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ON POINT II: Transition to the New Campaign

The United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM May 2003-January 2005

Part II

Transition to a New Campaign

Chapter 5
Intelligence and High-Value Target Operations


The New Paradigm’s Growing Pains

Operations like the one described above demonstrate how tactical units met the demand for intelligence by going beyond the MI assets assigned and tasking all Soldiers to become collectors of information. This practice was widespread and often effective, but it did not always please the US Army MI community in Iraq. By doctrine, regulation, and training, MI Soldiers were the only individuals and units allowed to conduct most intelligence activities. According to the MI community, missions such as working with a source network and interrogation of detainees were delicate and complex and required careful planning and proper training. When battalion and brigade commanders assigned these operations to maneuver units whose Soldiers were essentially untrained, some problems surfaced. According to a report by the Department of the Army Inspector General’s Office, MI Soldiers in the 4th ID noted that one tactical unit they had worked with was “running their own sources, and otherwise acting like a group of ‘James Bond,’ overstepping any rules as they saw fit.”41 A 2004 report from the 519th MI Battalion echoed this complaint and described how many tactical units were conducting “do-it-yourself HUMINT collection” in Iraq and recognized that although this was done “for the best reasons,” the efforts were “sometimes counterproductive.”42 The Soldiers in the 519th emphasized the nuanced and patient approach required for these operations, stating that a trained HUMINT Soldier “develops relationships of trust in order to penetrate the inner circles of the enemy. He uses discretion and unconventional tactics, techniques and procedures to prevent the compromise of his operation while safeguarding the source’s identity.”43 The report then warned that without proper training, the amateur HUMINT Soldier might make the Iraqi informant vulnerable to threats or actual violence.

As tactical units increased their intelligence collection activities, tension between them and the MI community did rise. Lieutenant Colonel McKiernan, commander of the 4-27th FA in Baghdad, noted that at the beginning of his deployment, MI officers expressed concern when the battalion began intelligence operations:

There was some discomfort initially with the tactical units engaging in HUMINT collection. There was definitely some friction, I think, between the MI community and I would say my brigade commander, definitely, about what was allowable and what wasn’t in terms of sources and informants and things like that. I want to be clear here . . . we were definitely collecting information. I was not running sources, but that may be a fine line.44

McKiernan described that once MI Soldiers realized how large the demand was for actionable intelligence in Iraq, they tended to relent and eventually coordinated their activities with tactical units like the 4-27th FA:

The brigade . . . had the ability to collect information across the brigade zone because we started patching things together, but it started at our level. If somebody had information, by God, we had to be ready to take it. The THTs, when we first started this, said, ‘Hey, that is our job. What are you doing? You are not allowed to talk to these guys.’ Then they realized, I think pretty quickly, that there were more people than they could possibly talk to. So what they would do, and there was a lot of cooperation, if there was somebody new who we felt had information of value, we would ask the THTs to talk to him to see if this was somebody the THT wanted to run or the THT would say, ‘Hey, S2 down there in the battalion, why don’t you just go ahead and use this guy as a source of information for you because we don’t think he is somebody we need to take on.’45

What emerged then between 2003 and 2004 in OIF was a new and innovative process that combined the experience and training of MI professionals with the capacity and willingness of tactical-level units to collect information.

Chapter 5. Intelligence and High-Value Target Operations

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