’s focus in this case is to reduce the level of violence and lawlessness so that security can be handled by the police, with the military in a supporting role or as a rapid reaction force – should the need arise. 

The training and mentoring role along with the intense focus of the globalized, instant 24/7 news cycle means that the conduct of operations must be in accordance not only with the tenets of the Law of Armed Conflict, but also adhere to the standards of democratic governance and the rule of law. In Afghanistan, a unit that has plans to conduct an operation to capture or arrest an individual must convince a panel headed by a general officer that it has sufficient credible intelligence to justify conducting the operation – leading to the requirement of a high standard of evidence for operations to capture foes. This is similar to the high standard of evidence required by a judge or magistrate to issue an arrest or search warrant in the peacetime law enforcement community. Once captured there is also a high standard of evidence required to maintain an individual in custody. Without adequate intelligence, which can be shared within the legal system to prove guilt, individuals are released back in the community within days or weeks. If the individual is held without releasable proof there is a risk of being portrayed locally and internationally as oppressive occupiers. If he is released because of a lack of admissible proof the security forces are perceived as impotent by the criminals and by the population you are there to protect. 

Technological improvements has led to the growth in sensitive site exploitation skills and sophisticated forensic skills abilities that a decade ago were only the subject of futuristic television programs. Collecting biometrics data such as digital images, fingerprints, iris scans and DNA to aid in future identification, capture and prosecutions is now an everyday part of a infantry platoon’s daily activities. One of the iconic photographs of the Iraqi War is the image of the recently-captured Saadam Hussein having his mouth swabbed for DNA to confirm his identity. Alongside this technical sophistication must be a acknowledgement and expectation that intelligence has to be developed and classified in a way that it can be admitted to a court of law, and if need be, shared with defense attorneys and the media. 

8. Intelligence has an important role in the public affairs effort. 

Due to the rapid changes in mass media technology public affairs now addresses three interrelated audiences; the population which inhabits the area where the deployment is taking place, the wider international community and the audience at home. Democracies have an aversion to using intelligence to influence public opinion. Intelligence professionals are not comfortable dealing with Public Affairs activities. A wide mutually – imposed gap exists between the Public Affairs and Intelligence sections causes them to work in isolation in most headquarters. But in Stability Operations the center of gravity is public opinion. In order to remain deployed long enough to successfully address the issues in a mission’s mandate, it is necessary to inform and influence the public at home and internationally to maintain both legitimacy and the commitment of resources. The US military didn’t leave Iraq at the end of 2011 because the job was done. The US military left because the coalition had dissolved and the remaining US troops were increasingly seen as occupiers by US and Iraqi citizens. ISAF isn’t leaving Afghanistan in 2014 because the mission set forth when the struggle began has been accomplished. ISAF is leaving because its citizens have become convinced the effort is no longer worth the continued expenditure of precious lives and money. The media is the vehicle through which citizens get information and form opinions regarding the legitimacy and effectiveness of the deployment. The media not only informs our population but also shapes the debate. The media can either portray the attack as “The latest incident in a string of embarrassing attacks which call into questions ISAF’s ability to protect the population” or as “A terrorist bombing which targeted innocent young girls on their way home from school”. By the nature of the industry, the media is attracted to short-term, sensational or destructive events. A correspondent is more likely to get a story about a suicide attack on a fuel convoy on the air than a story about a water treatment plant being opened. Increasingly news is driven by tweets, cell phone pictures or videos down loaded to the internet. Intelligence officers have a vital role to play by providing the long-term perspective by making available data and analysis to refute erroneous, incomplete or inaccurate stories or posts. Even if they themselves do not deal directly with the press, then Intelligence professionals must provide Commanders and Public Affairs Officers with the information and analysis to do so. The most timely and accurate intelligence in the world is of little use in refuting inaccurate claims and propaganda if it is locked away in a secure data base. Similarly, Intelligence officers have to provide a balanced and accurate assessment of issues and events to Public Affairs officials so that friendly sources can be the first to address bad news and shape the argument, rather than always be reacting to stories from other outlets. Intelligence must be available to help inform public opinion regarding the legitimacy and effectiveness of our actions. As my former Division Commander used to say “A story will be written on the front page of the New York Times tomorrow, what are we doing to make sure it’s the right story?” 

Conclusion 

Declining defense budgets are a fact of life for the United States and our partners. None of the eight intelligence lessons in this article involve the purchase of additional systems, platforms or capabilities. We have quite an impressive technological capability already. Our shortcomings are not a lack of data. Our shortcomings are in how we share and utilize the information and data we have at our disposal. We take great pride in our ability to “improvise, adapt and overcome”. We can continue to do business this way and struggle each time until (hopefully) we eventually are successful. Or we can look ahead at the most likely problems, anticipate the needs and evolve our training, techniques and procedures to deliver intelligence that is relevant and useful for consumers and partners across the interagency spectrum. We have to innovate and learn faster than our adversaries. The role of intelligence is to learn and advise our leaders in ways that allow open and constant innovation to outmaneuver our latest adversary. Producing close-hold intelligence, applicable only to military forces and releasable only to a small fraction of our civilian and military partners is not sufficient for success in the missions of the 21st century. We can do better.    

 

About the Author  James Howcroft is a DIA-certified master educator assigned to the United States European and Africa Commands’ Regional Joint Intelligence Training Facility (RJITF) located in the United Kingdom. Mr. Howcroft recently retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after 30 years service as an Intelligence Officer. He served in a wide range of Marine Corps tactical and operational Intelligence billets, from Infantry Battalion up to the Marine Expeditionary Force level. His combat tours included service with the 2nd Marine Division in Operation Desert Storm and service with both the 1st Marine Division and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq. He holds a Master’s of Science degree in Strategic Intelligence from the Defense Intelligence Collegeand a Master’s of Science degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College 

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John