Martin C. Evans

US intelligence failing in Afghanistan, says intelligence chief there

In Uncategorized on January 7, 2010 at 1:01 am

Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, director of intelligence in Afghanistan, confers with his brother Col. Charlie Flynn, left, an aide to Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the U.S. and allied commander in Afghanistan. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

We have the guns and the men, but do we have the military intelligence to succeed in Afghanistan?

No, says Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the top U.S. intelligence officer there.

U.S. intelligence operations in Afghanistan are too focused on one portion of the problem – killing the enemy – but are fuzzy on details regarding the greater solution – the needs and key relationships among the Afghan population we are trying to protect and persuade, his report concludes.

The report, titled Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan, was co-authored by Flynn, a former Director of Intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. The Los Angeles Times reports that Flynn made the report public to shake up intelligence gathering throughout the military.

The report said US intelligence officers have remained “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.”

The report urged that intelligence officers now accustomed to working at the regimental and brigade level be integrated with the smaller battle groups that actually encounter Afghans who provide useful information.

“What they lack is what the battalions have in abundance – information about what is actually happening on the ground,” said the report, which added the secrecy that surrounds intelligence shops allows incompetent officers to stick around.

His findings would imply that much of the work of U.S. troops in Afghanistan over the past several years has been undermined by poor direction, rather than lack of material superiority or troop effort.

The report was released by the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank specializing in national security issues.

The damning report was picked up by several news outlets, including The Los Angeles Times, which editorialized on it in today’s newspaper.

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