Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Old School Spying Documentary

This terrific old video documentary on the CIA was recommended by a new blog I'm monitoring : Checkpoint Washington. Director of CIA Dulles' interview is remarkable - it is both frank and comparatively long. Today's public affairs folks would freak out if the current DCIA operated like this. It details global actions including the coup in Iran, CIA ops against Sukarno, actions in the Congo and Latin America. The interview with Air America pilots was pretty cheesy but nevertheless fascinating on a few levels. Well worth an hour of your time if you are interested in such things, and as you are here, that means you are!

It caught my while researching a forthcoming paper on CT replacing COIN from an intel perspective.
The US still talks COIN but in reality the strategy has shifted to a global counter terror campaign aided by the incredible strategic intelligence capabilities it can tailor to individualized challenges. We have entered the era of bespoke warfare, where concern for collateral damage and its political consequences have demanded personalized strategic responses from major states.Intelligence is about understanding context and ultimately, enabling change. It used to be the case that strategic intelligence provided contextual understanding (and ideally warning) and military intelligence provided the commander with a pathway through which violent change could be effectively implemented. Today these relationships are reversed. Military intelligence is being asked to provide cultural context and strategic intelligence is lining up targets to be hit. When bin Laden escaped Tora Bora, the stage was set for a long campaign against a completely new target set. It took time to build an intelligence system aligned to the novel challenge of finding individuals within a shadowy global network. The Abbottabad raid was without any exaggeration, the culmination of a decade of fundamental change in the character of, and inter-relationships between, US intelligence, military forces and grand strategy. Strategic intelligence assets have turned to answer the most tactical questions imaginable, right down to the location and activities of specific individuals. How individuals connect through social, electronic, and financial networks, in both combat zones and far away from them, has consumed strategic intelligence programs. Equally, MI programs have struggled to adapt to non-technical challenges of understanding culture, religion, ethnicity, and social structures, in profoundly foreign operational environments. Taken together, these are the most radical reconfigurations of the business of intelligence since the dawn of the nuclear age."

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