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Costly US intel failures continue in Iraq

by Wood & Kucera Friday, Apr. 09, 2004 at 6:59 AM

Two seperate reports clearly demonstrate that a "process for systematic sharing of intelligence and tactics is badly needed" -- proving that the lessons from 9/11 have not been learned

Risks of Private Military Contracting Highlighted in Iraq Turmoil

David Wood

Newhouse News Service, April 6, 2004

Like many private military contractors, Robert Sargent, 32, left his high-intensity Army assignment to spend more time with his family, earn more money and be able to pick and choose his jobs. Sargent, a former special forces soldier just returned from Iraq, where he had a job as a bodyguard, said contractors there have access to "a scrubbed version of the daily intel dump from the local military HQ," or headquarters.

"The problem is that it is released in the early morning but contains yesterday's intel," he said in a telephone interview from his home in Arizona. "It does not include trends or suspected hot spots. We had to find our own intelligence sources, develop our own informants."

Doug Brooks, president of the International Peace Operations Association, a professional organization for military contractors and civilians working in war zones, said a process for systematic sharing of intelligence and tactics is badly needed. "We'd have to figure out where the money would come from," he said.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has held down the size of U.S. military forces as a way to contain costs. Under his direction, thousands of jobs once filled by military personnel have been "privatized" to civilians. Very little is known in the aggregate about the impact of that effort in Iraq, since individual contracts are kept secret to protect proprietary information.

"Politicians can claim they're keeping the defense budget under control by forcing us to use contractors for what used to be military jobs," Killebrew said. "But it's bad for our military posture."

And because contracts are let by a variety of government agencies, including the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S. Central Command and subordinate commands, there is not even a reliable figure for the number of private citizens working in Iraq, said Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution, author of "Corporate Warriors," a seminal book on the subject.

Singer estimates there are 15,000 civilian American contractors in Iraq. Of those, he estimates as many as 2,000 are armed and in combat jobs.

A Pentagon spokesman, speaking on background, expressed confidence in the Iraq contractors while acknowledging some "inefficiencies" in coordination. "We're going to look at some of these issues," he said. He declined to elaborate.

'Iraqi Freedom' report shows up shortcomings

Joshua Kucera

Jane's Defense Weekly, April 5, 2004

Washington, DC - Problems encountered in sharing information with coalition partners, deployment planning and reserve mobilisation were blemishes on an otherwise generally successful record of US operations during Operation 'Iraqi Freedom', according to a draft report prepared by US Joint Forces Command (JFCOM).

"US information security policies, implementation procedures and technology limitations hindered the integration of coalition partners into planning and execution processes," said the report, dated 1 March.

The Combined Enterprise Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS) and other systems designed to allow communications between the US's secure network and those of its coalition partners "successfully supported the conduct of [the Iraq war], but it was in no way an optimised solution", the report said.

The simplest solution would be to allow "carte blanche access to the [Secret Internet Protocol Router Network] SIPRNET", the report said, although this was unfeasible because it would expose sensitive US data. JFCOM is working on solutions, including two accelerated acquisition efforts: EDS, an advanced concept technology demonstrator for Content Based Information Security, which would encode the classification level within data so users would only get access to the data they were cleared to see; and the Coalition Shared Intelligence Network Environment, which is intended to "provide an environment for multinational-NATO operations".
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