December 07, 2006

ISG Excerpts (VI)

The Defense Department and the intelligence community have not invested sufficient people and resources to understand the political and military threat to American men and women in the armed forces. Congress has appropriated almost $2 billion this year for countermeasures to protect our troops in Iraq against improvised explosive devices, but the administration has not put forward a request to invest comparable resources in trying to understand the people who fabricate, plant, and explode those devices.

We were told that there are fewer than 10 analysts on the job at the Defense Intelligence Agency who have more than two years’ experience in analyzing the insurgency. Capable analysts are rotated to new assignments, and on-the-job training begins anew. Agencies must have a better personnel system to keep analytic expertise focused on the insurgency. They are not doing enough to map the insurgency, dissect it, and understand it on a national and provincial level. The analytic community’s knowledge of the organization, leadership, financing, and operations of militias, as well as their relationship to government security forces, also falls far short of what policy makers need to know.

In addition, there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq. The standard for recording attacks acts as a filter to keep events out of reports and databases. A murder of an Iraqi is not necessarily counted as an attack. If we cannot determine the source of a sectarian attack, that assault does not make it into the database. A roadside bomb or a rocket or mortar attack that doesn’t hurt U.S. personnel doesn’t count. For example, on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals. [my emphasis]


pp. 94-95

Posted by Gregory at December 7, 2006 04:19 AM

As I see it, and in almost every particular, the ISG report is a decisive repudiation of the defense and Mideast policies of the Cheney-Bush administration.

It gives Bush 43 the opportunity for a decisive break with where he has been, and where he has taken the country, and the world, for nearly six years--and with Cheney and his darkness.

I don't expect anything more than token "compliance" (as shown by the early Snow statements). There is a reason that GWB's corporate ventures all went south, and we're now getting to see it, (unfortunately) up close and personal.

Posted by: dell at December 7, 2006 05:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wow! Sounds like that Porter Goss / Negroponte shake-up really accomplished a lot!

Let's get real. Impeachment. Bush AND Cheney. Pronto.

Posted by: sglover at December 7, 2006 06:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

With regard to analytical expertise, much depends on how one does the counting. If experienced analysts are "pulled" from DIA to the joint DNI Terrorism Center (and some are) or to other agencies/elements involved in the War effort (CENTCOM and its subordinate headquarters elements, units preparing to deploy or currently in theater, etc.), then the expertise is not nearly as "lost" to the effort as the report's language might indicate.

Congress also contributes to the observed shortfalls by not providing relief from the many reports, studies, acquisition and strategic planning efforts, etc. assigned by law to the Intelligence Community during "peacetime"--even the most experienced analyst cannot be in two places and performing two (or more) tasks simultaneously.

Without the details behind the assertion, it's difficult to know whether the comments of the ISG accurately reflect the whole situation or merely refer to an "inside the beltway" focus on the issues without regard to the equally important aspect of supporting those actually executing US policy in the field. Even the few members of the panel with meaningful military or intelligence background are "Used to Be" insiders, not current ones, and arguably not privvy to the real state of the effort (i.e., reliant on numbers provided in good faith to address a question, asked in good faith, that may be poorly framed).

Posted by: Jem at December 7, 2006 10:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I agree with sglover.

At this point, the only real way you will solve Iraq is by the full removal of Bush and Cheney. Bush believes in his heart that what he is doing is right. He's a cheerleader, always has been, always will be. Cheney....well, something dark has taken hold of his heart. In any case, neither are going to do what actually needs to be done to achieve victory in Iraq. They are just going to stall, stall, stall, until 2009, leave office, and then blame the new government for failing Iraq because the new government will do something different than they were doing.

Remove them from power. Now.

Posted by: Dan at December 7, 2006 11:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
Congress has appropriated almost $2 billion this year for countermeasures to protect our troops in Iraq against improvised explosive devices, but the administration has not put forward a request to invest comparable resources in trying to understand the people who fabricate, plant, and explode those devices.

This strikes me as typical of how US intelligence and DOD operate. Find a gold plated high tech fix, while not looking at the underlying reasons for an event occuring.

The second part strikes me flaw that while frequent in the US gov't, is especially prevelant in the Bush administration. In their world view if someone does something that we view as "bad" that is al we need to know. We don't need to know the motivating factors. To them attempting to understand why people are drawn to terrorism is the equivilant of condoning it.

Posted by: jon at December 7, 2006 05:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It is indeed damning.

Thanks for the point by point elaboration of the ISG report.

On a purely blog-technical matter, I cannot read any of your posts past this point. They just come up blank, as does the home URL.

Posted by: Lorenzo at December 11, 2006 09:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.

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