Intelligence: Night Moves

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September 23, 2011: A key factor in defeating the Taliban, and drug gangs, in Afghanistan, is the use of raids and rapid use of any information obtained. For thousands of years, it was more common to obtain information, then carry it back to someone who would analyze it, and then present it to someone else to act on it. That has changed, and the change was developed in Iraq. It was there that combat troops tended to spend much, if not most, of their time raiding locations where terrorists were believed to be based, or just staying temporarily.

The targets for raids were often obtained from documents taken or interrogations conducted during previous raids. But it became the custom to seek “actionable intelligence” while conducting a raid, especially the names and locations of other suspects. This was made possible by sending intelligence analysts on raids, along with the widespread use of PCs, laptops, PDAs and smart phones for storing databases that could be quickly used to see if what was found in one raid was connected to any other persons of interest. Increasingly, this was the case. Often, going on a raid involved compiling, beforehand, a list of people which those being raided were known to work with. If you found who you were looking for, you already had questions to ask, and knew what answers would be lies. This approach, once it was widely used, proved devastating to the enemy.

The raids were mostly at night, and one raid might yield information that would promptly lead to several more before the sun came up. By hitting targets at night, the raiders more often had the element of surprise and caught the targets before documents could be destroyed. The enemy tried to adapt (with more lookouts and data rigged to be quickly destroyed), but the raids were grabbing too many of the competent men and leaders out of action. This caused the terror organizations to shrink dramatically, and between 2007 and 2009, terrorist attacks dropped by over 90 percent.

In Afghanistan, raiding tactics had the same effect. The Taliban and drug gangs tried to use their control of the media to get the raids halted (because they offended the Afghan sense of propriety). This caught on in the Western media, but intel officials always had the real story to show their political bosses. While there were always a few raids that hit the wrong target, most took out someone who was a terrorist killer or producer of drugs. It was the raids that produced the best evidence on who was most corrupt in the Afghan government and military. The 30-40 raids a night were too important to mess with. So American politicians publicly apologized and privately revealed what had been obtained about dirty dealing in Afghanistan.

 


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