I have two characteristics which always seem to get me into trouble. First, (despite what some of my posts may suggest) I’m highly enthusiastic and optimistic. Sort of like a puppy getting its first squeek toy. This means I get really excited about new ideas and make all sorts of big plans and promises.
The second characteristic is that I’m a slacker. That means when it comes to moving from the ‘Yeah, I can totally do that. Count on me!’ phase of infatuation with a new idea to the ‘Holy crap, I’ve really got to do this?’ phase I tend to putter out, get distracted or find some totally legitimate reason to procrastinate (for, as it said in a Woody Woodpecker cartoon I saw as a child and have never forgotten “Why do something today when it can be put off until tomorrow”).*
So, I’ve learned to deal with this by 1) shutting up (that’s not working too well) and 2) making my commitments so public that I simply can’t back out.
By way of that lengthy introduction we come to this post. I foolishly promised to put together a presentation about the ways in which law enforcement intelligence analysis might assist military intelligence analysts in COIN environments. I started putting notes together this past weekend but I figured there’s no reason to keep all this goodness to myself and any future potential audience so I’d share some of my ideas here as I built this monster.
First, the assumptions that underlie my work:
- The American military intelligence system does an adequate job of countering threat forces
- The American military intelligence system does a poor job of collecting, collating, analyzing and disseminating intelligence about the wider operating environment (friendly and neutral elements, social, cultural, economic factors, etc.). See here for more.
- Recent approaches to crime management (ILP, COP, etc.) share a belief with COIN that a better understanding of the operating environment and adopting a population-centric approach will yield better long term results than a strictly suppression/kinetic model.
- Law enforcement does a reasonably good job (or, at least better than the military) at understanding the wider environment in which they operate
- Both systems (law enforcement and military) have lessons for intelligence analysis that are transferable to the other without requiring massive restructuring of either system
Now, this may seem strange since I’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink here arguing that law enforcement hasn’t really been doing these fancy new crime management strategies on anything like a systematic bases other than to use them as a fig leaf to extort more money and resources from elected officials and a public that doesn’t know any better. That may be true but there are still valuable lessons to be learned from various attempts to implement them and in the few places where the stars and right personnel align and magic does actually happen.
Way back when I first went to Afghanistan my first task was to develop an IPB of the area surrounding Bagram. More specifically, my leadership wanted to know where we could expect the enemy to launch an armored attack in an attempt to overrun the base.
That was one of my first indications that I was been assigned to work with idiots.
But, being a bit more charitable, the issue back then (way back in 2003) was that a lot of people were having difficulty getting their heads around non-conventional warfare. All of their training and planning revolved around conventional battles and (at least in the reserve components) there seemed to be a cogitative bias towards thinking only in those terms.
I was fortunate having come off of three years of duty on a National Guard Counter Drug mission where I got to partner with a law enforcement agency and provide analytical support to them. As a result I got to see how law enforcement handled criminal networks, street gangs, etc.
Pretty quickly after getting to Afghanistan I realized that the threat that was being described in briefings was a lot less like the 8th GA and a lot more like an organized crime ring. We had a number of police officers and detectives in our unit and I began agitating to bring them in to our intelligence process (such as it was) to see if we could apply some of their skills to our environment.
That suggestions didn’t get too far. They preferred having soldiers wander around aimlessly conducting presence patrols or randomly doling our humanitarian assistance. Besides, what was the big deal? Things were coming along nicely and we’d probably be in full fledged peacekeeping mode in six months.
But I digress…
Anyway, the thought that there are lessons, ideas and (maybe) processes that the military can adopt from law enforcement has continued to occupy my thoughts. I also think there’s a lot of ground to till going the other way and law enforcement could do itself a lot of favors from easing up on drooling over surplus military hardware and instead look to some of the processes that make the military efficient (particularly intelligence processes). Hence, this series of posts.
Next: Part 2, of course.
*Yeah, I know. This isn’t really in line with the can-do spirit of America but screw it. Somebody else can go to the moon. I just want to shoot zombies in the head and listen to Blue Oyster Cult.