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Inside the Ring

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2011

FEDERAL INTEL SHARING HIT

The head of the Los Angeles Police Department's intelligence and special operations unit said the federal government's efforts to share intelligence with state and local law enforcement agencies needs to be improved.

"I think to say that we have an integrated federal intelligence system is false," said Michael P. Downing, deputy police chief and commander of counterterrorism intelligence and special operations. "We have a centralized federal intelligence enterprise, and we're not taking advantage of the decentralized law enforcement structure that we have in the United States."

Mr. Downing said in an interview that he has been working to "de-federalize and decentralize this intelligence system." He also said the LAPD intelligence unit he heads, with some 300 analysts, seeks to complement - and not compete - with the FBI's presidential mandate for domestic intelligence.

The goal of LAPD counterterrorism intel efforts is to better utilize the eyes and ears on the ground of the estimated 800,000 state and local law enforcement officers and 72 regional intelligence fusion centers. The centers are supported by the Department of Homeland Security but are lacking effectiveness, he said.

Local police networks in the country need to be better educated and trained on what information to collect, what are the specific threats, and then bolster the efforts of the local intelligence fusion centers, Mr. Downing said.

For DHS, he said, "let them go from the weak sister to the strong sister that the [intelligence community] will respect because they are harnessing all this intelligence, then I think you'd have a truly integrated national intelligence enterprise," he said.

DHS spokesman Andrew L. Lluberes said the department is working toward "enhancing our support to the national network of fusion centers." DHS "is committed to supporting fusion centers as the focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information between partners at all levels," he said.

LAPD's counterterrorism bureau hopes to be emulated around the country. For example, the Joint Regional Intelligence Center in the Los Angeles area includes representatives from seven counties with a total of 18 million people and 166 police agencies. The JRIC surveyed intelligence threats helped identify intelligence targets and plan source coverage, he said.

"We've tried to institutionalize the idea of [counterterrorism] within the department so that people become collectors. People know what the threat is, they understand the threat domain, they know who the adversary is, what the capability is, what the intent is," Mr. Downing said.

The department conducts extensive community outreach to Muslim communities in Los Angeles. But it also uses what Mr. Downing calls "hunt-and-pursue" intelligence programs.

Hunt-and-pursue tactics involve developing "actionable" intelligence on terrorist threats then conducting disruption operations through arrests and other undercover action.

KYL ON OBAMA ARMS CONTROL

Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican and a leading voice in the Senate on arms control, criticized the Obama administration this week for its arms control-centered approach to national security.

In particular, Mr. Kyl told a gathering of defense specialists that the administration is seeking further strategic nuclear warhead cuts that could undermine deterrence and the U.S. nuclear umbrella for allies. The administration also wants to ratify a treaty defeated years ago by the Senate to ban nuclear tests and is engaging in missile-defense talks with the Russians that could undermine U.S. advantages in the area.

On missile defenses, Mr. Kyl was particularly harsh in noting that the administration is "headed in the wrong direction."

The administration "seems to have decided that its primary goal in missile defense is to make sure the Russians are not offended," Mr. Kyl said.

"Their policy has been to curtail defense of the homeland, our U.S. strategic or homeland missile-defense requirements, in favor of regional missile defenses insofar as those do not offend the Russians."

Noting the administration's shift away from long-range defenses in Europe toward regional defenses, Mr. Kyl said such defenses are needed but "are not sufficient, especially at the expense of defending our homeland."

"But because any force that we would deploy that could theoretically be effective against a Russian missile will offend the Russians, then this administration is bound and determined not to go forward with it. That's very dangerous."

The administration has justified its conciliatory approach to missile-defense talks with Russia as a way to "reset" ties, but Mr. Kyl noted: "I have not seen a lot of evidence that this reset has really benefited the United States."

He noted that the administration has cut funding for ground-based missile defenses against long-range threats by $4 billion between 2010 and 2013.

The cuts come at a time when the Pentagon has said the threat from North Korea's long-range missiles that can hit the United States is growing, and Iran is testing space launchers that help its long-range missile capabilities, he noted.

Cooperation with Russia could be a good thing, but "it would be a very large mistake to, in effect, make them a partner in our missile defense system," Mr. Kyl said.

He noted, as reported earlier in this space, that the Russians likely are seeking access to U.S. missile defense technology through such cooperation.

Talks with the Russians on missile defense could prove to be a "fool's errand," he said, "because, at least up to now, the Russians have made it pretty clear that they want nothing less than a finger on the red button" of control over a missile-defense system in Europe.

Mr. Kyl also stated that Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscherhas been leading the missile-defense talks with the Russians that "by the way, ... are being kept secret from Congress."

"We've asked several times to be briefed on what they are, and we're told that, if something ever happens, they'll let us know," Mr. Kyl said.

The statement contradicts public comments by Ms. Tauscher who insisted in a speech to a conference on missile defense recently that there is nothing secret about the talks with Moscow.

TROOPS-EYE VIEW OF IRAQ SURGE

James Russell, a former Pentagon official turned professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, has a new book on the 2007 surge in Iraq, presenting a new troop-level perspective on what turned the conflict around.

Mr. Russell criticizes former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his staff for a failure to plan properly for a post-invasion insurgency. In the process, the author seeks to set the record straight.

The conventional storyline is that an increase in troops, plus the counter-insurgency strategy of Gen. David Petraeus, combined to turn a lost war into a winning one.

Not so writes Mr. Russell in his "Innovation, Transformation, and War: Counterinsurgency Operations in Anbar and Ninewa Provinces, Iraq, 2005-2007."

His research shows that unit commanders at all levels began devising their own counter-insurgency tactics in country, as Gen. Petraeus and former President George W. Bush approved an overall new war plan in 2007 in Washington.

Brigade, battalion and company commanders were forced to invent-as-they-fought because the 2003 invasion lacked any plan to conduct counter insurgency (COIN) operations, reports special correspondent Rowan Scarborough.

"This book argues that this proficiency grew iteratively and literally from the ground up in the field and proceeded in parallel with the rear-echelon efforts to produce a new COIN doctrine," Mr. Russell writes.

One example: An Army unit in Ramadi, a hotspot for Sunni unrest in Anbar Province, used census patrols to developed their own house-by-house list of residents and compiled it in Microsoft Access software.

"The database provided enhanced situational awareness for the unit throughout the sector and successfully helped target the insurgent network in south-central Ramadi," the book states.

"The idea for the database came from one of the unit's company commanders, and subsequently became an organization [standard operating procedure] during the deployment."

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