Pentagon: Stop with the surprises already!
October 8th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

Pentagon: Stop with the surprises already!

By Barbara Starr

If there is one thing U.S. military commanders don't like, it's a surprise on the battlefield.

Generally it means bad things are happening.

So the Defense Intelligence Agency - which is responsible for gathering military intelligence - is undertaking a new effort to keep that from happening. A new classified DIA project is aimed at reinvigorating the military's ability to understand global events and threats before they become crises that impact U.S. troops and interests.

The new process involves convening special classified panels of experts inside the Pentagon from both the military and intelligence communities to look at particular problems.

By ensuring everyone is looking at the same set of intelligence indicators and warnings, and then sharing that information, the hope is the broader "warnings" will get to commanders and key administration policymakers. When those panels then reach their conclusions on a potential threat or warning, they also assess in a traditional sense, with a level of confidence and certainty that can help back up their conclusions.

The concept is known as "Strategic Warning." The idea has been around for decades, but interest has been renewed as a vital tool to anticipate problems in the wake of unfolding global events such as the Arab Spring, the new government in North Korea and continuing threats from Iran, according to defense officials.

The DIA plan centers around trying to warn commanders and policymakers when certain things are happening. It could be a change in a situation already being watched by the military and intelligence community, such as a new nuclear development in Iran. Or it could be the emergence of an underlying trend such as the Arab Spring that has significant widespread impact.

Perhaps one of the most recent example of how problems can unfurl with a lack of strategic warning is the spate of recent insider attacks in Afghanistan, a defense official told CNN.

The sense is that the Pentagon thought for too long the attacks were individual events and didn't realize the emerging trend and capability to launch those attacks would impact morale and military operations.

"We now have a dedicated effort to focus on what a combatant commander or leader inside the Pentagon, or in the national security community, might all view as signs or indicators of either a change in an existing scenario or a significant change in a pattern of a long term trend," Deputy DIA Director David Shedd told CNN.

Shedd says the rapid evolution of the Arab Spring movement is another case in point. "We did not appreciate how profound the dissatisfaction was" nor did the U.S. realize its lack of attention to how that dissatisfaction was growing.

Shedd said it is broad changes the military is looking to eyeball, not specific events such as a particular threat of an attack.

The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi is perhaps an example of how not recognizing the underlying pattern can lead to disastrous consequences.

"It's not a surprise they could do it," Shedd said of the militants. "But it's that they would be able to step into an opportunistic event."

Now the question for DIA may be whether the United States needs to analyze whether al Qaeda and other militant groups have a new capability to organize and be ready to standby waiting for opportunities to strike.

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Brady Natewa

    You made a number of fine points there. I did a search on the issue and found most folks will have the same opinion with your blog.

    March 6, 2021 at 2:27 pm | Reply
  2. Matt

    The answers can be found in nothing,ness in understanding nothing, you will understand everything, in knowing nothing you will know all, in knowing one thing you will know one thousand. Only void can show the true path, to the answers you seek. .

    November 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Reply
    • Matt

      Void and the answers you seek can only be achieved by the enlightenment of oneself, only then, the enhancement over the other five senses, to achieve the six sense, the ability to move objects via mediation, to sleep with ones eyes open, to quench ones thirst without drinking water.

      If that fails get drunk and call room service.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Reply
      • Matt

        Mediation is a power force, you require all your internal power, physically and spiritually, that requires one to live as a monk. It is only then that the ultimate ability can be attempted. Control of the weather. Is it possible?, it is not known no one returns from the journey. A warrior a monk will go off into the wilderness and never be seen again. People may seek out the monk to obtain cheap wisdom, go off to the top of the mountain to find the monk.

        What is known is these monks, live many years beyond the common man and in a harsher environment. It is my opinion that via their enlightenment, they have halted the aging process, just as it is possible to quench ones thirst without drink.

        November 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  3. Matt

    Barbara Starr is a Zionist shill, Israel Firster, and lousy reporter.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:54 am | Reply
  4. Trevor

    I seem to recall alot of conflicting information on Iraq coming out of the DoD before the formal case for action was presented by Colin Powell at the UN. If you think that this estimate as presented wasn't heavily influenced by folks outside the intelligence community then you talking about being these people being "dumb" is equally "laughable" from a commonsense perspective. Real easy to Monday morning quarterback an issue AFTER the fact that is extremely difficult to get right. With failures there have been successes as well. I suggest that instead of sitting there griping about what such a crappy job the thousands in the DoD are doing, that you seek employment within and get it to the level you feel it should be. Real easy to sit there and say "I can't believe how "dumb" these folks are" when you yourself have done nothing on this issue that is "durable" (ie correcting it).

    October 9, 2012 at 1:45 am | Reply
    • Trevor

      @ NNN..."Mr Intelligence Estimate Expert"...

      October 9, 2012 at 1:47 am | Reply
  5. Flushed

    I've flushed things down the toilet that have more morals than a republican.

    October 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Reply
  6. NNN

    DoD has no credibility, especially when it comes to intelligence. This is the same crowd that got suckered by that useless Iraqi c r o o k, Ahmed Chalabi, and his fake organization. And the idea of the Pentagon even using the word, expert, is equally laughable. All the Pentagon has managed to do in recent history is squander the national wealth while accomplishing nothing durable.

    October 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Reply
    • Trevor

      This crowd takes direction from the administration...they don't set policy. Squander national wealth squandered? Again, go back to school on who calls for what is "spent" by who...

      October 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Reply
      • NNN

        You're wrong about that. The direction they take from the administration is influenced by DoD's intelligence assessment. These are the same people who believed all the fraudulent information coming from Chalabi and his fake intelligence about WMDs, greatly inflating Iraq's capabilities, and defaming what turned out to be their compliance with UN mandates and treaties. And just exactly how dumb are these people that they would be believe a crook convicted of major bank fraud, and why is he is still walking around free. He ultimately caused more damage to the US than OBL. The invasion of Iraq was the most costly and egregious blunder in US history, except maybe the declaration of war in 1812.

        October 8, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • duckforcover

      Isn't that what the CIA supposed to be doing all these years? Turf wars are so productive.

      October 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Reply
  7. saeed

    usa is bankcrupt.

    October 8, 2012 at 7:55 am | Reply
    • And

      And saeed is a retarded towel head that likes sheep.

      October 8, 2012 at 9:05 am | Reply
    • Clinton

      Actually Saeed, America is so powerful, that despite the worst recession we've ever endured, we're still the largest economy in the world. We're doing fine, we have debt, but we also have more money than any other nation on the planet... So, no we're not bankrupt, quite the opposite in fact... Have a nice day... oh and keep your eye out for drones.

      October 8, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Reply
      • NNN

        An economy that is more and more based upon a bunch of hot air and paper pushers with no production of any tangible goods. It's not going to last much longer, just one bubble bursting after another. Keep dreaming.

        October 8, 2012 at 8:06 pm |

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