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INTELLIGENCE AND THE AFGHAN SURGE

Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Joe Mazzafro

My apologies to those few of you who expected to see a MAZ-INT blog entry for November, however, the AFCEA Webpage does not seemed to be overwhelmed with inquiries about the missing blog, the IC seems to be functioning despite missing a month of my advice, and unemployment has started to drop since my last blog.  Perhaps I should take more months off!

 

 Not that you asked for one, but by way of explanation – my day job at Oracle kept me distracted from what I really enjoy which is examining  IC issues with you.  To be fair to Oracle, which insists on paying me far more than I am worth, most of my discretionary time in November was consumed with planning the AFCEA’s Spring Intelligence Symposium, which I am co-chairing with Zal Azmi.  The dates for  the symposium are 21-22 Apr 2010, at the DIAC on Bolling Air Force Base and the topic we will examine is: INTELLIGENCE R&D:  IS IT MEETING NATIONAL SECURITY NEEDS?  Thanks to Zal and a terrific group of session chairs the agenda is eclectic and stocked with highly qualified speakers from the government, industry, and the laboratory communities.  Hope you will save the date!

 

There are a variety of IC issues I am going to get to in lighting round fashion but they pale in significance to the President’s decision to commit 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to execute a Counter-Insurgency (COIN) Strategy.  So you know my position, I favor a Counter-Terrorism (CT) strategy that focuses on capturing/killing members of Al Qaeda, disrupting their planning, defeating their operations, and containing them to the Afghan/Pak border region.  It is not clear to me that a COIN Strategy can be successfully executed anywhere let alone in Afghanistan by 2012, but it is clear to me that American people (and their ground forces) are weary from eight years of combat in Afghanistan and will not endorse a continued large military commitment to the government in Kabul.  For those of you who remember Vietnam, you will see the parallels here to the “Peace with Honor Strategy,” where we militarily exited from that conflict in 1972 with the same terms we could have had in 1969.  I know the President isn’t interested in my views, but I am confident he heard them through the reported advice of Vice President Biden.

 

My strategic concern aside, the President has decided so what are the intelligence issues associated with this surge succeeding?  If General Jones asked for my input I would tell him FORCE PROTECTION as a Beirut style attack with double digit KIAed Marines and soldiers would result in the COIN surge being seen domestically and internationally as a failed strategy.  In garrison ground forces need to know everything moving outside their wire in time for them to react to it.  Conducting COIN operations means both securing the population from Taliban and Al Qaeda harm as well as working with the locals on building civilian infra-structure (e.g. wells, schools, medical clinics, roads, etc) -----  not patrolling in MRAPS and Black Hawks. 

 

Besides long-dwell, high resolution sensors, military intelligence is going to need to ramp up the use of WEB 2.0 technology so it can make sense out of all the data such sensors will provide through information sharing and collaboration.  Technical (IMINT, SIGINT, MASINT) and non-technical intelligence (HUMINT, DOCEX, OPEN SOURCE, etc.) are going to need to be mashed-up both in the field and up echelon to keep our forces from being attacked and enabling them to put their limited resources where they will do the most good for creating a more secure Afghanistan by 2012.  None of this will be easy in terms of work flow, but our industrial age security regime could end up sinking this mission by impeding the cross domain sharing of intelligence and operational data across echelons of command with coalition partners.  Presumably I am just uniformed, but I’ll take the “under” that their has been no specific tasking levied on the Unified Cross Domain Office (UCDMO) to support intelligence sharing and collaboration associated with the surge, nor does the UCDMO believe they have the authority to step up and take the initiative here.

 

Now to the Lightening Round!

 

Fort Hood shootings an Intelligence failure?!  I don’t care how much information the IC collected on Major Hasan about contacts with radical jihadists and whether they shared it or not, the first line of defense and responsibility here is his military chain of command.  My experience tells me that his peers and superiors misread Hasan’s unusual views and non-social behavior as somebody trying to avoid deploying and worse not wanting to pay the Army back for his education.  From an intel perspective this tragedy does show that progress is not as far along as reported since 9/11 on merging foreign intelligence into homeland security cases.

 

The new PACOM Commander, Admiral Willard, called out the American intelligence

Community (IC) for a failure to estimate correctly the growing capabilities of the Chinese Navy (PLAN) for the past ten years!   Does Admiral Willard actually mean the US Military Capabilities (and the USN in particular) have not grown commensurately with China's, which would be more about the leadership of the Navy than about IC performance. Besides the IC in general and Naval Intelligence in particular, Admiral Willard is also throwing the State Department under the bus with this claim of Chinese militarization.  The PACOM Commander is apparently trying to warn that the PLAN is moving towards near peer status with the USN, which is what maritime countries with strong economies do.  You shouldn’t need the IC to tell you that admiral, but for the record there is a lengthy bibliography of finished intelligence dealing with Chinese naval capabilities.

 

I understand a boat load of money has been appropriated for the National Cybersecurity Initiative  (NCSI), US Cyber Command has been established, and Mike McConnell has been on 60 Minutes warning of the extreme extant cyber threat to national security and yet no National Cyber Coordinator --- I mean Czar --- has been nominated yet! ! !  It seems anybody capable of doing this job is smart enough not to take it given that the position is buried on the NCS staff with meddling rights from the Council of Economic Advisors and has no authority over funding!  Doesn’t sound like a Czar position description to me!

 

The CIA has won a long turf battle over its boss, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to name overseas Chief of Stations (COS’), assuring the primacy of CIA personnel over U.S. intelligence operations around the world.  Make no mistake about it this seemingly petty dispute was a surrogate for the authority of the DNI over individual IC agencies.  What does this outcome tell the IC agencies about the DNI?  It tells me the DNI is the DCI without an agency!

 

The December issue of SIGNAL has a pretty good article about DCGS-N, but what do you mean titling it “Seaborne Intelligence Comes Aboard”?!  As an intelligence officer who spent 11 of his 27 years in the Navy afloat the introduction of DCGS-N is hardly the beginning the intelligence at sea.  The Navy started investing in and deploying  afloat IT dedicated to intelligence (NIPS/Naval Intel Processing System, which morphed into MIDB) during the Vietnam War before most IT companies where garage start ups.  JDISS is a Navy Intel System that started life as LANTDISS before anybody thought of DCGS.  Then there is OSIS, the first dedicated Intelligence Network in DoD that started up circa 1970.  As I was once told ----- the history of Rock n Roll did not begin when I turned on the radio for the first time! 

 

That’s enough of what I think ----- what do you think?

Comments

While the title may be lacking and the historical reference flawes, DCGS-N is a "sea change" for Naval Intelligence. DCGS-N is part of the DCGS FoS that form the major nodes in the DoD ISR Enterprise. This is perhaps the beginning of real integration of Navy sensors and exploitation capabilities with the enterprise.

By Anonymous

For one opinion on the Fort Hood shootings, see: http://www.theodoresworld.net/archives/2009/12/ft_hood_attacker_hes_a_te...

By Collin Agee

I hope DCGS-N is the sea change projected, but I suspect we both learned in the Navy that "hope" is not a military option. I saw AF DCGS at Langley AFB in 2000 and was very impressed, but nine years later the Navy is behind both the AF and the Army when it comes to DCGS capabilities and their operational combat uses. Perhaps the joining of N2 and N6 will be the catalyst to get DCGS-N developed and deployed. joemaz

By joemaz

The NCSC is betting big on Web 2.0 for Cyber defense and the collection of actionable intel. Seems like this could be a model for the other intel agencies.

By Jessica Jordan

The White House's decision to allow the CIA to trump the DNI's decision was a bad one--and one that has far reaching consequences, which will undermine the office's authority. The decision largely ignored the intent of Congress in IRTPA 2004.

By J. Wilson

Good points on all Joe. Because sensor technology has evolved to support knowledge of almost anything we choose to measure for relatively low cost, low volume and high output, choosing how to exploit, distribute and archive the data becomes critical. With new intelligence techniques that cross compare both structured sensor information and unstructured information with high speed search algorithms, we are moving into a time when true improvements can be made across the full spectrum of C4ISR. But until we get serious about building, governing and certifying the use of such an infrastructure, we should save the effort and just build more ammunition.

By Marv

Joe--thanks for the blog---re Afghanistan...let's not underestimate the ability of a "radicalized" Taliban to stir the Pashtun community into dangerous mischief in Pakistan. Apart from the international threat from al-Qaeda, we have ample reason to collab with Pakistan to thwart the Taliban. In case we forget, the Indians will remind us.

By Rick L'Heureux

Joe, great blog. Excellent insight re Afghanistan. Also, thanks for setting the historical record straight on Naval intelligence in support of operations afloat and ashore. You might also have added that the OSIS nodes formed the basis of the JIC. Aloha. Mike

By Mike T

Good comments, Joe. The big differences in the new DCGS (with DIB) are multi-Int integration and worldwide enterprise. Most of the capabilities existed as stovepipes before (so, the comments "We already have that" are accurate, but narrow). The 'so-what' is to get all the data for an area on one map quickly, to make more sophisticated decisions, utilize more data, and to work with Intel analysts from bases around the world (potentially) to analyze that data for a mission. When used to potential, DCGS will be a force multiplier.

By John

Mike, Rick, Marv, Jesse, thanks for the feedback!

Mike, some would say FICPAC vice FOSIC PAC is what became JICPAC

Rick, I agree that there is plenty of reasons to collaborate with Pakistan against the Taliban. I am more concerned though that if the current Pak government falters or is overthrown a radicalized Pakistan will be more likely to collaborate with the Taliban than the US. Remember I believe Iran's nuclear ambitions are more driven by the need to have Shite Bomb to counter the Pakistan Sunni bomb than to use such a weapon against Israel or the United States. I see events in the region driving the US and India into alliance to the point that Chinese will accept such an arrangement

Marv we will know IT/cyber is being taken seriously as a weapon when we start governing it like we do with knetic weapon systems!

Jesse, the precedent for IC agencies disregarding DNI direction is now in place. DNI and IRPTA legislation that created the position was a Congressional Initiative, yet Congress was oddly quite when the DNI lost this turf war to a "suborinate."

By joe maz

Thanks John I agree DCGS has considerable potential, but Navy seems slow to leverage what the Army and AF have already done

By joe maz

Hey Joe-- sent you longer comments via e-mail re Afghanistan Surge. On here, I'll tip this: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2009/12/the_militarys_plan_for_the... Nothing but complexity and all kinds of things that can go wrong. An IT/telecom infrastructure that starts to enable "every citizen a sensor" -- along with fusion, sense-making and COA development technologies on our end, some shared with our Afghani partners, will be key to this. We stood up a JIEDDO to address VBIEDs and such in Iraq. Is there a similar group looking at social network and sensor network enablers on-the-ground in every Afghani community? Should be.

Best, Dave McD

By Dave McD

Dave. the short answer about dedicated resources to understand the Afghan population on a localized basis is "I don't know."

Given what Patreaus and McCrystal have said about the importance of securing the population to achieving strategic goals, I have to believe they have thought through what you are talking about. Real issue though is how manpower intensive building the trust to make at least most Afghani citizens into reliable sensors and do we have have enough people on the ground there to do that. Again I don't know joemaz

By joe maz