A recent report written by the U.S. military's intelligence chief in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, said U.S. intelligence agents are "ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced ... and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers," Reuters reported Tuesday.[1]  --  "[T]he U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy," Flynn wrote.  --  "Instead of mounting a counterinsurgency, Flynn asserted that the intelligence community had 'fallen into the trap' of waging an 'anti-insurgency campaign' aimed at capturing or killing mid-to-high level militants."  --  "The report described the main problems as 'attitudinal, cultural, and human,' saying U.S. intelligence community had 'a culture that is strangely oblivious of how little its analytical products, as they now exist, actually influence commanders.'"  --  Other than a few blogs and alternative news websites, the only other media outlet to highlight the report was the Washington Independent, which quoted several remarkable passages from the report.  "Flynn wants," Spencer Ackerman wrote, "intelligence reports on 'census data and patrol debriefs; minutes from shuras with local farmers and tribal leaders; after-action reports from civil affairs officers and Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs); polling data and atmospherics reports from psychological operations and female engagement teams; and translated summaries of radio broadcasts that influence local farmers, not to mention the field observations of Afghan soldiers, United Nations officials, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).'  Instead, U.S. intelligence 'seems much too mesmerized by the red of the Taliban’s cape.'"[2] ...


1.

U.S. SPY EFFORT IN AFGHANISTAN 'IGNORANT' -- U.S. REPORT

By Adam Entous and Phil Stewart

** U.S. military official says U.S. intelligence 'hazy' -- Report says spies too focused on killing insurgents -- Criticism follows suicide bomber's breach of CIA base **

Reuters
January 5, 2010

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N04252368.htm

or
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2010/01/04/news/news-us-afghanistan-usa-intelligence.html
(where it is reproduced without a byline)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy," Flynn wrote in the report with his chief adviser, Captain Matt Pottinger.

EXCESSIVE FOCUS ON INSURGENT GROUPS


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

2.

McCHRYSTAL INTELLIGENCE ADVISER STRONGLY CRITICIZES U.S. INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY

By Spencer Ackerman

Washington Independent

January 4, 2009

 

http://washingtonindependent.com/73098/mcchrystal-intelligence-adviser-strongly-criticizes-u-s-intelligence-community

This is the beginning of an assessment written by Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, the senior-most intelligence adviser to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, for the Center for a New American Security about intelligence and the Afghanistan war:  "Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy.  Having focused the overwhelming majority of its collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, the vast intelligence apparatus is unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which U.S. and allied forces operate and the people they seek to persuade.  Ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced, incurious about the correlations between various development projects and the levels of cooperation among villagers, and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers -- whether aid workers or Afghan soldiers -- U.S. intelligence officers and analysts can do little but shrug in response to high level decision-makers seeking the knowledge, analysis, and information they need to wage a successful counterinsurgency."

It actually gets more scathing from there.  “Every level of the U.S. intelligence hierarchy” comes in for criticism.  Flynn says that U.S. intelligence in Afghanistan “overemphasize[s] detailed information about the enemy at the expense of the political, economic, and cultural environment that supports it.”  In other words, intelligence in Afghanistan is enemy-centric, when it needs to be population-centric, much like the military operations it supports.  Flynn wants intelligence reports on “census data and patrol debriefs; minutes from shuras with local farmers and tribal leaders; after-action reports from civil affairs officers and Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs); polling data and atmospherics reports from psychological operations and female engagement teams; and translated summaries of radio broadcasts that influence local farmers, not to mention the field observations of Afghan soldiers, United Nations officials, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).”  Instead, U.S. intelligence “seems much too mesmerized by the red of the Taliban’s cape.”

Flynn, joined by co-authors Capt. Matt Pottinger and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Paul D. Batchelor, writes:  "The intelligence community’s standard mode of operation is surprisingly passive about aggregating information that is not enemy-related and relaying it to decision-makers or fellow analysts further up the chain.  It is a culture that is strangely oblivious of how little its analytical products, as they now exist, actually influence commanders."

Flynn never specifically calls out the CIA.  His paper says it’s talking about “the thousands of uniformed and civilian intelligence personnel serving with the Department of Defense and with joint inter-agency elements in Afghanistan,” and it focuses heavily on practical military intelligence issues.  His key recommendations center on creating intelligence fusion centers around the regional commands run by NATO in Afghanistan.  So, just to be totally clear: This is mostly about military intelligence.

But this applies far beyond intelligence officers on a battalion’s staff:  "In a recent project ordered by the White House, analysts could barely scrape together enough information to formulate rudimentary assessments of pivotal Afghan districts.  It is little wonder, then, that many decision-makers rely more upon newspapers than military intelligence to obtain 'ground truth.'"