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Redirecting our intel processes in Iraq: think gangs and narcotrafficers

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It is not often to see a DoD sanctioned publication matter-of-factly state that Chechens (here and here) are in Iraq, but in Something Old, Something New: Guerrillas, Terrorists, and Intelligence Analysis:

The current Iraqi guerrilla war grew from a defeated hierarchical party- state structure. The army officer corps, Baathist party, and Fedayeen militia were secular state institutions drawn primarily from the ruling minority Sunni Arab peoples. Much of the hierarchy and interrelations of the state structure remain intact in the remnant guerrilla organization. Foreign combatants, including al-Qaeda members and Chechens, have entered Iraq to fight the coalition. They do not blend in well, however, and many have since left or assumed specialized support roles such as bomb manufacturer, suicide bomber, or instructor.

And that they were in Afghanistan early:

Foreigners from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and other Sunni Arab and non- Arab cultures joined the Taliban. Even Chechens, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan adherents, and Uighurs from China joined the foreign contingent, often as part of al- Qaeda.

It does not surprise me that the author is Lester Grau, a former US Army infantry officer and an analyst with the Foreign Military Studies Office in Fort Leavenworth, whose work commands my attention. One could do worse than to look through past issues of Military Review at the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, or RED THRUST STAR published for the US Forces Command OPFOR Training Program, or books by Grau and Ali Ahmad Jalali such as The Other Side of the Mountain: Mujahideen Tactics in the Soviet-Afghan War, or anything where Grau is on a dissertation committee.

Grau nicely summarizes the situation on the ground:

Iraqi combatants have little experience in fighting as actual guerrillas, but some do have counterinsurgency experience against Kurds and Shia Iraqis. The insurgency has a strong urban component, particularly in Baghdad, Mosul, Fallujah, Al Sulaymaniyah, Samarra, and Tikrit. The rural guerrilla war is primarily restricted to the Sunni triangle west- northwest of Baghdad. The urban guerrillas rely primarily on improvised explosive devices ( IEDs) because their marksmanship is not good. Iraqi guerrillas lack a ready sanctuary, but they are well funded with billions of U. S. dollars held by Iraq’s former leaders. They have ready access to large stocks of weapons and explosives.

Then he makes the interesting point that while the military intelligence effort needed to combat either insurgency has little in common with conventional intel operations in support of conventional maneuver war. The S2 or G2 functions face a different type of war and need to deal with it differently:

The S2 and G2 are involved in a form of police investigative work, specifically police investigations dealing with gangs and narcotrafficers. Association matrixes, network analysis, cultural analysis, genealogy, event-pattern analysis, language-pattern analysis, traffic-flow analysis, and financial-transaction analysis are police tools that should be staples of the intelligence effort in a counterinsurgency. Adopting these tools does not imply adopting accompanying restrictions on combat lethality or local rules of engagement that apply to police forces.

But it's not easy:

Charting the guerrillas’ orders of battle, tables of organization and equipment, and line and block charts is fantasy in Afghanistan and nearly so in Iraq. In these insurgencies, intelligence personnel are tracking gangs, not constituted forces. The problem is equivalent to police determining who are in which gangs, what territories they control, and what armaments, tactics, logistics, and patterns they use.

Yet Grau skewers our vaunted information sharing:

various agencies run their intelligence data and analysis in bureaucratic stovepipes, which run straight from the tactical level to the highest strategic levels with little sharing along the way… Raw data are seldom passed back just agreed-on intelligence. Agreed-on intelligence is a homogenized product from which dissenting views and contradicting evidence has been removed or discounted so the community can have a common view. If intelligence does come back down the stovepipe, it often arrives too late. Indeed, the tactical user often lacks clearances and tickets to get the approved product.

This must be resolved as we reshape our S2/G2 approach.

Something Old, Something New: Guerrillas, Terrorists, and Intelligence Analysis
Lieutenant Colonel Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army, Retired
MILITARY REVIEW
July - August 2004

Gordon Housworth



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