Intelligence: Seeking More Smart Eyes


April 17,2008: When the U.S. Congress recently held hearings on the situation in Iraq, they were told that one of the key elements in U.S. success was ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance). ISR stands for UAVs (from the five pound Ravens to the 13 ton Global Hawk), thousands of video cameras (mounted around bases, suspended from balloons, or carried by troops while on patrol), all manner of computers to view the video on, satellites and land based network to pass the video and images around, hundreds of databases (containing information of hundreds of thousands of actual or suspected terrorists, and their neighborhoods), thousands of analysts and commanders rapidly assessing the meaning of the data.

For years, there have been calls from Iraq and Afghanistan for more intelligence analysts, computer techs and geeks of all types. It's easier to get good infantry than it is an effective intelligence analyst. None of this gets covered much in the media, because the military, especially the army, doesn't want to talk about it. That's because they don't want the enemy to know too much about how U.S. troops can predict what the enemy will do, who they will do it with, and how they will do it. This sort of predictive analysis is nothing new. Been used for years in the commercial world. But even there, not many people paid much attention to what the bean counters and geeks were doing. The media doesn't pay much attention either, unless some of the geeky stuff doesn't work. That's rare, because most of the time all this analytical stuff, and the math it is based on, does work. Good news isn't news. And if it involves a lot of math, it's almost impossible to report. But it's saved millions of lives over the past few decades, and has saved thousands of American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's saved even more Iraqi lives, because it enables U.S. troops to go after the enemy with more precision, and fewer casualties among nearby civilians.

So it's no wonder that the generals, and troops, want more ISR.


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