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“Clearly [the new version] is less capable,” the statement says. Fielding a scaled-back processor “will provide users capabilities at least as good as those provided by the currently fielded versions.”

Mr. Hunter, and critics in the field, say that justification rings hollow because it is the current version that troops generally pan.

Mr. Hunter and Mr. Moran are not alone.

The Senate Armed Services Committee report for fiscal 2013 defense spending criticizes the Army for refusing to incorporate commercially available software into the common ground system. The top intelligence officer in Afghanistan in 2010 made such a request, the report said.

“The Army indicated that only 115 analysts in Afghanistan are using the Army’s DCGS cloud analyst tools, despite years of development and considerable costs,” the senators said, adding that they “lacked confidence” that the Army was ever going to field a “fully capable” system.

Requests denied

The experience of an Army commando unit in Afghanistan in 2011 is an example of soldiers requesting Palantir, an off-the-shelf commercial data analysis system that costs far less than the Defense Common Ground System.

Special operations Task Force 10, as it was then called, had become fed up with the common ground system, which was failing in its link analysis to identify insurgents.

“The current system does not allow them to efficiently request and receive critical real-time intelligence,” said one of several memos that were sent by U.S. commandos to Army headquarters and obtained by The Times.

The task force asked Army headquarters in Washington for permission to buy Palantir, which was gaining fame as a conduit for finding buried improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The Army said “no” to Palantir and, instead, noted that it was sending more common ground system servers — the same ones that special warriors said did not work.

The Army did not respond last week to questions submitted by The Times.

“This is just another instance of ground forces asking for a specific technology to support their mission and getting their request denied because there’s competing technology that’s significantly more expensive and far-less effective,” said Mr. Hunter, a who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine Corps officer.

Internal memos obtained by The Times in recent months show that Army soldiers are not the only ones requesting Palantir.

A Marine general wrote that Palantir should be included in the annual defense budget. It can be bought now only as a special request item. U.S. Special Operations Command is trying to make Palantir standard issue to its units fighting terrorists around the world.

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