Making Intelligence Relevant

I recently found a whitepaper the name of which startled me:  “Fixing Intel:  A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan”.  Startling in the frankness of its analysis, startling in the clarity of the remedies it calls for, and most of all startling in its applicability to my own field of business research and analytics.

Impressive credentials aside, its authors speak from deep hands-on knowledge.   General Michael T. Flynn served in Afghanistan for three decades as an intelligence officer, Captain Matt Pottinger served under Flynn in Afghanistan, and Paul Batchelor works at the Defense Intelligence Agency.  They have all walked the walk.

An alarming assessment

Flynn report shadow“Eight years into the war in Afghanistan,” begins the candid January 2010 assessment, “the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy.”  The authors go on to quote General Stanley McChrystal, then head of NATO and US forces in Afghanistan: “Our senior leaders—the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, Congress, the President of the United States—are not getting the right information to make decisions with.”

If you are (as I am) a ‘value-oriented taxpayer’—aware that the US currently spends over $80 billion in intelligence each year, one-third of that military intelligence—you’d justifiably find this alarming.  It helps explain why, now ten years into that conflict, we are facing a less-than-optimal conclusion.

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