Defense Intelligence and Counterinsurgency

With its overwhelming emphasis on technical collection, U.S. military intelligence is poorly equipped to meet the requirements of the counterinsurgency mission, according to a recent study (pdf) by the Defense Science Board.

“Many, if not most, specific COIN [counterinsurgency] ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] requirements are population-centric and are not exclusively solvable with hardware or hard, physical science scientific and technical (S&T) solutions,” the DSB report said.  “One senior intelligence officer with years of field experience pointed out that 80 percent of useful operational data for COIN does not come from legacy intelligence organizations.”

Among other things, “the defense intelligence community does not have the foreign language and culture depth and breadth necessary to plan and support COIN operations,” according to the DSB.

See “Counterinsurgency (COIN) Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Operations,” Defense Science Board, February 2011 (released May 2011).

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