Friday, January 9, 2015

Sharing Intel and Maps with the ANSF

One of the biggest problems confronting Intelligence Advisors of Security Force Assistance Advisory Teams (SFAATs) working in Afghanistan was/is the sharing of intelligence and maps with their Afghan intelligence counterpart. Most Intel was/is classified and as such - cannot be turned over to the ANSF unless it is re-packaged by a Foreign Disclosure Officer (FDO). Using an FDO is a time-consuming event and there are only so many FDOs in theater. The same is true of maps. The maps used by the U.S. and in some cases the Coalition are marked with classifications and are not releasable (in most instances) to the ANSF. An awkward situation at best. Everyone knows that intelligence drives operations in a counterinsurgency effort. ISAF wanted the ANSF to take the lead in the fighting but we didn't want to or couldn't share intelligence or maps with the ANSF.

U.S. Army Special Forces are used to working with NATO and non-NATO partners around the world. To be effective the SF teams need to be able to share intelligence with their partnered units. One work around was to use mapping software (such as iSpatial by Thermopylae) that was commercially available. A retired SF officer, Stuart Bradin, was one person who encountered this problem and helped to find a work-around. Read more on this topic in "How US Special Forces Uses Google Maps", Defense One, January 7, 2015.

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