Need some help on this question. Any thoughts?

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irnbndr

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Tactical intelligence analysts are routinely criticized for their "cut and paste" mentality-taking existing summaries and copying them into their own products. Why might you guess this happens? What is the primary problem with this kind of approach? What are the alternatives? Why do you think the alternatives are not often adopted?
 
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rangerpsych

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I would venture to guess that they are information gathering, not analysing...
 

Centermass

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Repitition, routine, laziness or maybe even complacency, could be a number of things. Takes some creative thought processes and those that give a damn to see outside the box and not limit their ideas and decisions based on the obvious.

After all, sometimes intelligence is a contradiction in terms, both in the military and life itself.
 

AWP

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I saw this too much in Afghanistan. It pisses me off. Why is it done? Laziness and an unwillingness to act outside a comfort zone. That comfort zone gets you promoted, original thoughts won't.

Don't rock the boat.
 

car

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Repitition, routine, laziness or maybe even complacency, could be a number of things. Takes some creative thought processes and those that give a damn to see outside the box and not limit their ideas and decisions based on the obvious.

I saw this too much in Afghanistan. It pisses me off. Why is it done? Laziness and an unwillingness to act outside a comfort zone. That comfort zone gets you promoted, original thoughts won't.

I think you both have great points, and are, for the most part, spot on. But it depends on the individual analyst - and mission creep.

This is something I've seen grow and morph - since before the war started.

The "new" way of doing things is supposed to be "having access to a flat network." That gives analysts access to much more info, but encourages the practice.

"That's pretty much what I think, so I'll change it a little and push it up/down."

When I was still actually doing analytic work, I tried very hard not to let other peoples' analyses influence mine - by not reading anything about a current situation until I'd read the raw intel and made my own conclusions. That's an almost impossible task, and I'm not trying to be self-righteous, but that's the only way to come to objective analytical conclusions.

The other side of that coin is, as I said, that's damned near impossible. You have to read and know what others are thinking about your target. The challenge is remaining independent and critical in your thought/analytic process. And when you come to a different conclusion than anyone else, having the courage to stand behind your own analysis.

Another (huge) factor is the amount of information we collect, and our ability (or lack of ability) to process it all.

In the end - I agree with you both when you say that the real problem is apathy.

If you're an analyst, you must be willing to do the due dilligence, come to your own conclusions, and then be prepared to argue your point(s). :2c:

Edit: Wow! That almost sounded like a lawyer....:eek:
 
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irnbndr

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.

The "new" way of doing things is supposed to be "having access to a flat network." That gives analysts access to much more info, but encourages the practice.

"That's pretty much what I think, so I'll change it a little and push it up/down."

When I was still actually doing analytic work, I tried very hard not to let other peoples' analyses influence mine - by not reading anything about a current situation until I'd read the raw intel and made my own conclusions. That's an almost impossible task, and I'm not trying to be self-righteous, but that's the only way to come to objective analytical conclusions.

The other side of that coin is, as I said, that's damned near impossible. You have to read and know what others are thinking about your target. The challenge is remaining independent and critical in your thought/analytic process. And when you come to a different conclusion than anyone else, having the courage to stand behind your own analysis.

Another (huge) factor is the amount of information we collect, and our ability (or lack of ability) to process it all.
In the end - I agree with you both when you say that the real problem is apathy.

If you're an analyst, you must be willing to do the due dilligence, come to your own conclusions, and then be prepared to argue your point(s). :2c:

Edit: Wow! That almost sounded like a lawyer....:eek:

I think your comment about the community wide network is quite valid. The fact that information is readily available to analysts may encourage the practice.

The volume of information and the ability to process and disseminate all of it could be another contributor.

But the most interesting comment you made, and one that had not crossed my mind, is the group think philosphy. If your view does not coincide with what everyone else has written then it would be easier not to go against the grain and commit to something new and unfounded, rather than look like a dumbass in the community.
 

DA SWO

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I think flat networks cause a lot of the issues. Intel isn't the only area affected. The pryamid networks worked because we had a couple of extra layers where sanity, and cross-checking would occur. Supervisors could get together and go over subordinates products together, cut and paste becomes very evident.

Supervisors spend 12plus hrs a day in meetings, and do minimal supervising/checking.
 

Royal

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I think flat networks cause a lot of the issues. Intel isn't the only area affected. The pryamid networks worked because we had a couple of extra layers where sanity, and cross-checking would occur. Supervisors could get together and go over subordinates products together, cut and paste becomes very evident.

Supervisors spend 12plus hrs a day in meetings, and do minimal supervising/checking.

Hit the nail on the head.

Even with experienced Ops and analysts nothing should leave the shed without a peer review. As a Det Ops O I never let anything out without going through me or the boss. I didn't always agree with analysis, but if it was well argued it would go out.

The other issue is inexperience and lack of cultural knowledge. Guys are fast-tracked through school and out on deployments without having the time to get out on the ground, learn the language and meet the people. Then they listen to the few old sweats about and pick up their jaundiced ideas and prejudices - and don't have the experience to challenge them. They don't know enough to do more than spout what they've heard and read and so they cut and paste :doh:
 

Typhoon

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I saw this too much in Afghanistan. It pisses me off. Why is it done? Laziness and an unwillingness to act outside a comfort zone. That comfort zone gets you promoted, original thoughts won't.
That is a shame. One of my teachers in high school had just left the Air Force after 16 years in service as an O. He had been MI in Vietnam circa 1966-1970, and he reported being frustrated by exactly the same thing.
 

RetPara

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My experience is somewhat dated since I retired in '95. So the context of my views is that of a 96B that was at the Inf and Attack Avn Bn, Regt, Division , Corps and MACOM level.

Up to sometime in the 90's; 96B's were expected to have a regional expertise by time they were senior NCO's. That is something that has dropped out of the field since then. The SIGINT side of the house also developed regional expertise by the rotation through the Field Stations\Tactical units.

Most analysis is actually done at the Junior NCO\Company Grade Officer\Warrant Officer level. Its very unusual to find the people writing/C&Ping the analytical products with more than a couple of years concentration on a region. Also the writing ability of people has been on the decline as a whole for the last 30 years or so. This is not a root cause if there really is one, but a contributing factor.

Another factor to consider is that in the mid80's, Army intelligence began to try and be more terrain based. Not looking so much as what a large conventional force could\would do, but what the terrain would force them to do. Tactical and operational analysis became much more 'cook book' orientated then.

Most analysts just don't read enough regionally specific books, magazines, or take courses directed toward a region. So they can't form an independent opinion beyond what they see in the daily summaries. Senior NCO's are too often caught up in that 'NCO thing' to pay much attention to a region. Just when a Junior\Mid Level NCO develops the ability to form an opinion and defend it, he gets promoted out of the job. That then leaves the MI Warrant Officers to be the long term senior regional expertise. From the days of the early 80's from what I can see they see they have turned the MI Warrant Officer Corps into what should be the senior analytical layer at the Tactical and Operational levels. However, since Warrantsr are now commissioned and fall into the realm of low cost commissioned officers; subject to the whims of the officer progression, how much time a Warrant will be able to spend in actual analysus regard is questionable. I exchanged emails with a MI Warrant at the Ranger Regiment several months ago. Currently at the Regiment HQ they have more MI WO's than there were 96B's in the whole damn Regiment (including the Battalions) when we stood up HHC, 75th Rgr Regt.

If an analyst wants to develop an regional expertise, its going to be difficult now to get the college course work you really need because of the deployment cycle. Developing a professional library is a must which few do. Right now my library at home is a good six and a half feet high and thirty five feet long with a mixture of middle eastern, military history, history, geography, and political science (and still growing). My job in the Army wasn't just my job it was my hobby. I know a few others like me, but most analysts aren't worried about getting published on a regular basis or developing writing and speaking skills.

Developing the type of free thinking analysts that most of the other contributors to this is going to be very difficult in the way that intelligence is produced in the Army at this time.
 
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IntelGuy

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My :2c: for what its worth. This isn't only being seen in Army Intel. Its also happening in National Level Intelligence as well. It seems that we are becoming more interested in reporting then analyzing information. With the emphasis simply on reporting, cut-paste is almost the SOP. It almost seems as if decision makers aren't as interested in the "why" as much as they are in the "what".
 

moobob

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Don't know how visible it is now, but it seems that entry level analysts are being pushed through the schoolhouse when they shouldn't have been there in the first place. I think it's really going to show in the next few years and beyond. A lot of bright kids will get frustrated by their company and not want to stick around the service.

Off topic but related: 97E/35M has been hit hard in the past few years by quantity over quality... looks to me like 35F is going through the same thing. Losing the language requirement was a huge mistake, and will be felt into the next decade.

Only Army MI MOS's that don't look that they've been hit too hard are SIGINT types (because of language requirements). Kinda wish I would have stuck with it...
 

car

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Don't know how visible it is now, but it seems that entry level analysts are being pushed through the schoolhouse when they shouldn't have been there in the first place. I think it's really going to show in the next few years and beyond. A lot of bright kids will get frustrated by their company and not want to stick around the service.

Off topic but related: 97E/35M has been hit hard in the past few years by quantity over quality... looks to me like 35F is going through the same thing. Losing the language requirement was a huge mistake, and will be felt into the next decade.

Only Army MI MOS's that don't look that they've been hit too hard are SIGINT types (because of language requirements). Kinda wish I would have stuck with it...

They re-look the 35M language requirement regularly. As well looking "outside the box" for better, faster ways to teach language. There's an inititive at Huachuca right now to contract language trining - a certain company says it can punch out 3/3 Arabs in about 43 weeks, or about 2/3 the time DLI is taking. We'll see.
 
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IntelGuy

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Very true moobob. I've seen this trend from my first duty station to my current one (3rd). The schoolhouse is pumping 35F's out as fast as they can. This is a mistake. While I've met some new troops that have made me look like a piker, I've also met more then a few that would prolly have had trouble flipping a burger and definitely didn't belong anywhere near MI. I understand the need to increase the numbers all across the board in MI, but sacrificing quality for quantities is a mistake.
 

RetPara

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These last three posts look like a conversation I had back in the early 80's with some folks. I have seen few MI troops come out of AIT ready to work and know everything that they need to. That was before the soldierization nonsense at the AIT's and God Only Knows what else they have added into the mix.

As for the 35F's not being good analysts; see my post on the previous pages. Seriously though... most 35F's at the Specialist and below ranks are often little more than glorified clerks doing basically paper pushing, record keeps, intelligence clerical work. A lot of which could be handled, possibly better by what used to be 71L's or a clerical MOS. The only reason I can see for not doing that is the cost of the BI's. One idea in the 80's that did get a little traction was to create a cross discipline intelligence clerical MOS that would move at the SGT level to that of an analyst. That would also make it easier to bring in transfers from other specialties, especially combat arms, to MI.

As for language training, COULD there be a better way than what DLI does? Seriously, its the only DOD school with a suicide rate? Its takes some of the brightest people we get in the military and some of the failures that have ended up as 96B's were mentally toasted. If a contractor can use better or different teaching methods and get a result sooner. Give it a shot. All that we can lose is money and the potential pay off is well worth the risk. Strategically, the linguist shortage is probably one of our most serious we have. A radical approach is called for.

At the echelons above reality level the analysis is really a group think product. I have seen pieces take some long to go through the 'peer review' (for lack of a better term) process that they are OBE before they can be published. I have seen the I&W process stopped\sand bagged on the eve of what portended to be a major attack. So IntellGuy when you read the national\regional\macom level summaries please in mind that these are political
position papers as much as they analytical products. You have to read between the lines to understand the clues that are actually being left in sometimes.
 

car

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These last three posts look like a conversation I had back in the early 80's with some folks.

I was there, or hiding around the corner listening, when you guys were talking - trying to figure it out.

We keep chasing our tails. If you remember, RP, the way we were set up in the XXIII ABC ASIC, was much the way "we" (the Army) ended up setting up the ACE - years later. A 96B/35F working with a 98C/35N, both of whom looked at the same target. We just weren't real good at documenting how we did business. Lots of frustration about "sharing info."

Remember jumping through our collective fourth point of contact when they told us we going to Grenada?

It has gotten better, but fresh minds are asking, "Why don't we share info?" What did I just say? :doh:

As for the training - I can't, and won't try, to defend, DLI; but at Huachuca, I still can't figure out where the schoolhouse is going. I mean, shit, when the MI Corps commander, MG Custer, tells his CSM/SGMs that the schoolhouse is becoming irrelevant if they don't have feedback from the field......right idea, we've just gotta put the processes in place to make it happen.

I'm not singing the party line, but I've seen how they're trying to fix it. It's wartime and, all of y'all know, thinks are moving pretty goddamned fast. It's hard to keep up - even in the Intel world, where we're 'posed to have all the money and resources :doh:

I know I've shown some frustration here. And Mara is probably chuckling at me because I'm not in an MI unit anymore.

But the bottom line, C, is this. It's better AND worse than it was. Go figure.
 

Marauder06

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I... And Mara is probably chuckling at me because I'm not in an MI unit anymore.

But the bottom line, C, is this. It's better AND worse than it was. Go figure.

I'm not laughing, I'm writing some of this stuff down.
 

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When we at Bragg we looked at both large scale conventional warfare and contingency intervention. The lads over on Smoke Bomb Hill were the ones really looking at COIN.

It wasn't till AFTER Grenada that DOD got its shit together in contingency planning. The Grenada planning cycle short cut all existing contingency planning methodology by attempting to bring JSOC in as the Force Commander. Finally LANTCOM (guest starring good 'ol Stormin Norman' :rolleyes:) was given the ball. (Last two sentence background IS open source if anyone feels their bowels loosening over OPSEC.) The end result of a deep Purple operation that was pulled together in less than a week from the collective OH SHIT moment at the NSC till execution was pretty fast even by todays standards. However it was the first, major truly Joint operation pulled off in decades. The lessons learned from it have had a LASTING, and for the most part good, impact on the military as a whole.

The major issue with the Huachuca (aside from a certain Col that still owes me $20) is that it is TRADOC. The large, mainly civilian infrastructure of TRADOC prevents a lot of rapid, self initiated change. TRADOC needs to become more reactive and RESPONSIBLE TO THE ARMY, specifically the engaged combat commander. Without a change in the way that TRADOC reports to the CSA\SecArmy the complaints I had about troops we were getting out of the pipeline (especially young snot nosed SIGINT SPC's) will echo for another several generations.
 

car

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(especially young snot nosed SIGINT SPC's)

I was still a PV2 when I came out of the pipeline, thank you very much....:D

And they weren't SPCs back then, they were still SP4s.

Wow! They say the mind's the second thing to go.......;)
 
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