The difficulty of trying to rebuild Iraq as insurgents try to destroy it was hammered home by an incident in November.
The U.S. operates Camp Loyalty, a forward operating base near Baghdad, and stores building material there. In this case, they were husbanding a huge amount of electrical wiring and components to help turn the lights on in Sadr City, the capital’s Shi’ite slum.
Then, insurgent mortar rounds hit the base storage yard. Everyone took cover. When the barrage ended, most of the supplies disappeared in flames.
“Media there never covers the fact that Iraqi bad guys are blowing up Iraq’s own reconstruction,” said a military official. “Congress is told subliminally by others that reconstructors are all crooks or political incompetents.”
CIA on China threat
CIA Director Michael V. Hayden spoke to CIA employees yesterday for a town-hall-style meeting where he revealed the agency’s new “Strategic Intent” report and outlined some of the reforms taken. They include setting up a new operations center with representatives from the collection, analysis and technical services branches.
The report lists the long war on terrorism, arms proliferation and the rise of China and India as part of the current “unstable and dangerous ” strategic environment.
One initiative: the creation of a CIA associate deputy director for counterintelligence that supporters hope will give the agency something it badly needs in the current environment of aggressive foreign intelligence activities. “Counterintelligence is too critical an issue not to have a senior member of our leadership team committed to it 24/7,” Gen. Hayden said in announcing the post.
Counterintelligence at CIA has been a backwater support function since the ouster of master counterspy James Jesus Angleton in the 1970s. Mr. Angleton oversaw an aggressive independent counterintelligence branch that conducted several mole hunts that upset veteran spies.
The CIA still has not fully recovered from the decadeslong betrayal of CIA officer Aldrich Ames, who gave Russia the names and identities of virtually all the CIA’s recruited agents working against the Soviet Union. Ames was caught in 1993.
Other reforms outlined by Gen. Hayden include a “revitalized” covert action review group that will direct semi-secret CIA-sponsored activities ranging from political operations to paramilitary forces.
The CIA also has a new External Advisory Board that includes former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers, former Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre and former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina.
The intelligence community would just as well forget the flawed 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq and work on making sure such a mistaken analysis does not happen again.
One new look is Intellipedia, a classified form of the Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopedia where people can use the “wiki” software to add information on a given subject.
Intellipedia debuted in April on the government’s top-secret network. Today, there are more than 28,000 Web pages, over 13 million “hits” and 3,600 registered users.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is experimenting with that concept, via Intellipedia, to see if intelligence analysts collectively can produce an accurate NIE on various subjects. Another aim is to get rid of the “stovepipes” — the metaphor for analysts not sharing information with other analysts in different fields but similar subjects.
“With all edits being attributable in Intellipedia, it actually kind of allows our officers to be much more collegial with one another, and it builds a community, which is what we’re trying to do,” Sean Dennehy, a CIA analyst, said at a recent round-table discussion.
Intellipedia will be a communal site for all types of intelligence articles, which can be edited by other analysts, while keeping the assessment’s historical thread. You can have analysts from U.S. Pacific Command, the CIA and a satellite reconnaissance office talking to one another at the same time on the same topic via Intellipedia.
The DNI is also doing an experimental NIE, the intelligence community’s crown jewel produced by the National Intelligence Council. The initial Intellipedia NIE will be on the troubled African nation of Nigeria. Intellipedia will be the recipient of analysts assessments on that country for use by the council to write the NIE.
Changing Air Force
Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief of staff, has made the war on terror his top service priority, followed by caring for airmen and their families, and buying new combat aircraft and space assets.
A recent message from headquarters shows how the Air Force is changing. Last fall, the Air Force dropped its first small-diameter bomb, the GBU-39/B, from an F-15E Strike Eagle supporting troops in Iraq. The 250-pound bomb allows jet fighters to carry a larger bombs-to-targets ratio, meaning a pilot can hit multiple suspected terror safe houses and reduce collateral damage.
The Air Force this summer also helped the Army by sending “several hundred” airmen to ground combat training before deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan. The Army is stressed by frequent war deployments. President Bush announced in December that he will ask Congress to increase the number of soldiers by an unspecified number. The military even has come up with a name for airmen changing their traditional missions. It’s called “in-lieu-of.”
The war on terror is also putting an unprecedented demand on the Predator, an unmanned aerial vehicle that can spy on the enemy and unleash deadly Hellfire missiles. The Air Force message called it “one of the most sought-after weapons by combatant commanders.”
Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Mr. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr. Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at email@example.com.