Green Berets Hindered In Fight Against ISIS By Inadequate Intelligence
The Washington Times reported this week on a troubling Army memo that indicates efforts to kill key ISIS targets are being hampered by shoddy or inadequate intelligence. The memo was obtained by the Washington Times and states that when troops were pulled out in 2011, “all theater-level enterprise databases were terminated.”
The commander of the Green Berets’ 1st Special Forces Group, who is now the top special ops officer in Iraq, wrote in December:
This is proving to be a repeat of past mistakes from Iraq and Afghanistan where critical information at the early onset of a conflict is lost, and operational opportunities are missed throughout the remainder of the convict. The lack of an enterprise-level intelligence infrastructure degrades [special operations forces’]ability to collaborate across formations and echelons, and reduces our ability to target ISIL.
At issue is the ability to mine and track data that can be used by analysts to find links between key actors and people of interest, and their possible ties or connections to terror groups and ISIS forces in the region.
Data mining is a crucial part of any intelligence operation, and in order to do it, you have to have data to be mined. The structure has to be in place and the databases have to be kept. This kind of relationship mapping has been used in the past to find other major terror targets, including as part of the search for Osama bin Laden.
The Times reports that the commander has requested the Army implement Palantir, a commercial platform for performing these analysis tasks. Although the Army has stated that they will comply with the request, there remains some question. Rep. Duncan Hunter said in a letter sent on Monday that General Votel, head of Special Operations Command, is discouraging requests for outside systems, favoring the Army’s own Common Ground system.
Mr. Hunter took issue with the general’s contention that requests for Palantir did not reflect a lack of capability by the common ground system. “The requested capability does not exist in the Army inventory and is not provided by the DCGS-SOF system,” he said.
The use of commercial technology is of course absolutely routine in the military, even in Intelligence. And tools for intel are every bit as vital to war fighting as weapons and ammo, particularly when providing intel to Iraqi security forces is essentially our primary role in the nation, rather than, as they say, putting boots on the ground. One hopes our forces can and do rely on their commanders to provide them, and our effort to stop ISIS, with the best possible tools, regardless of origin.