Sunday, September 13, 2015

Intelligence & Counterterrorism News

Intel Analyst Revolt at CENTCOM? One news article is reporting a 'revolt' by intelligence professionals working at Central Command in Florida. Seems that the dire reports about the fight with ISIS are being sugarcoated by very senior intelligence officers in order to reflect the "We are beating ISIS" message being broadcast by the Obama administration and senior American generals. This is not unusual. The same happened in Afghanistan. I spent four years traveling from FOB and COP and then back to ISAF headquarters in Kabul. The capability of the ANA kandaks and district police got better and better as you moved from company, to battalion, to brigade, to RC, to IJC, and finally to ISAF headquarters. The reality on the ground was slowly taken out of  Intel reports and assessments until ISAF headquarters staff had a false impression of how the ANSF (ANDSF) were really performing. Looks like we have the same type of two, three, and four star generals heading up the fight in Iraq/Syria as well. They are more about "messaging" than about "reality". Read more in "50 Spies Say ISIS Intelligence Was Cooked", The Daily Beast, September 9, 2015. Oh, and Secretary of Defense Carter is not happy - says he wants the unvarnished truth in intelligence reports. (The Hill Defense Blog, Sep 10, 2015).

Book - Defending CIA Interrogations. A book has been released that provides a defense of CIA interrogations during the "Global War on Terror" or GWOT. The book has been wrote by former high-ranking CIA officials and disputes the findings of a Senate report released last year about the agency's use of brutal interrogation methods. Read more in "Former CIA officials release book defending agency interrogations"The Washington Post, September 8, 2015.

CIA Blood Chit. Blood chits were carried to request aid from people in enemy territory. Usually military or government personnel with a high risk of capture (pilots, Special Forces, CIA agents, etc.) would be issued a blood chit. Learn more about blood chits from the Central Intelligence Agency's website.

CIA Missed Opportunity? It is appears that the Central Intelligence Agency goofed up when they may have detected a western hostage (possibly Warren Weinstein) but did not keep drone coverage in play. Read more in "Officials fear CIA missed opportunity to identify Western hostage", Washington Post,  September 10, 2015.

Day in the Life of a CIA Intern. So how does one get to work for the CIA? I suppose one avenue would be to start out as an intern. Learn more in a news release by the agency (CIA, Sep 10, 2015).

Afghan Intel Program Shut Down by Snowden. One of the disclosures based on documents leaded by Edward Snowden, the former National Agency contractor, prompted the shutdown of a key intelligence program in Afghanistan". Read more in "Top spy bemoans loss of key information gathering program", The Washington Post, September 9, 2015.

Drone Pilots Gapping It. "Drone or RPA pilots are leaving the USAF faster than they can be replaced. Even more pay doesn't seem to slow the hemorrhaging down much. Concerns of burnout, stress, mental health concerns and even moral injury have become a familiar litany highlighted in press releases and articles about the RPA pilot shortage crisis". Read more in "Finding Meaning Inside the Box: Understanding RPA Crew Resilence", Small Wars Journal, September 10, 2015. Learn more about drones (or RPAs, or UAVs, whatever) in Afghanistan. Despite the problems with drone pilots it seems the activity level is still robust - see "U.S. drone strike kills 15 Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan", Reuters, September 11, 2015.

Rebranding al-Qaeda. "There is no love lost between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Al-Qaeda appears to be rolling out a very deliberate PR strategy against its erstwhile affiliate. Can the organization re-brand itself as the jihadi group the world can live with?" Read "Extreme Makeover, Jihadist Edition: Al-Qaeda's rebranding campaign", War on the Rocks, September 3, 2015.

Al-Qaeda 14 Years Later. With all the media focus on the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (as well as North Africa and Afghanistan) we sometimes forget who public enemy number one is. The folks at the West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) have not forgotten. Their September issue of CTC Sentinel focuses on the topic in a special issue entitled The Al-Qa'ida Threat 14 Years Later, Volume 8, Issue 9, September 2015.

British 'kill list' or JPEL. A little news article telling us a little about the Joint Priority Effects List (JPEL). Read "A British 'kill list' does exist. We used it in Afghanistan", The Spectator, September 9, 2015.

Intel "Reachback" from Afghanistan. As the forces in Afghanistan slowly dwindle down some units are relying on elements in the United States to provide finished intelligence products and reports. Read more in "Military Intelligence Soldiers awarded for helping deployed comrades", DVIDS, September 10, 2015.

Cognitive Dominance Education Program (CDEP). "Led by U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's (TRADOC) G2, the Cognitive Dominance Education Program (CDEP) was formerly called the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies, and has evolved from lessons learned during operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.". Sounds like a real fancy name that obscures the purpose of the program. Learn more about CDEP here in a post on the Army's Stand-To! website dated September 8, 2015.

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