Thursday, December 30, 2004

Letters, I Get Letters 
I spent 26 years in the Air Force, most of them in imagery intelligence.  My career took me to Vietnam, Germany, and England overseas, and to Washington, DC, Omaha, NE, Sumter, South Carolina, and Denver, Colorado.  I know the intel business pretty well.  My best friend, until he retired, was the collections manager for Humint in Europe.  He had some interesting tales to tell after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The US military has an exceptional military intelligence system in place that includes more than a dozen types of intelligence collection, interpretation, reporting and dissemination.  It's not where the people work that is the problem, it's the bureaucratic mindset of the upper echelon that's the problem.  I can't tell you how many times I've been told that my interpretation was "too controversial".  I can't begin to tell you how many times events proved me right, either, but the number was far greater than 1, and my record was better than 50% - by a lot!

It doesn't matter what kind of unit collects the intelligence, if it's not believed, nobody will know it exists.  If the people at the top fear that the report might get them in hot water, and sit on it, it again becomes useless.  Only when we have people with enough gumption to tell the truth, report even the uncomfortable and even BAD news, will we have a viable intelligence organization.  Most bureaucrats are unwilling to place their careers in jeopardy, even if it means putting the nation in jeopardy.

Here's another from one of the ink-stained wretches within the bowels of the Defense Intelligence Agency:

Great job with your comments to the article, I work for the Defense Intelligence Agency in the Pentagon and was surprised to see that someone even knows we exist, we are affectionally called the redheaded stepchild of the intel community.  I concur with you on most of your points, for far too long we have had established lines of thinking in that we will fight a linear enemy similar to the USSR and we are paying the price today in Iraq.  I'm a recent college grad, out nearly 2 years and have found that there is sadly an Old Guard of thought that is unwilling to accept we live in an age where our principal adversary is motivated by religion and cannot be defeated soley on the field on battle.  Until we learn that we cannot just call in the AC-130 or drop JDAMs we will continue to quiet and noisy wars from Europe to the jungles of Asia.

Thank you for putting forward the argument we have to go on the offensive, for far too long we've wanted to take the defensive route and its time we went all out, we are fighting a war just as involved as WWII, I know you saw it firsthand.

Here's one from an artillery officer who served near me in Iraq:

I don't blame congress for a body armor shortage today, but I sure as hell blame them (not Rumsfeld) for the fact that you and I both went to war without one.  Our only casualty was shot through the back in a place where he would have been protected had we been issued the good stuff.  Congress could have funded that equipment long before the invasion, but they didn't. 
I also blame them for our battalion, as well as most of the others from Fort Sill, having to spend about an entire year's budget in about a month to buy equipment we needed but couldn't afford prior to getting wartime funding.  All active duty units, mind you. 
I blame their lack of providing 10 years worth of adequate funding for the fact that the stuff we needed wasn't immediately available because production had been cut back because we couldn't afford to buy the stuff we needed -- like M16 magazines.  In one case, certain NBC filters we needed for our MLRS launcher overpressure system weren't even being made any more because, in times of tight budgets, nobody bought them for annual replacements since Desert Storm.  They were brought back into production in March.  During the invasion.  Good thing old Saddam didn't really have WMD, huh?

Yeah, for some reason magazines always seem to be a problem. That and weapons cleaning gear. I pull my hair out trying to get enough weapons cleaning supplies for troops. (I think the final answer is to make troops sign for it and pay for what they lose, and periodically inspect for it, to make sure they have it, rather than treat the pieces as expendable items.)

It's the little things.

Fortunately, Iraq was a pretty dry climate, and rust was (usually) not a huge problem (although see a post from November called "When Seasons Change."

Weapons hold up pretty well over there as long you dissassemble them and wipe the dust off from time to time. If we fought in a wet or humid climate things would be a lot dicier.

I'll bet Marine Corps units don't have as much trouble getting weapons cleaning gear as we do (hint to Army logisticians).

Splash, out

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