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Officers lauded Palantir for its ability to zero in on data that helped soldiers find roadside bombs, the No. 1 killer of troops in Afghanistan. They complained that the Army-issued Defense Common Ground System was too slow.

A November 2011 memo from the 82nd Airborne Division provides an example:

“Solving very hard analytical problems takes several days when using existing tools against these data sources,” the message states. “In our experience in using the Palantir platform against the same problems, we were able to reduce this time to a few hours. This shortfall translates into operational opportunities missed and unnecessary risk to force.”

‘People have preferences’

Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican and a former Marine officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has accused the Army of fighting requests for Palantir to protect its own system.

Mr. Hunter said of Thursday’s news conference: “The Army’s in damage-control mode. DCGS has underperformed in many areas and created capability gaps that soldiers are looking to fill with alternative solutions.

“The Army can talk about intent all it wants, but there’s a difference between what the program’s intended to do and how it’s actually performing. Otherwise, there wouldn’t have been at least 13 separate requests from ground combat units for something different,” said Mr. Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

The generals said nine of those requests were granted, and gave various reasons why the other four were rejected.

“Every intelligence officer wants the best capability available,” Gen. Fogarty said. “People have preferences. We have some very aggressive analysts. Frankly, they drive us to continue to improve the system.”

He asserted that once a brigade opts to use Palantir “that data is not completely available, is not interoperable” with other intelligence systems.

“The ease of use [with Palantir], that has been very important to them,” he said.

An aide for Mr. Hunter said the nine-of-13 statistic does not tell the full story: Commanders went around the Army bureaucracy to get approval from other agencies or waited months for an OK when they needed Palantir right away.

Failing grades

The generals said the Army is conducting an industry competition among Palantir and other software providers to determine whether their link-analysis software can be incorporated into the Defense Common Ground System.

Col. Dave Pendall, a former division intelligence officer in Afghanistan, told reporters that the Defense Common Ground System performed well in his eastern region. He used it to produce daily intelligence reports on data from human sources, intercepts of electronic transmissions, satellite images and other sources.

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