Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Strategic Intelligence in COIN

The response to the Battalion level S-2 take on intel has been encouraging. For those interested in continuing this line of investigation to HHQ, please download Intelligence in Low Intensity Conflict: Lessons from Afghanistan, a chapter in Greg Mills and General Sir David Richard's new volumne Victory Among People: Lessons from Countering Insurgency and Stabilizing Fragile States, published in January by RUSI. The Intelligence chapter is written by Dr Adam Cobb, Professor of International Relations at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. From the text: An old saw has it that...
during the Cold War the enemy was easy to find,
but hard to kill. In low-intensity conflicts the enemy is easy to kill,
but hard to find. Unconventional wars are referred to as intelligence-
led efforts for good reason. However, the kind of intelligence required
in each category differs because the strategic objects are different.
Typically, military intelligence in conventional warfare is concerned
with locating the enemy and identifying its size, disposition, readiness,
and, if possible, discerning its intent (the holy grail of military
intelligence). Simply put, intelligence is about targeting. In low-
intensity conflict where an external power imposes regime change in a
failed state over extreme geographic and cultural barriers, intelligence
takes a vastly more complex turn.

In this kind of conflict, the intelligence challenge is primarily about
intent; not just of the enemy, but also of every actor that is party to
the conflict. This is a profound challenge. It is, counter-intuitively,
both ultimately strategic and fundamentally tactical. It is strategic in
the sense of needing to know how all the parts fit the whole (broadly
defined) and tactical in the sense that such knowledge is largely derived
at the local level and means different things to different actors.
Intelligence in this kind of conflict is not so much about collection
as it is about analysis. If the analytical lens is incorrectly focused,
no amount of information will help win the war. On the contrary:
the plethora of information in today’s wired battle space will simply
overwhelm good people trying their hardest to do a good job. {continued in download}

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