Military Intelligence Failure in Iraq.

This is an interesting story, but it is not of great importance.  The British company involved is doing analytic work in support of a wide variety of US government connected reconstruction and logistical activities who need to have some organized group take available reports of incidents and government statements and produce analytic reports which tell them how dangerous any particular place or activity is on a given day.  They want to know this so as to judge the risks of daily operations across the country.  The media’s egregious inability to call intelligence activity anything but "intelligence gathering" results in an aura of spookiness hanging over this analytic activity which is altogether unjustified.  This is scholarship, folks.  Don’t let your uncle’s desire to let you believe otherwise about his job in Iraq fool you.  It is just scholarship.

The military command in Iraq is not doing that job for this group of customers in any significant way.  The military command in Iraq has failed and continues to fail to do intelligence collection and analysis adequately in support of the core activities of its combat and counterinsurgency forces in the war.  Since it is a failure in that area, it can hardly afford to divide its available resources to do work for what it must, perforce, see as a secondary set of activities.  Therefore…

My old boss and friend, LTG (Ret.) Ed Soyster, is quoted in this article as saying to the reporter that "if we had two million in the US Army we would not be having this conversation," i.e., the Army would be doing this analytic job for the CoE, contractors, etc.  True, but that is not relevant to the main question which is "why has the US Army’s Military Intelligence establishment been such a failure in Iraq?"

What is the evidence of that failure?

We can not find the enemy.

Counterinsurgency war demands an ability to find among the population the individuals and small groups who are the actual fighters .

The exception to this judgment is the application by SOF forces of massive national intelligence collection  means to the pursuit of a small number of "high value" takfiri insurgents like Zarqawi.

This SOF effort is only a small part of what the command in Baghdad is supposed to be doing with its forces.  The troops that you see on television in Fallujah, Diyalah, the Triangle of Death," etc. are not SOF.  They are the main forces; the army Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) and marine regimental combat teams (RCT) who are carrying the main burden of combat.  These forces are effectively "fighting blind" against insurgent gunmen, IED implanters and militia armies.

The reason that is so is that the US Army has no effective clandestine HUMINT capability in Iraq.  There is no ARMY (as opposed to DIA or CIA) organization designed to provide information support to maneuver unit commanders.  If asked, the Army MI establishment will say that they "do" HUMINT.  No, they don’t.  What they usually mean by HUMINT is talking to someone, often a prisoner.  Prisoners are human, but talking to them is not HUMINT in the sense that is generally understood in this context.  That is the use of CONTROLLED local human agents on their own ground to determine the identity and location of the true effectives among the insurgent enemies.  The US Army is not doing that in Iraq.  If pressed on this point, the Army and the MI establishment point to what they call Tactical HUMINT Teams (THT).  These teams are, in reality, made up of counterintelligence people, not espionage operators and the mission of the teams is that of "force protection" for the particular US combat unit that they are part of and with whom they move from place to place.

There are several things wrong with the theory and practice involved in these teams:

– The people in the teams are too junior, are not thoroughly trained, and are not led by officers who are themselves skilled HUMINT operators.  It is a case of the "blind leading the blind."  The Army no longer trains people adequately for this work and its policy of making officers managers of the intelligence process rather than participant leaders is counter-productive.

– The THT teams are not engaged in recruiting and "running" controlled sources.  Their sources have not been vetted, trained and disciplined in the way that a true clandestine HUMINT unit would do.  As a result, the information they obtain is inevitably mostly trash, often "planted" on them by insurgents or fabricators.

– The THT teams do not stay in one place in Iraq.  In "olden times" army MI clandestine teams stayed in one place, operating from within defended locations, developed "assets" which had area coverage on a more or less permanent basis.  These army MI units then provided direct support to maneuver units which came and went from the MI units area of responsibility.  Clandestine collection units MUST stay in one place.  HUMINT is about human beings.  It takes time and prolonged association to establish the kind of relationships needed to do good HUMINT.  It is not possible to do this kind of work well if the MI unit moves around.

– The THTs are integrated into the structure of the supported maneuver units.  All too many brigade or regimental commanders have no sympathy or understanding of this kind of work.  It makes no more sense to directly subordinate this kind of activity to an infantry brigade than it would to directly subordinate an air force fighter squadron to an infantry brigade.

We used to be able to do this kind of work in the US Army.  See my post "The Missing Factor" on The Athenaeum.

General (ret.) Meigs’ IED Defeat Task Force is reported to have spent three BILLION dollars so far in trying to find an "answer" to the murderous toll that IED attacks are taking on US forces.  His technical and other "solutions" destroy more IEDs all the time but the number of IEDs planted and the body count keeps going up. 

The Army likes the present complete integration and homogenization of the MI into being just another part of the Army, a part that does not "disturb" the common peace in which army people can feel good about each other.  The only problem with this is that this total integration and homogenization has failed to do acceptable work in a war that is not going well at all.

I like good comments on these blogs, so before you write one on this, make sure you have read what I wrote and understand it.  Don’t tell me that locals will not spy for the United States or that  such work is hard or dangerous.  I have "been there, and done that." I also am not interested in the "not enugh linguists" argument.  It can be done.  Nor am I interested in the "gay rights" argument. pl

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47 Responses to Military Intelligence Failure in Iraq.

  1. Brian Hart says:

    First, isn’t it amazing that convoy tracking and the collection of information about enemy activities from private contractors would be outsourced in the first place and then not shared back with the contractors because it is classified in the second? Besides the entertainment value of watching the blinking lights on the ‘big board’ and the daily power point presentation what purpose does this serve if the information doesn’t get back to the privatized convoys?

  2. jr786 says:

    It seems to me that part of the reason, at least, is less failure on the U.S.’s part than continued success in counter-intelligence operations mounted by the old Baathi Mukhabarat, which was extremely skilled at protecting its own resources amongst the Shia and Kurd populations for so many years. How else was it able to contain resistance of nearly 80% of the population unless it could count on thousands of its own humint assets amongst them?
    The recent failure to find the two captured soldiers, despite allocating the equivalent of an entire regiment to the search, further indicates that the insurgency (whether AQ or Baath) is skilled at protecting itself against informants, in much the same way that Michael Collins was able to finally do against the British. In fact, the Iraqi insurgency seems similar to Collins’ model in that it 1) has reduced the country to a ‘general state of disorder and 2) has managed to ‘put out the eyes of the Americans’, which is the gist of the current post.
    The analogy to Ireland is further supported by the fact that the Green Zone (Dublin Castle) is probably bombarded with accusations against every Sunni in Iraq, in much the same way that Irish Protestants denounced every Catholic as a Sinn Fein sympathizer; intelligence services are no doubt drowning in such chaff. This also does not offset the real probability that the level of compromise amongst Iraqis working for the US is quite high.
    We find ourselves in the same position as the British in 1921. We face a small but determined resistance: the Army cannot be beaten, but neither can it win.

  3. Tom Griffin says:

    There was a report awhile back that the British Special Reconnaissance Regiment was operating in Baghdad. Presumably, the Joint Support Group/Force Research Unit would cover the activities you descibe?
    On Aegis, some of their weekly reports were accessible via Google until recently. Most of it was pretty anoydyne, but if there was anything significant, I don’t think there was nothing to stop the insurgents downloading them every week.

  4. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You miss the point. You can’t beat something with nothing. pl

  5. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Tome Griffin
    I don’t know what the second thing is. Some other British unit? These sound like SOF support units.
    In any event, British units are small, and are devoted to the service of British missions. The insurgencies and other at least potentially hostile activities are spread over vast areas and populations. Get it?
    There is a question of scale here. Iraq is as big as California. What is that, three or four times the size of the UK? It has something over 25 million inhabitants in dozens, hundreds of towns.
    What is needed is an activity that COVERS the whole part of the country in which US forces are operating. pl

  6. Tom Griffin says:

    The JSG/FRU is a British Army agent-handling unit that developed in Northern Ireland. As you say, its quite small in Iraqi terms, but according to the Telegraph it has been operating with American units against Sunnis in southern Baghdad.

  7. Arun says:

    Presumably, one would want this clandestine HUMINT capability even if there is no overt threat at the moment?
    If the answer is yes, then can we ask if not having this kind of HUMINT is true only in Iraq or also in other places where the US armed forces are stationed?

  8. Cloned Poster says:

    Interesting comparison with the Irish “troubles”. It should be remembered that before Dublin Castle there was the Pale which roughly equates to the county of Dublin now.
    Collins was brutal (trained Accountant with the firm that is now KPMG/Bearing Point in Ireland) in that he hit the top targets rather than lowly police constables. His methods were copied by the Irgun in the Israeli fight against the Brits in Palestine. The bombing of the King David Hotel must have been on a par with 911 for the Brits.

  9. frank durkee says:

    Is the development of this kind of operational capacity an on going part of the remit of the regional commands. If not, why not? Further what part of the developments that led to this are derived from a belief that we would not get caught up in ‘counterinsurgency’ activities and thus no need to really prepare for them? Do those General Officers now on active duty have this type of operational experience and are they in fact able to advocate for it?

  10. Col.
    I happen to be reading a book that you might enjoy and seems to be a bit on point, Who Are You: Identification, Deception, and Surveillance in Early Modern Europe by Valentin Groebner.
    According to Groebner, early forms of passports, identification papers, and the like first emerged in the increasingly mobile, urbanized, and literate late Middle Ages and early Rennaissance. Various official, seal documents were issued that were collated with records kept by the emerging bureaucracies of that time.
    So long as one’s papers were – or appeared to be – in order, once could successfully navigate the social currents of that time.
    Of course, that gave rise to the then novel question of whether those documents were authentic.
    Groebner states that the phenomenon of the impostor then first arose.
    Essentially, back then, authorities tended to confuse the picture of the world they had as recorded in their files with the outside world, as it actually was.
    Taking this line of reasoning and applying it to contemporary Iraq, we note that so much of the modern military seems to be a video game type of a war. So long as things appear properly in the database or on the video screen, that is the way that they are.
    And what the insurgents have learned how to do is to manipulate the video game so that how they look on the screen and what they are actually up to are different.

  11. Dave of Maryland says:

    What Col. Lang is saying, if I read him correctly, is that the war was lost the day that Baghdad fell, or shortly thereafter, from the US failure to provide an adequate occupation regime.
    In other words, firing randomly into crowds in the summer of 2003 had its consequences. One of them is that we still do.

  12. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I suppose that you understand that I am trying to get the attention of my own people here. This is the equivalent of standing on a box at Hyde Park Corner.
    The answer to your question is that you can not advocate for something that you have never seen nor understand. This kind of capability went away decades ago in the Army as opposed to DoD.
    Maybe so, if not having such a capability or even knowing you should have it was determinative. pl

  13. FDR_Democrat says:

    Colonel –
    Is there a Western military today that has the capability you describe?

  14. EZSmirkzz says:

    Recommendations? What specifically needs to be done, and to whom does the advocacy need to be made?
    It would seem that this sort of capability would be on the same order of equipping the Army and Marines as up armoured Humvees. Otherwise I feel as though I am on the other side of the fence, having the intelligence needed without anyone to report it to.

  15. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “I feel as though I am on the other side of the fence, having the intelligence needed without anyone to report it to.” I was pretty clear. It seems you have not read the material in the two posts.
    Interesting, but this is about the “bread and butter” business of collecting information not political musings about scholarship. what I meant by that is that ANALYSIS is scholarship, not collection of information. pl

  16. Paul says:

    There is no ARMY (as opposed to DIA or CIA) organization designed to provide information support to maneuver unit commanders.
    I thought the great DIA land grab of 92-94 was supposed to provide HUMINT to the combatant commands? What happended with this “great idea”?

  17. W. Patrick Lang says:

    FDR D
    The British for sure. The Israelis, maybe in the IDF Int Corps, but their police do a lot of this for them since they are in constant “contact” with their main enemy. pl

  18. W. Patrick Lang says:

    A good point, although the Army structure that existed just before that did not seem oriented towards support of tactical commanders.
    I thought at the time that DIA would provide that support in wartime, but they do not seem to be doing much of a job of it. pl

  19. frank durkee says:

    Thanks for this post and the comments. I for one have learned a lot.

  20. James Pratt says:

    The culture is important, isn’t it? Americans who spy for Russia and Israel are invariably well paid until they are caught. Russian military officers who spy for the US usually are motivated by a fear of Kremlin adventurism leading to war. In Iraq, clan and community motivate more than fame or wealth, so potential spies could be bribed with promised residence and restaurant start-up in the US. I believe the CIA has done this in Asia and Latin America for many years. Intelligence recruiters could approach their Iraqi targets with a brochure of possible sites,interior designs and menus. If the American voters keep chipping away at war support in Congress in 2008 and 2010 as they did in 2006, we could end up with excellent Iraqi restaurants in every major city.

  21. Tim G says:

    My stab–
    There is a culture in Army intelligence wherein the senior leadership gravitates towards a high tech solution to every problem. We likely have software that can arrange a billion data points into various versions of reality, but it takes some really smart people to “see” through the data to capture what is important and what is not. Sensors and bandwidth are the arenas today’s intelligence professionals operate in. Not digging into the data
    I suspect that so much effort goes into the “current” fight that no one is taking a “global” view of the insurgency. We are reorienting culturally, in a military culture sense, to fight an insurgency. No one trained for this for decades.
    We are operating in a complete cultural vacuum. We do not understand the canvas that the reality of Iraq is painted on. Linquists is only one aspect. Thinking tribally, understanding the locals and keeping an open mind is not easy. Everything looks like a nail when you’re a hammer.
    We have failed; utterly failed, to leverage hyphanated Americans into this cause. Given what the right wing scream machine says about Muslims I can understand why Arab American have stayed on the sidelines.
    What I don’t understand is why we haven’t leveraged Kurdish allies in Iraq for some of this; I suspect that we can’t “share” with them.
    Finally, looking at a problem for “only” at one year, maybe six month slices only compounds all the trends I’ve described.
    Didn’t we grow slowly into major combat operations in Vietnam? We had a decade of advisory boots on the ground, the French experience, and at least a semi-functional government in Saigon. In Iraq? Squat.

  22. Cieran says:

    One answer to the question of “why such poor HUMINT?” is “opportunity cost”. A dollar of DoD funding spent of effective human intelligence resources is a dollar NOT spent on the latest high-tech gizmo, and unlike the military-industrial beltway bandits, HUMINT suppliers don’t contribute big money to presidential campaigns.
    I’ve spent many years in the government’s high-tech national security complex, and what always astonished me was that we waste more money on technology that will never work than we will ever spend on the human resources that do.
    We don’t have enough boots on the ground in large part because we have overpriced Ospreys in the air, and we don’t have effective HUMINT for the same reason: we’re spending our resources elsewhere.
    I don’t think it’s the whole answer, but it is certainly a big part of problem. And it’s also a big part of why the U.S. spends as much on military budgets as the rest of the world combined, and yet we cannot seem to win asymmetric wars (or even pay the utility bills at Fort Sam Houston).

  23. fasteddiez says:

    Colonel, I gather that your mention of SOF forces receiving massive national level, multi-discipline intelligence support, means that in short, the separate commands USSOCOM/JSOC are recipients of this Horn o’ plenty. To replicate such a construct for combat forces/overseas bases writ large would need a Manhattan project scaled effort to retool Intel support. To use General Royster’s words, you would need a highly skilled, tailored intelligence structure, manned as if to support a two million man Army and a Marine Corps of 250,000. Forget contractors; they don’t vet their employees worth a damn, and are only interested in siphoning money from the treasury. Furthermore, there is no penalty for failure (same-same with the endless procession of failed, micro cephalic generals in this ongoing fiasco – Franks, Sanchez, Casey, Odierno, etc.). All of these people are competent enough to spew Power Point deep slogans and idle threats about wiping out Al Qaeda or some such outfit, only to watch reality set in to have them slip away from a military that could not do an encirclement operation if its’ miserable life depended on it (see Bill Lind)….But I digress, the key question is “Would you like to win for a change?” This question does not have any bearing on the necessity of “Doing” Iraq, which in my opinion was not necessary.
    In order to achieve a modicum of success, you would need someone of high rank/stature and experience, with over-sized balls and intellect to shove a greatly increased Clandestine HUMINT organization down the gagging throats of the services, who like their Intel Weenie constructs just fine the way they are, thank you very much.
    This would take a lot of people (more than the INSCOM model) since we are talking about supporting operational brigades/regiments in the field, as well as far flung fixed bases.
    This I think should be a purple suited effort, drawing the best and the brightest from all services, serving under the auspices of DoD, replete with their own command. The standing resource model, which normally had the lion’s share of focus going to the Overt side of the house versus the “Clan” would need to be stood on its head.
    The Clan School house would need to be enlarged big time. Its’ curricula altered to reflect the new combat support realities. It is said of the CIA that when they travel to hot spots, they operate with thousand dollar bills hanging out of their pockets/asses (and rarely getting their money’s worth in actionable reliable info. I suppose that these new units would have to be issued hundred dollar bills by the bushel for our new shock troops to do their jobs properly (beats MRE’s and jerry cans of Gas, which you have to steal anyways, if you’re a tactical type). Delineations of territory/responsibilities would have to be worked out with the Agency’s own Clan-Mil types.
    Getting back to the little black schoolhouse….a new emphasis in the running of operations in non-permissive third world dung heaps should be the focus on much of the added training. The fundamentals remain the same, but the tradecraft would differ somewhat from the typical goings on in the Chi-Chi locales of the civilized world. In the Marine Corps, Deploying Marine Expeditionary Units conduct training in operating covertly in urban settings. An expansion on that sort of training should be called for. Then there is the personnel issue; a percentage of people sent to the Clan School House do not pass the course. There has to be added screening to ensure the right personality types are sent to the school, not those with maladroit personalities. A graduate once told me it was like juggling balls, they start you off with two balls and slowly increase the number. If you drop them fine, as you start again until you juggle the requisite amount of balls without getting in a huff and flustered. Those that can move on; non multi-taskers and over emotional “prom queens” need not apply. Where are you going to find that many specifically talented people when the services cannot even manage to find the needed amount of people to conduct interrogations, counterintelligence and force protection intelligence gathering? Like I said, it requires a “Manhattan Project.”
    Then you have the ongoing problems with securing clearances. Would these people need Top Secret/SCI/SSBI clearances? If you rotate the personnel from the conflicts to perform National Level Intel you would probably want to. This is problematic since the clearance investigating/granting apparatus is simply broken.
    I actually think that a suggestion like this is what is needed to turn this country’s sagging fortunes in war making. The Gulf War was an anomaly since Saddam was crazy enough to engage us in Air-Land Warfare in the open, and after letting us build up for six moths unmolested. We cannot count on such stupidity in the future. The post war Germany and Japan occupation forces had these clandestine capabilities, so it is not impossible to replicate.

  24. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Lots of good comments. Good HUMINT doesn’t cost much compared to the expenses in the “gee whiz” stuff. But, you have to want to do it and it doesnot appear that the Army wants to do it.
    If they lost a capability to DIA that DIA is not using properly, then the Army should build another. pl
    In Iraq, a brigade sized unit with twenty little detachments would do. Clearance level. “Secret” will do. It always did before. pl

  25. TR Stone says:

    When you know ahead of time what exists in your area of interest, what is gained with additional info?

  26. McGee says:

    We certainly did it in Europe when I was assigned there in the 60’s, and did it fairly well. But this was the result of decades of ground work (source development, police and intel liaison, recruiting of local national agents, etc., etc.) dating back to the OSS days. Shortly after I left the service the DIA started to move in and I doubt that things were ever the same. I’m pretty sure this capability has been completely outsourced from the Army now, and not very effectively (which I took as the point of your post). Also of note here: at that time the average educational level of the personnel doing this work (Army intel and counter-intel field agents) was 2 years of graduate study with at least one additional language, and their average age was in the mid 20’s. This was of course when we had a draft and an abundance of people with the necessary talent and skills to choose from. Not sure if the all-volunteer Army as presently configured could do this sort of work effectively, even if the will was there. Actually I’m fairly certain they couldn’t, so something would have to change drastically in order to re-establish this capability, IMHO. Not very helpful or encouraging, I’m afraid, but I agree totally with your assessment of the need.

  27. anna missed says:

    As far as I know John Walker Lindh still rots in jail. Maybe he could teach a class.

  28. Paul says:

    If they lost a capability to DIA that DIA is not using properly, then the Army should build another.
    I would suggest that the services should get back what they gave up – as a first step – it terms of GDIP authorizations.

  29. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I think you are right in that you have to recruit the right people to do this kind of work. that can be done. pl

  30. W. Patrick Lang says:

    TR Stone
    We are not talking here about the requirements of day to day operations by US combat forces not the fantasies that preceeded the intervention. pl

  31. W. Patrick Lang says:

    If the problem is that the services don’t have sufficient GDIP authorizations, then Clapper who is now in charge of all that should have them increased. pl

  32. HenryFTP says:

    Results have a way of speaking for themselves that put the most dazzling PowerPoint presentation in the shade. The indictment you have levelled at the Army’s operations in Iraq is frankly more devastating than the scandals regarding equipment and training. Did the Army and the DIA simply “forget” everything we’d learned about counterinsurgency over the past 60 years? It’s been pretty clear that the insurgents have infiltrated the Iraqi security forces and the government and have gleaned valuable intelligence from the “inside” — foolish me, I thought that one of the ways we have discerned this was based on our after-action analysis of VC infiltration of the ARVN and the South Vietnamese government. It is truly hard to believe that after four years of occupation the Army still lacks reliable intelligence networks on the ground — good grief, Grant had better intelligence in Virginia in the summer of 1864 from quiet loyalists, turncoat rebels and slaves. I sure wish someone would pop up and tell us it’s simply not true, but as I said above, sadly, the results speak the truth here, and loudly. We have cruelly let our soldiers down.

  33. Cold War Zoomie says:

    My career started in SIGINT for those guys in Maryland. (I’m long out of that type of work). I’d be interested to know what coordination there typically was between the electronic intel ops and HUMINT in the good ole days compared to now.
    As a worker bee, my access to the big picture was limited. But it appeared that we fed both strategic and tactical clients. Of course, the whole idea of SCI is that I remain clueless of who was at the receiving end of our work. My focus was keeping the systems up and running.
    Did the HUMINT guys use SIGINT info ever? If so, I would imagine that we’re getting a double whammy when the HUMINT side is floundering since the SIGINT machine is still broadcasting tons of information to a “down” receiver.

  34. backsdrummer says:

    “…the use of CONTROLLED local human agents on their own ground to determine the identity and location of the true effectives among the insurgent enemies.”
    This function sounds to me to be very similar to good local police department narcotics officers. They do not go after the big players (that’s for the DEA, FBI, etc), but focus on the many little ones operating in their precinct area.
    This is a great idea, and should have been started years ago. However, I think it will be almost impossible to find enough capable people willing to spend much of their career in the same “precinct” in Iraq. Wouldn’t it take that kind of sacrifice? Who want’s to make this their career, considering Iraq is increasingly perceived as a lost cause?
    The other hard part will be preventing impatient generals/politicians from threatening these people to produce statistics. (“Your precinct’s arrests/searches/seizures are down this month, get them up or else!”) This kind of numbers-driven pressure kills the kind of patient, “quality-first” work you advocate.
    In the PD, I have seen demands for more arrests/searches/seizures, coupled with an unspoken “no questions asked” policy when it comes to ensuring sources are controlled and the cases are all sound. This is a receipe for disaster; yet there are always a few with weak character and/or a lack of common sense who will “drink the cool-aid”. With time apparently running out in Iraq, I can see the same scenario being played out there.

  35. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You get it. The analogy in function between local police narotics squads and the DEA is apt. In this case the “locals” would be linked together for source registration, operational approvals, personnel (US) matters, etc. It is important to put enough rigor into the overall operation to minimize phony reporting.
    I think that if the unit remains in place, handling the same sources (more or less) then people can rotates every couple of years.
    As for the reactions of supported commanders, we are not looking for convictions here, just actionable information. The need to resist pressure from uninformed consumers is the reason why these teams must be part of a larger unit that supports but can not be directed by the supported commander. pl

  36. Barry says:

    Dave of Maryland:
    “What Col. Lang is saying, if I read him correctly, is that the war was lost the day that Baghdad fell, or shortly thereafter, from the US failure to provide an adequate occupation regime.”
    IMHO, the war was lost long before that – when the administration treated 9/11 as an excuse for a looting spree, and wouldn’t even allow proper planning for an occupation.
    The US started planning for the occupation of Germany in 1943, and needed the time. I’d bet that the US Army then had more German speaking people than the entire US government now has, who speak Arabic.

  37. W. Patrick Lang says:

    OT political opinion. pl

  38. Paul says:

    “If the problem is that the services don’t have sufficient GDIP authorizations, then Clapper who is now in charge of all that should have them increased.”
    I would agree – he should, but given his role during the initial years of DIA/DHS, wouldn’t this be tantamount to an admission of failure? His actions at NGA with respect to NGA’s role in the IC vice DoD, lead me to suspect that Clapper remains a strong proponent of centralization of resources. Centralization makes sense at times – the problem is to whom do you give stewardship of the resources. The decision making process that DoD undertook in the early 90’s with regard to HUMINT is probably the subject of a very in depth discussion, at the least. Wonder what his opinion WRT NGA will be now that he is the USDI?
    The lack of overall HUMINT success in total is the result of more than just the scarcity of manpower resources at the right echelon – how about lack of leadership. The current system has done a fine job of rewarding those who supported (whether witting or unwitting) the invasion of Iraq.

  39. Donald Hyatt says:

    That there is a humint problem is obvious. Belated attempts to deal with the absence of good humint, usually efforts made in desperation, result in failure and mistakes, at best, and horrible embarassments at worst. The root problem is the notion in our armed forces and intelligence community that true humint is not needed. The cult of technology and technological solutions to intelligence problems still reigns supreme. (After all what can’t be seen with a satellite? Of course the answer is one word . . . intentions.) For a variety of historical reasons, our military and intelligence communities have opted to ignore the fact that accurate intelligence is made up of two parts, accurate collection and assessment of information regarding capabilities and the same for intentions. While intentions may sometimes be inferred from capabilities information, that generally works better with regard to nation states in relatively established postures, and even then it is a distant second best to actually working directly to learn intentions. The military predisposition against actually using humint, and any other means directed towards intentions, is simply reinforced by the forced homogenization of MI into the DIA, which Col. Lang accurately comments upon. In my view there will be no solution until the basic corporate paridigm of the military towards this issue is changed, and intelligence is viewed correctly. Unfortunately, the strongest force around, appropriations, works against this. It is far easier to simply take the capabilities intel, assume worst case intentions, and demand money from Congress on that basis. Additionally, when money is requested for intel, it is easier to sell some expensive collection system than obtain money for actual field work in humint. Finally, all humint can be “dirty” and potentially embarassing. Given today’s culture of zero tolerance for failure or embarassment, few at the top are willing to take a risk on it. Therefore, I do not expect that the military will be able to solve this one on its own from within any time soon. Until the basic paridigm problem is solved, discussions about the details of how to do it, benchmarking who does it best, etc. are putting the cart before the horse.

  40. Publius says:

    The reason why there is no clan HUMINT capability in the Army—and very little clan CI as well—is very simple. The Army doesn’t want it. Ask any guy who cut his teeth in Vietnam and then served into the 80s and 90s. Hate to say it, but DIA—where I know Pat Lang spent time—does not and cannot fill the bill—thus leaving the Army always with its ass exposed. The generals wanted it that way. A lot of folks left earlier than they might have otherwise because of the Army’s attitudes.
    There actually used to be some very good case officers in the Army. Used to be a decent school at Fort Holabird. But clan HUMINT and its mirror image, CI, are effectively gone, neutered by the generals. To answer Fast Eddie’s comment, there is a clan schoolhouse, where the training can actually be pretty good. But the problem is the Army leadership. They don’t like this stuff. They also don’t like language training. They just like kinetic warriors. So they won’t nurture the people who can do it.
    We can talk until we’re blue in the face, but it won’t change that one fact: they don’t like it.

  41. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You are, of course, correct that the reason that the Army has neither Clan HUMINT nor clan CI is that the generals do not want it.
    I have tried and tried lately to get them interested and they are not. I guess they would rather lose the war, than have case officer types around, especially senior ones. DIA seems to have fallen down on the job in supporting the ground forces in the field in this discipline, but it is incorrect to blame them for the Army’s unwillingness to do this work again.
    Much the same thing seems to be happening in the SF (Green Berets). There the force is increasingly being taken out of the business of training and leading foreign and often irregular troops. Instead, they are being devoted to direct action, commando missions, a great waste. There are other people to do that.
    Incidentally, I was an Army case officer trained at Holabird before I ever saw DIA. pl

  42. bg says:

    COL Lang,
    Your evaluation of why Army tactical HUMINT is right on, especially in regards to the junior levels of experience of team members (often young first term Soldiers) and the inappropriate use of THTs attached to maneuver commanders who have no patience to use them properly. But I think you missed one more important obstacle. Risk.
    Imagine in today’s command climate, three of your young soldiers are taken hostage and killed on TV, and it is found out that they were at a Tea Shop, in civilian clothes by themselves. That commander would be crucified.
    Commanders do not want to trust a young HUMINT specialist to do the type of activities required for good clandestine or covert HUMINT. There are very strict rules for soldiers on how they have to act when outside the wire, which includes force protection measures, armored vehicles,etc. Try doing a clandestine or covert meet with a source in full battle rattle in a parked armored vehicle. There are some creative ways to do it, but bottom line, Risk (or aversion to risk) is a very important obstacle).

  43. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “Your evaluation of why Army tactical HUMINT is right on..”
    There appears to be something missing in this clause?
    I am not advocating having army COs “hang out” in tea shops. I never did when doing this kind of HUMINT in combat. If I had I would probably not be typing. No. You have to develop your way out from those you have access to, and it is up to the system to find ways to give you that access.
    Combat arms commanders are not going to be comfortable with risks, however calculated, taken by MI people. This is one o fthe good reasons for a separate MI establishment, in support of, but not organic or attached to the local maneuver unit commander. pl

  44. bg says:

    “This is one of the good reasons for a separate MI establishment, in support of, but not organic or attached to the local maneuver unit commander.”
    Yes, but any Army HUMINTer in theater falls under a combat arms commanders, in the form of Corps Commanders and the Corps C2X. Policies about force protection have a tendency to be “one size fits all” and rarely make special provisions. There are many tactical HUMINT teams who work directly for MI units, Corps level teams, however, they still have the same obstacles as the direct support teams (actually, they have greater obstacles because they can’t move without help from another unit due to convoy requirements). One such obstacle is risk aversion, sometimes it is justifiable, I will admit, for the same reasons you describe. The teams tends to be young, inexperienced and with minimal training. There are very few that I knew that I would have a great deal of trust in.
    I know from experience, the HUMINT collectors who have been more successful are the ones who are allowed to assume more risk.
    And as you point out, the system must find a way to allow you access. Well, the system doesn’t, and that reason is risk.

  45. Vic says:

    Col; et al-
    If any of you have ever heard of the comedian Carlos Mencia and his show “Mind of Mencia,” you will quickly grasp the following concept. He often speaks about our problem with the border with Mexico and the illegal immigration issue. He once stated that in order to stop the flow of illegal immigration we can do the one thing that will certainly work: employ immigrants to stop immigration. The incentive of citizenship is a powerful ally.
    I mention this because we don’t seem to see through the fog of war clearly enough to ascertain a way forward. Having been involved in this arena in Iraq and other parts of the Mid East and now teaching the “too junior” collectors out there, certainly I will have my two cents worth.
    What is missing here is the incentive of the local average Iraqi to actively participate in efforts that are parallel to our goals. There is an old Arab saying that translates a little clumsy: Sometimes you must go behind the Arab and tell him to go there instead of telling him to come here.
    We don’t know the people we deal with. We haven’t figure out how to operate in their environment. It isn’t entirely (or even mostly) the fault of poorly trained collectors. We just haven’t employed our resources correctly.
    I propose the following:
    – Extend the imbedded trainer concept one step forward. Create small teams who would:
    a. Direct reconstruction efforts.
    b. Hands-on manage the funds for reconstruction.
    c. Provide medical assistance to the local populace.
    d. Provide actionable intelligence to the Tactical Commander.
    Equipment requirements are lengthy (i.e. generator), but would not include large Force Protection barrier type structures. We are not creating another FOB here.
    The team would be manned with two/three engineers, two/three Medics, one Accountant, two/three Interrogators (HUMITrs), one Counterintelligence Agent, one three man security team, and one Officer in-charge. Right from the onset this team would operate imbedded amongst friendly Sheikh stronghold areas. It would operate under the umbrella of protection from that Sheikh. It would be dangerous, but it would immediately have benefits to us and to that local Sheikh. We would immediately benefit by running Sources who would all have legitimate reason for visiting the site. Families would immeditaley take use of the medical support. The Intelligence obtained from grateful Mother’s alone would be invaluable. The Sheikhs will benefits by improving the infrastructure of their village. Our actionable intelligence will be ten times as accurate. Once a neighboring village begins to witness the tremendous improvements in the village supporting this “UN type Team,” the incentive to cooperate will be borne.
    Furthermore, remnants of the old Royal family in Iraq still wield considerable influence. They have remained entirely under our radar. We should include them in this scenario. Allow them to take some of the credit for the reconstruction in their area. We don’t know how the Governance of Iraq will look like. We shouldn’t discount any viable option. As long as the supportive local leader has the capacity to provide stand-off and security (most do – its amazing how effective they can be when they want to really protect something), we should imbed this Team in that location.
    I can lead this essay into a cultural piece to support this proposal, but it would be as effective as all other cultural awareness briefs I’ve seen. The motivation of this proposal is that it’s created with the understanding of the culture. It isn’t offered with a military mindset. It does attempt to move the Iraqi Arab to a location where we would like him to be, but not by saying “come here.”

  46. Bryan says:

    HUMINT is not sexy. It requires much more time and energy than other intelligence disciplines. As a former 97E and OIF rat, I know all too well of our military shortcomings. The one I’m most concerned with is if the command ever does take HUMINT seriously and tries to employ effective HUMINT functions, they will be doomed from the start. As bg stated, many HUMINTers now are young and inexperienced. Many of those who were able to provide such guidance and experience are now gone. We owe the troops much more than half-hearted measures to keep them from fighting a shifting enemy. My first suggestion: stop using HUMINTers to edit reports and sit in guard towers. Rampant disuse is appalling.

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