January 02, 2008

Losing the Information War

Ace national security reporter Shaun Waterman has an interesting story up on the UPI wire on the way in which the U.S. lost the information battle during First Fallujah:

A secret intelligence assessment of the first battle of Fallujah shows the U.S. military believes it lost control over information about what was happening in the town, leading to political pressure that ended its April 2004 offensive with control being handed to Sunni insurgents.

"The outcome of a purely military contest in Fallujah was always a foregone conclusion -- coalition victory," reads the assessment, prepared by analysts at the U.S. Army's National Ground Intelligence Center.

"But Fallujah was not simply a military action, it was a political and informational battle. … The effects of media coverage, enemy information operations, and the fragility of the political environment conspired to force a halt to U.S. military operations," concludes the assessment.

It adds that the decision to order an immediate assault on Fallujah, in response to the televised killing of four contractors from the private military firm Blackwater, effectively prevented the Marine Expeditionary Force charged with retaking the town from carrying out "shaping operations," like clearing civilians from the area, which would have improved their chances of success.

"The very short time allowed for shaping operations before the fight resulted in a battlefield full of civilians," observes the assessment, prepared in March 2006 and classified secret.

A copy was posted on the Web last week by the organization Wikileaks, which aims to provide a secure way whistle-blowers can "reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations" and says it favors government transparency.

Although a spokesman for U.S. Army intelligence declined to comment on the document, United Press International independently confirmed its veracity.

Abu Muqawama would post the hyperlink to the classified intelligence assessment but he thinks that's, like, against the law or something. Is it? Anyway, he'll post the hyperlink from wikileaks if it's not. The report is a good one -- whoever wrote it clearly understands the nature of the fight better than most general officers in the U.S. Army or Marine Corps. Regardless, read the full Waterman report.