Britain has revealed that it has
deployed members of GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters, their
equivalent of the NSA) to Afghanistan.
The GCHQ personnel are "signals intelligence" (SIGINT) experts, and
work closely with the British forces in Afghanistan to obtain information about
enemy electronic communications. GCHQ also has the capability of tapping into
the Internet and satellite phones. The British SIGINT experts have long worked
with the American NSA on many projects, and constantly share information. The
Taliban and al Qaeda are often forced to use electronic communications, because
couriers are too slow and vulnerable, and when they do go on the air, there is
a good chance that GCHQ or NSA will be listening in. The GCHQ personnel with
the front line units in Afghanistan are also there to make sure the troops get
useful information as soon as possible. Such data often does not age well, and
is more valuable the sooner it is used.