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“Pentagon Papers II?”


This major November, 2008 RAND Corporation study on intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, conducted 300 interviews at all levels with US, UK and Dutch intelligence officers and diplomats.

The 318 page document could be described as part of the "Pentagon Papers" for Iraq and Afghanistan. It was confidentially prepared for the Pentagon’s Joint Forces Command and focuses on intelligence and counterinsurgency operations.

The study’s distribution was restricted to a select group of Coalition war partners and Israel.

It is a notable news and policy source, not for its arguments or conclusions, but rather for its wealth of candid and revealing interview quotes which are spread throughout the document, but especially in the 200 page appendix.

The material has been verified, and we ask readers to go through the document to extract key quotes for their communities. There are quotes on almost every aspect of the wars. The authors of the quotes, ranging from the UK Ambassador and the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency to on the ground intelligence officers, can be discovered via the footnote appendix.

Sample interview quotes:

The intelligence on the military side was not tied in with the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency], and the CIA was not listened to. . . . I had my most depressing discussions with the intelligence people who could see what this was leading to, and could see what the pop- ulation thought better than [then-director of reconstruction and humanitarian assistance in Iraq L. Paul] Bremer could. . . . Between Bremer and [then secretary of state Donald H.] Rumsfeld, it had to be all talked up, which is the American way. . . . The discussion with Bremer was always on the optimistic side, while on the intelligence side it was much less so. And I think the same was true to an extent of [GEN John Philip Abizaid]. You don’t succeed within the U.S. system unless you [display a can-do attitude].

In the military, . . . complex, divergent thinkers, either . . . bite their tongue or they get out.. . . Very, very rarely they get to be generals.

[A combined joint special-operations Task Force] snatched two brothers who were sons of a sheikh [with whom we have very good relations.] They did coordinate it, but did so poorly. They said, Were coming by to pick up this guy named whatever and used a name that was so common the task force couldnt know who it was. . . . Hes still in jail, and Im trying to deal with their father, and I havent been able to find [the son]. . . . These guys go in and blow down doors . . . when all they need to do is knock and theyll let them in. . . . They killed the son in a Christian family. . . . They said [that the son] was reaching for a gun. Yeah, okay, he shouldnt have done that, but these guys blew down the door, blew through the wall, and came with all their toys.

(Afghanistan) infrastructure manning those responsible for planning infrastructure recoverywas only 650 strong out of 16,000 people at [U.S. Central Command].

Dutch F-16s would go out and fly missions [in Afghanistan], and after the missions they would ask for the BDA [battle-damage assessments], which were classified Secret U.S. They could fly the mission and drop the ordnance, but they couldnt get the battle-damage assessment.

The military would look and say, Its stable, so lets go someplace else. Well, maybe its stable because of the footprint we have there. . . . There is a rush to determine a snapshot of the security situation in order to reduce the footprint. . . . Were seeing an increase in violence in [this city] because they continue to decrease the number of soldiers there. . . . [When we started pulling out] the Iraqis themselves said, We are not ready yet.

We also spent a lot of time, money, blood, and treasure on going after MVTs [medium- value targets] and HVTs . . . and I dont think it had a great deal of effect on the Taliban because they are not hierarchical. If we killed one guy, they just replaced him in about 10minutes. . . . [In that regard,] they are not that different [from] us.

I think that not interfering would be interfering with our mission. We dealt with training the police and then sent them out to the community. If they werent paid, then they were extorting money at roadblocks. As the police are seen as coming out of our gates, eventu- ally the extortion is going to reflect on us. The average Afghan citizen is not able to discern that it is Kabul that is at fault. . . . The Taliban is capitalizing on this very fact, because it is a regression to the situation like it was back before 1994. Police extortion is one way the Taliban is winning over the population.

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