Friday, July 9, 2010

The OPS/INTEL Interface

In the late 1970s or early 1980s, the Ops/Intel interface was considered to be an important problem area in military command and control. Getting the right information to the right people at the right time continues to be a challenge.

For various reasons, my experience has been more on the “Ops” side than on the “Intel” side. I have tended to think of the Intel side as “arrogant” and possessing an inflated sense of self importance, consistent with the recent Gen McChrystal incident.

Willie F. Sutton would have been on the Intel side because that’s where the money is/was. The Ops side was where the “rubber meets the road” and you have to deal with reality which appeals to my physics and farm background.

I was not convinced by the “evidence” that Saddam Hussein possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction. I did not support the Invasion of Iraq. However, I have tended to agree with Senator John McCain on troop strength and withdrawal.

When I started this blog, I intended to focus on “the incident” in the Gulf of Mexico. President Obama and the USA need advice from people experienced in general purpose military command and control. They need someone with experience in “decentralized execution”. They need someone with experience in large-scale operations on the “Ops” side of the interface. Special operations tend not to be large scale and get “special” treatment.

The Obama Administration’s policy on the Gulf “incident” is that it is “new” which means that he and his staff will make mistakes. One of them is that he has not decentralized control enough to allow anyone to do anything in a reasonable time. Basically, the top will make mistakes but no one below will (except not do something.) There was an election. Obama gets to make the mistakes not the States, the Parishes, or the (little) people.

Parsons and Perry wrote a report (Concepts for Command and Control Systems) for Systems Development Corporation dated December 23, 1965, which outlines a model of the military process consisting of five functions (sense, analyze, decide, act, communicate) at command points. The short version is “assess the situation and take appropriate action”. The Obama version at the lower levels is “Update the Plan and Resubmit”.

The McChrystal incident caught my attention and caused me to do research on General Petraeus who “wrote the book on CounterInsurgency”. I’ve now gotten better informed on Counter Insurgency versus Counter Terrorism. I will comment on that more in a later blog.

Peter Beinart says that the most impolitic thing that McChrystal himself said was that he feels hectored by Holbrooke.

The article goes on to say that Obama should fire Gen. McChrystal for the difference in policy. The article discusses how McChrystal pushed for a Counter Insurgency policy.

We could use a good Army General’s input with respect to the Gulf Incident. I recommended Colin Powell earlier. David Petraeus would be a good candidate but not filtered through a Marine (James Jones or James Mattis).

Obama needs help with tactical military C2. A Navy blimp has arrived in the Gulf area. The Army used to use Balloons for artillery observers. Neither the Oil nor the Dispersant shoots at these.


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