Intell is not a silver bullet

In today's Washington Times, Bill Gertz displays a lack of understanding of intelligence matters despite his extensive works on the subject.  He reports on the NK nuclear test that,

Recent U.S. intelligence analyses of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs were flawed and the lack of clarity on the issue hampered U.S. diplomatic efforts to avert the underground blast detected Sunday, according to Bush administration officials.

Funny — over my lifetime, I have never received a guarantee that processed intelligence would be 100 percent accurate.  So the question must be asked is: if the strategic intelligence community had accurately predicted the NK test and a hundred other so—called goofs, then what would the National Command Authority (NCA) and the diplomats have done about it?  This is the basic misunderstanding about what intelligence can or can't do for our national security, and frankly has been reinforced by the intelligence community itself for decades.

And another key distinction must be made: intelligence works for the command and operations side of the house, not the other way around.  As we go from the strategic level to the tactical level, the intelligence function shows a vast improvement because commanders in the field focus the efforts of all staff sections, including intelligence, to successfully conduct combat operations.  Our units in the field can't afford any free agents mucking up the works.

The way to read Gertz' piece is that here is another instance of some government agency scapegoating intelligence for their own lack of foresight, or covering for a deficient operational capability to deal with 'Lil Kim.  Two critical failures though, must be laid at the feet of the administration and the NCA: failure to weed out those bureaucrats and operatives who subvert our war effort, and not focusing the agencies efforts to support the fight against global terror.

Pie—in—the—sky predictive analysis has its place, but let's not pump any more money into an inherently imperfect strategic intelligence organization in lieu of funding a more robust combat capability.

Douglas Hanson   10 12 06

In today's Washington Times, Bill Gertz displays a lack of understanding of intelligence matters despite his extensive works on the subject.  He reports on the NK nuclear test that,

Recent U.S. intelligence analyses of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs were flawed and the lack of clarity on the issue hampered U.S. diplomatic efforts to avert the underground blast detected Sunday, according to Bush administration officials.

Funny — over my lifetime, I have never received a guarantee that processed intelligence would be 100 percent accurate.  So the question must be asked is: if the strategic intelligence community had accurately predicted the NK test and a hundred other so—called goofs, then what would the National Command Authority (NCA) and the diplomats have done about it?  This is the basic misunderstanding about what intelligence can or can't do for our national security, and frankly has been reinforced by the intelligence community itself for decades.

And another key distinction must be made: intelligence works for the command and operations side of the house, not the other way around.  As we go from the strategic level to the tactical level, the intelligence function shows a vast improvement because commanders in the field focus the efforts of all staff sections, including intelligence, to successfully conduct combat operations.  Our units in the field can't afford any free agents mucking up the works.

The way to read Gertz' piece is that here is another instance of some government agency scapegoating intelligence for their own lack of foresight, or covering for a deficient operational capability to deal with 'Lil Kim.  Two critical failures though, must be laid at the feet of the administration and the NCA: failure to weed out those bureaucrats and operatives who subvert our war effort, and not focusing the agencies efforts to support the fight against global terror.

Pie—in—the—sky predictive analysis has its place, but let's not pump any more money into an inherently imperfect strategic intelligence organization in lieu of funding a more robust combat capability.

Douglas Hanson   10 12 06