6 Jan 2010

US intelligence boss scathing of staff in Afghanistan

8:17 am on 6 January 2010

The chief of American military intelligence in Afghanistan has published a scathing report about the failures of intelligence staff there.

It comes as it emerged that the suicide bomber who killed seven CIA agents in Khost, eastern Afghanistan, last week may have been working for both the United States and al-Qaeda.

The report portrays an intelligence gathering machine out of synch with the overall objectives of the US mission in Afghanistan.

In an unusually frank document, Major-General Michael Flynn says the US intelligence apparatus in Afghanistan cannot answer fundamental questions about the environment in which American forces operate and the people they are trying to protect, the BBC reports.

As a result, he says, decision-makers lack the information they need to wage a successful counter-insurgency.

Major-General Flynn argues that too much of the intelligence community is deaf to the new counter-insurgency strategy.

A single-minded obsession with hunting the Taliban and its improvised explosive devices means not enough is known about the local population and the environment in which ordinary Afghans operate.

The report argues that getting teams of intelligence officers out into the field and communicating to more senior staff what they find will be vital if the Afghan population is to be won over.