Intelligence: January 24, 2005

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In Iraq, military intelligence specialists have been eagerly investigating how police in the United States investigate, and identify criminal gangs back home. Thats because the enemy in Iraq typically belongs to a criminal, or terrorist group, that operates like a gang. There are cultural differences, and dealing with these quirks causes the most problems. On the positive side, there is a large industry in the United States that supplies special software to police departments, for handling investigations. This stuff is basically database software with formats and analysis abilities tweaked to assist police investigations. These programs have been revolutionizing detective work over the last two decades. It took a few months, after the invasion,  for the intel people in Iraq to become aware of this software, and they were helped greatly by reservists who were police commanders or detectives in their civilian jobs. 

It was discovered that the gangs of Iraq operated in a similar fashion to ethnic gangs (including Arab ones) in the United States and Europe. Thus genealogical software came in handy, as did new cell phone tracking and bugging software and equipment. Regular (land-line) phones are unreliable in Iraq, and the new cell phones services are more popular. Even when they discovered how easy it was to track cell phones, many Iraqi gangsters and anti-government fighters refused to give them up. The genealogy software is useful in tracking the relations between family members in gangs. Many gangs are basically family based, with many distant cousins coming together because of family loyalty. 

Terrorist attacks are treated like serial criminals. This type of criminal behavior is most widely known when it is murder. But there are many kinds of serial crime, and U.S. intel specialists found that attacks on Iraqi police and U.S. troops was, in most cases, just another serial crime. The perpetrators would often follow a pattern, one that the software could pick out. One thing leads to another, and arrests often result. DNA analysis and all the tools you see on CSI, are brought to bear. Its no accident that the 4th Infantry Division captured Saddam Hussein. The 4th Infantry is the most high tech outfit in the army, with more geeks per battalion than any other combat organization. 

Financial auditing and tracking assets also proved useful. Much of the violence in Iraq is financed by billions of dollars Saddam and his cronies stole. Over a billion dollars of that money, in U.S. currency, was discovered right after Saddam fell. There is a parallel effort to create Arabic interfaces for a lot of this software, so the Iraqi police can use it as well. 

There are a lot of new electronic tools being put to use. Cheap video cameras, especially those equipped with software that can identify some of what the camera sees, have been very useful. Many of these cameras have night-vision capability, and have caught a lot of the bad guys sneaking around, in what they thought was under the cover of darkness. These cameras have proved useful at checkpoints, providing a record of what went on, and a way to quickly refute charges that civilians were abused when they were stopped.

The computerized intel records also make it easier to get replacement troops up to speed quickly. This process begins before the new intel units arrive, as copies of databases can be transmitted back to the United States, and video conferences or chat room sessions held to discuss the data, and the current situation in Iraq. Thus the intelligence effort continues relentlessly, even with the American troops being replaced every year.

 


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