Intelligence: August 24, 2003


Since the 1980s, the CIA has been complaining about shortcomings in the HUMINT (human intelligence) department. Reforms of the CIA in the 1970s destroyed what was left of the CIAs HUMINT capabilities. Congress was upset that HUMINT often required  the CIA to put unsavory people on the payroll. It just wouldnt do that the United States was paying murderers and criminals to obtain information about even bigger murderers and criminals. This started to become a problem a decade later, when the president, or Congress wanted some information that satellite reconnaissance could not provide, but a little HUMINT could. Since then, the CIA has been rebuilding its HUMINT resources. But in Afghanistan and Iraq, the army and marines discovered that they had a very real need for HUMINT as well. The Special Forces were trained to deal in HUMINT, but there were not enough of them to assign Special Forces troops to army and marine combat units. Translators were in short supply, although it turned out there were a lot of English speaking Iraqis and Afghans willing to do the work at reasonable rates. But there were few army or marine intelligence officers trained to handle their own HUMINT operation. Its now clear that intelligence officers need some training in this area. There is also a need to provide practical peacetime training for the HUMINT aspects of combat operations. While American intelligence operations are great at collecting electronic and visual (satellite and aerial) photos of enemy territory, there is a large void when it comes to the people aspect of it all. And its ultimately people you have to fight and defeat.


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