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5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a glimmer of light, August 26, 2011
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This review is from: Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America's Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda (Hardcover)
This book is a lighthouse.

It answers questions many have pondered since 9/11: did we learn anything from the attack and what are we doing to leverage our advantages? While questions remain, the greater issue is how we cope with a rapidly changing electronic environment where seconds count. Anyone remotely interested in these issues will read this book to decipher who are heroes and villains.

I'm pleased the authors acknowledge the inherent conflict between the intelligence community and the war fighters. Intelligence operatives want to know as much as they can about our adversaries, without tipping their hand. That information can be used to confuse, mislead, intercept and interrupt enemy operations. The fighters, however, want to attack targets with as few friendly casualties as possible as soon as possible, because that's their mission. Still, unless these two communities can find a way to collaborate, neither can optimize its capabilities.

There are lessons to be learned, certainly. The wiki-leak exposures suggest war fighters might do more to keep intelligence reports within safe hands, without compromising its ability to strike. The defense community might acknowledge it cannot operate independently in a self-contained mode, a challenge to its culture.

After Rumsfeld created the undersecretary of defense for intelligence position, I mentioned to Steve Cambone that this may be Rumsfeld's most lasting and important contribution to national security. It finally authorized someone in the Pentagon to speak with other of the nation's senior intelligence officials on a more equal footing.

After the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, I directed my associate in the Army's public affairs office, a Pashtun by birth, to seek out the head of the Afghan desk to offer what help he could. Following is how he recalled the event. It's worth a read, to show just how unprepared we were to understand culture and customs.

THE YEAR, 2001; THE PLACE PENTAGON.

"Professor, can you please go to the Afghan Desk, and talk to the newly
appointed Afghan Head."

"Sure," I said to the Deputy Chief of OCPA (Civil), a political appointee, and a
good friend. "What am I supposed to be talking about?"

My friend asked me to just feel the Head out. I agreed, and went out to do his
bidding. At the Afghan Desk, I introduced myself and was taken to the person in
charge. I was expecting a grizzled veteran of Afghanistan; I got a young man of
about 30 years, very pleasant, and very nice to talk to. Wow! He must be a real
hot shot to be sitting in such a chair; probably graduated top of his class in
Political Science. Boy! Was I wrong?

He was an Afghan, so I addressed him in Pashto. It turned out that he did not
know a word of Pashto, and said so. I switched to Dari. His answer was more
astonishing, "I am trying to learn that language, but I barely know a few
sentences, so could we speak in English?"

I looked across at a white gentleman with rather grey hair, who was with him in
the office. He shrugged his shoulders and in fluent Pashto said, "Don't look at
me? I just work here." It turned out that this person had spent some time with
State in Afghanistan.

"Have you ever gone to Afghanistan?" I asked the Head.

He said that he had never been; besides, he was American and didn't like to be
associated with Afghans.

I could see that the conversation was going nowhere, so I took my leave from
both of them and went back to my friend in OCPA. Then I related everything to
him. He looked at me in absolute amazement.

"Are you serious?"

Yes, I was; the government, I don't know?

Am I crazy, or is the world wacky? Talk to me!!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 20, 2011 12:03:02 PM PDT
Drs8166 says:
Your story reminds me of "Horse Soldiers". The SF A teams were preparing to infiltrate into Afghanistan and they were given intelligence in the form of a National Geographic video about Afghanistan.
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