This report critically examines the relevance of the U.S. intelligence community to the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. The authors - Major General Michael T. Flynn, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence in Afghanistan; his advisor Captain Matt Pottinger; and Paul Batchelor, Senior Advisor for Civilian/Military Integrations at ISAF - argue that because the United States has focused the overwhelming majority of collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, the intelligence apparatus still finds itself unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which U.S. and allied forces operate in and the people they are trying to protect and persuade.
Quoting General Stanley McChrystal, the authors write that "Our senior leaders - the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, Congress, the President of the United States - are not getting the right information to make decisions with ... The media is driving the issues. We need to build a process from the sensor all the way to the political decision makers."
This report is the blueprint for that process. It describes the problem, details the changes, and illuminates examples of units that are "getting it right." It is aimed at commanders as well as intelligence professionals in Afghanistan, the United States and Europe.
More from CNAS
CommentaryAfghanistan Pullout Isn’t as Popular as It Seems
Domestic demand for an American withdrawal may not be strong as it seems....
By Richard Fontaine
VideoLisa Curtis discusses the latest developments in Afghanistan on CNN
Lisa Curtis appeared on CNN to discuss the latest challenges facing the United States in Afghanistan....
By Lisa Curtis
TranscriptTranscript from The Hardest Place: The American Military Adrift in Afghanistan's Pech Valley
On March 11, 2021, the CNAS Technology and National Security Program hosted a virtual book discussion with author Wesley Morgan about his new book, The Hardest Place: The Amer...
By Paul Scharre & Wesley Morgan
PodcastAfghanistan: Hard choices for Biden
Adjunct Senior Fellow Christopher D. Kolenda discusses why the future of US troops in Afghanistan could be Joe Biden's first major foreign policy decision. Listen to the full...
By Christopher D. Kolenda