U.S. Has Too Few Informants & "Very Little to No Analytical Skills"

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Fri Nov 21 14:31:02 MST 2003

U.S. Has Too Few Informants in Iraq
Friday November 21, 2003 8:16 PM
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. military still has too few trained
intelligence specialists and Arabic interpreters in Iraq, despite
stepped-up efforts, as it works to find out who's behind a surge of
guerrilla attacks, the Pentagon's intelligence chief said Friday.

An American general in Baghdad also acknowledged that ``we don't have
the best intelligence in the world'' as the United States continued a

The Pentagon has sent more people, software and money to Iraq in recent
weeks to fix most of the 80 to 90 intelligence flaws cited in an
internal report in September, said Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary
of defense for intelligence. He said the military still has a shortage
of experts able to cultivate informants for ``human intelligence.''

``We're a little short on the humint side; there's no denying it,''
Cambone told reporters.

Hours before he spoke, more than a dozen rockets fired from donkey carts
slammed into two hotels and Iraq's Oil Ministry building in Baghdad.
They were the latest in a wave of car bomb, assassination and booby-trap
attacks on Americans and the Iraqi and foreign forces helping them.

The opposition appears to be exploiting U.S. intelligence weaknesses,
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said in Baghdad.

``A very clever enemy who knows that we don't have the best intelligence
in the world will find some seams, will run some vulnerabilities,''
Kimmitt said. He added later: ``No commander on the ground has enough
actionable intelligence.''

Kimmitt and other U.S. commanders say the resistance is organized into
small cells of fighters, difficult to track and penetrate. Such groups
are among the toughest challenges for intelligence operatives, said
Daniel Benjamin, a terrorism expert on former President Clinton's
National Security Council.

``There's no easy answer. That's why we haven't found one yet,'' said
Benjamin, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in

Part of the problem, Cambone said, is that the military cut back on its
human intelligence experts after the end of the Cold War in the 1990s.
``Now, we're more reliant on that asset than we anticipated,'' he said.

Cambone and other military officials say the situation is improving. The
Pentagon has asked the military to train more intelligence specialists
to work in Iraq, Cambone said.

Better information made this month's U.S. counteroffensive possible,
said Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the Army's 1st Armored
Division in Baghdad.

``Fundamentally, here in Baghdad we do two things: We're either fighting
for intelligence or we're fighting based on that intelligence,'' Dempsey
said Thursday. ``This particular operation is the result of several
weeks of intelligence gains, largely human intelligence and largely
provided by the citizens of Baghdad.''

Dempsey also cited ``extensive pattern analysis by our intelligence
experts to determine who, where and how the enemy is attacking us.''

Yet, that the Iraqi insurgents have a structure to attack means they
have become a tougher enemy, said Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East
security expert of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

``It's an indication that the enemy has organized centers of resistance,
where it has much more cohesive power,'' said Cordesman, who visited
Iraq this month. ``This is not evidence we are winning.''

The American military's intelligence services have for years focused on
developing high-tech spy gear instead of developing human sources,
critics say.

American advantages from satellites, pilotless aircraft and computers
are useless, however, against foes who gather only in small groups and
may communicate mainly through face-to-face meetings in the dead of

``When you're dealing with a hidden target, and you go into a country
with nothing to start with, it takes time to develop,'' said Michael
Vickers, a former CIA and Army intelligence officer.

``They have a network of informants. It's just not producing the kinds
of information they're looking for,'' Vickers said. ``These things will
create a lot of false leads and a lot of information that won't help you
very much. It's the guys hidden from you and plotting against you that
you need to penetrate.''

Analyzing scraps of information gathered about a guerrilla foe also is
more difficult, Vickers said, since guerrillas and terrorists don't
follow the same rules as conventional military forces. Analysis is a
major weakness of the Army's intelligence operation, a recent internal
Army report concluded.

Most Army intelligence specialists, both officers and enlisted soldiers,
were unprepared for the job when they reached Iraq, said that report,
from the Center for Army Lessons Learned. Written by experts who visited
in June, the report found the specialists ``did not appear to be
prepared for tactical assignments'' and often exhibited ``weak
intelligence briefing skills'' and ``very little to no analytical

The same report found many interpreters hired by the military had only
limited training and almost no specialized knowledge helpful in


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