Intelligence: Learning To Think Like A Cop


August 28,2008:  U.S. troops are learning more how to operate like police. That's because the Iraqi justice system is up and running, and Iraqis U.S. troops arrest can be quickly released if there is insufficient evidence to hold them. In anticipation of this, the LEPs (Law Enforcement Professionals) program was established, which put over a hundred experienced detectives into Iraq and Afghanistan. Their main job was to show the troops how to collect sufficient evidence to make sure the suspects they grab are held by the judicial system long enough to determine guilt or innocence.

The U.S. Army is trying to get these new techniques to become part of the official doctrine (the detailed protocols of how things are done). That all began after 2003, when the army got a lot of unofficial help from reservists who were cops and detectives in their regular jobs. Many army officers see this kind of "police work" as something the army will encounter again, and want it incorporated into official doctrine, so that it becomes a part of the "official memory." While this knowledge is retained by the reservists (informally), the details of how this police type investigating and analysis is done by army units is important. Without making all this stuff part of doctrine, those critical details will largely be lost.

In Iraq, military intelligence specialists have been eagerly investigating how police in the United States investigate, and identify criminal gangs back home. That's 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. It's 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.

The LEPs also work with local Iraqi and Afghan police, passing on practical U.S. police techniques that will work in these new environments.




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