This has been true since Vietnam (from my personal experience) and for all the money and technology that has been thrown at the IC, the return is dismal at best, criminal at worst….see my previous identifying your tribal summary as better than 99% of the intel I saw in Afghanistan.
Ten years of war have given the U.S. military more than its share of frustrations. According to an internal Pentagon study, two of them were as fundamental as they were related: Troops had terrible intelligence about Iraq and Afghanistan, and they told their own stories just as badly.
Those are some preliminary conclusions from an ongoing Pentagon study into the lessons of a decade of combat, authorized by Gen. Martin Dempsey, the multi-tour Iraq veteran and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The study doesn’t single out any sensor or spy platform for criticism. Instead, it finds that U.S. troops didn’t understand the basic realities of society, culture and power structures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and couldn’t explain what they were doing to skeptical populations.
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The study Dempsey ordered is ongoing and will have several volumes, each with multiple iterations, before the military produces a definitive assessment of what went wrong in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is just the first volume. But it helps identify a series of problems that the military thinks it needs to fix to win the wars of the future.
That future military needs to “leverag[e] technology and social media” in order to consider “all relevant actors’ instruments of power; cultural, religious, and other demographic factors; and employs innovative, non-traditional methods and sources.” In other words, spin harder — and know what you’re talking about.
Phi Beta Iota: Despite good intentions, the US secret intelligence world has been a complete failure at all four levels — strategic, operational, tactical, and technical, stunning occasional successes not-with-standing. The Marine Corps Intelligence Center (MCIA), blithely took the lead for cultural intelligence, and promptly muffed the bunny. Too much money to too many beltway bandits, and zero cultural or even analytic intelligence applied in-house or out-house (pun intended).