Intelligence: All You Have To Do Is Ask

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January 11, 2010: For decades, the U.S. Special Forces has urged the U.S. Army to handle intelligence, in places like Afghanistan, differently. Instead of trying to identify and analyze "the enemy," it better to analyze, and keep tabs on, the community (usually a tribe or clan) that the enemy fighters and leaders are drawn from. This went against everything soldiers have learned over centuries.

There have long been separate intelligence organizations to collect data on other countries, but the military intel units tend to concentrate on enemy fighting forces. However, in Afghanistan, while the enemy fighters may be from Pakistan, or some other province, once they arrive in Afghanistan, their goal is to persuade, or, more often, terrorize Afghan communities. Those communities, with the right support and motivation, can drive the Taliban away. But before you discuss this with the locals, you have to know who you are dealing with, and what their situation is. Thus the need for a new approach to combat intelligence. If you get tight with the locals, they will supply you with fresh, and excellent, information on the enemy. This is how the Special Forces frequently surprises regular army units with great info on the enemy. It's not just that the Special Forces troops are great intel experts, but that they know who to ask, how to ask them, and in what language.

 

 


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