A widely-circulating report
by Army Major General Michael Flynn, the chief of military intelligence
in Afghanistan, is raising serious concerns about the
use of intelligence of Afghanistan. Flynn warns, "Eight years into the
war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally
relevant to the overall strategy." He says of failings to gather or
apply useful intel, "This problem and its consequences exist at every
level of the U.S. intelligence hierarchy, from ground operations up to
headquarters in Kabul and the United States." The intelligence
community simply "seems much too mesmerized by the red of the Taliban's
cape." Released publicly
through the Center for New American Security, a think tank, the report drew criticism
from the Pentagon for its public release but also praise for its
intellectual rigor. What does Flynn's report mean for the military and
the mission in Afghanistan?
- What Flynn Wants Spencer Ackerman translates
the "scathing" report. "In other words, intelligence in Afghanistan is
enemy-centric, when it
needs to be population-centric, much like the military operations it
supports," he writes. "[I]t 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." That is, focus more
on building civil society and less on killing the Taliban.
- ...That's Not What Obama Wants World Politics Review's Judah Grunstein explains, "[T]he recent Afghanistan strategy review, as
articulated by President Barack Obama, explicitly prioritized the
military targeting component of the Afghanistan war over its
nation-building component. Since then, there have been some reports
that the former is being taken care of by more shadowy means. But there
have also been some suggesting that the military command has not yet
renounced its intentions to pursue the COIN tactics that seem to fit
more into the latter."
- Why He Went Public Foreign Policy's Tom Ricks, endorsing the paper as "one of the most informative
documents I've ever read on contemporary intelligence issues," explains, "the report has the
effect of an order from a two-star general -- I believe that's a first in think
tank history. As I understand it, the paper was released through CNAS because
Gen. Flynn wanted to reach beyond his own chain of command and his own
community and talk to people such as commanders of deploying infantry units about
what kind of intelligence they should be demanding."
- 'Defiance' By Military? Politico's Laura Rozen reports,
"[S]ome sources suggest the possibility that the report might have been
authorized by one part of the DoD (if not others)." She writes, "Also
strongly suggested was the possibility that Flynn was the proxy
and taking the hit for someone bigger in the field, namely Gen. Stan
McChrystal, who has previously been asked by the White House to provide
his advice to the president in private."
- The Civilian-Military Divide Michael Cohen freaks out.
"[O]ur own military appears to have different tactical objectives than
the civilian side; military intelligence is not serving the mission
appropriately and top military intel officials are going outside the
chain of command to make their concerns known; our enemy appears far
more formidable than we seem willing to acknowledge; our additional
troops are a long way from being on the ground in Afghanistan; our
military is being asked to wage pointless battles in sparsely populated
areas where we have no hope of holding territory in the near-term and
it's not even clear that we're actually doing population centric
counter-insurgency - and if we are doing it; we're not doing a great
job of it."
- Shows Military's Dedication CNAS blogger Andrew Exum defends,
writing that its part of the military's healthy internal debate on how
to do the best job possible. "How an attempt to better serve civilian
decision-makers gets spun into
a revolt on the part of uniformed officers is, as my dad says, more
twisted than color TV," he writes. "The report that Maj. Gen. Flynn
published through CNAS was above all an indictment of his own branch of the U.S. Army" and not an attack on civilian leadership.
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