Cen­tral Com­mand, Pen­tagon at odds on in­tel meth­ods

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Rowan Scar­bor­ough

U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand has been re­sist­ing sug­ges­tions from the Pen­tagonon­how to re­vamp intelligence col­lec­tion in Iraq, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple familiar with the dis­pute.

Thede­fens­esources­saidStephen Cam­bone, un­der­sec­re­tary of de­fense for intelligence, and Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, a key deputy, have­been­press­ingth­ecom­mand to change the way that intelligence is gleaned from in­sur­gent strongholds and to in­crease thetype of in­for­ma­tion that is col­lected.

But ac­cord­ing to th­ese sources, the com­mand, whose intelligence chief is Brig. Gen. John M. Custer III, prefers the cur­rent Joint Intelligence Op­er­a­tions Cen­ters (JIOC).

“If it is not in­vented at Cen­tral Com­mand, it is not wel­comed,” said a source familiar with the in­ter­nal de­bate, who re­ferred to the dis­agree­ment as a “turf bat­tle.”

A sec­ond source said, “We want to know ev­ery­thing the in­sur­gency is do­ing at any given time. [. . .] Cen­tral Com­mand re­sists ev­ery­thing un­less they came up with it.”

Mr. Cam­bone’s de­part­ment wants the Bagh­dad com­mand to put­more intelligence re­sources into neigh­bor­hoods where the in­sur­gents op­er­ate in hopes of find­ing the per­pe­tra­tors be­fore the next sui­cide bomb­ing or the place­ment of im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices.

The dis­pute comes as the im­por­tance of tak­ing down the in­sur­gent cells — or at least re­duc­ing the num­ber of at­tacks — is reach­ing a crit­i­cal point. Gen. John Abizaid, Cen­tral Com­mand chief, told the Se­nateArmed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee three weeks ago that he has never seen sec­tar­ian vi­o­lence at such a high level in Bagh­dad. Pri­vately, mil­i­tary of­fi­cials worry that they are run­ning out of time in Iraq, with di­min­ish­ing sup­port from Wash­ing­ton politi­cians and the Amer­i­can pub­lic.

De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald H. Rums­feld has placed great em­pha­sis on im­prov­ing the mil­i­tary’s intelligence ca­pa­bil­i­ties. He cre­ated Mr.Cam­bone’s post in 2003as­away to ini­ti­ate re­form through­out the De­fense De­part­ment’s intelligence com­mu­nity. The net­work in­cludes the De­fense Intelligence Agency and units inside the mil­i­tary branches.

A Pen­tagon spokesman, who asked not to be­named, said, “I can’t speak to what Boykin and Custer have said to each other.”

The spokesman pointed out that the ser­vices haveac­cepted re­forms, in­clud­ing cre­ation of the joint op­er­a­tion cen­ters op­er­at­ing in Iraq.

“One of the pur­poses was to try to get that broader type of in­for­ma­tion,” the of­fi­cial said. “You pull what you need and get it to the op­er­a­tors.”

The spokesman also re­ferred to re­marks that Gen. Boykin made in April about build­ing intelligence in Iraq.

“We started Au­gust of [2005] build­ing a mech­a­nism, a sys­tem. And by the way, the rea­son we started in Iraqwas­be­causeGen­eral Abizaid said at a com­bat­ant com­man­ders con­fer­ence, ‘If we’re go­ing to build aJIOC, let’s start where the real fight is, let’s build the first one in Iraq,’ “ Gen. Boykin said. “So we said OK,we did. [. . .] Sowhatwe­did is we built an ar­chi­tec­ture there that al­lows an an­a­lyst to sit at a sin­gle work­sta­tion and bring in dif­fer­ent clas­si­fi­ca­tions and dif­fer­ent types of intelligence.”

A spokesman at Cen­tral Com­mand two weeks ago did not re­turn e-mail or phone mes­sages.

Ter­ror­ism an­a­lysts Richard H. Shultz Jr. and Roy God­son wrote in the Weekly Stan­dard two weeks ago that re­turn­ing spe­cial op­er­a­tions com­man­ders still com­plain that intelligence col­lec­tion in Iraq is spotty. They quoted one com­man­der as say­ing the joint intelligence cen­ter would give them the lo­ca­tion of a neigh­bor­hood where in­sur­gents hid. He said that his men could spend all day try­ing to find them and that what he needed was the ex­act ad­dress.

“The mil­i­tary men we talked to [. . .] all said the same thing: When we’re spend­ing $40 bil­lion a year on intelligence and com­mit­ting 150,000 men to the Iraqi front, why can’t we cre­ate the ac­tion­able intelligence re­quired to roll up the in­sur­gents?” the two wrote.

Mr. Shultz is con­sid­ered an author­ity on mil­i­tary intelligence. He has pub­lished a new book on coun­tert­er­ror­ism “In­sur­gents, Ter­ror­ists and Mili­tias: The War­riors of Con­tem­po­rary Com­bat.”

Cen­tral Com­mand, which over­sees mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in the Per­sian Gulf re­gion, has some intelligence achieve­ments to crow about. It found and killed al Qaeda in Iraq leader AbuMusab Zar­qawi in June and rounded up scores of his lieu­tenants both be­fore and af­ter the air strike. De­fense of­fi­cials con­tend that al Qaeda in Iraq has been se­ri­ously dam­aged.

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