Showing posts with label counterterrorism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label counterterrorism. Show all posts

Sunday, February 28, 2016

ISIS, CTF, CT, and IO News

Video - ISIS and Money. Watch a four-minute long video explaining how the Islamic State funds itself and how government and private-sector efforts can cut off its funding. Defeating the Islamic State: The Economic CampaignThe Washington Institute, February 24, 2016.

ISIS Banking Network. "Money-exchange offices in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Jordan funnel millions of dollars daily in and out of militant-held territory." Read "How Islamic State's Secret Banking Network Prospers"The Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2016. (Paywall subscription).

Money - Not Ideology. Two former Islamic State (IS) commanders who defected recently to Afghan authorities say that they joined the extremist organization not because of ideology but largely for money. (Voice of America, Feb 26, 2016).

State Dept & CVE Podcasts. The United States Department of State has been actively trying to counter violent extremism (CVE). Part of the effort is to educate communities about terrorism and violent groups through social media to include the use of podcasts. Read more in "New Podcast Series Examines Global Efforts to Counter Violent Extremism", DIPNOTE, U.S. Department of State Official Blog, February 22, 2016.

Social Media & Online Extremism. "The U.S. government, acknowledging its limited success in combating Islamic extremist messaging, is recruiting tech companies, community organizations and educational groups to take the lead in disrupting online radicalization". Read more in "U.S. looks to Facebook, private groups to battle online extremism", Reuters, February 24, 2016.

ISIS Propaganda. The international coalition is far from winning the information war against the Islamic State. Although airstrikes and proxy armies are taking its toll on the organization its social media campaign and its ideological momentum has not been blunted significantly. Read more in "Why ISIS Propaganda Works", The Atlantic, February 13, 2016.

'Khorasan Province' Video. The Islamic State in Afghanistan has released a series of videos about training that takes place along the Afghan-Pakistan border. Read "Islamic State 'Khorasan province' advertises training camp", The Long War Journal, February 23, 2016.

ISIS Info Flawed. An unusually high number of intelligence analysts (40% of the 1,000 analysts assigned to CENTCOM) said there were problems with the integrity of their reports and many have accused their bosses for slewing reports on ISIS. Read more in "400 Intel Pros Warn: ISIS Info Flawed", The Daily Beast, February 25, 2016. See also "Top House Lawmaker Accuses Pentagon of Obstructing Intel Probe", The Cable - Foreign Policy, February 25, 2016.

Obama and Global Campaign against ISIS. The State Department has released a press statement with info on the plan to destroy the Islamic State. Read "President Obama Discusses The Global Campaign to Degrade and Destroy ISIL", Dipnote Blog, February 25, 2016.

Guantanamo and Jihadist Propaganda. President Obama has vowed to close the prison on U.S. property in Cuba because it is a recruiting tool for ISIS and al Qaeda but ". . . some of those who study jihadist propaganda say Guantanamo actually isn't all that important as a recruitment tool, and it doesn't feature especially prominently in jihadist materials". Many of the prison occupants were captured and jailed soon after the invasion of Afghanistan by U.S. forces. Read more in a news report by Defense One, February 24, 2016.

Journal - Perspectives on Terrorism. Volume X, Issue 1, February 2016 is now available online. Several articles about terrorism.

Afghan Captive at Guantanamo to be Released. A man held for over a decade in America's prison in Cuba is set to be released as he is deemed to no longer be a threat. (Miami Herald, Feb 26, 2016.)

ISIS Damaged in Eastern Afghanistan. The combination of Taliban attacks, Afghan security forces offensives, and U.S. airstrikes has damaged ISIS significantly in Nangarhar province. In part, this setback for the Islamic State was also aided by public uprisings against the organization - especially in Achin district. Some members of the group may move back into Pakistan or adjacent Afghan provinces (Logar and Ghazni).

Video - Terrorism and CT. The International Institute for Strategic Studes (IISS) has posted a video entitled The Changing Nature of Terrorism and Counterterrorism, February 24, 2016. Dr. Daniel Byman and Dr. Bruce Hoffman explain the increasingly global presence of terrorist networks, the evolution of the terrorism landscape since 9/11, and the role of technology in terrorism and counterterrorism. The video is about one hour long and can be viewed online here.

ISIS and Bomb Making. Thomas Gibbons-Neff provides us with the "how" of bomb making in "Where Islamic State gets its bomb-making materials", Stars and Stripes, February 25, 2016.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

IO, CT, and Intel News

Bureau of Counterterrorism Renamed. The new name is the "Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism". This name (and mission) change reflects the emphasis placed on the new buzzword (or at least fairly new to me) of "Countering Violent Extremism" - sometimes called CVE. The new organization will look at combating terrorism, in part, by countering online extremism. Read more in "State changes counterterrorism unit to include online focus", FCW, February 16, 2016.

Worldwide Threat Assessment. The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 9, 2016 providing an assessment of threats against the United States. You can read his 33-page prepared statement for the record in Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community. The information on Afghanistan is on page 26 and comprises about 3/4 of a page in this report.

More on Clapper. It appears that the DNI was aware that high intelligence officials at Central Command (CENTCOM) were cooking the books when it came to intelligence estimates of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Read more in "America's top spy reportedly was aware that analysts were cooking ISIS intelligence reports", Business Insider, February 16, 2016.

Assessing CT Actions. A 60-page report provides us with how to assess CT operations in Asking the Right Questions: A Framework for Assessing Counterterrorism Actions, CNA Analysis & Solutions, February 2016.

Resource on Global Islamist Insurgency. Robert Bunker and Dave Dilegge have provided us with a valuable resource about Al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Global Radical Islamist Insurgency: Al Qaeda and Islamic State Networks - A Small Wars Journal Anthology, iUnivers (February 11, 2016), 852 pages.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Intelligence News

Khost Protection Force & the CIA - Part 1. A regional counterterrorism pursuit team set up in Khost province by the CIA has been problematic due to human rights concerns and a lack of accountability. The CIA transferred the CPT to the National Directorate of Security (NDS) a few years back but still has some involvement. Western security officials maintain that the Khost pursuit team is one of the most effective elements fighting insurgents and terrorists in Afghanistan. David Jolly tells us more in "Civilian Deaths Raise Questions About C.I.A.-Trained Forces in Afghanistan", The New York Times, December 3, 2015.

Khost Protection Force & the CIA - Part II. More info on the CIA-run and supported (still?) Khost Protection Force. See "CIA runs shadow war with Afghan militia implicated in civilian killings", The Washington Post, December 3, 2015.

John Brennan Presentation. The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recently (Nov 16) spoke at the Global Security Forum 2015 held by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS). Topics include ISIS and global security. You can listen to his 48-minute address (video or audio) or download his transcript.

Movie - "Central Intelligence". A new comedy about a U.S. intelligence agent is to be released in 2016 starring "The Rock". Watch the movie trailer (USA Today, Nov 20, 2015).

More Spies Against ISIS? It appears that the Defense Department is ready to beef up the intelligence gathering against the Islamic State. Read "U.S. Spies May be Back in Action Against ISIS", Newsweek, December 1, 2015.

CENTCOM's Intel Credibility. The changing of intelligence analysts reports at the highest level to satisfy political beliefs is still a problem even though the story has all but disappeared from the headlines. Read "Obama's Intel Scandal", The Weekly Standard, December 7, 2015.

Taliban Holding Secret U.S. Hostage? A news report suggests that the Taliban are holding an American in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. See "Secret U.S. Hostage Held by Taliban Allies", The Daily Beast, December 1, 2015.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Red Mercury - A Scam? "For decades, aspiring bomb makers - including ISIS - have desperately tried to get their hands on a lethal substance called red mercury. There's a reason that they never have." The scam even consumed Task Force Paladin based at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan when, in early 2011, a European military unit handed red mercury over to examination. This escapade was referred to as "Operation Chimera". Read "The Doomsday Scam", by C.J. Chivers, The New York Times Magazine, November 19, 2015.

Global Terrorism Index 2015. "In 2014 the total number of deaths from terrorism increased by 80 per cent when compared to the prior year. This is the largest yearly increase in the last 15 years." The Global Terrorism Index 2015 provides a detailed analysis of the changing trends in terrorism since 2000 for 162 countries. It investigates the changing patterns of terrorism by geographic activity, methods of attack, organisations involved, etc. The report is posted here on the website.

ISIS More Deadly Before Death. According to Seth Jones, someone with a little bit of familiarity with insurgents and terrorists, the Islamic State is losing territory but may become more deadly. He says that when terrorists lose ground, they typically lash out with greater violence. Read "ISIS Will Become More Deadly Before It Dies", The Slate, November 17, 2015.

Life of a Drone Operator. "In a secluded room at an airbase in Nevada, young men hold the power of life and death over people thousands of miles away." Former servicemen who served at Creech Air Force Base relate their story about their part in the drones used in the war against terror. Read "Life as a drone Operator"The Guardian, November 18, 2015. See also "Death From Above: Confessions of a Killer Drone Operator", Newsweek, November 19, 2015.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


CT - Rhetoric vs. Reality. Anthony H. Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), provides us his thoughts on the difficulty of defining who is a terrorist and the conflict between defeating terrorism and observing human rights. He explores the relative ease in which a nation will declare itself against terrorism yet use non-state actors (terrorist groups) as proxies and tools to advance their national interests. He also suggests that institutions dealing with cooperation in dealing with terrorism focus largely on counterterrorism and not only dealing with the causes of terrorism. Read his paper Cooperation in Counterterrorism: Rhetoric vs. Reality, CSIS, October 20, 2015.

Hunter Killer - New Book. A retired Air Force drone pilot has penned a new book about drones. He was one of the original drone pilots and wrote the tactical manual for the predator and piloted drones from 2003 to 2012. Read more in "The Details of Drones, From a Pilot Who Flew Them", National Public Radio, November 5, 2015.

Toy UAV's Sold to Army. A Florida firm is under investigation for selling an inferior UAV - the Maveric Microdrone - to the Army at $240,000 per system. However, commercially available drones that are very similar are available on at a fraction of the price. Read "Drone Company Misled Military Into Buying UAVs That Were Basically Toys", War is Boring, November 6, 2015.

9th Annual Terrorism Conference. The Jamestown Foundation will host the Ninth Annual Terrorism Conference. The theme of this conference is "The War in Syria, Islamic State, and the Changing Landscape of Asymmetric Threats". Tuesday, December 8, 2015, Washington, D.C. View a comprehensive listing of security and defense conferences and exhibitions for the coming months at

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Counterterrorism - Comparing Bush and Obama. The policies of President Bush and President Obama were more aligned than some think in the counterterrorism effort. While President Obama wanted to withdraw from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - reality hit him square in the face. In addition, his efforts to close Guantanamo's prison for terrorists hit a roadblock as well as the reality of capturing terrorists in 'ungoverned areas' complicated internment practices and extradition to other nations. Read more in  "When It Comes to Counterterrorism, Why Bush and Obama Aren't So Far Apart"National Public Radio, October 30, 2015.

Drone Papers. The Intercept recently published articles on the drone programs used by the U.S. to kill terrorists and high-level combatants in Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and other places. There are critics and defenders of the program. Read "The Drone Papers: Intercepting the Nonsense", Lawfare Blog, October 27, 2015.

Updated DoDD 5205.15. The Department of Defense Directive DoD Counter Threat Finance (CTF) Policy (DoDD 5205.14), dated August 19, 2010 has been updated with changes effective October 21, 2015. The directive establishes DoD policy and assigns DoD responsibilities for countering financing used to engage in terrorism, illicit trafficking networks, and related activities that support an adversary's ability to negatively affect U.S. interests.

Hesitant to Say 'Islamic Terrorism'. The Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, seems to be reluctant to say the words 'Islamic Terrorism' - as if it didn't exist. Read more in a news report by CNS News, October 30, 2015.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Intel & CT

CIA Psychologists Being Sued. A lawsuit was filed this past week in federal court in Spokane, Washington against a pair of psychologists who earned millions using untested, brutal techniques, such as waterboarding, on CIA prisoners. Read more in "Former prisoners sue architects of CIA's brutal interrogation program", The Washington Post, October 13, 2015.

Ex-CIA Agent Who Wasn't. A man who passed himself off as an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency has been arrested. His story of a 27-year career with the agency has some holes in it. He appeared on Fox News as an expert on intelligence matters from time to time. His LinkedIn account says he worked a few DoD contracts in Afghanistan as well; however, some sources close to those enterprises say he was sent home as he didn't have a valid clearance and . . . . (The Washington Post, October 15, 2015).

How is working for the CIA? Learn more in "A Day in the Life of a CIA Political Analyst Intern.", Central Intelligence Agency,  October 14, 2015.

Movie - 'Bridge of Spies'. A new movie is out set in the Cold War starring Tom Hanks. I personally don't like Hanks as an actor; but he does star is some great movies. It is somewhat based on real events based on the exchange of Francis Gary Powers (captured U2 pilot) and Rudolf Abel (Russian spy). Read a review in War is Boring,  Oct 16, 2015. See also a historical record of the event by the Central Intelligence Agency entitled "The Cold War: Strangers on a Bridge".

Drone Pilots Speak Out. General Hawk Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, listened to remotely piloted aircraft pilots for over four hours about the RPA career field over a week ago. There were lots of recommendations on how to fix the RPA career field. Currently there is a shortage of RPA airmen that is expected to worsen over the next few years. RPAs or drones have been used extensively in Afghanistan. Read more in "RPA operators to Air Force: Fix this career field"C4ISR Networks, October 8, 2015.

Intel on Russia - Not so Much. "Politicians in Washington are pointing their fingers at spies for making them look silly on Russia and Syria. Did our spies mess up again?" The House Intelligence Committee has some deep concerns on the quality and timeliness of the Intel they are being provided. Read more in "Washington's Civil War over Russia Intel"The Daily Beast, October 12, 2015.

"The New Normal?" Bobby Chesney, a professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law (and fellow at Brookings), asks if the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) has come to an end or is it still on-going but with a different name? He discusses the 'lily pad' concept of stationing counterterrorism forces around the world to attack terrorists who might plan or attempt to execute attacks against the United States or its interests. This 'light footprint' approach, he says, might be called the "Global Counterterrorism Footprint". Read more in "The New Normal? From Global War on Terrorism to Global Counterterrorism Footprint", Lawfare Blog, October 5, 2015.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

CT and Intel News

OPM Breach, the CIA, and China. According to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper the ". . . CIA pulled a number of officers from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing as a precautionary measure in the wake of the massive cybertheft of the personnel data of federal employees . . ." Essentially, anyone with a security clearance (electronic SF 86 questionaire on file) who is in government service or in the military now has duplicate records. One in the U.S. and one in China. I am still waiting on my letter from the OPM notifying me that the Chinese have my file. (Washington Post, Sep 29, 2015).

New CIA Directorate. The Central Intelligence Agency is reorganizing itself. One new addition is the Directorate of Digital Information. See "The CIA unveils a radically new org chart"The Washington Post, October 1, 2015.

How Were CIA Agents Discovered by the KGB? It appears that the personnel section of the CIA took the "easy road" when sending replacement overseas. Read more in "How to explain the KGB's amazing success identifying CIA agents in the field?"Salon, September 26, 2015.

Intel and Politics. Robert Tomes writes "On The Politicization of Intelligence" in War On the Rocks, September 29, 2015. He explores what "politicization" really is and provides us some history on the topic.

Leaders' Summit to Counter ISIL. The United States recently held a summit that highlighted the international community's efforts to counter ISIL, address Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs), and Counter Violent Extremism (CVE). Read a fact sheet on the summit provided to us by the White House, September 29, 2015.

Understanding & CVE in Afghanistan. "Youth recruitment into extremist groups in Afghanistan continues to be a major source of group building." A report presents findings from a three-province study on violent extremism in Afghanistan. The endeavor was undertaken by The Liaison Office, an Afghan research and peacebuilding organization. Read "Understanding and Countering Violent Extremism in Afghanistan", United States Institute of Peace (USIP), September 3, 2015.

Drones and Pilots. UAVs provide a vast amount of strategic, operational, and tactical intelligence around the world (and in Afghanistan). There is a pilot shortage for drones within the Air Force and numerous reports indicate that many are leaving the Air Force for less stressful jobs. It appears that the Air Force may start using enlisted pilots. Read more in "Enlisted drone pilots? Decision expected early next year", Air Force Times, September 28, 2015.

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.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

CT and Intel News

Paper on Network Analysis Techniques in Future Environments. The U.S. Army's recently published National Military Strategy (NMS) - June 2015 - emphasizes the high probability of hybrid conflicts. It also stresses the importance of security cooperation with mature allies and building capacity for emerging U.S. partners. In order to successfully operate in the environment that the NMS (and other documents) envision commanders must understand the environment and potential consequences of their decisions  - especially when operating in ungoverned spaces. The paper recommends a network science approach to monitor, assess, and analyze ungoverned spaces. Read more in  "The Specter of Ungoverned Spaces & How Advances in Network Analysis Can Assist Policymakers", by Jeffry Julum and Daniel Evans, Small Wars Journal, August 30, 2015.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Intel & CT News

Asymmetric Conflict and the Human Domain. The nature of warfare has changed in the world. For the United States its opponents are less likely to be nations like Russia or China and more likely to be non-state actors or state-sponsored insurgents or terrorists. The strategic prize is not control of terrain but of the human domain. Some call this asymmetric warfare. Read one persons views on this in "The Heart of the Common Man: The Battleground of Asymmetric Conflict", Indian Defence Review (IDR), August 19, 2015.

Paper - "Socio-Cultural Intelligence and National Security". In his article, Robert T. Tomes reviews, assesses, and makes recommendations relating to the provision and use of socio-cultural intelligence in support of national security policy. He details responses to gaps in socio-cultural intelligence during the 2000s, and reinforces the importance of this issue in future conflicts. He recommends expansion of the Foreign Area Officers program, improving the military's cross-cultural understanding, increase the language proficiency of Special Operations Forces, and more. Read his article in Parameters, Summer 2015.

Paper - "Using Target Audience Analysis to Aid Strategic Level Decisionmaking", By Dr. Steve Tatham, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, August 25, 2015.

Terrorist Designation for Haqqani Brother. The U.S. Department of State has designated Abdul Aziz Haqqani as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224. He is a senior member of the Haqqani Network and the brother to Haqqani Network leader Sirjuddin Haqqani. Read more in a media note published on August 25, 2015.

Military Officials Skewing Intelligence Estimates? Say it isn't true. The IO campaign by ISAF HQs is one example of putting a silver lining on a dark cloud. Now the same can be said for Central Command (CENTCOM). It appears that the Pentagon's inspector general is investigating allegations of officials providing a more optimistic account of progress against ISIS than is warranted. No kidding. Read more in "Inquiry Weighs Whether ISIS Analysis Was Distorted", The New York Times, August 25, 2015. See also "Spies: Obama's Brass Pressured Us to Downplay ISIS Threat", The Daily Beast, August 26, 2015.

Report on Intel Community and Contractors. Elaine Halchin has authored a paper entitled The Intelligence Community and Its Use of Contractors: Congressional Oversight Issues, Congressional Research Service (CRS), August 18, 2015. Posted on Federated American Scientists website.

OSINT Explained. There are lots of "INTs" in the intelligence field. HUMINT, MASINT, SIGINT, etc. A more recent "INT" is "Open Source Intelligence" or OSINT. Read more in "Spy Agencies Are Like Old-School Porn - But That's Changing", VICE News, August 25, 2015.

POPINT, HUMINT, and Information Operations. The concept of POPINT - understanding group behavior - is described by Cdr (rtd) Steve Tatham -  in an interview posted on Small Wars Journal, August 26, 2015.

"Flat Communications". One of the experiences I had when working along side folks who spent time with JSOC is their obsession with "Flat Communications". This, of course, consisted on an excessive amount (I thought at the time) of VTCs (video teleconferences) with an enormous amount of people plugged in across theater. But as it turned out I became a "reluctant fan" of the approach. Learn how JSOC used "better information sharing plus empowered people" to develop a smarter, faster force that could soon outmaneuver insurgents and terrorists in "How JSOC Harnessed Networks to Take on Terrorists", by Chris Fussel, Defense One, August 27, 2015.

RAVEN UAV Gets Upgrade. It appears that the Army will be upgrading the sensor gimbal on its Raven hand-launched unmanned aircraft systems. Read more in a news update by C4ISR & Networks, August 27, 2015.

Intelligence & National Security Summit. AFCEA and INSA are hosted a summit about the state of U.S. intelligence and the priorities, plans and partnerships for the Intel community. It will be held in Washington, D.C. on September 9-10, 2015. Learn more about other defense, national security, terrorism, and intelligence summits and conferences at the link below:

Handling Classified Material. If there is something that can get you in trouble quickly it is making a mistake in handling classified material and not following the rules. Two well known cases illustrate this aptly. It would seem that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton broke the rules when she transmitted classified information through her private email using an unclassified server. In another instance, former ISAF commander and Director of the CIA David Petraeus broke the rules when he handed over personal notebooks containing classified information to Paula Broadwell (his biographer). The two cases are similar (involving high ranking government officials) yet different (severity of the crime). Sending classified information over the Internet in today's world is stupid and dangerous. Passing personal notebooks containing information to a trusted person (who incidentally is a LTC in Military Intelligence with a Top Secret clearance) is a lesser offense (although the affair was plainly stupid). A former Navy SEAL looks at the complicated world of information classification in a news report by Business Insider, August 25, 2015.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Intel and Counterterrorism

Article - "The Limits of Counterterrorism". The Obama administration has a robust (some observers believe) counterterrorism strategy while it attempts to avoid significant involvement in costly wars (a difficult feat to accomplish given today's security environment). However, one commentator believes that the counterterrorism strategy is not enough. He believes that the " . . . United States should devote particular attention to defense institution building (DIB). Too often counterterrorism assistance is seen as a technical capacity issue, when poor governance is usually the root of the problem." This is excellent analysis by Daniel Byman - a foreign policy editor of Lawfare Blog. Read his August 2, 2015 article.

Intel Contract w/ U.S. Army. CACI International, Inc. has been awarded a prime position on a multi-million dollar contract to continue support to the U.S. Army's CERDEC I2WD program. Under the terms of contract CACI will offer a broad range of solutions and services for intelligence, electronic warfare, and information system development. Read a CACI news release dated August 3, 2015.

Army Hiring Counterintelligence Agents. The Army's community of counterintelligence is growing. Currently there are openings in the Counterintelligence (CI) enlisted school.  Enlisted CI agents serve around the world, investigating threats of all types alongside CI officers and law enforcement officials from multiple agencies. Their skills and experience, plus a top-secret security clearance, can create a path to a post-service career with the FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security or similar organizations. (Army Times, August 3, 2015).

FBI HRT. The website We Are The Mighty profiles the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) in "This is the FBI's dream team of elite counterterrorism operators", July 24, 2015.

EU Counterterrorism Policy. Marc Pierini examines the EU's CT policy in Adjusting the EU's Counterterrorism Policy, Carnegie Europe, July 31, 2015.

State's CT Bureau. The Department of State (DoS) has a counterterrorism bureau but it appears it has not been fully funded or staffed. Read more in "State's Counterterrorism Bureau Still Needs to Evaluate Countering Violent Extremism Efforts", Homeland Security Today, July 27, 2015.

Book Review: The Great War of Our Time. Another former CIA agent, Michael Morell, has penned his memoirs providing us with an inside look of the period leading up to the 9/11 attacks and the long years after. He highlights the CIA successes (initial invasion of Afghanistan supporting the U.S. Army's "Green Berets") as well as its failures (saying that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction justifying the stupid invasion of Iraq in 2003). Read a review of his book in "A Soldier of the Great War", by Gabriel Schoenfeld, Lawfare Blog, August 6, 2015.

Book: Relentless Strike. This book is about the secret history of the Joint Special Operations Command or JSOC. This organization has been at the forefront of America's fight against the forces of terror and in the war against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. The author, Sean Naylor, is a noted defense observer and has wrote about special operations in books and news reports for many years.

Site Exploitation, ATP 3-90.15, July 2015. An important part of intelligence gathering at the tactical level (and at other levels as well) is proper site exploitation of sensitive items that can provide intelligence. The Army has released a publication on this topic.

Perspectives on Terrorism. The journal has released its latest issue (August 2015) with a focus on ISIS that provides readings which will help you understand the Islamic State (structure, ideology, goals, tactics, etc.).

SF / CIA Legend Profiled. At age 71, Billy Waugh was in Afghanistan as a member of a CIA team sent in shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Read more in "This 85-year-old Special Forces legend has one of the most badass military resumes we've ever seen", We Are the Mighty, August 7, 2015.

Paper - Counterterrorism Strategies: Leadership Decapitation vs Mid-Tier Elimination. A key component of counterterrorism strategies is kinetic - the use of armed drones by the CIA or hit-teams of the U.S Army Special Forces (or Special Mission Units or SMUs like JSOC) to capture or kill terrorist leadership. The author of this paper examines the both approaches (killing top leadership vs mi-tier leadership) and concludes with three major policy implications for examination.