Intelligence: October 31, 2004

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Noting that 70 percent of the useful battlefield intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan is coming from human sources, the U.S. Army is, for the second time this year, increasing the number of intelligence specialists, especially the bilingual troops who can interrogate captured enemy troops, or speak with local civilians. By 2007, the army will increase the number of intel specialists to 34,000, from the current 25,000. Earlier in the year, the plan was to increase the force by only 4,000. This increase will include 2,000 human intelligence (interrogators) personnel, 1,000 will counterintelligence (detecting enemy spies), 1,800 intelligence analysts, and 1,700 UAV operators. In addition, intelligence units will be trained to, in turn, train troops in units they support to use better intelligence techniques. This has already been done in Iraq, and has worked quite well. 

Commanders are complaining that all the electronic and photo intelligence is not nearly as useful as a good tip from a local civilian, or some guy they captured and is willing to talk. At the end of the Cold War, intel specialists, especially those trained in foreign languages, were cut back by a third. It was expensive to train linguists, especially since so many of them didnt stay in the army (job opportunities for army trained linguists were better on the outside.) With the Cold War over, it was uncertain who the next major foe would be. Thus no one knew what foreign languages should be taught. Current army intelligence operations were developed during the Cold War, when the enemy came in the form of large mechanized armies. The war on terror is different, and the intelligence forces are being restructured to reflect that. Not only are more Arab linguists being trained, but other types of intelligence specialists are being prepared for small wars, peacekeeping and "stabilization" (as in Iraq) operations. 

 


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