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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

U.S. intelligence failures in Afghanistan

January 5th, 2010
01:56 PM ET

The top U.S. military intelligence officer in Afghanistan has published a damning assessment of the capabilities of U.S. intelligence agencies in the country calling them “only marginally relevant.”

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/05/afghan.intel.art.jpg caption ="U.S. intelligence officers in Afghanistan have likened their task to fortune telling."]

In the course of the 26-page report published by Washington think tank the Center for a New American Security. Major Gen. Michael Flynn – the senior author – paints an extraordinary picture of intelligence operations in the country.

Flynn says: “The U.S. intelligence community has fallen into the trap of waging an anti-insurgency campaign rather than a counterinsurgency campaign.”

Some of the analysts, which Flynn calls “bright, enthusiastic and hungry” are “starved for information from the field” with many of them describing their work as more like “fortune telling” rather than serious intelligence gathering. Amazingly – a word not overused in the context of this report – Flynn reports that decision-makers tend to rely on newspaper reports rather than military intelligence.

The report concludes: “History is replete with examples of powerful military forces that lost wars to much weaker opponents because they were inattentive to nuances in their environment.”

At the moment, the success of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan is based on what  the authors describe as  "the dubious premise that a bull will not tire as quickly as a Russian bear.”

After eight long, bloody years in Afghanistan war is the U.S. merely repeating the mistakes made by the Soviet Union in the 1980s?

Was Major Gen. Flynn right to issue such a public denunciation of his own intelligence forces? We would like to hear your views.

Filed under:  General
soundoff (253 Responses)
  1. don

    while mike is a good intel officer, I disagree with his strategic direction and blaming others. Look around, when you're the senior intel officer and your boss is the senior commander, ther's noone to blame but yourself. Let's hope our general's stop pretending their politicians and take care of busy of killing the bad guys. Our military has been on this cool aid vantasy trip with the DOS too long. Disappointed.

    January 5, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Reply
  2. Norman Vaughn

    Shades of Viet Nam!! Of course the report's correct. It's the culture, stupid!
    Elections were mandated in Viet Nam (by the U.S.) down to the village level. After the energetic 30 something young guy was elected village chief who do you think was the real village chief? If you wanted to get anything accomplished, you talked to the 80 something year old guy with the wispy beard and white hair squatting down by the door of his house!

    January 5, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  3. Bill Bob Proverb

    sounds like the folks who want to play cowboy (be shooters) need to resign from the company and enlist either in defence intelligence or somewhere in special operations. And that maybe the US non-military intelligence community by contrast could learn to err a little more on the nonmilitary side of its activities. Maybe they should use the British as a role model, at least to the extent of identifying best practices from folks who have more experience in the region than we do (that they "lost" is only minimally relevant, they still know more than we do). Play the great game without playing the great game (i.e. have more worthwhile goals than 100 yrs ago when empire waste products pranced around and ran things).

    January 5, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  4. Makronizer

    Is it true that montani semper liberi? See http://www.vitia.org/wordpress/2009/06/24/montani-semper-liberi/
    Let's keep the dialog going about freedom versus slavery.

    January 5, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  5. Andrew Lubin

    MajGen Flynn is correct in his report, and with 7 Americans killed last week, it's about time the 'intelligence community' started earning their salaries.

    Having recently returned from my 4th Afghan embed, it's appalling at the reluctance of our soldiers and civilians to get out of their very cushy bases and actually meet with the locals. They get their 'intelligence' from reading local newspapers? No wonder the soldiers in RC East get hammered repeatedly.

    Now, down in RC-South, where the Marines of Task Force Leatherneck are walking through the villages, and living with – and training their ANA counterparts, they have their fingers on the pulse of the area. Yes, there are Marine casualties, but not the disasters like last week, or the Army's losses last fall at FOB Keating. This is a low-tech country, with a unique code of honor that works to our advantage – when the people get to know us.

    January 5, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  6. esteban

    anyone who has lived in a country where the population is brainwashed ,bullied and poverty stricken knows that gaining local trust is all but an impossible feat. The Afghans will never trust Americans until a momentous change occurs in their society, i.e., kill the taliban and al queda groups who barbaric methods prohibit anything that America considers progress

    January 5, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  7. H. Cooper

    It sounds like our intel people are all from Ivy League prep schools..street people think differently...you would think we would learn from the huge mistakes of the past..Korea, Viet Nam, Lebanon, Iraq and now Afghanistan.....You don't approach a war by going for a tie, as the good General Patton once said "The purpose of war is to kill the other SOB before he kills you".
    I think the policy of the U.S. should be what Teddy Roosevelt laid out some time ago "Walk softly and carry a big stick".Unfortunately most of the world only respects big sticks.

    January 5, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  8. john

    If the decision makers are relying on the newspaper reports I feel sorry for our soldiers- just look at the title of the article.

    When I read further I can see the benefits of Major Gen. Flynn's comments- without reading his report.

    If our journalists really cared about their jobs rather than their ego true reporting would state the facts rather than the reporters bias.

    January 5, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  9. Reg Morgan

    I am appalled that our new process for interrogating suspects who are caught trying to kill US citizens is to hand them over to our legal system and provide them with lawers. Why not pass them over to our military first so that we can investigate their connection to terrorists and maybe prevent other attacks.

    January 5, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Reply
  10. Doug

    CIA, FBI; Ignorance and arrogance is what they do best.

    January 5, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  11. vicmic83

    Typical Command Officer.... trying to shut the gates after the cows ran out. It is amazing that a person with all the answers waits 8 years to go public with the fix. Hey.... lets Court Marshall an enlisted person, they do everything wrong, and we won't support them like we didn't support the 3 SEALS. If people like the General was in charge during WWII, we would be speaking German and eating with Chop Sticks. All blow and no Go. Sir, you have embarrassed your uniform and all the good men that wear it. If one of your subordinates would have come up with such dribble, you would have tore up thier FITREPS with ugly remarks. Hey Leaders, lets be proactive for a change.

    January 5, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  12. Paul Wilson

    Once again our Generals are participating in the political blame game in public view and again we are at a historial moment when we see evidence and results of a "whipped dog" CIA that is expected to do the "hunt" while being treated and handled like the hunted. Generals, do your job and take care of (kill) the enemy and stay out of the public politics! Politicians (Commander in Chief et. al.), support the CIA in what ever way they need it and quit treating them like they are the enemy.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  13. R Peters

    What hapend too the grassroots work that the CIA use to do?

    January 5, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  14. robbit

    Sounds like the problem is too much reliance on flashy technology, ie remote unmanned aircraft, interception of electronic communications, and not enough of the less glamorous but more effective direct human interaction. It takes years to learn a language and a culture, but only some quick cash and a few weeks of training to use some high-tech gadget.

    Surely the locals perceive this attitude too, that getting to know and understand them isn't as important to us as keeping our guys safe even at the risk of accidentally killing innocent civilians by the use of stand-off weapons.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Reply
  15. Ron

    He first complains that they do not provide him with information they can use to fight the bad guys. The he said the spend to much time "focusing on groups and tactics" and that they should be spending time "trying to understand Afghanistan's culture, people and networks."

    What tactical information can he get from their providing him with information about customs and economic?

    He sounds like a 'bleeding heart' liberal to me. They just need to be understood.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  16. Nor

    It seems to me that the US has had that problem all along. WE go into a country oblivious to their history or chose to ignore it and expect the peopel the embrace us as saviors when in reality we are looked at as agressors and occupiers. Iraq is a cas in point. THe Siunis ,Shite and Kurds have been at each other for centuries. What makse the US think that just because we say so the should kiss and make up? The same holds true for Afganistan. It's a country that's been dvides and ruled by tibes and tribal leaders. It'll be a cold day in hell when they all decide to get along.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  17. T Donovan

    The fact that one of the authors is affiliated with the Defense Intelligence Agency, a competitor bureaucracy of the Central Intelligence Agency, suggests that the report may not be entirely unbiased.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  18. Terry

    This is about religion, and all the intelligence in the world won't end what was started hundreds, possibly thousands of years ago between rival factions of humans.

    Truman was the only politician who understood this and acted in a way that sunk into some numb-skulls, that we would exterminate them if they didn't behave.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  19. Darwin Barrett

    Western civilization has a mental block on Islam which gives Islam a distinct advantage. Muslims always side with Muslims in any conflict with Non Muslims. Always. Study Islam. Read the Koran.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  20. Alvira Galbraith

    Why did he wait till now to send out report? The answer is in the timeing of his report.-hindsight is always the best.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Reply
  21. poet1b

    If we are going to take a new approach, and at this time it seems a new approach is needed, then this sounds like a step in the right direction.

    Get to know the people of Afghanistan, their problems, their thoughts on solutions. Who are the real bad guys, and who are the real good guys.

    We should attempt to get to know the people in the local villages, and let them get to know us. We should honestly work to help them resolve their problems, enable them to stand on their own feet, and become communities capable of fighting off the bad guys.

    If you gain the trust of the people, then you gain their eyes and hears, and that is what intel is all about. What is the word of the people? Who has their thumb on the pulse of the community?

    January 5, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  22. Jake

    CIA's answer is to go public and recruit Muslims with media ads. This is an "intelligence" agency? The FBI and CIA are nothing more than Keystone Kops just waiting for another bungled job.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Reply
  23. Randy

    The death of CIA trained and experienced to communicate with the locals illustrates how very difficult this singular task is in Afghanistan.

    Now, think how difficult it is for troops on the ground to communicate with the locals..or, perhaps the various PRT initiatives around the country.

    Are we really doing anything to sustain long term relationships and confidence. I think not..

    Anyone who says.." I understand" is more of a fool than an intellect on the subject of Afghanistan.

    It has now been 9 years and counting..much of the momentum lost during George's tenure. That said, the coalition/ISAF is growing tired..the US population is growing tired too...of "I think this will work..or this is our new policy.."

    So, what is the answer..I wish I knew...

    Afghanistan (Paktia, Khost & Ghazni Provinces) 2003

    January 5, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Reply
  24. Paul Leger

    This administration needs to get control of its government. Officials shouldn't be making public statements like this one about US intelligence personnel. And generals shouldn;t be making public requests about troop increases. You don't fight wars by revealing all of your internal conflicts. The president should set up a woodshed in back of the White House and take these self inflating officials there one at a time. The next one that does it needs to be fired like McArthur.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  25. TK Major

    It's stunning that the US has had to work around such intel failures - but it's reassuring that the current administration is open to asking the important questions of its military and intel leadership that have not been asked in the past - and discussing the sometimes distressing answers in the open.

    It's risky to give too much credit to any one party or set of people - but it's clear that without the kind of openness and new thinking embodied by military leaders like Gen David Petraeus and administrations willing to listen, that we would still be mired in the mistakes of the past - with no clear way forward.

    TK Major

    January 5, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  26. Rick Macv

    When JFK formed SF, the intent was to provide "community organizers" in foreign lands to stabilize or destabilize them per administration policy.
    Many of those original missions "went away" in the mid-1970s,
    and those missions have been handed off to splinter special operations organizations or to "rescue" services with enhanced capabilities.

    As the force projection became more clandestine (to US citizens) the control in the field became more casual. Now we have veterans hired as contractors who see themselves as Rambo style avengers and saviors of the cross. Special Forces no longer advises and does not live among the people; the new FM on advising makes advisers part of mobile brigade HQ operations, defeating their mission in advance. CIA field operators are acting like SEAL teams and nobody is interested in the opinions of the indigenous population.

    The Chicago boys are like Texans; you can tell'em but you can't tell'em much.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  27. musafir

    Is the death of innocent civilians –(so called 'collateral damage' - related to suicide bombers? No doubt there are fanatics, indoctrinated by al-Qaeda or other militant groups, but as long as we continue to kill civilians there will be no dearth of recruits for the terrorists.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  28. Allan Healy, Australia

    Astounding. After eight years they still know nothing about the people they are supposed to be "saving". Apparently they see them simply as Americans manques. Ditto, one suspects, in all the other areas in which the US has intervened. It's the first principle in Anthropology 101 to get inside the minds of those in societies one is trying to analyse and relate to, not just view them as strange primitives needing a firm hand on the road to salvation.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  29. Mark

    Field personal should be educated and trained of good practices designed by and monitored by the top personal. This is like the teacher, at the end of the year publishing that all of their students are stupid…

    January 5, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Reply
  30. JimH

    About time!!!

    January 5, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Reply
  31. Christopher

    This all goes back to Director Tenet when he traded the focus from human on-the-ground intelligence for more satellites. Both are key to operations from gathering to actionable intel but, I hope this administration balances the two. However, it will (as it usually does) take several years to get the necessary assets needed in place. A reality we just have to adjust to, sadly.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  32. JohnW5

    If this report is just supposed to cover the military intelligence apparatus, why does the report keep referring to the intelligence community at large? The CIA, DIA, NSA and the myriad of other agencies have nothing to do with the military.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  33. Cowboy

    Why are we really there in the first place? One has to seperate reality from political agenda. I'd also hope we are not using Israeli intelligence like we did in Iraq. Israeli intelligence puts Israel first and American lives last! Seems as though many folks have been stirred up to bloodlust by political rhetoric and not an understanding of history. Viva the isolationist post WW2 Eisenhower policy, it works for China which shouldn't be a U.S. partner in any way shape or form if "freedom and democracy" our the true objectives of U.S. foreign policy. As a country we can't afford war anymore, the worst "terrorists" have already taken over the U.S. and can be found in high finance positions and government!

    January 5, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Reply
  34. Shaun

    Generally, in the "real" world, when someone is getting their butt hauled onto the carpet in the boss' office and getting it torched, it's done in privacy and the issues are not published to whole company or to the press.

    If the military is having intelligence gathering issues, get the commanders into the bosses office and torch their butts – don't send the report to Washington Post.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Reply
  35. Noah Itall

    Like everyone else commenting here, I am an expert on military and international intelligence and have read thoroughly through the entire report. therefore my opinion is important.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  36. jim

    This proves that the Obama drone attacks that killed 700 women and children last year are simply terrorist acts. We need to stop these war criminal politicians such as Obama from destroying our great country's name. We the people are not terrorists, but our leader is.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  37. Jim

    umm, this think tank sounds like its a front for a new private intelligence company lobbying for money. the generals are just playing in their hands looking for someone to blame.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  38. toomuchinfo

    Sadly, the press just gives out too much info and puts our troops and our security at risk, giving the enemies more info to plan against us. Do we need to know so much. how bad or good our troops are doing? Why are we giving out this info via the TV does it not put the troops at risk? Especially info on intelligence how is done, where, who if it was compromise etc. etc. This info does not need to be given out in the press. These people fight dirty, like the low life that they are. Heartless and full of hate and here we are giving out information!!!
    I get so anxiety ridden where I hear our TV channels giving out status, info on the war and how we are fighting it! Or that security was breach. Can we keep things more Quiet. Too much information!!! You dont see the Taiban giving out info or even showing where they are located that is why they are able to fight the way they do. Why are we bringing the enemy to our camp sites? Can another one be set up before going into the main area? You got to fight dirty like they do. they have no mercy with us. They sleep and live and breathe in their HATE for us. Not all of us want to be Muslins.Tthey cannot accept that we have free will and choice given by God himself. They want to force their thinking, will and culture on All humankind because they feel is the right way. Well NOT We have a right to FREEDOM and THINKING. LIVE AND LET LIVE. I love my culture and freedon and they prey on the weak, with no heart, soul or spirit and those that have rich children. They are predators and full of the worst hate and evil, they are demons in human form!!.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  39. Rob

    This is nothing new. There is an American arrogance that unfortunately pervades our entire society, even the intel community which should know better. As a former intel officer myself I often noted this. People with language skills, for instance, were virtually always placed in voice intercept or other such jobs, even though they were the ones who were also most likely to have an understanding of the culture of the target group. As one top official once told me personally during a discussion of why analysts seldom had any education in the language, history, or culture of their target nation, "I can get an English major to do analysis". Well, yes, if you want analysis that is completely uniformed by the context of the culture from which the intel was derived. But we (Americans) tend to justify our arrogance in refusing to learn about other peoples by convincing ourselves that knowing such things is generally unimportant in understanding our world.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  40. Al Redlhammer

    Speaking as a total neophyte, my only observation is that there seems to be more emphasis on competition between the myriad agencies involved in intelligence gathering than in cooperating to gather and disemminate info to the proper parties.

    Bureaucracy is killing their efficiency.....

    January 5, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Reply
  41. D Warner

    America is in danger of spreading itself too thin, 9/11 was terrible but we dropped the ball too many times ourselves. We've killed at least 5-10 times more civilians in our retaliation. Time to let it go and take care of ourselves more instead of spending our limited resources on the other side of the world. Obviously we're not even sure what to do there. History has not been good foreign occupiers in that area, many people there living in the remote mountains have nothing to lose and will just wait us out again. We should keep our hands out of the 'bee hive' if we don't understand them.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  42. VultureTX

    Wow more blame game.
    General got to talk about local info and yet forgets to mention the small percentage of INTEL officers fluent in either Pashto or Dari. And if they are "fluent", in which dialect, there are 22000 dialects of those two languages in Afghanistan and the border zone with Pakistan. Which shows how fragmented and isolated most of the region is.

    /as for the embed reporter, wow you must be special. I have seen multiple Embed reports where there was not a single military interpreter in the whole company that they were with. They hired locals and had to trust them for accuracy and biases.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  43. David Burta

    This is EXACTLY what Robert McNamara said about our lack of knowledge of the Vietnamese people and how it cost us that war in his book "The Fog of War". Unfortunately when we do not learn from history we're doomed to repeat it.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  44. John

    This is a cultural outgrowth of the one year tour mentality (12 months, 14 months – it's all the same). When the nation's vital interest is at stake (Rev War, Civil War, WWI, WWII) the tour timeframe was set by two yardsticks: 1) victory; or 2) death or dismemberment. Officers "survive" one year tours by having little stake in the outcome – only in the short-term day-to-day survival. Thus military intelligence is second in irrelevance only to the air defense artillery. The fact that this is a military cultural blindspot is amplified by the fact we were in Afghanistan for eight years before we could even BEGIN to answer a new president's question, "what's our strategy?" Thus we haven't really been in Afghanistan for EIGHT years; rather we were in Afghanistan for ONE year EIGHT times.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Reply
  45. Ian M.

    The U.S. government must stay behind the curtain and allow the locals to work their magic, rather than give U.S. contractors billions to do nothing. They should set-up micro fund managers to strategically distribute funds in order to build a local support base - offer financial and strategic support to those who are already in power, and they will return the favor. The only thing the U.S. is doing now is pissing off the locals and looking like the big scary giant that is stomping on everything it doesn't like.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  46. Dan Goldenbar

    We have a lot of good men in Afghanistan, but the situation is overwhelming. No serious student of history would think that we have any chance of straightening out the locals.

    I suggest that everyone read the account of combat in area that Winston Churchill wrote when he served there as a young officer.

    Since there is no chance of victory, and therefore, no military purpose to this conflict, it is wrong to keep our troops there.

    Afghanistan has absolutely no offensive military capability. There is no way Afghani's can harm an American, unless we go over there, or we are dumb enough to let one of them get on an airplane to our country.

    All of our resources should be concentrated on making sure that they are isolated. What they do there does not matter.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  47. RAB

    Not a lot of big thinkers here....

    I believe what MG Flynn is attempting to do is change the IC's perception of analytics the same way combat commanders have modified their perception of war. It's in line with BG Huba Waas de Czege's concept of operational art. The threat of the Cold War were State military's that relied upon the State's resources to wage conflict. Today though, we face threats that rely upon the environment they're in to wage actions and sustain their capacities and capabilities.

    So it becomes not just an intel problem to identify targets, but it's the ICs problem to define the environment. The enemy persists obscured within the legitimate rural and urban centers from which they operate. We have to have the means to identify the critical nodes of that environment that will allow us the construct to shape the success of our efforts.

    My hat's off to MG Flynn for audaciously exposing those areas in the IC that need to catch up with our evolving TTPs.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  48. kmorrow

    What the hell do you expect? Tie their hands, reveal their tactics and strategies, prosecute them for doing their job. Why should they give a damn?

    January 5, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  49. Bob Dingley

    Finger-pointing seems to be the tactic of our time for everyone in government (military and otherwise). Responsibility is: "the quality or state of being responsible: as a : moral, legal, or mental accountability"
    With responsibility comes accountability. Finger-pointing does not get the job done or problems solved it merely proves an overall lack of accepting responsibility. For once let's take responsibility and say "We screwed up and need to change things to make it work like it should.....then GO AND DO IT!

    January 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  50. Agatha

    An old culture has many nuances and it would be impossible to learn what they are unless you live that life among them.

    We don't have time presently to do that kind of analogy when the enemy clearly knows our weaknesses and are trying to kill us daily by what we don't know about our own weaknesses.

    It is better to know our weakness in defense of what the enemy knows about us than to try to understand their culture.

    Basically, treat the Afghan people with respect and humanity; being genuine in your behavior to their problems. It's a humanity understanding.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  51. Turbo

    Those Middle East countries never harmed us and anyone with a
    2% IQ knows that. 9/11 was carried out as a prelude to justifying the invasion of these sovereign nations and now many are paying the price on both sides. As for IA's, they are trained to do things one way - and that's it. Thus the U.S. has been living a LIE for quite a long time.

    If you take the WTC pre-911 and superimpose the images of exactly where the two planes hit, you will see that the buildings were built as targets.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  52. Jack

    We finally are hearing a true assessment of our inteligence short-comings. Sadly this information will most likely discounted and those involved who are military personnel, will probably be removed from their positions. obamans don't want the truth.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  53. Sal - North America

    In defense of the CIA, they have a challenge which has become futile. Do the job with less resources, and more complicated rules. Oh yeah, and be careful because the bad guys have civil rights now. Ladies and Gentlemen we will get hit ten times harder by the enemy if we keep up this posture. Remember this: Our Political correctness will be the gateway to our demise. The bad guys know this....

    January 5, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  54. MAJ Thomas

    Kill Osama bin Laden. Have a clear vision on what it will take to win and make it simple enough that every Soldier on the battle field knows what the end state is. I have been deployed three times with a clear mission and no end state. Why can't we agree on what it takes to win. I mean really win.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Reply
  55. Davidp

    I saw a film called "Fog of War" where Robert Macnamara was trying to get some self respect by explaining why he ordered so many civilians killed in his lifetime. That's not my point here though. My point is that at the end he said he went back long after the end of the Vietnam War and talked with the North Vietnamese leaders he was previously at war with and he made an amazing discovery: The North Vietnamese had no real collusion with China and in fact hated them. They fought solely for their independence and viewed the US as another imperialistic power like France was. The US of course was fighting the spread of communism from China. The irony is that the whole war was a mistake due to each side misunderstanding the other.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  56. baypa

    "Intelligence" ? One can more wisely ask "Why be in afghanistan when two populations the sizes of Austria had (already!) walked across the Rio" ? Abandon the few in Afghanistan and face the lawbreakers (also for whom borders mean nothing) at our borders.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  57. ogre12

    it's easy to point the finger at others but just what did you do to correct the problem "general"..hmmm? I think you did nothing. I think you did nothing because you dont have a clue yourself. Worse yet I think you are opportunistic and bucking for another star...I have known officers like you before and they like you make me wanna puke. I on the otherhand have worked with some of the best intelligence folks on the face of the earth...men and women much better than you will ever be you pompous ass! I hope you get fired.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Reply
  58. Bubba

    I have no trouble believing this or that the US intelligence community has been clueless about this region for many decades. They were caught completely off-guard by the Iranian revolution, and it was because they never left Tehran to go into the countryside (you could get alcohol in Tehran).

    January 5, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  59. karl

    unfortunately, "intelligence" is a subjective term. Afganistan has a history of wearing down foreign armies with long drawn out conflicts which drain the resources and resolve of the countries they represent. face it, the war is not winable in any definable terms. what is the definition of crazy? keep doing the same thing and expect different results. as long as Americans are viewed as invaders it is the duty of every able bodied Afgan male to resist the invasion. you can't kill them all. every time 10 or 20 civilians are killed to get 1 enemy it creates a hundred more enemies. fight the poverty and ignorance that creates the hopeless distrust of progress. bombard them with education, fresh water and modern waste disposal. more engineers and less troops. give the population a tangible reason to have hope.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Reply
  60. Sherrie

    It seems to me that information like this shouldn't be shared with the public. It is only giving terrorists additional ammunition against us.

    Leave them alone over there to do their job and keep the reporters away from them!!

    January 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  61. Zach

    he's correct, we are going about this the wrong way.
    lets ask ourselves something. what happened to the religion?
    the qur'an states that, in simple terms; suicide is a no no, killing women and children is a bad thing, and that christians are friends. we believe in the same god! the only difference is that the qur'an says that allah is the main prophet, where jesus isnt.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Reply
  62. Herbert Frei

    The findings do not surprise me in the least. This is the basic and omnipresent deficiency with U.S. foreign policy – in 97% of all cases those responsible are not interested in and not acquainted with the intricacies of local history, society and culture. They think the U.S. have the best economic and political system in the world anyway and thus all the answers. You cannot but fail miserably this way – take Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen ... It's the arrogance of power and the blindness of messianic policy.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  63. Macsog

    Sounds very familiar with respect to military intelligence. Left hand often ignored or forgot right hand in Vietnam. and a shame it hasn't improved more.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  64. E

    Unless you're an intel officer your opinion doesn't mean anything during this conversation. It's become too easy to point a finger and vomit out nonsense that you heard someone else say. Oh, and the people mentioning Vietnam, grow the hell up.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  65. nicky

    The report is correct; none of the tactical information is valuable in isolation. All variables must be reviewed and the information evaluated in context. Focusing on the trees and ignoring the forrest begs for failure. Kilcullen in his text, 'The Accidental Guerrilla,' is correct in that local guerrilla warfare is not always attached to the global terror network. Certainly, tactical intel is required for the operators, but generals and nations are required to fight wars and win both the war and the peace. Hence, the need to know the enemy and the population he is existing in. We 'win' when the 'enemy' decides to become our 'friend'. Remember both Japan and Germany in WWII.

    In theory, we won the war in Afghanistan when the Soviet troops left; we did not win the peace.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  66. John Edwards, aFlower4aBud

    When decisions were made to fight terrorism with ground forces, in their lands, I knew what we had in store:
    . the difficulty
    . the length
    . the success rate
    not because I am a profit, but because I am a well trained missionary. But I have never worked in that area.

    So even better intelligence was available from those bi-cultural, well trained missionary/linguists who did work in that area–the people who have to leave because a war is about to break out.

    Those people are your experts! Those are the people who can inform you of the task at hand and give you the nuances of local life. They live where the West and the other cultures meet. They hopefully live among the people of that other culture.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  67. John in Tampa

    What is really wrong here is that this report is being discussed here, in a public forum. However valid the arguments might be they do not involve criminal matters, therefore this was and should have remained an internal military debate. Whoever leaked it should be court-martialled.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Reply
  68. Rocky

    Let's see if I got this right.....the CIA has Karzai's brother on it's payroll....and he's is supposed to be one of the largest exporters of heroin from Afghanistan....so they (the CIA) turn a blind eye every time they merrily pass a huge poppy field which will produce heroin which in turn will be smuggled to the U.S.A. to eventually kill thousands of american drug users with cheap heroin. And we are after the estimated 100 al-qaeda holdouts scattered somewhere around the country. And the Taliban, who were our on and off again allies before we invaded the country are in fact reality pissed off Afghan nationals (with a bit heavy lean on the religious side)....who want nothing more than to rid their country of foreign troops. These were the same guys who fought against the russians when they invaded their country....we just preferred then to call them freedom fighters or mujahadeen, where we also trained and armed the likes of the ever elusive Osama Bin Laden. These are the exact same Afghans who fought and won 3 wars against the British Empire in years gone by.....I'm sure they were called another name back then too. Point is....what the hell are we doing there in the first place.....a waste of time....a waste of human lives....a waste of money. Alas....so many good people have died in vain...for nothing!!!!!!!!!

    January 5, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  69. Roger

    "CIA, FBI; Ignorance and arrogance is what they do best."

    Then do something about it, Doug. How about some constructive criticism? Join the Agency or Bureau and join the fight, rather than complain about the people who make up these organizations. Do you even KNOW anyone in either of these organizations?

    Your comment is what is woefully ignorant and isn't helpful.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  70. gary

    I think we'll see a large improvement in intel gathering since Afghanistan is now our focal point on the WOT. A sincere effort by the US government was misplaced, and was not directed to explore this effort to the fullest over the last 9 years. Many things will change now as we get serious about Afghanistan and one of which will be intelligence gathering.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Reply
  71. steve

    This is an ongoing challenge: Use military intel for military purposes: to neutralize or eliminate the enemy. Use other intel to help the country determine what it wants to be. We are not aligned with the Afgan culture, we are trying to both eradicate a terrorist enemy and neutralize an internal force that wants a radical society while at the same time the current Afgan government is not able to accomodate the needs of the people. As a former military intel officer as well as a worker for 20 years in Saudi Arabia, I can tell you right up front if you do not understand the culture and its dynamics, you can not affect real change. I had to understand the social, cultural, religious, political and economic forces within a country before I could effectively provide intel. Right now, our intel community still works in silos and the enemy is not confined to fighting us in silos. There needs to be a higher level of shared and analysed intel to provide the leaders with an overall plan to change the current enironment.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Reply
  72. Acumen Prophet

    Gen. Flynn and Gen. McChrystal are two of the most qualified to run the show over in Afghanistan but respectfully so the military leadership (collectively) needs to pull their head out of their !#$?. I realize more than most that Afghanistan is going to take years longer to truly stabilize (due to infrastructure issues and not "the threat") but that's what the military has transition teams for...RIGHT?! Why aren't Gen. Flynn, and staff, utilizing these teams to tell them the "cultural lay of the land"? They should tell you better than any service member who the "power-brokers" are, what roads need the most attention, what projects are being completed and what projects are being "milked". You should be meeting with your transition teams at least weekly and getting this type of feedback. Right now 90% of the intelligence community is nothing more than glorified reporters regurgitating what others have already reported and not giving the "so-what". What in GOD's name are you analyzing? We were always under the impression that analysis was based on formulated/fused facts and opinions to come to a reasonable truth...I don't know maybe I am wrong! And maybe Al Qaeda will spell everything out for us instead of only giving the value of A and C and leaving to our "intelligence community" what B equals. (NOTE: We will continue to spin our wheels until the military leadership can open their egos up to a SPARTA-type leadership style and stop trying to fit a corporate mold.) "THE PERSON IN CHARGE IS THE PERSON WITH THE RIGHT ANSWER" – COL THOMAS H. FELTS

    January 5, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Reply
  73. Howard

    Great Report. I just hope that the necessary people not only read it but put the recommendations into action. Too often well thought out information is ignored by unit commanders and staff. I would like to see a follow up report in 8 to 12 months to see if any of the recommendations were put to use.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  74. Mae Reyes

    Muslims will never trust anyone outside their faith. Military people in Afghanistant & Iraq never turn your back nor trust even for a seconds if you are patrolling with them or working with them. Specially the terrorist mind, their minds are pre-occupied how to kill and decimate others even people of their own faith who are dealing with Western or Christian. They would rather Communism rather that Western and other faith.

    Their life is centered in Islamic faith. Everything they do, they act depends on this faith. Brotherhood is very strong among themselves. Outsiders will have extreme difficulty to penetrate their league unless their is something they can gain. Of course this is temporary.

    They are respectful to their elders but with too much pride when it comes to other faiths. Of course not all, but majority. There are some with Western orientation, but of course in the long run, every things revolves around their faith.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Reply
  75. Chris

    As an intelligence officer I will say that it doesn't surprise me that a double agent blew himself up, taking with him CIA and Jordanian intelligence officers. I'm also not surprised of the report sent and supported by the ISAF commander. Everyone in the military knows that the need for HUMINT and counterintelligence personnel is very much needed and woefully low in number. Tactical HUMINT is what gets the job done on the ground, but the problem is it is being conducted by undertrained, young adults who are too wide-eyed and bushy-tailed to even comprehend such an ancient culture in their one-year tour; not to mention the fact that less than one percent of these soldiers speak, Urdu or Pashtu. How can we expect our few knowledgeable NCOs and Warrants and the CIA/DIA to cover down to the local level?

    January 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Reply
  76. DE Tedooru

    One can only wonder if the same hubris that produced such intel blind, language deaf and culture dumb DIA services in the military is not also characteristic of this report. Without a draft, Americans suffer from the "ain't my kid going to war" disconnect syndrome and so our expeditionary force commanders are let to do their thing. The McChrystal report of last August reads like a bad high school term paper and proves, as in Vietnam, that men with such awesome fire power at hand do not see the need for removing the steel pot that stands between their brain and the world in which they travel armed to the teeth and learn. Lots of war toys and a sense of superiority makes one see the people there as targets instead of the reason why we're there. The Taliban managed to avoid doing this in Afghanistan and so is winning but alQaeda failed to in Iraq and so it lost.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Reply
  77. Joe

    Let those that of critical of the data get up from behind their desks and get in the field. American's can use the help......

    January 5, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Reply
  78. Shamen

    Really?! You mean to say "military intelligence" actually is an oxymoron?! I'm shocked, SHOCKED!!...round up the Usual Suspects.

    All the more reason to GET OUT NOW and stop THROWING MONEY AWAY on a LOST CAUSE.

    It is a vain conceit for Americans to think they can Americanize the world. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, and yet our military keeps dumping vinegar all over the Middle East. Every thoughtful American should be embarrassed, ashamed, and outraged. President Obama has failed to bring leadership and accountability in the wake of W's repeated misdeeds.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Reply
  79. CDR

    MG Flynn is both credible...and right. You don't have to be an intel genius, or an academic think-tank guru to realize the argument being made here makes sense. My hope is that the POTUS takes the time to read it.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Reply
  80. CeeCee

    we would have been better off if we would have approached Afghanistan with a "war on land mines and poverty'" mentality instead of throwing all this technology at them ex. drones. There are children and elderly dying from cold and starvation. Why not help them out first?

    January 5, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Reply
  81. machtim akannah

    The seat of the problem is the input from the incompetent political individuals, from the President on down, who have little or no hands on experience. Let the military and the intel agencies do their work. If they are not to be trusted, get the hell out of Afghanistan...

    January 5, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  82. Allpoliticsarelocal

    The university I teach at has an officer training program. I had one young, very bright, future officer in a class (not a military science course, but a humanities course) that knew he is going to Afghanistan in the spring, but knew absolutely zero about the history of the region, let alone the various ethnic groups, tribes, tribal loyalty and geography. I gave him a lengthy reading list, which to his credit, he absorbed. I also encouraged in him to learn some Pashto, Urdu, and Dari (he didn't even know what the official language of Afghanistan was, sigh). I asked him what he was learning in training: "strategy and tactics." But what kind of strategy and tactics are taught without any knowledge of whom you are applying the strategies and tactics against? Afghanistan is not an abstraction, and if teaching future officers, then it seems prudent to teach material about the long and bloody history of incursions into the region by outside armies, etc. Especially since it is obvious we are going to be there a while.
    My former student is a committed, talented young man, and I am sure he will have quite an advantage because of his reading, and more importantly because of his curiosity; his men will be very lucky to have him at the helm. But it makes me shudder when I read reports like the one above, and I wonder what the hell we are doing there if we care so little about the basic tenet that Machiavelli laid out in the 15th century. A prince must know the lay of the land and its people he is fighting.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Reply
  83. David H. Hesla

    Like Dick Cheney, the American military believes it is fighting a "war." And when you are fighting a "war" you don't need to understand "local economics and landowners . . .power brokers." But what is going on in Afghanistan is not a "war." Until we understand that, and change the name, we will not "succeed" in our efforts. Has anyone read "Three Cups of Tea"?

    January 5, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  84. David

    As is so often the case, the media sensationalizes the matter by selectively quoting from the report and thereby gives the general public a misleading impression of its content. Anyone reading the full report will recognize that the authors are addressing their comments and recommendations to the needs of a counter-insurgency policy to re-focus information-gathering on the circumstances of the local indigenous population. This is best done by the soldier or marine in the field, moving among and talking with the villagers in order to better understand the culture and local socio-economic pressures: this is not spying, but simply sensible information-gathering. At the same time, the report also makes clear that intelligence operations against terrorists and insurgents should be maintained. It all makes sense to me.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Reply
  85. Inal

    I had a friend who was in military intelligence during Vietnam, he had a bumper sticker on his truck that said "I am an Oxymoron" with the US military intelligence colors...! But seriously, Americans as a whole have long been viewed as the least knowledgeable or experienced people in the world when it comes to other cultures. Therefore I'm not surprised at Maj. General Flynn's report and (assumed) frustration. The question is 1) how do you find the right people that can quickly absorb the experience needed to appreciate as different a culture as the Afghani one, 2) can you find such a person in the world's greatest "cultural melting pot"? 3) does the MILITARY have the resources to culturally train such persons if found?
    No brainer; it ain't gonna happen.
    Cultural experience is about experiencing the culture for a period of time that can influence a person's perceptions and understanding of the culture in question. And a warzone isn't the place to accomplish this.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Reply
  86. Ranger Roy

    MG Flynn must feel frustrated with trying to lead in the right direction. Using an academic think-tank is just the kind of out of the box thinking we need in the leadership there. I hope it allows for a fast change that makes a positive difference.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Reply
  87. Q B

    Tuesdsay morning BQs are very smart – aren't they. They can win every Sunday/Monday game. They have all the opinions and analysys of the information gurus – the commentators for their use.

    As to what the General wants from his spies, well – the General should have already have known that basic information before he even went to war. The spies should only be concerned with getting the latest tactical manuvers/plans of the enemy.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  88. Rock

    When are we all going to realize it's time to stop using the same approach we been using for the pass 8 years, it's not working. The generals need to understand this war can not be won with technology alone, there need to be boots on the ground. If we don't have the right intelligence at this point what mays any think sending 30,000 more troops will help. This report is the tip of ice berg, there is surely much General Officers will not release to the public about how unprepared our fighting force has been for the pass years. I only hope Secretary Casey and Gen McChrystal will hit the reset button and find a few real Generals with the courage such at Gen Flynn to be honest with the people and the President to get the right information and equipment in our soldiers.

    We need to stop playing the political games, take the fight to the enemy. War has not change since man developed the gun, you kill the bad guys, not let them go to fight another day. The Bush, Chaney and Rumsfield era some how came to the idea that our military should be genital with the enemy, detain prisoners in definately without due process. I guess the same "Think tank" the previous administration use to get us into the war must have develop the training manuals for those CIA agents allowed the locals to new when, where and the time of their meetings.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  89. Drain

    Wow. This kind of report does not reveal anything to "the enemy" except that they might further fool military forces with misleading headlines. I'd have to say the broad range of feedback likely reflects the very mentalities at odds over how to proceed. At best, the suggestion that lines of effective dialogue might be opening – far from being a "bleeding heart" mentality, actually might help keep more civilian and military hearts from bleeding out. If military aims don't support the well-being of the general populace...wait, you mean this has all just been a war of retaliation justifying vast military spending to keep attention off real issues at home and abroad?

    January 5, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Reply
  90. TJ

    Right, it does start at the top, and I am afraid our administration does not understand how to lead a large organization. Our CIA is not a happy place with our Attorney General threatening its professionals and leaders who frequently place their lives at risk to protect us. Our General are action oriented but must wait for guidance and direction. Unfortunately, while good willed, this nieve leadership creates a fragmented organization. The General's comments were not well placed in public, but where else did he have to go with his passion? The WH or CNN?

    January 5, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  91. bill3

    These guys should read "The Ugly American"... might help in their cultural sensitivity

    January 5, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Reply
  92. Pieter

    having lived and worked in the US from 1980 till 85, with three young children in primary / jr. high-school, I was in a god position to observe the ordinary american citizen in how they live and view the world. First, they are very proud on 'the American way' and are mostly pretty ignorant about other contries or cultures. This is fostered by the american school-system, where geography, history, foreign languages, knowledge of other people and nations is nearly 100% neglected and teached in only a very basic way. The US is so big and has so many excellent recreational areas that most americans hardly ever leave their country. And if they do, occasionally, they take a cruise or organized trip togethe with other americans. As Europe consists of many (28) smaller countries, each with their own language, culture, history, laws etcetera, Europeans are breastfed on cultural differences and are much more sensitive to understand them.
    This makes a big difference when you are exposed to a war in a far away country like Afghanistan. So your Intel people are at a large disadvantage already from their youth and education.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Reply
  93. hagakure

    Ha ha ha!!
    gringos, you miss the spot in afghanistan. ask your self why the only leader of Afghans, Ahmed sha massoud was killed by so called talibans -who where trained and feed by US- with a technic pastly used to intent to shoot down eden pastora, in Nicaragua, in the 80s.
    I spend a very short time with the afghans related with massoud in the '80, and I witneseed as the americans where suporting extreme muslim instead of moderated. Accion, consecuence. I know, you are stubborn, so you will massacre as many afghans as you can, but later or longer, you will need to withdrawl your monster army. As it happend in viet nam, your militaria, good to fight against any XXI century army, can´t do almost nothing to people living in XVI century. sorry for the afghans who fight for their home, their village, their mother and fahter.
    you fight for greed. later or longer, you will loose. Any action taken by afghans against americans, anywere, are legitime. there were no afghans involved in any acction against USA.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Reply
  94. Peter Rohr

    I have done business internationally in high tech for years, have taught myself 6 languages, and have lived and worked in 6 different European coutnries. My multicultural background has never been valued, not even when I taught high tech workshops in the local languages. The days will come when Americans will have to learn to look beyond its own culture and language and start to talk to the people in the countries they are. Nothing has changed since the situation towards the end of WWII when Berlin had huge American staffs who had no idea of what they were doing and were outsmarted
    by a handful of Russians who were highly trained in languages and culture. It must be a WASP thing. I often make fun of the English who once ruled the world, were so busy telling everybody what to do, and never learned anything resulting in the awful English cuisine unless you go to an Indian restaurant 😉

    January 5, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Reply
  95. David

    Shocker. America has a long history of disinterest in the local politics of countries it fights in, with predictable results. Hearts and minds only happens when its way too late to succeed. Read history and learn from it. Or fight unending war.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Reply
  96. David

    It seems typical for our country to assert it's culture on others. In Afganistan, much like Viet-Nam the people do not support the corrupt govenment. The Afgan's see us as part of the political regime in power. Intelligence requires support from the locals that form a positive relationship....none exists. They see us as interlopers. Our country needs to forget "Super Power" mentality and provide like support at numbers other countries commit. No one can be a catalyst for change unless the citizens support and embrace the change.

    I personally think we need to remove the military from recommendations.....afterall, it's in their interest to lock horns...in order to maintain their rank and privilege.

    I make the above statement as as wounded Viet-Nam Vet. that served in the Airborne Infantry in Viet-Nam as part of the First Cav. Div.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  97. El Guero

    So what else is new?

    Our cultural arrogance pervades not only the intelligence community but also virtually all the foreign policy community.

    Sun Tzu observed 25 centuries ago that to be successful in battle and foreign affairs, one must know oneself and know the adversary.

    We know little of our adversaries and abysmally nothing about ourselves. The world is tired of the American nanny coming around and telling them what to do.

    We, in our ignorance of others, assume that our way is the right and only way. It is not and get over it.

    If we pursued our foreign relations with wisdom and understanding rather with technology and UAVs the world might be kinder to us.

    We have met the enemy and he is us,,,,Pogo

    January 5, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  98. GRK

    distinction between war and politics in meaningless, any person with a brain knows war is politics by other means. the military is dominated by a bunch of tuff guy heroes who despite their bravery do not have the ability to understand that unless your strategy is just to kill every person in the target country and then say, gee the problem seems to be solved,
    then you need to understand the psychology of both the direct targets and everybody else in the area

    January 5, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Reply
  99. Matthew Cohen

    Michael Flynn sounds like he's from Rhode Island. No non-sense.
    A breath of fresh air. I like the way he takes a dig at "the contractors" as well. The fact is the United States military has been used, abused, and bastardized by criminal politicians and profit driven contrators.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  100. william j cody

    i've friends in the intelligence field, both ngo and government. this is what they've been complaining about for years.
    since 9/11, we've been out for revenge, not intelligence. the fundamentals of intelligence never change. if you ignore them, you do so at your peril.
    1. ability to speak the language
    2. geographic knowledge
    3. anthropological knowledge ( tribes, social and political relations)
    4. predominant religion
    5. defined long range and short term goals (specific teams set up for each – no overlap!)
    6. a visit to the hopi/navajo tribal homelands would be a very good introduction to tribal cultures and conflicts
    7. gather intelligence and report clearly and accurately what has been obtained – don't ignore what doesn't fit your prejudices

    and that's about it. i've been waiting since 1967 for the above to take hold in our intelligence community. i expect to be dead before this happens.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  101. Stephen Smith

    Unfortunately the intelligence business is not a sport where one can parade their victories and successes. Also unfortunately the failure of intelligence operations are duly noted and often the ramifications of failure is publicity. Granted their are case officers and other who couldn't get their dog out of the pound if you gave them $1000-. But the systemic failure does, and always appear the inability of analyist and other drivers who dont adapt to theatre conditions and local customs. That shouldnt be an "AH-HA" moment. Since when does the street rules of Brooklyn work just as effective if you were in Hollywood. A real analyst should have his classroom in Langley and his butt (just as long), in Turkey eating couscous before he/she runs any thing from the "campus".

    January 5, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Reply
  102. Ron Cameron

    It's sad to learn that we are still trying to defeat the new enemy with old tactics. We are involved in a 'war' that has been going on for about three thousand years, and is deeply routed in ideological, not geographic, differences. I believe it was the British who originally drew lines in the sand, literally, and told these people that they couldn't travel around in the nomadic way they had done for centuries, and we are still trying to get them to believe as we believe – that is, have the same values, life styles, even our ways of conducting 'war'. We're not going to solve the problems in this area of the world – basically the inhabitants of the area don't want us to. We offer them freedom and democracy, and they want to live by whatever religious document they subscribe to – and we'll always be on the short end of that stick. The United States has lost its ideological base and doesn't seem to understand that these peoples haven't – we need to recognize that these people aren't going to understand our offer of freedom and democracy when they're still trying to figure out how to live their lives, feed themselves and not get killed in the process by someone who doesn't have the same ideology that they do – which they probably don't understand either. This is a religious conflict, involving ancient promises found in ancient documents. Except for their zealousness they are not, for the most part, politically mature and only understand their own ideological values, and the militants among them don’t seem to want to understand others or allow other values in their society. We need to get to know the people – how they think, what’s of value to them, not their governments, and recognize that this is not a war, but a conflict of ancient origins involving ancient peoples who still live within the current inhabitants of this whole area.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Reply
  103. Makronizer

    Peior est bello timor ipse belli. (Seneca) ibid. p. 70

    January 5, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  104. Sandra

    Having worked for decades in foreign affairs, I have extremely familiar with Department of Defense-generated intelligence. I agree completely with this article; DOD reporting is usually of such poor quality that it is rarely considered a reliable source of information within the government.
    Much of this has to do with the military culture as well as lack of training about local culture and languages. DoD needs to spend a great deal more on training its intel people in languages, culture, and skepticism. Equally important, it must encourage creativity, initiative, and accuracy in reporting, traits which tend to be dampened by the command structure of the military profession: one is trained to follow instructions and discouraged from thinking about to think outside the box. All too often I've seen military intel people immediatetly accept at face value what they are told by foreigners; they rarely attempt to confirm this information before reporting it. Naive.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  105. Floydster

    Our intel was embarassing in Iraq. It is shameful now that we can't even find Bin Laden. Several other countries have better intel than us. I have seen other countries make pin point attacks and GET what they were after. We still stumble. I was in the military and I am all American, but I am very ashamed of our intel now. We used to be #1 in most everything and proud of it. What in the world happened?

    January 5, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Reply
  106. Doug St. Louis

    Gen. Maj. Flynn hit a homerun on his analysis of the problem. One has to know the people and the culture. If we followed his guidelines it would save lives and requrie a different strategy. If might take additonal time, but it would also save us money. Great thoughts.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Reply
  107. John Toradze

    The 7 CIA deaths is just part of the war. It's not like CIA don't take risks. If you are in a war and nobody is dying, then probably you aren't doing enough. Risk is part of the game.

    That said, I think this general sounds right. I tend to think that one of the problems though is that the primary way to integrate into Afghan society is to patrol as a marine does. They almost all live in villages and clans, so a stranger can't just appear and be accepted. Everyone has a birth to death web of relationships.

    I could integrate into Afghanistan, but I'm an old hand and I don't think the new guys get taught much worthwhile.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  108. Homer

    One word. Pentagon arrigance. The terrorists are using our arrigance against us. Back in 1776 the British army suffered from the same problem, and we took advantage of that.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Reply
  109. PatriotVet

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. The Crusades are insane, and this is one. The Soldiers and Agents are doing the best they can with this stupid mission. It's been almost a decade and things are only getting worse.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Reply
  110. Donna S.

    Obama needs to bring the troops home. How can he fail to realize that escalation ONLY causes more deaths and suffering?! I thought he was a compassionate leader when i voted for him.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  111. marc Raymond

    i definantly agree on General Flynn's statesments we rely on too much tecno info we need to be more on the people level we have a much better chance of success than the russians so why squander all those good chances for one we are more capable of earning their trust their hearts and minds if we would just get in there ang get to know the people more lets face this war being fought could be reduced to a trickle if they weren't getting outside assistance even though they see us not as near as bad as the russians they would rather deal with us that with those "godless atheist because we respect their culture but when you have countries like iran and pakistan constantly meddling the only other choice we have is either to quit or to extend the conflict and go right for the hands that are feeding them mainly iran and Pakistan,Zia al Hak once said if the russians wanted to send in their tanks to karachi they could have easily done it at the same time the mujahadeen would also cease to exist.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  112. Massimiliano

    Good or not, true or false, what the assessment report stress out, one more time, is the fact that often too much attention has been paid to the enemy and his short term strategy, and less to the real end-state we have to reach if we wonna win the AFG War: as Gen. Templer use to say long decades ago ( and Gen. Mc Crystal seems to agree ), we have to win the hearts and minds of the people in Afghanistan. If we do not understand that the goal in not to make the population like westerns troops, but to trust the Afghan Government and New institutions ( Army /ANA and Police/ANP included ). Often western soldiers ( hope not Intel personnel too ), arrive in AFG without knowing the basic about the local institutions, population, history and other cultural and historical background. Doing this they cannot avoid the previous mistakes and cannot take the benefits of previous lesson learned. It took 15 years to win the Insurgencies in the past century. Is it enough for Afghanistan? Doing mistakes as those described in the Officer’s report, I think 15 Yrs are far away from been enough!

    January 5, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  113. Tanya

    "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how strong man stumbled; or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the area!" Theodore Roosevelt

    Mother of a soldier!! (twice deployed)

    January 5, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  114. Kipling

    And this is news because...? BEEN broke. Now fix it without spending more US tax dollars! Or, hmm, is that why such reports are published – to justify spending more on failure?

    January 5, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  115. David

    This is what any prudent business person does in assessing their markets. Know the local politics, wehre the major influcences and influeners are, what drives the social structure and how to fit into it. The hubris shown by our political morons who are convinced, ala Cheney, that we have all of the answers or our way is the only way, just isolates us further. The local commanders need to know their constituents. Oh, and read "Ghost Wars"

    January 5, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Reply
  116. Joe 2

    There are very few bright individuals in the U.S. intelligence community because of a top-down problem of recruiting smart people, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to train them, and then having their insecure managers spend the rest of their careers questioning their veracity and integrity. The smart ones get out. The dumb ones stay in, learn to play golf but otherwise do very little, and get promoted to executive positions. There is virtually no support from top managers in the intel community for out-of-the-box thinking, because to approve of something, a manager has to be an outside thinker, and those do not exist above ground level. Peter principle, people.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Reply
  117. Marc

    It woudl appear to me that Maj General Flynn's report is more of a tabloid article with the hidden agenda of promoting another Contract Firm to come in an provide the various data he describes i.e. which local market is more widely used, radio broadcasts from local chieftains ect. I admit such data could very well be useful to the intelligence gathering community, but I believe the military is very capable of accomplishing this without another overbloated security firm under goverment contract coming in to accomplish this task. This report was written by a MajGen and sent out in the form of a Defense Think tank review versus a classified militay report! This should tell everyone what his intentions were and are in this situation. Maj Gen all work for huge civilian think tanks or sit on boards of some huge private civiilian contracting company. What ever happened to HUMINT–Human Inelligence gathering? The military use to be good at this untill all of the Democratic cutbacks. End game–develop a HUMINT program within the military, keep such reports classified, look for local trustworthy people you can monitor and bring into the US military to spy for you from the country -in this case Afghanistan.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Reply
  118. Gulth

    Total absence of any effort to understand the local culture has been the bane of US forces in ANY country, may it be Korea, Japan, Iraq, or Afghanistan.
    Most Americans involved, don't even make an effort to pronounce the name of the country properly!
    Without at least a fair understanding of how people in these countries think, one cannot operate with any degree of efficiency.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Reply
  119. Kyber

    As a returning MI professional who was stationed in the East, I can attest that this report is dead on. Not only do Intel professionals need to understand the culture, but it would be good for the military to train us in how important Hofstede's Cultural Dimension Indexes are in relation to the existing caste system's that existing between Pushtu, Hazara, Tajik, etc. I spent the majority of my time not collecting information in a traditional sense, but improving the living conditions of the ANA and ANP. When we sat together for meals, that is when the real information began to flow...

    January 5, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Reply
  120. marcialmerino

    hatred brings more hatred !that the biggest problem if us people understand this principal they are not ready to live in peace with other people.ujust blow up the world so that you american people live safely.i am surprised how ignorant the us is of other culter.very sad in deed

    January 5, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Reply
  121. Thomas Morris

    I whole heartedly agree with our Intelligence Officers on the ground in Afganistan. That is the object of intelligence; to find out who the movers and shakers are. Learn about the people; and the tribal set up. Eventually we can find who can and will help our cause; and we can prove to them that we are not there to occupy their Country, but to get rid of our enemies who murdered our people on 9/11!
    Some of us Americans have gone intoo other countries and locked ourselves in compounds away from the very people we're supposed to be gaining their respect and good will. You would be surprised what just trying to learn a little of their language can do to gain the confidence and freindship of the Afgan people. T.E. Morris, U.S. Army Retired.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Reply
  122. Infantry Officer

    The General is 100% right. I spent a tour in afghanistan as a combat adviser(2008). Intell was always driven by us to superiors who sometimes did not listen. Our intelligence agencies never left the big bases, we were the ones out there. Solution, Hire inteligence personnel who have been on the ground as soldiers. Push intelligence assets out of the bases and into the battle, like we did.

    January 5, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Reply
  123. E. Daniels

    Another Bush legacy. What did his Republican adimistration not goof-up? What more shall surface?? Another fine mess!

    January 5, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Reply
  124. Zane

    The CIA has the people they need to carry out proper intelligence. We children of the founders of the CIA knew what out parents were doing irrelevant towards their trying to hide it from us. The problem has always been political in which the CIA, like government, hires those whom 'kiss ass' and not he best qualified people.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Reply
  125. Brad

    Just more in the broken trail of dead bodies, torn up constitutions, lies, deceit, murder, and everything we've come to know and love about Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and everything they created and destroyed our country with this past decade.

    Da** them to eternal he**.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Reply
  126. tom

    If you want social, civil, cultural info get State and CIA to work it. Not many soldiers have Anthropology degrees.

    In war, if it does not help you kill the enemy it is not intelligence.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Reply
  127. Buck

    The General should be doing instead of talking or righting reports! if he is the top military intelligence officer, what is he doing publishig when he should be putting in action his own words? No wonder the WOT is sputtering with leadership like this.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Reply
  128. Paul Vega

    Sounds like someone needs to put Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn in charge.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Reply
  129. Old Hand

    As an old friend of MGen Flynn, I know he is honest and not about to shift the blame to anyone else. What some of the responders fail to realize is that in our military the actual military folks are the intelligence consumers not the collectors. The other goverment agencies are the ones that go out in the bush and gather the information that the military intelligence analysts colate into a product for their commanders. If the Agency guys are targeting the wrong thing then they cannot collect the information the troops and their commanders are grasping for.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Reply
  130. j leb

    Come on wake up, 99.9 % of ALL Americans (not ONLY the military intelligence gathering)) are "ignorant of local economics and landowners, culture, customs, language ETC, all over the world. Just a bunch a non-educated, brainless dummies

    January 5, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Reply
  131. Fijian

    Some US intelligence officers are on vacation in Afghanistan, perhaps a sight seeing tour

    January 5, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Reply
  132. J W

    Military Intelligence and other so called intelligence agencies all have their own agenda. Intelligence almost never gets down to the war fighters who need it. They make the determination on a, "need to know" basis. They make the determination and they don't trust each other and they think everyone else is incompetant. I was standing beside a MI officer in central america who was advising there was no credible threat when a firefight started less than a mile from our position. I saw MI breaking all the rules and making their own policy in Iraq. They do more harm than good when it comes to dealing with the indigenous forces/people.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Reply
  133. Di Roach

    Well done Michael Flynn! Impossible, daunting, unrealistic, waste of time, folly – What adjectives these are and in my opinion the sort of comments that have stipened and thwarted any change to the way that information gathering is sought, gathered, processed, analysed and USED. What Flynn says is what has been identified by many others, albeit covertly, for many years.

    Knowing and asking the 'right' questions must be fundamental to understanding not only the culture as Flynn says but also as he states is critical to determining whether 'one road' is the best way, most travelled, by whom, etc. Wise women and men have, for generations, been imploring the 'powers that be' and the general public, wherever they may be, to 'first walk in that man's mocassions'. To do this requires time, commitment and a willingness to 'do' things differently, all things that our 'leaders' tell us are in short supply. But ask yourselves, how long did the wars such as Vietnam, Ireland and so on go on? Time invested in some of the strategies that Flynn talks about would, undoubtedly, save years, lives and money in the long run.

    For Flynn to have spoken out, is not showing a 'traitor like' mentality, as insinuated by many commentors on here; rather, I believe, it shows the level of frustration that underpins this document.

    Well Done Michael Flynn, finally a person with the courage of his commitments, who is willing to speak out!!

    January 5, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Reply
  134. harvey worthington

    we have US people in Afghanistan dealing with local people that have different culture from us. We are executing with our educational background and like a 2010 Army team. The local enemy is executing with a very low educatonal background and like a 1010 tribe team.
    We really need to send a General that is willing to execute and to win the war. Our Generals are playing the politician game and the insurance paper work to protect themself.
    I am sure we have Generals that can execute like Gen Patton. Tell Obama to use them ASAP, we need them in Aghanistan. We need to authorize our soldier to go out and play to win..

    January 5, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Reply
  135. RRF

    I was in Afghanistan from 2005-2006 as part of a military intelligence gathering effort. While I am currently unaware of how intelligence operations are conducted in Afghanistan, I can speak about the dramatic paradigm shift that occurred while I was deployed. For the first 10 months of my deployment, we operated in plain clothes, relaxed grooming standards, NTVs, and allowed to operate outside of the wire as we saw fit. When 82nd Airborne came into theatre, tactics were switched to go to uniforms, shave, operate in a convoy of Humvees, and restricted movement around country. Intelligence reporting dropped over 90% in one day, literally. From that point on, I have slowly watched Afghanistan deteriorate into the chaos it is today. While I was shot at and blown up in my time in Afghanistan, I never felt my life was in danger. I do not even recognize the country I came to appreciate and believe in when I read news reports about the suicide bombers in places I personally visited and talked with local leaders. So for the General to come out and say that Military Intelligence is out of touch with every facet of Afghan culture and people, he is absolutely right. What I don't see him taking responsibility for is him allowing the broken intelligence effort to continue. That is his responsibility. Change it. That's what Generals do. Afghanistan breaks my heart, when there was so much hope in the year+ I spent there.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Reply
  136. Thomas Morris

    Rocky poppies have been grown in those mountains for thousands of years. Just griping about what you've heard is heresay, as the courts say. I would rather support our effort in Afganistan; because the "Polititions" are doing enough to undermine the efforts of our Brothers and Sisters in Arms. Both houses of Congress have made cuts in the CIA's and other Intelligence organisations; hence not enough feild trained Intelligence officers! I will give them the benefit of the doubt until they get what they need to do their job from our Congress who holds the purse strings! Thomas Morris

    January 5, 2010 at 8:13 pm | Reply
  137. pravin

    Major G Flynn is right, there is soimething fundamentally wrong, as the debacle in Khost vividly demonstrates. Siraj Haqqani must have seen the CD of Body of Lies repeatedly, absorbing its lesson about CIA field officers implicit trust of "Jordanian intell" and used it most effectively. This message was lost on Langley. There are many more illustrations too numerous to list of "failures to connect the dots". As Brenner himself admitted, he a 25-year veteran needs a "road map" to find his target. He is probably adicted to Mapquest for easy solutions to complex riddles. Ill-served by such a coterie, Obama had better make changes ... and quick...

    January 5, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  138. DaveIn84

    Flynn probably isn't really an Intel Officer – they normally bring in Combat Arms guys to fill the Intel slot and get the promotion. That would explain his slight knowledge of what Intel is supposed to bring to the fight.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  139. Murphy

    It is always easy to spread the blame on our intelligence community because intel officers are reluctant to defend themselves (considering the fact that they will ruin their career by breaking silence and exposing themselves). We saw this a lot after we failed the find the so-called Iraqi WMD's and Cheney pointed his finger at the CIA (read Tyler Drumheller's book "On the Brink").

    While it may be true that our intel officers are not as knowledgible about Afghan culture as they should be to produce the best possible intel, we must look at the bigger picture. First, compare the number of our conventional military forces to our covert officers in Afghanistan. While we do not actually know the number of our intel officers, I am just going to assume that it is a very small fraction compared to our military forces. The point I am trying to make is that our troops are the ones who should be getting schooled on Afghan culture. They are the one's on the ground everyday in a much larger scale than that of the intel officers.

    Second, the 30,000 troop increase should greatly increase our operational effectiveness for a couple reasons. Right now, our troops are spread so thin that they can not stay in one village or Afghan province for any expanded period of time. A military officer I had the privilage of speaking with on the matter spoke about how they would clear a town of all Taliban and al Queda, only to return a month later and find themselves fighting the Taliban once again. It is because we lack the troops to take a city and occupy it. Once we are able to stay in a single place, village leaders and our soldiers will be able to build a relationship and begin to move towards the valuable intel that is needed neutralize the Taliban and al Queda

    January 5, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  140. dr skidmore

    All intending IO s should have Rudyard Kiplings "Kim" as mandatory reading before leaving on foreign service.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Reply
  141. Chad

    Tell General Specific and Captain Obvious that Military Intelligence and Psyhops are two different things. Psyhops cover all the angles mentioned in the report. Psyhops talk to the locals about their problems and gather all the atmospherics.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Reply
  142. sidney

    hmm, our "intelligence" services are failing in their attempts to gather real intelligence, there is a surprise.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Reply
  143. RSJ

    We can,t compare this US led war in Afghanistan with the old Soviet invasion.
    The Soviets were fighting Muhajeen rebels who were being re- supplied by the US and could have defended their country for decades !
    We have the Taliban on the run,their end is in sight.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Reply
  144. george vantil

    It's Obama's war. Maybe he can go and sit down with them. The whole worl loves us now because of his style.Or maybe he can vote present again. By the way, were was he on 9-11???

    January 5, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Reply
  145. Chad

    Andrew Lupin's comment is ignorant! Get off my ass and earn my salary? Listen genius if you read the article and saw what the general was asking for than you should know that those things are not an MI function. Have you ever heard of Psyhops or Civil Affairs dummy? Do you want us to find out who the terrorist financier is or do want us to find out why the road wasn't paved. Remember Andrew, be a thinker not a stinker.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  146. el

    He's right to the extent that our analysts based here for the most part, other than those with in-country experience, add little value to the socio-political intelligence that the general speaks about and the motives of the populace there. Our reliance on intelligence gathering from afar works well against concrete, tangible targets, but poorly against understanding the people and their motives.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Reply
  147. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    When you consider that our intelligence agencies purged anyone with any knowledge of Afghanistan and other Islamic "hot spots" early in the Bush Administration, it is no surprise that our "intelligence" groups come off like the "Gang that couldn't shoot straight". It takes many years to try and understand the makeup of the Afghans. Look at the UK. They realized they could never make a centralized government work as they were doing in India. Russia reailzed Afghanistan had become their Vietnam. Unless our military and intelligence agencies will stop trying to play King of the Hill and actually work together, our military will not be able to pursue the job they were sent there for. It will just be a case of "capture the hill", then leaving it for the Taliban to take it back, then trying to capture it again. Just like 'Nam!

    January 5, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Reply
  148. Val

    If you want real intelligence, stop hiring only white male to the intelligence agenices and start hiring and training people who can easily merge into the local communities where we are gathering intelligence.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Reply
  149. casper hughes

    There have been lot of say about intelligence failure in Afghanistan. To me every foreign force in Afghanistan tried to implement their own strategies with out looking history of Afghanistan. Starting from Mughals, British, Soviet and now the US. If you look last 1000 years in Afghanistan no out side power ever able to hold Afghanistan, so if US and allies thinks they can control Afghanistan with out respecting and learning the way of life and religion they live in fools dream. Afghanistan is not Iraq, every single man and child carry gun in Afghanistan as their pride. They have fought all the foreign forces and now they are well trained gorilla warriors in the world. You cannot control or win hearts in Afghanistan with guns or money. One have to earn their trust and respect them, this is the only way to have some friends otherwise incidents like where we lost our best brains in the field will occur again.

    Learn history, Afghans culture, what they believe, traditions and living style and respect . That's all you need to have better resources utilization on the ground for success of any mission.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Reply
  150. AJS

    Loved the comment by Andrew Lubin – Sounds like things in the Army have not changed since Desert Storm or Bosnia. Having been in the military for over 20 years, I can agree that there is a distinct cultural difference between the Army and the Maritime Services. I will also say that I am pleased to see that is changing, and every day brings more evidence towards that goal.

    While I have not read this specific report, it sounds like the purpose of the report is to start including additional or different education and training for those personnel in the military intelligence fields. The funding does not come from Congress for additional training until the need for it is evident. Remember, our Constitution does hold Congress responsible for, among other things, funding and training our services.

    I view news of this report as a solid step in the right direction – admission of an asymmetrical gap between current training provided and skills needed in the field.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Reply
  151. Bob H

    Our entire Mind-Set is off. If we got our minds right, we wouldn't have the problem reported here.

    Even if Obama's White-House abandons the works "War on Terror", no meaningful alternative has yet been offered from the Bully Pulpit. Once it is, it will take time to sink in, and time is flying.

    Most American decision-makers are reared in a culture of abundance.
    Many Americans are reared in a culture of scarcity.
    The majority of humans are reared in a culture of scarcity.

    Based on results....How many American decision-makers have made intimate common-cause with the humans ensnared in the condition of poverty? ......not enough.

    If we could embrace, and learn from, and make common cause with impoverished cultures in America, we would have a 'necessary' leg-up on doing the same in Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

    Instead, we have a 'War on Poverty' declared decades ago, to modest effect. Poverty has been diminished, yet persists in many communities which are breeding grounds for the mind-set of despair and resentment.

    Now we have had a 'War on Terror' some 8 years now, to modest effect. Terror is held at bay, yet impoverished, exploited communities that are breeding grounds of the mind-set of despair and resentment persist.

    A problem half-solved is evidence of a lack of commitment.
    If our sacrifices are to be more than symbolic, they must be made in frequency and measure achieve fulfillment of our commitment.

    The price is dear, the work is hard, and the goal is has no finish line.

    The by-product of living in the commitment to transform communities in despair and resentment into communities, not of hope, but with reasonable expectations of health, meaning, and peace, and, within their transforming cultural context, freedom is a change in our mind-set.

    Are we committed to give up our mind-set for a broader, wiser one?


    It is a lot to ask, and History and made the request, and time is flying.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  152. Bull

    Pass them all through body-scanners

    January 5, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Reply
  153. Todd

    I stopped reading after the first 30 comments, those people sounded like bigger idiots than the people getting in the way of the intelligence gathering process.

    I would like to read that report when I have time, but I'm too busy currently trying to get something accomplished in my own little fishbowl. Too bad, it sounds like he may have touched on many of the huge problems within intel. One of the problems with many of the people working around me in that arena in West Germany was the fact that they knew so little about the area to even consider the intel they were seeing/hearing outside of a vaccuum. Most of them didn't even know the European Geography, much less history or culture, and that was all easily available; unlike the culture and local histories within Afghanistan. This sounds like the crux of his report according to the news article.

    Now we are down to 6 and 9 month tours in Afghanistan, how the hell is someone supposed to figure out what is going on in 6 months? I'm sorry, but if you are in the intel field (including the fringe elements of that field like embedded positions or LNO and mentor slots) you need to be sent there for no less than two years. would it suck to be in Afghanistan for two straight years, yep; if you don't like it, switch career fields, we always need more cooks.

    In the 80s and 90s, one of the biggest problems we had with the lack of quality intelligence being gathered was that the counterintelligence agents all had their hands tied and weren't allowed to do the taskings that are doctrinally required to get the job done for fear that they would do something wrong and break a law or violate a SOFA Agreement in the process. If an agent got in trouble for something along these lines it would go on his CO's and BC's OER as a negative comment, but if he didn't receive the tasking in the first place he couldn't get in trouble and they wouldn't receive those negative OER comments. Too bad they didn't also get the negative OER comments they still deserved for gross negligence in not accomplishing the mission (not even tasking personnel to accomplish said mission is criminal, it leaves the battlefield commanders with only a fuzzy black and white snapshot of what is going on around them). When I was in West Germany our unit found out one of the agents was Ghost Writing, they let him PCS, because if they had prosecuted him and sent him to jail where he belonged it would have probably cost both of their next promotions. Fix the OER problem, we might get a better product.

    My last complaint is politics (no big surprise). I will just say this, if you are playing politics, you don't have enough time to do your job right, no matter what that job is.

    Don't lose hope though, we are still winning the war here in Afghanistan, and amazingly it won't take any longer (was already a process that was going to take a long time); it will just have a lot more growing pains as we slowly figure it out. And if you think it is taking too long and that we should already have won and left, why are you not asking about our exit strategies for Japan, Okinawa, Germany, Italy, Spain, Korea, etc? Remember, the last military conflict where our civilian government was constantly discussing exit strategy ended up a loss and Vietnam is only now looking like they are properly recovering from the barbaric government we abandoned them to when we left.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Reply
  154. Ex-Spook

    The information that is need is there. It can be found at the G-5 and the PMO and six other places. Patrol Debriefs and all the rest can be handled by an aggressive FORMICA debriefing program. The model was Task Force Eagle in BH.

    Look, I have just reinvented the wheel.

    Happy New Year to all.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Reply
  155. Larry

    Its appalling that we don't seem to learn any good lessons from the years of this type of conflict. Too bad the world isn't a Tom Clancy novel and we could find a Jack Ryan who seems able to understand exactly what's needed to identify the bad guys and how to go about defeating them. I have to believe there are more than a handful of actual intelligence and military people who understand how to get to the heart of the matter re gaining support from locals who won't or can't identify the bad guys, including foreign fighters who should stand out like sore thumbs in small villages. What's the per capita spend for the wars so far in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.? Why do the questions raised by this report, after this long of an effort, seem like obvious issues we should have thought about a long time ago?

    January 5, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  156. Phil

    As it's been said, the terms "Military" and "Intelligence" are mutually exclusive – it's been 8 years and Bin Laden STILL laughs in his cave!
    I recently read a book where a Special Ops leader admits to having been within 2000 meters of Bin Laden in Tora Bora and decided it might have been bad for his career to go after him (by ignoring his commanders orders) WTF??!!!

    January 5, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Reply
  157. K bemis

    Why aren't the Intel officers adopting and reconstructing the local schools? Seems to work with the school resource police officers in our local communities. The taliban and terrorists are just gangs and they recruit school age children.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Reply
  158. Elmer

    Why should any intel agent risk going to jail if they do anything the liberals in this country don't like? It's what the liberals has brought this country to, and its not going to improve under this administration.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Reply
  159. dmac

    The content of this report should not surprise anyone, it is good to see it in black and white. Even though the author is Senior person in MI in Afghanistan it is likely this is his only outlet when attempting to deal with entrenched, military bureaucracy. “The devil is in the detail” is a truism that has very apt application in this situation of poor intelligence gathering, lazy intelligence gathering. It takes real work to get this done right and the majority of people involved and who should be out doing the ‘leg work’ are likely busy in front of a computer screen making up reports or developing, updating timelines to satisfy some conjured bureaucratic requirement.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Reply
  160. JonDie

    No news here...except that one U.S. military leader has actually figured out that we are own worse enemies. But it won't do any good, the military will silence this "rogue" general. We Americans believe that we deserve to win...because we're Americans. We need do nothing else.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  161. Morris

    If anyone in the "intelligence" community had ever read Justice William O Douglas' "Strange Lands and Friendly People" or "Beyond the High Himalayas" or T.E. Lawrence or Charles M. Doughty, they might have gained some appreciation of the culture and customs affecting that part of the world and have gleaned some ideas of how to approach those who we are trying to help without alienating them further. Probably watched too many James Bond movies.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Reply
  162. SANDY


    January 5, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Reply
  163. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, B.A., J.D.

    Pathetic. After eight years, no weisenheimer has bothered to figure out how the society there works, in order to gather intelligence. Perhaps if Bin Laden (wearing an Avery label name tag) appears in Kabul in a large parade, with floats, and fireworks and lots of waving flags, then perhaps, just perhaps these "intelligence" officers might have a chance of finding him.This would the equivalent of a foreign power trying to gather intelligence on the American government by tracking location of the junkets of congressmen and how many pages male and female they have compromised. Perhaps military "intelligence is too busy scouring e-mailed images to bother to ask the guy who makes tea in he village where Bin Laden is staying.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Reply
  164. Bob

    This is nothing new and shows nothing has changed in 41 years. I was at the Army base at Phu Bai SVN in Jan. 68 and we told the Big Mohahs at DaNang there were a lot of RVN west of Hue. They didn't believe us and said it was an error. Needless to say, the Tet Offensive took place later that evening. Here, 41 years later, they are still looking at intelligence the wrong way – some things never change.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Reply
  165. Bogie

    Army intelligence understands that intelligence is for the commander. The CIA does not understand that. MG Flynn is correct in his assessment; with 30 years in Army Intelligence there was never a doubt in my mind that the CIA did not support the commander on the ground; it supported its Station Chief or HQs. But yet the Station Chief is the head honcho. Heck most of the time the commander cannot even task the CIA element.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  166. duffey

    This appears to be a case of the defense department not understanding what the commanders on the ground need for doing their jobs. I wonder if someone is sitting around writting a damning report as opposed to connecting with the intellegence community to discuss what , who, where and how many is occuring?

    I personally believe that the intellegence community and the the commanders are not communicating, and there is a giant void in understanding.

    I am presuming all those involved are wanting to do their jobs well. I think due to lack of coordination in communications, which both sides of this story are responsible need to fix it, so that the information gathering is correct ,accurate and useable to those who need it.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  167. Jeff

    I work at ground zero in the south. I can't verify the accuracy of MG Flynn's operations assessment, but he is 100% correct about what we should be doing. Afghanistan is all about building trust and relationships with the Afghan people and their diverse culture. I believe in the Afghan people. I don't know that they believe in us. We are not there yet.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Reply
  168. C. Michael

    1) shouldn't have been published like this – send it to the Joint Staff J2 and DIA Director instead.
    2) military intelligence is rightly focused on the enemy. But for intel re: local economics and power brokers – the State Dept and CIA need to get off their butts and play a major role in this.
    3) sounds like the problem begins at the Brigade level. So why is refocusing the national level analyst (i.e. DIA) the only solution?

    January 5, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Reply
  169. geodoug

    To better understand what Maj. Gen. Flynn is saying, you should read either, preferably both, the books by Greg Mortenson "Three Cups of Tea" and "Stones Into Schools."

    It is dismaying, from what I see, that not a single comment on this story mentions the considerable wisdom gained by this courageous humanitarian and the members of his team, especially on this topic, wisdom that he has shared with those in our military who were and are willing and interested enough to listen.

    One hopes that those soldiers will be given the opportunity to share that wisdom and actually apply it, effectively.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  170. Gordo NJ

    During the cold war thousands of Americans were trained to speak Russian. Eight years after 9/11 I wonder how many US troops and CIA agents with names like Smith, Johnson, O'Hara, et al., have been trained to speak the languages of South Asia? Every time I see an article on this topic, it says private government contractors are providing interpreters from ethnic Afghan and Pakistani communities in the US. You can't really gather intelligence if you can't speak directly to the local people.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Reply
  171. Omar

    If America even tries to change and "EDUCATE" the Afghan people or pakistani people with their own ideas and culture, it will be easily denied and rejected and causing much more outrage. Islam is an infallible religion that is deep in the hearts of those people...The CIA will never be able to take over the hearts of the young especially when the U.S is blowing their country away....that just makes no sense...and its illogically stupid. I hope the Taliban and Al Qaeda overthrow every tyrannical regime in the mostly Muslim dominated countries and attain FREEDOM for its people. The U.S is the biggest terrorist in the world and I'm sick and tired of them calling the people defending their homeland the TERRORISTS..U.S drone strikes kill 10 times or more civilians than they kill Taliban or Al Qaeda leaders. Its pathetic how America wants peace and they think they are trying to achieve peace by meddling with other countrie's beliefs and values and trying to change it..How did the U.S feel toward the Soviets when they tried to spread communism to the entire world...The Soviets thought they were doing the right thign and thought that it was best for everybody yet in relaity it wasnt...The same thing is happening, the U.S is making itself hated across the entire world as it further meddles with other countries and continues its war on Islam, and not terrorism. Almost all the muslims in the world wish for a united Islamic state under shariah law, but the U.S with its "PEACELOVING" policies are trying to stop that...Don't worry though, it will happen and the U.S will go down despite its bad and costly efforts...

    January 5, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  172. Charles Johnson

    Although the US military has created the best fighting machine in the world, we have yet to develop an indepth understanding of the importance of tribalism that is the primary means of survival in many cultures (Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Africa, etc.). The majority of the people in the tribes are uneducated and their trust is with the tribal chiefs/warlords who are making daily decisions that provide the basics for survival. These tribal leaders decide which other tribes, governmnents, or foreign agencies to support. However, their support can quickly shift when sensitivity to cultural differences are ignored, promises are not kept, members of the tribe are needlessly injured, or someone else offers them more $$$. US success, military and civil, will depend on understanding and working with the tribes, not necessarily the big governments.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  173. robert

    Not surprising. When the mission is to "hunt and kill", everybody will thry to concentrate on tactics to inflate the body count. As in Nam. And probably with the same sad results, when we get tired of "hunting and killing" we'll quit, and leave the Afghans alone.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Reply
  174. steve parks

    The C.orrupt I.ntelligence A.gency ,you mean?The CIA,I'm sure,knows a lot more than what they come off as knowing.Would they keep back things from the military,as well?They withhold things from anyone else,why not?
    They are corrupt murderers who are in the business of fulfilling the wishes of corrupt politicians(who in turn are in the business of setting up things for the illuminati triad).Hmmmmmm

    January 5, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Reply
  175. cybercarbon

    Intelligence gathering must be based on trust and the US can not be trusted, Check the value of a dollar, in 1970 you could buy an oz of gold with 35 dollars now you need over 1100 dollars to buy that same oz of gold. In that part of the world gold is real money and they use paper to wipe themselves. If you do not have an honest currency then how trustworthy is the government or their reps? Would you bet your life on that trust, or your family, or entire tribe? Good Luck if there was someone stupid enough to take the job, I would subcontract it out. But then you would have to have a clear obtainable goal. It is too bad the leaders of the United States are not as honorable as the soldiers that serve them.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Reply
  176. steve parks

    More to the question at the end.are we repeating the mistakes the russians made?Let's look at history.The Russians tried their best to wipe out the Afghani people,with "village cleansings".We are not.The Russians put in a puppet government.We have done that,but it is slightly different in the approach we have taken.The Russians had not only the wrong kind of troops to fight them(heavy infantry units),but poorly trained ones at that.We have the best trained troops in the world over there,along with masses of special forces.
    In answer to the question,no.I don't think we are making the same mistakes the Russians did.However,we are fighting in a region that has never been fully taken over by a foreign power,and against a foe that is probably willing to fight us for the next 1000 years.So,the solution is to either wipe them all out,or make the Afghani gov't strong enough to defend itself,or stay their for the next 1000 years.The question I wonder is,which are we going for?Are we trying to vie for position against Russia or China for a future conflict?Or against Iran if that should happen?Perhaps the oil pipeline that is to be built there?Is it all about terrorism?Or is terrorism something we have created,and intend to keep going til all those who desire power get it?

    January 5, 2010 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  177. Massimiliano

    I agree with many of the above comments. After several months spent in that country in the last 5 years, it is very sad, tour after tour, to see how things are going worse about security and Local Government development, and more than that, to know that I am part ( willing or not), along with other officers belonging to different ( probably too many countries ), of the failure. Intelligence is only a small, even if very relevant, part of the job in AFG, and we cannot ask them to take all the responsibility for the “failure” ( maybe better call it: “still not reached success”). What is sure is that too many out comers/mavericks/non –professional/not-skilled/bad-prepared/non-Intel branch guys, use to take care of Intelligence matter, instead of those supposed to do it. And more again, all Intel guys suffer of one big illness that cause many problems on the ground and that is difficult ( I understand 9 to cure: share information and too many agencies/corps in the ground.
    But, I understand that write and talk here at home at my desk is easy; do and act there in that mess in another story!
    Best regards to all.

    January 5, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  178. Tom

    Fighting a 13th century tribal culture with 19th century tactics and 20th century intel isn't going to work. This war is global. Afghanistan isn't. It"s all a tribal area. Just like Yemen and much of the middle east. I'm not knocking them. We just don't need to be there. The war is on the internet, not in the tribal regions of the world. If we don't understand that how can we hope to understand the people of Afghanistan?

    January 5, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Reply
  179. saltaire

    His report reveals our folly in adding 30K troops, more fodder for roadside bombs. Since our intell is so thin and inaccurate we risk further troop losses. Hopefully we will now put more emphasis on intell before adding more conventional boots. The face of war has changed and morphed faster and with greater unfamiliarity than our strategy and mission recognize. We are in deep s..t.

    January 5, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Reply
  180. JL Martinez

    It is inevitable for the spiritual blindness that covers. Predicted in Isaiah 3:1-4, where the Creator would eventually "take away...the judge and the prudent...and the counsellor...and babes shall rule over them." Also in Isaiah 29:14-"the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." Without repentance unto Torah, the days of US and Britain and other modern nations which have evolved from the Israelite exile are doomed; for former Israel has not been destroyed, it is only in exile-Isaiah 5:13; Deut 28:64. Take it from there.

    January 5, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Reply
  181. Lee Stevens

    War in that region can only be won by psychological warfare.Conventional military force is a waste for the most part,especially when you will not send in US forces into Pakistan.The enemy will never concentrate its forces so that one decisive blow could win the day.By all definition other than the NEO Cons its not a war.It is a criminal insurgency.In a war somebody has the right to surrender, no one group could surrender hence no one will.
    Couple this with a hereto unknown form of robotic warfare that seems to kill as many innocents as it does villains you have a no win situation as bad as Bushs no plan occupation of Iraq or the catastrophe of Abhu Ghrab . Obama has underlined a perfect winning strategy for the Taliban by setting deadlines.The Taliban will hit and run across the board until they regain control.they will keep on steady low cost pressure until we fold while we have yet to really put any serious pressure on them.
    No one in the USA acknowledges the fundamnetal belief among many Muslims, that the only good non-Muslim is a dead non-Muslim, or one that converts or faces death.Its as if we would allow a return to Nazism in the USA and let them function gathering money, weapons, and power, and then said they had the right to defeat the Constitution based on their right to free speech.
    Our whole foreign policy is based on situational ethics drawn from our desperate need for oil.When we cut our dependency on oil and start treating nations based on their adherence to solid democratic principles, we will gain favor once again in the world.
    Until then, we will be regarded as the self serving liars that we are and there is no way around that. The fact is, we totally support the Saudis, who maintain force in part by the use of religious police.That is antithetical to USA beliefs and shows us up as total hypocrites.
    When Nascar fans start demanding electric cars and Nashville is clean green and electric then and only then will we start to reclaim US security and self determination and the rest of the world will take notice..

    January 5, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Reply
  182. zoomer

    Flynn is responsible for this system. He is having trouble getting his MI people on the ground to write reports about the local villages including info he now says he needs so that analysts can piece it together. His solution for everything he's touched in intel so far is to simply "add analysts". (How he keeps coming to that diminishing returns conclusion over and again is beyond me- it hasn't worked yet). However, In this case, the goal of the war has been changed by Obama to a "hearts and minds" win in 18 months and there simply is not enough time to learn all that is required to be known by intel to accomplish a hearts and minds "win" in that time. As such, it appears Flynn and McChyrstal are asking for a gazillion analysts and praying that might work- even going so far as to ask to be able to tap into out of work journalists to act as "collectors" of a sort, giving them a week of "COIN" training and throwing them into combat zones expecting miraculous zen nascent understanding of how to stay alive and perhaps find out who's aligned with who that day or week and deal with suicide belt informants and ruthless warlords– gimme a break. Flynn- following Obama's policy is going to get a slew of young, energetic kids fresh out of college killed if he doesn't require them to go through a farm collection program (even truncated training on how to stay alive for heaven's sake). I think they've got the right policy to attempt to meet Obama's impossible goals, (winning this war at the village level), but sheesh, give these "analysts" (who are NOT trained collectors) you are going to pull off the street and out of their intel posts a fighting chance. We"ll probably lose a lot of interest when they find out they're going to face death at times, but Flynn should not send theses kids out there without sufficient training- that would be wholly irresponsible. Then again- that ultimately is on Obama's shoulder's- he's the one putting a time line on the thing.

    January 5, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Reply
  183. MGF

    For a suicide bomber to gain access to a forward operating base and kill 7 CIA agents does not require a breakdown in security. It only requires agents who are simpletons. The Islamic extremist have proven that they are more intelligent than the CIA.

    January 5, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  184. Rich

    When we went into Afghanistan we had the right mission and tactics. Our mission was to eliminate those who attacked our country and their leadership. The intelligence community and our miitary had a clear objective and thus delivered outstanding results at the beginning of this action.

    During the next few years, the mission was subtly yet imperceptively changed to one of a war and "freeing" a country from an ill-defined enemy with unclear geograohical boundaries. The focus was changed from a specific action and objectives to a war with political and diplomatic ramifications. Along the way, the orginal conflict went from the only action to a secondary war theater, relegated as the military backwater to the Iraq theater.

    Aside from the possibility that the intelligence community, coupled with an arrogant executive branch may have misled the WH to invade the wrong country in the case of Iraq (it should have been Iran) the military and the intelligence community should not be blamed here. The fault lies clearly in the incompetence of the top leadership in the administration. They clearly abandoned the troops in this theater, changed the objectives and never articulated them, never re-assesed the effort required and hesitated due to inattentiveness because of Iraq when they had Bin Laden in their sights.

    Bush made the same mistake as Hitler. His arrogance and his neo-conservative thinking let the enemy lead our country into a multiple theater war which in the case of Germany, they eventually lost. Let's hope history doesn't repeat itself here. We haven't yet totally won in Iraq and Afghanistan outcome is still in doubt.

    The lesson for our military and intelligence community is clear. Focus, focus and it is your responsibility to use any means possible to save the country by not letting future executive branch dogmas steer the finite and valuable assets into being squandered again.

    January 5, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Reply
  185. Harry Haines

    Actually he seems to be engaging in "self-criticism"!
    If he is the "top intelligence officer in Afghanistan", isn't he responsible for the job performance and effectiveness of the intelligence personnel and for the procedures they follow?

    January 5, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Reply
  186. karel

    when you guys are going to understand this.. by imposing beliefs in other countries cultures and thiking that we are mighty perfect and better humans than others.. this arrongance wont lead you to anything good..leave that country alone and just help them to rebuild thy country.

    "bombard them with education, fresh water and modern waste disposal. more engineers and less troops. give the population a tangible reason to have hope"

    January 5, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Reply
  187. marine2543

    When I was in the Marines, they kept telling us not to bunch up. Why were all these CIA agents in one place? If all the CIA did was direct the Drones, they are doing a good job. The military brass can not hold a candle to the CIA, they only know left right left right left right....

    January 5, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Reply
  188. karel

    "bombard them with education, fresh water and modern waste disposal. more engineers and less troops. give the population a tangible reason to have hope"

    January 5, 2010 at 11:21 pm | Reply
  189. karel

    typical american mentality-
    if i dont speak english i must be stupid

    January 5, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Reply
  190. karel

    if i dont want to listen to your ideas,, i must be stupid and ignorant
    in general if am just a bit different from you– ho my god you are stupid.. please when america is going to wake up..

    January 5, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Reply
  191. IT

    Off the report topic: One of the basic questions of the whole involvement is how the international troops are viewed by the locals. Through a report broadcast by CBC (Canadian public radio) yesterday, many Afghans blame the troops rather than the Taliban for their troubles – their presence is more visible. If that is so, the question is whether the 'war' can have a lasting positive outcome at all.

    January 5, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Reply
  192. Richard H. Elliott

    Hey anyone can speak, but what we say as American's is being read by our enemy, shame on ya'll. We need to talk on a channel the Taliban are not reading, and laughing about how dumb we are. The people on the internet read all in real time. Like you people don't know that right?

    January 6, 2010 at 12:01 am | Reply
  193. Marc

    It does not amaize me that a bunch of CIA agents got them selves blown to bits. I met some of the departments recuiters at my college and they were cocky know it alls who really had no clue when it came to world customs and languages. They have this sence of "we are so much smarter then the rest world" when in reality the enemies of the U.S are finding more creative ways to succeed. I mean really, a bunch of agents highley trained and part of billion dollar government establishment got taken out by a low budget terrorist network? Lets see if this gets them to change the way they do the job.

    January 6, 2010 at 12:03 am | Reply
  194. Robert Finnegan

    The Western powers in Afghanistan display typical imperialist hubris; which both drives and ultimately destroys all such interventionalist endeavors.

    January 6, 2010 at 12:04 am | Reply
  195. journeyman

    I agree... we need people who can see the forest...not just the trees.

    January 6, 2010 at 12:12 am | Reply
  196. P C C

    The irrogance of our intell, and general officers has created this mess,
    just reminds me of Viet nam all over again.. I can tell you first hand it was ugly than and it is still ugly...

    This is a war war means we fight to overpower over come and
    regain contol once and for all.. can we please stop fighting this
    like viet nam and start fighting it like france/ 1943-45

    we need to show fierce and unrelenting power and control. pick up the peices when we are done... attack, over whelm and bomb untill they have surrendered.. I understand they blend in, Im sorry for that.

    when I fought in viet nam i didnt have armor, I didnt have knee pads, or scopes,
    I had ammo, m16, when we went against the enemy and fought with out worring how many would die, but demanding a win

    January 6, 2010 at 12:17 am | Reply
  197. RAT

    Right on – its about time someone said something intelligent. Start by reading Three Cups of Tea then learn all you can about T.E.T"s (Tribal Embedded Teams).

    January 6, 2010 at 12:49 am | Reply
  198. steve parker

    UGLY AMERICAN. Sums it up. Egocentric cultural attitude. Incompetent CIA. Incompetent administration. Incompetent Senate and Congress.

    January 6, 2010 at 1:49 am | Reply
  199. rocky dobbs

    to whom it might concern:from past experence,my bet is the reason they do not have the intellegence about afgan. is they will not listen to the people that is accuaully making contact with the people we are fighting against ,if they would listen to a common soldier (master sgt-and-down) the ones that are accually in contact with them,they could find out a whole lot more about the way these people think and their way of life,instead of some five star general that has read to many war storys????? u-think

    January 6, 2010 at 2:04 am | Reply
  200. Satsuma

    The Intell officer is right. Some of the same problems arise when dealing with North Korea. If one studies China's past history, they will find parallels to North Korea's history. Remember!!! If one doesn't study past history, one is doom to repeat it!

    January 6, 2010 at 2:32 am | Reply
  201. another soldier's thoughts

    This is not an accurate statement. I know from the group I worked with, while deployed IN country, with MY boots on the ground, we ARE indeed working to know the culture, the people, the tribes and their networks. It is impossible to even talk to them without knowing this information. Granted people turn up, but it is not the same as finding someone in a well placed position and figuring out how to bring them to the table. Our guys work hard to know their support and information gatherers on the field. Whatever may be happening at the top is not the only story out there. And perhaps other groups do not have the same policy as ours did, nor the leadership focused on making a difference not only with the information collected, but in the lives of those we interact with regularly in country. Our commanders took the policy to "win the hearts and minds" of the people quite seriously, and I believe because of it, many soldiers lives were saved on a daily basis, by our knowledge and willingness to learn about them, not just gather from them. I truly believe the knowledge of the local people, their culture and our respect for them, as well as how we operated in country was a big part of why we did not lose a single soldier from our entire group during our deployment.

    January 6, 2010 at 2:44 am | Reply
  202. APV

    Nothing new here. 9/11 proved the US military, CIA and other countless "intelligence outfits" in the US are a bunch worthless squids. Who was fired over 9/11? No one. So who do we have now? The same bunch of squids. Surprised? In government, failure is rewarded generously inviting more failure. It's their virtuous cycle.

    January 6, 2010 at 2:58 am | Reply
  203. DariusIII

    Gen. Flynn's remark about how the CIA operatives being "incurious" about Afghan culture echo's the scathing review of the Bush administrations' "lack of imagination" during a 2004 independent investigation into the failures that lead up to 9/11. As a former Foreign Service staffer, I suspect , unfortunately, that it is the result of the "top-down" structure of our governmental bureaucracy where initiative and innovation by field personnel are frowned upon and considered to be "rogue" or "cowboy". A re-thinking of procedures and a re-vamping of the processes involved is in order.

    January 6, 2010 at 3:13 am | Reply
  204. paul

    Time to take the handcuffs and blindfolds off our CIA and military. The people responsible for the attack on our CIA agents need to know that there is a terrible price to pay for what they did. Kindness in the face of people who would brainwash children to be suicide bombers and blow up their own people is never going to work. I am a pacifist and a liberal. But if we are going to fight a war then we better act like we are fighting a war and not like we are babysitting. When an attempt to blow up a plane or an embassy happens the response needs to be over the top. Do we have any intelligence we can act on. They need to fear us now. We have watched our soldiers getting killed and lived under a vale of fear because of these extremists for too long. They believe we are devils and we have tried to play nice. Time to live up to their opinion of us. And stop trying to compare us to the other countries that have tried to take over afghanistan. We are helping to stabilize the gov their not take over the country.

    January 6, 2010 at 3:21 am | Reply
  205. ALL-Source!

    MG Flynn has some great points. Only problem is he's outranked by LTG Zahner (Army G2) who doesn't believe in the whole picture. He is overly focussed on full motion video and lethal targetting. Meanwhile, training is still woefully slow to adjust to current conflicts from the cold war. Much of the "whole picture" data gets lost every time there is a unit turnover.

    I also watched the CIA create a lot of poor human intel reports in Baghdad. They are spoon fed information from sources with agendas. CIA officers have a lot more time and training to write up the reports than the average platoon leader who is actually living and interacting with locals.

    January 6, 2010 at 3:32 am | Reply
  206. dr kooky

    I believe that US intelligence regarding the Christmas Day bombing in Michigan was for lack of better words absolutely atrocious. There is no way in hell that the US is going to win these wars if they keep letting terrorists into the country and you can take that to the greedy bastards' banks.

    January 6, 2010 at 3:33 am | Reply
  207. aril

    who do u think u are taking over other people country and do whatever u want and if the local dies..ups it just a nother bad intel or friendly fire and then u have the gut to changed the local to follow your style of what u call democrat pls grow up we all sick and tired with this ..please no more war

    January 6, 2010 at 3:36 am | Reply
  208. The A Person

    Sounds like the M.I. folks are doing exactly what they have always been paid to do - to take the blame for clueless military adventures directed by career-oriented theatre commanders, experts in counter-insurgency, one and all, though we've never won one and don't even have the smarts to stop trying.

    Phnom Penh

    January 6, 2010 at 7:02 am | Reply
  209. rmalunan

    Oftentimes the question asked rings true – where is intelligence in intelligence? Leadership, training, commitment, excellence, persistence, endurance, teamwork and initiative are indispensable traits needed to obtain, assess, integrate and disseminate A-1 information in a timely manner before the other side moves or gains the upper hand. Why did 9-11 happen? Why did the Nigerian almost succeed? Why was the CIA penetrated in Afghanistan? Why was Powell fed the wrong information about Saddam's WMD's? Where is intelligence in intelligence?

    January 6, 2010 at 11:33 am | Reply
  210. the watcher

    The amazing growth of the networks and networking contributes to the success and difficulty of protecting information. So many folks "weigh in" to discuss things openly that used to be discussed in closed rooms. It is more difficult than ever to "keep secrets". But at the same time our educational system doesn't provide our youth and new leaders with the ability to analyze, or to speak foreign languages, or to be knowledgeable in history. Everyone is looking for the instant answer in their language. Any byte of news or information or more likely misinformation is publicized to the world without scrutiny or scruples. Amazing. I pray for our troops, who have been thrust into this battle.

    January 6, 2010 at 11:42 am | Reply
  211. arvind pathak

    intelligence failure in afghanistan,as per the report of major gen michael flynn enunciates the etiology yet he himself is responsible in not taking corrective action to avert the failure in the first place.if the intelligence is gatheren by radio ,newspapers there will be more incidents like this .however routine security prtocol of manual body search and others were not followed .a double agent should never be trusted implicitly or maybe the lapse was part of the confidence building neasure of the natives.the real aim of usa does not seem to be very clear if al qaeda and terroristic taliban,though it is doubtful if there is nationalistic nonterroristic taliban.in any case the local afghan tribals understsnd only the tribal 'shura and their own tribal groups rule ,thinking of modern democracy is not possible now or in near future 8yrs or even 20 more yrs .

    January 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Reply
  212. arvind pathak

    intelligence failure in afghanistan,as per the report of major gen michael flynn enunciates the etiology yet he himself is responsible in not taking corrective action to avert the failure in the first place.if the intelligence is gatheren by radio ,newspapers there will be more incidents like this .however routine security prtocol of manual body search and others were not followed .a double agent should never be trusted implicitly or maybe the lapse was part of the confidence building measure of the natives.the real aim of usa does not seem to be very clear if al qaeda and terroristic taliban,though it is doubtful if there is nationalistic nonterroristic taliban.in any case the local afghan tribals understsnd only the tribal 'shura and their own tribal groups rule ,thinking of modern democracy is not possible now or in near future 8yrs or even 20 more yrs .us is well advised not to waste it's manpower anda huge economic burden of keeping forces in far of lands with commensurate gains political or otherwise.it seems this is the failure of politicians of having a wrong foreign policy ,a rethink and corrective policy and actions at ground level as suggested by general flynn will go a long way.there can be better ways of going for oil in the mid east than what usa is covertly trying as per the agenda,first iraq and furtheron.

    January 6, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  213. Ebi Mi

    Lets check the archive for solution to the problem of terrorism and climate jargon. History has the solution to the present problem. Give me a shout if you need help.

    January 6, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Reply
  214. Been There, Done That

    Cannot believe that our intelligence agencies are that ignorant, or are they? The article doesn't mention whether the general is referring to DIA or CIA support. The basics outlined in the article are standard and have been for over forty-five years. What's the problem with the people they have there now? Something needs to be done to shake-up the intelligence community or otherwise we'll be stuck in the Middle East fighting forever.

    January 6, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  215. Brandon

    I think the US should speak with Greg Mortenson. The only way to win in afghanistan is to win the hearts and minds of the people. Bombs and machine guns will never work.

    January 6, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Reply
  216. Ian Paine

    Intelligence provides the answers to questions that people like Gen Flynn and General McCrystal ask. If they don't like what they're hearing, they must ask different questions. When intel refocuses away from the military, threat intelligence, more soldiers will get killed. This will again be blamed on intelligence when truthfully the blame lies with the Gen Flynss and McCrystals.

    January 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Reply
  217. Retired

    Not hearing from the pros out there. After working for 22 years in intelligence I can vouch for much reported here. While MI is hurting, the CIA is completely broke and has been for decades. The good news is our SIGINT, TELINT, PHOTINT are the best in the world. The bad news is that our HUMINT is in the toilet and our CI is a joke. You could see the erosion of CIA back in the 60s. The last time we had assets was the early 70s. By the 80s, our assets were gutted and operations were shut down. I personally supervised the official closure of several intelligence sites in the 90s. Meanwhile, the bureaucracies exploded into a myriad of mediocre analysts, middle-managers and legions of civil servants. Then lawyers and lawyers-turned-congresspersons tied up our operations in red tape, legal requirements, and Monday-night quarterbacking. Fiefdoms appeared with a royalty anointed by politics, not experience. Intel is a lot like making sausage – you don't really want to know how its made. The worst part is that even if we earnestly worked to fix the problems, it would take a decade to get our assets into place.

    January 6, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  218. bernie sanderson

    ok. i believe our military leaders need to take a step back and get focused. if we are there to fight terrorism then we need to proritize what abilities we have to do so. hiring oppodents to be double agents, then triple agents and on and on is stupid. in a country where there is hardly any electricity let alone indoor plumbing, the leaders need to throw away there computers and attack this thing on the al quida's level. and they are putting the cart before the horse in helping the citizens. we don't put in irrigation, electricity, indoor plumbing (all sic) in the middle of fighting the enemy. they need to focus on what they are supposedly there to do..fight al queda. and employees of companies like blackwater need to get their priorities straighten out and either go to war to fill their pockets or go to war to be an american soldier. the money we spend on their salaries could pay for five more of our soldiers being well trained and bettered armed to do their jobs. blackwater (ect) were formed and bought and invested in from our last adminastration. its time to kick them out and put our military in to do the job that needs to be done.

    January 6, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Reply
  219. Pieter

    If you look at the frontpage of the Intel-report, you see two American officers in full uniform, one with a helmet, the other with a baseball-cap, talking to local Afghan leaders. The Americans wear dark sunglasses, the Afghans do not.
    This picture shows two very basic faults:
    1. Wearing sunglasses project the message: "I am not to be trusted. You cannot look me in the eyes" This is very clear body-language to Afghans, and it simply prevents making any meaningful contact. Ever saw a picture of a Taliban wearing sunglasses? Or heavy body-armor?
    2. Wearing helmets and body-armor projects the message: "I am afraid to be killed, so I take precautions." This is tantamount to the message: "I am a coward, I am afraid to die." which makes you not much of a man in the eyes of any Afghan man.
    These American habits, innocent as they may seem, stand very much in the way of getting an straight connection with people who have completely other habits and customs than you as Americans. These simple things need to be carefully looked at when going into the field to collect Intel.
    Look at how Dutch soldiers bike around in Afghan villages and talk with the locals and the children in Pashtun. They get the information from the locals that is useful and win the hearts and minds.
    We have a saying in Europe: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. The same is probably true for Afghanistan and Iraq, where the American soldiers often made the same mistakes.

    January 6, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  220. billy

    im a 50 year old male. i did 6 years in the military, and 10 years on the police department. I am completely dismayed at the generals report.

    Its like im waking up to a nightmare, this cant be true. As a citizen of this great country im completely shocked at what i just read.. Please do something right for a change. What is the military teaching forward thinking officers.......i just dont get it....fromt the top generals on down there needs to be a clean sweep....no more coffee breaks or promotions till this gets right.

    January 6, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  221. Stay Frosty

    Looks like they are going to have to change the whole intelligence community concept. We need to streamline our intelligence agencies into just a select few to cut down on the red tape, and prevent urgent reports and data that do not get dissimenated to the right folks. Military intelligence SHOULD also be a part of the CIA. (separate wing) We need to dramatically change the "school house" at Ft. Huachuca (US Army Intelligence ) and integrate more "national" level thinking and analysis so that the soldiers working in this field are better equipped to answer economic, and social intelligence questions while in country. Israel doesn't seem to have a lot of issues with their intelligence community. They do not have a federation of 18 or agencies. Also, our politicians need to get their heads into the right mind, and realize we are in a fight and quit trying to prosecute our CIA officers, and make political moves with national security.

    January 6, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  222. Luc

    @ Rob

    Rob, you are totally right!

    If you speak a native language other than English you will get an interpreter job with the CIA & FBI.
    Anyway, a "foreigner" naturalized US citizen or Permanent Resident cannot even get into the CIA or FIB because he is foreign born, even if your country of origin is a traditional european allie of the US.

    I am French, and I already looked into that because it interested me to precisely helped the USA capture the subtil nuances of other cultures after more than a decade living in the USA and having received my education (academic, culture and values) here . Been French and having been raised in France, we were raised with the understanding and sensibility to our former colonies or affiliations >> African countries or Middle Eastern countries (eg. Chad, Lebanon) << We were also reaised with the constant respect for Diplomatic resolution bc. we were so close of the former Soviet Union.
    The point is foreign born Europeans would be an advantage to your intelligence in the US. They would bring a Fresh point of view and different analytical approach. But that is not the US style: I mean you guys are cow boys like type of solution. As we say in French "ca passe ou ca casse". (It will works or it will break sort of translation).
    Perhaps you need like an equivalent of the "Foreign Legion" of the CIA. Perhaps it would bring a bit more of FINESSES to your US intelligence.
    Of course I can translate French to English too. But who cares! You are missing the point if that is all what you see.

    January 6, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  223. Ret Colonel

    I am a retired Army Intelligence Colonel. I have read the full report and fully support MG Flynn's concept. I am mystified that it took us 8 years to figure this out. It also seems that none of the lessons we learned in Iraq several years ago were ever implemented in Afghanistan.

    However, what troubles me beyond this professionally is the fact that MG Flynn chose to publish his "directive" in a unclassified public think tank document. This is not the place or the method that a sitting senior intelligence officer should be using to criticize his own operation and direct changes. Further, I fear that by making this a widely disseminated "public" document, he has provided his plan to the very enemies we are trying to defeat. I see this as a serious error in judgment that could ultimately doom our efforts to failure.

    Sharing our plans and intentions with the enemy only makes it easier for them to counter and defeat us..

    January 6, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Reply
  224. james deron

    It's actually pretty simple; the Afghans fight ( and win) because they take it seriously. We keep loosing because we think it's just a job....just doing the best we can ain't gonna cut it!!!

    January 6, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  225. AuzxzieVick

    My NSA cryptanalyst Aunt told me that a lot of intel is just observing what goes on around you. It's asking questions, reading newspapers, listening to radio, learning customs, seeing what others do in certain circumstances, etc. I could go on & on. Speaking the languages of people whom you want to understand would be a start. But 50 Arabic translators were "let go" due to their sexual orientation. Not smart. What ever happened to the old CIA of the Cold War? My father (Australia) was trained by them (he spoke fluent Japanese) & he had the higest regards for their methods.

    If political correctness is causing the problem, God help us all. What do we need to happen to make clear the threat from religious fanatics? So far their tactics are really guerilla warfare & frankly, as repugnant as they are, not REALLY putting the bite on our way of life. But sooner or later they ARE going to get their hands on a WMD & my guess is that a nuclear weapon would be the easiest to obtain esp. from nations who hate us.

    To KEEP our freedoms we, like it or not, are going to HAVE to give up some. I have no problem with a full-body scanner at airports. I'd fly El-Al everywhere if I could. Do you really think some bored TSA person is going to remember what you look like without your undies on? I'm a retired nurse & believe me when I say that lots of naked bodies are really something one just doesn't have in the forefront of their minds each day.

    Let's get some old-fashioned intelligence gathering in effect in the middle east or we are going to crash & burn.

    January 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  226. Steve

    To all you non-participants who get on all these blogs and spew garbage, I give you T.R. He was talking about you.

    "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt April 23, 1910

    January 6, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  227. Jim

    Although I can't know for sure, I assume that the military and CIA "inteligence" personnel in Afghanistan are probably as nutty as the ones which I encountered during my tour in Vietnam.

    January 6, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Reply
  228. Ronald Stocum

    Why do the American People have to put up with such incompetence?
    We have been in Afghanistan for 9 yrs and still can't understand that the War Lords make the decisions and that we need to be-friend them and get their confidence to get things done. There seems to be no consequences for stupidity in not getting the facts. Why can't we learn from history? What is it about the leadership in Afghanistan and Iraq that prevents America from knowing exactly how to proceed with working with the local population? The British seem to have learn this. We seem to think we can march into a country with our guns blasting and get things done. We need to take some time to learn the culture. Maybe everyone should have to read "The Ugly American".
    Every society is different and if you want to have success you must know what works in the culture that you are dealing with. Hopefully it is not too late to change and get results.

    January 6, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  229. US Marine

    I am a Intelligence Analyst in the United States Marine Corps and I must say that I find thier lack of understand very pathetic. I remember years ago when I was undergoing training they taught all of us to always ask "why?".

    How are you going to answer a simple question such as "Why are the praying right now?" if you cannot understand them!

    January 6, 2010 at 7:16 pm | Reply
  230. Greg

    Pay them, pay them, pay them. Provide them with food, water, transporation and just a few luxuries and they will come running from the hills to be on our side. It has always worked that way because ultimately that is what it is all about. Leave them living miserable lives in miserable conditions and nothing will ever change.

    January 6, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Reply
  231. Ted

    BG Mike Flynn’s thesis offers an excellent discussion of his intelligence challenges in Afghanistan, but is nothing new. Almost all these issues have been debated since 9/11 and were included in the 9/11 Report as well as in several hundred books and articles titled in some form “Fixing Intelligence.” Flynn is asking for a return to the basic elements of intelligence work, essentially what we did during Vietnam, World War II and previous campaigns, but somehow left by the wayside during the era between 1975 and Gulf I (for which Congress is also culpable) many (including Congress) believed technology would solve all information needs. Cries for change (again) is an effort to reinvent (Back to the Future) intelligence functions we already know – but which are not part of the tool kit of intelligence professionals educated and trained during the technology period.

    January 6, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Reply
  232. Jeffrey Turner

    What a bunch of flaming idiots we have n this country.. What ever happened to fighting a war? It seems that all we do these days is anaylize the hell out of everything. Well anaylize this! Put some Marine leaders in over there who want to win this war instead of 'pussy-footing" around. I'm so tired of the f'ing wars and doing nothing about it.. It was the same way in Vietnam (I was there). If you're going into a war then fight it as war, not as a bungled business venture where you pay TRILLIONS into it and lose thousands of American lives. There is no intelligence gathering being done over there. I might add that there is no intellegence department over here either. What ever happened to the way the CIA use to work. These days we tell the world and our adversaries what, when and where we're going to do something. I know that things will not change so I might as well just leave the country. It's not the same place I grew up in and was proud of.

    January 6, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Reply
  233. Charles

    One of the stories claims that the report says this:

    "The report claims they cannot answer basic questions unrelated to the military fight against the Taliban, such as: "Is that desert road we're thinking of paving really the most heavily trafficked route? Which mosques and bazaars attract the most people from week to week? Is that local contractor actually implementing the irrigation project we paid him to put into service?""

    Why would an intelligence officer need to know these types of answers? That is one thing that bothers me with the mentality in the military today. Intelligence Analysts are trained to look at what our enemy is doing today and try to figure out what they are going to do tomorrow. Paving a road? Talk to civil engineering about if its worth it. Which mosques or bazaars attract the most people? Talk with your soldiers that are out doing patrols in these bazaars or outside the mosques. Is the local contractor actually doing what we paid for? Talk with the contracting office and ask them.

    An intelligence officer should not need to be completely up to speed on this information. The intelligence officer is concentrating on providing information to those soldiers doing patrols and letting them know what their threats are going to be while they are out there. The leadership have people on their staff that should be filling them in on all of the other information. Let the intelligence officers concentrate on their job and let them try their best to keep fellow soldiers safe.

    January 6, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Reply
  234. John Thielen

    If Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn has "truely" touched the root of the problem, then I applaud his tactics. But, if the truth is compromised by debate, the truth becomes diluted, and fades away.......
    I say GO Flynn......... Know and follow the path of the truth.

    January 6, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Reply
  235. Wm Dean

    I have worked undercover for the govt and am embarassed by the CIA people who were killed. It looks like they were using the C team in Afghanistan.

    January 7, 2010 at 1:02 am | Reply
  236. duane lominac

    Quite frankly, it's not worth the effort. Order all the troops out of the country.

    We need to go back to punitive expeditions when someone crosses us rather than these decades long quagmires. The Mexican-American War was a perfect example of this. We got out of Mexico City fast because we knew what was coming. Bush ran the Taliban out quickly with B-52s, the Northern Alliance and a few troops. He should have declared victory and brought the forces home to a parade. Our political leaders keep moving the goal line to the point where it's almost impossible to declare victory anymore.

    January 7, 2010 at 1:20 am | Reply
  237. Paul

    It was put out through the think tank because it highlights Mike's failure to understand his assets. His peers were trying to protect the command's reputation. Every one of the questions listed at the end of the piece is a Civil Affairs issue, not an Intel issue. True, Intel and Civil Affairs work hand in hand, but they are not covering the same set of issues. There is a reason we have both.

    A senoir leader that doesn't know where to turn for the proper guidance because he doesn't know his assets? Sounds like someone not prepared to make the big decisions. Next general please.

    January 7, 2010 at 2:40 am | Reply
  238. Barnaby

    So according to some we are not Russians and we are better prepared and are winning.
    Well, there is only bad news : First 2010 is not as prehistoric as when the Russians were there ; the Talibans are much more sophisticated organized and are inspired more spiritually and not by external influence as it was by the US in the 70s ; means no way for us winning ; they fight their war and not a proxy war ; they don’t depend on outside assistance that much but conversely they have much more spiritual support from the islamics,that’s motivation ; in those days they were begging for externals to join them but now every Islamic weirdo wants to pack up for the mountains there, hence Nigerians,Yemenis and others ; they can have access to finance and weapons from very large sources without listing them here ; not a single Afgan sincerely loves US troops and they will extract as much they can from us till they have to move along into their new and future world with the Talibans as the latter are the past, present and the future ; democratizing them is the most dumb and unachievable idea ever which shows our total ignorance of tribal people ; once we had an efficient and effective security network now we have what the hopeless Obamaniacs designed ; their supporters on the globe are facilitating new fronts such as Yemen to take the pressure off the Talibs overwhelming our security networks and they are succeeding one way or another as per Flight 253. Finally we are too soft on our enemies and they will exploit that weakness considering our lack of will and determination to terminate them. More will happen eventually as they will not give up till…. we sort all of them out once for all.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:57 am | Reply
  239. Michele Harris

    The situation in Afghanistan did not begin yesterday or a year ago but decades ago, and it seems that we do not learn from history. If we spent money on the things that truly make a difference – schools, infra-structure, medical facilities, police training, teaching our own troops and military leaders history, language, and local customs, not to mention greasing the palms of the local powers that be – which is the custom in that part of the world – maybe we would have a shot at winning the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. No one has ever one a war in the region, not the British, not the Russians, and sadly neither will we by power alone. Bush pulled the military rug out too early – when initial military inroads could have more easily paved the way – in the moment – for US to begin the things I am talking about; sadly, instead of providing the support, we turned all our attention to Iraq allowing the Taliban to step back into the role of providing structure in the remote areas. Now like lice, they appear to have spread all over and now it is Obama"s challenge – to regain ground with the people – yes there must be a military presence, but even more so their must be a presence that is felt in the civilian population:
    which can ONLY be achieved if we understand how their society works so that we can do the things to motivate the right choices by the local powers that be. Read Greg Mortensen
    s Three Cups of Tea – insightful!

    January 7, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Reply
  240. Elizabeth

    But Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said it is "a bit irregular" that a report of this kind would come out through a think tank.
    -Why? What better way to actually get some CLEAR thought? To use a think tank to actually think things through? Amazing.

    "The most I will say is that it was an unusual and irregular way to publish a document," Whitman said.
    - Yeah? Well maybe it was the ONLY way that this information would get out there so people could see it. Some of our more 'military' mindset leaders have a tendency to make things they don't like go away. Idiots.

    And Gates needs to read it and take it to heart. The information in this document is good, solid, and should be paid attention to. It's been 8 years. Maybe it's time to take a different tactic? Use this report to form a new initiative?

    The report said, they "are generally too understaffed to gather, store, disseminate and digest" information.
    And, critically, they do not have the resources to gather information which could give Americans a better understanding of Afghanistan, such as census data, patrol debriefs, minutes from councils with local farmers and tribal leaders, polling data, translated summaries of radio broadcasts that influence local farmers and the like.

    "This vast and underappreciated body of information.... provides... a map for leveraging popular support and marginalizing the insurgency itself," Flynn and his colleagues argue
    -Which is true. The better involved you are at the civilian level, the easier it is to make headway into knowing what is going on around you. Besides, it's crazy going into an area without knowing the statistics of the population, who is the 'leader' of the area, etc...and not know what is going on in a town, what their concerns are. It dis-associates the people from the Americans. They need more people to gather this information. How about a 'surge' in local operatives who can provide us with this knowledge? It couldn't hurt and by now, I am ready to try anything that will help. This war has gone on too long without any REAL measurement of success for the people or our troops. In fact, it was backsliding because of Iraq, and now we are trying to play catch up. I think this report is a good thing.

    January 7, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  241. TooMuchGovernment

    Sad how the US Attorney General and the administration has pressured the CIA on its tactics and discussed investigations into the CIA, in other words, impeding the CIA from doing their job.
    Now the CIA is going to get the finger pointed at them for not doing their job? Those not experienced in the arena of intelligence gathering keep your noses out of their business and let the CIA do their jobs!

    January 7, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  242. Previous Example of disclosing classified docs

    It seems the authors took the public route precisely because the classified route seems to just perpetuate 'non-dissemination" of information. So our enemies now know our Intel organization is failing–partly because the culture has not been studied–and partly because even when we have learned –the information is not shared. I don't see a security breach in the published contents–just some indignation. After the Christmas underwear bomber, surely the terrorists know our INTEL is poorly managed–no big surprises there. Besides, these individual's all know this is a political war and their boss's request for 40,000 troops was "leaked" and appeared to be more successful as a result.

    January 7, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  243. Skynyrt

    It very well may be a bad report, but if CNN wants to be considered a serious news organization, then perhaps you should refrain from using descriptive term like "damning" in your links and in other places. It makes you look like an organization with an agenda (which you are) & not as an unbiased news organization that is pretending to present the news in an evenhanded fashion. Your readers can draw their own conclusions, and you should be "ashamed and embarrased" from imposing your personal beliefs on them.

    January 7, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  244. ky bill

    One of the oldest jokes in the world!!--Military Intelligence is an oxymoron

    January 7, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  245. Ted

    Flynn is to be congratulated in (re)stating that intelligence is a continuum – the intelligence needed in the foxhole is also needed in the White House. “Strategic, Operational, Tactical” describe military operations, not intelligence. As Flynn points out, there are too many “intelligence” careerists on the Potomac don’t understand this and who also hold to the thesis that only CIA does “strategic” intelligence (provides intelligence to senior decision makers). Despite the lesson from 9/11 and the calls for change, CIA continues to have an inability to share information with the rest of the Executive, much less allies in the same conflict. The OB Chapman tragedy stems from a failure to follow procedures locally (security and vetting contacts/sources), poor oversight and guidance by the station chief in Kabul and by the Directorate of Operations at Langley. Lessons learned since the OSS days are left by the wayside. The inability to share intelligence (information sharing) – THE issue identified in the 9/11 Report and most recently by the President as the reason for the Christmas day NWA bombing attempt – remains as the norm in Washington. Director of National Intelligence Blair leads US intelligence…but his office self identifies this as a group of 16 different agencies of various pecking order with most CIA officers still, nine years later, reluctant “play nice” with Americans in the other 15 agencies. It’s long past time for a totally new 1947 National Security Act which restructures the Executive and the intelligence community to provide the wherewithal to tackle the challenges to US security in the 21st Century.

    Flynn’s thesis that intelligence needs to understand the environment and be able to support and work closely with operators and decision makers is spot on. Intelligence is operations and plans – and must be intertwined with operations. The biggest challenge is developing expertise in operating environments: each one is different. Earning a PhD from a US university does not provide the needed skills. Understanding the culture requires native language ability, time in the culture and even the requirement to have experience in that culture. The US needs more Greg Mortensons (Three Cups of Tea), not graduates of a “short course” mixing some degree local knowledge with US cultural biases which provides for less than informed decisions. Some in the foxhole gain this knowledge. Those “up the chain” less so (they start at a senior level); many times resulting in direction and guidance that doesn’t make sense to those on scene. Afghanistan is a totally different environment than Iraq. Iraq operations – intelligence military, political – do not migrate to the Afghan environment.

    Intelligence is getting the right information to the right person at the right time in the right format to be useful to the decision maker. We still “brief” seniors with words and graphics just like intelligence officers did for George Washington during the Revolutionary War. UNSAT. Also, too much information thrust on a decision maker can be as useless as too little or not right. We need to improve the use technology to quickly filter the relevant information out of the cloud of data and develop new ways to communicate information to decision makers in terms they can understand.

    January 7, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Reply
  246. James D. Pierce

    He is right. Idiots think high tech can win the spy war. Dont come close. You have to have the men and women on the ground who schmooze drug dealers, gun dealers, religious zealots, businessman, prostitutes, soldiers and their officers. You have to turn assets who will give you good intelligence. And they must be friends with the worst people and love to talk about them. In the 80's and 90's the Agency slowly disallowed case officers contact with real slime balls. Well how you going to spy on terrorists if you dont chat up the guys who help everybody. The businessman, drug dealers, weapons dealers etc. You cannot catch bad guys hanging out with nuns and virgins.
    Plus we are so ethnocentrically egotistical that we ignore and overlook other peoples culture. If you know the way their culture works you can work in it. Spying is networking, you must be subtle and you must get along with people. Not George Bush charging up capitol hill yelling yee haw. You may have an enemy, but over time most veterans respected their enemy more than many people they met later in civilian life. You must persuade and use others to quietly achieve the goals of the United States.

    January 8, 2010 at 12:26 am | Reply
  247. jack

    A note: Irrespective of the 'right' to free speech, it is usually unhelpful if you volunteer your thoughts on a subject of which you know little about. So, if some of you are reading these comments and are confused or angry or disturbed by the information you've so far been able to access on this subject, please think twice before your impulse is to post a comment and muddy the already muddied waters. I'm not saying don't comment. Just think before you do. The alternative consequence could be more MISINFORMATION, and that is a disservice to all those around you.

    January 8, 2010 at 5:35 am | Reply
  248. dw

    This report should be a wake up call to both military and non-military intelligence services, especially after the attempted christmas bombing, attack on the CIA. This applies to both military intel and civilian....You do not have the staff to support the requirements needed to sift through and analyze data you collect....and wonder why you miss so much info. Quit trying to cover a gaping wound with a bandaid. Find experienced people, not college kids and put them to work. Our country needs this.

    January 8, 2010 at 9:38 am | Reply
  249. Ed Ruth

    I worked at a large regional Embassy and got to know many intel types.
    The one thing we all agreed on is that we do not have good "Humint" which can only be obtained through serious interaction with the populace. During Vietnam we had Marine Corps Combined Action Platoons who lived in the village and had daily interaction with the populace. We learned the language and were required to live among the populace and do Civil Affairs actions helping the people. This worked well which explains why the Pentagon and the congress killed the program along with the Phoenix program.
    In order to succeed in Afghanistan we must become an Afghani and learn the language(Dari and Pashtun), learn about their very proud history and feel what they feel with them.
    Remember the 60's ad: Walk a mile in my moccasins?

    January 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Reply
  250. bob schoos

    Why should we be surprised to read what the report says? When the Bush administration decided to go to war with with Irak, our political and military leadership knew absolutely nothing of the area's history, culture and dynamics, hence the blundering reports on weapon of mass destruction. It will remain the all time screw up in American history. Considering that Obama's harshest critics are also those who supported bush, and continue to do so. So much for fair and intelligent commentaries!

    January 8, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  251. canadian concern

    Seems once again that to battle anybody you have to go back to basics and know thy enemy. what rules a country-money- once u establish the money launders and the power brokers then u will accomplish what is set out. Think like they do,eat like they do, dress like they do, play like they do- then u will be more accepted in that society.

    January 10, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  252. Madison

    Just to mention... in a new year 🙂

    December 27, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Reply
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