The highest-ranking U.S. military intelligence officer in Afghanistan has called for a major restructuring of the intelligence gathering and distribution in that country, arguing that the present system “is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy.”
Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, the deputy chief of staff for intelligence for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, called for a shift from collecting information to help with capturing or killing insurgents, and said more resources should go toward gathering facts about the political, economic and cultural environment of the population that supports the insurgency.
…little is being done to fully understand the support for insurgents, declaring that U.S. intelligence efforts are “ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the power brokers are and how they might be influenced, incurious about the correlations between various development projects . . . and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers.”
…Flynn praised some Afghanistan-based units that bucked his overall conclusions. He cited a Marine battalion in the Nawa district of Helmand province whose commander used regular riflemen when he lacked enough ground-level intelligence analysts, because he “decided that understanding the people in their zone of influence was a top priority” and was able to create an effective information network…
“The soldier or development worker on the ground is usually the person best informed about the environment and the enemy,” he wrote.
He described many intelligence analysts in Kabul, at U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa and at the Pentagon as so starved for information from the field that they say their jobs “feel more like fortune telling than serious detective work.”
2010-01-07 07:41:40 UTC