underrattelser – US style

Ralph Peters’ latest report on improvements in MI. Money graph:

Appropriate technologies can help us – but no database or collection
system is a substitute for seasoned human judgment. The key task in
intelligence is understanding the enemy. Machines do many things, but they still don’t register flesh-and-blood relationships, self-sacrifice or fanaticism.

Underrattelser: Improvement from below (how Swedes describe MI) covered at John Robb’s site.


Inside Dope

Don’t know this particular person, but I know his brothers and sisters and their song remains the same (courtesy of Small Wars Journal):

Morale has become bad enough in the Iraq office that DIA has
had to drop the requirement for analysts who deploy to Iraq work in the
office after they return. In the last several months, the office has
experienced an exodus of many of its veteran analysts. The office
remains critically undermanned and short of computers. Analysts have
begun to apply for jobs with local county police departments.

You need to read the whole thing.

I’ve said it before but it is always nice to have corroboration: The longer we tolerate industrial-age processes and cold-war mindsets in the IC, the faster it slides towards irrelevance.


Desperately short of soldiers who speak Arabic and understand Islam, the U.S. military is quietly courting American Muslims. But they show little enthusiasm for an institution many say is prejudiced against them.

At the peak of violence in the Balkans no one thought that the PFC named Milosevic in our unit, with his Serb nationalist t-shirts and bluster about ETSing and going back home to join the freedom fighters, was anything but a 19-year-old blowing smoke. He was a bit of a freak, but not because we thought he was down with cleansing an ethnic population. No one questioned his loyalty or capability to do the job he was assigned. Same goes for all those in the unit we didn’t ask (we didn’t really have to) and who themselves didn’t tell. There was no purge of latinos (hispanics?) in the IC after Ana Montes was sent up the river. In the military its capability, not ethnocentricity, that counts. That has to be communicated to the target population, along with hard numbers about who is really abused because of their religion in this country. If the foiled kidnap plot against a Muslim soldier in the UK is any indication, eligible and willing Muslims are probably better off joining the fight than sticking with their ostensible friends.

Creeping Towards War Footing


Senior military officers, including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have told President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that the new Iraq strategy could fail unless more civilian agencies step forward quickly to carry out plans for reconstruction and political development.

The complaints reflect fresh tensions between the Pentagon and the State Department over personnel demands that have fallen most heavily on the military. But they also draw on a deeper reservoir of concerns among officers who have warned that a military buildup alone cannot solve Iraq’s problems, and who now fear that the military will bear a disproportionate burden if Mr. Bush’s strategy falls short.

Among particular complaints, the officers cited a request from the office of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that military personnel temporarily fill more than one-third of 350 new State Department jobs in Iraq that are to be created under the new strategy.

At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Mr. Gates made clear that he shared the officers’ concerns, telling senators, “If you were troubled by the memo, that was mild compared to my reaction when I saw it.”

To back up his point, Mr. Gates also told senators that Mr. Bush himself had addressed his cabinet at the White House on Monday about the need for civilian agencies to “step up to the task.”

Dept. of Everything Else, Civilian Reserve, whatever. It has to be done if we’re really on a war footing. If not . . .

Open Source Reform

Thanks to John for pointing this out:

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the new U.S. commander in Iraq, is assembling a small band of warrior-intellectuals — including a quirky Australian anthropologist, a Princeton economist who is the son of a former U.S. attorney general and a military expert on the Vietnam War sharply critical of its top commanders — in an eleventh-hour effort to reverse the downward trend in the Iraq war.

Army officers tend to refer to the group as “Petraeus guys.” They are smart colonels who have been noticed by Petraeus, and who make up one of the most selective clubs in the world: military officers with doctorates from top-flight universities and combat experience in Iraq.

…and this:

Since it appears that I pissed off the “new” establishment when I pointed out that much of his new thinking paralleled my own earlier work.

…which reminded me of an old peeve of mine: external eggs-perts. Seniors love to call in consultants to solve problems. They never bother to ask those actually working the job because how in the world could any kind of original thinking reside in-house? Where do those consultants go for their answers? There is always an academic study or two referenced in the final report but usually the list of suggestions is generated from the feedback that Alice and Bob provided when the eggs-perts came slinking through the workplace to do their survey. Usually the recommended changes aren’t put into practice because they negatively impact the role/power/authority of the people who commissioned the study in the first place (or they’re twisted to argue for a bigger rice bowl) but that’s just another argument for staying in-house in the first place: you save money twice.

There are many wells to tap when you’re looking for solutions and they don’t call come with big price tags and require MBAs (or Ph.D.s) to discover. For Petraeus, that his advisors are war-vet Colonels is gravy; he could have gotten equally good results by tapping a couple of smart young Captains (and SSGs) who were familiar with the GG/Zen/5GW/tdaxp universe. The added bonus being that the youngsters have at least another decade of military life in them – prepping them for leadership gigs in the “long” part of the “long war” – while most of the Colonels will have (Ret) after their names before long.

I understand that busy Seniors don’t have time to do their own research, but in this day and age if they’re not tapping expertise in-house – and exhausting all the open sources of ideas they can – then calling in outsiders who are going to charge for something that is free is waste, fraud and abuse.

Sword, double-edged, one-each

Bloody hell:

Google is talking with military agencies in Iraq after learning that terrorists attacking British bases in Basra appear to have been using aerial footage from Google Earth to pinpoint strikes … Among documents seized in raids on insurgents’ homes were printouts from photos taken from Google Earth that show the location of buildings, tents, latrines and lightly armored vehicles…


Royal Green Jackets soldiers based at Basra Palace base said they would consider suing Google if they were injured in any attacks in which Google Earth aerial shots were used.

That this is old news and of concern to militaries worldwide is little comfort to the RGJ troopers but that’s a tough break in the information age. I laughed at the idea of soldiers suing those who may have facilitated attacks, but then remembered that they let kooky things like that go on in the EU. Good luck with that, mate.

There was a time, when I was trying to work Iraqi sand out of my own crevasses, that Google Earth caliber imagery would have been pretty darn handy, because you’d have been hard pressed to get national-level assets to give you pictures with that kind of quality in a timely fashion. In the age of backpack UAVs I wonder if that is still the case. The skeptic in my thinks it probably is, in which case having access to Google Earth means units on the ground don’t have to rely on dated military maps and too-late satellite snapshots to get an aerial view of the AO that they can mash up with any first-hand info they gather on the ground. Borders, hidden alleys, safe houses, etc., etc.

Turn-about being fair play and all . . .