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Military intelligence can't keep up: report
Command Of Afghan Mission 'Clearly Suffering'
David Pugliese
CanWest News Service

OTTAWA - The military command in charge of running the Afghanistan mission and all other overseas troop deployments is having difficulty providing the needed intelligence to support such operations, warns a Canadian Forces report obtained by the Ottawa Citizen.

The Canadian Expeditionary Force Command "clearly suffers from a lack of intelligence capability," concludes the report prepared in January for the Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier.

The report, compiled by two generals and an admiral, was prepared for the Harper government this year but never released publicly.

It provides a status check on the military's transformation into an efficient and relevant organization for the future. Part of that change, announced 18 months ago, included the creation of four commands, including the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM), which oversees the Afghanistan mission and international operations.

But the report warns that the command does not have the resources to complete the intelligence preparation fundamental to the planning of an operation. It also lacks an around-the-clock intelligence capability in Ottawa.

"In conflicts such as Afghanistan, which are widely characterized as intelligence-driven and further described as the wars of company and platoon commanders, the provision of timely and actionable tactical intelligence must be viewed as an urgent and no-fail requirement," according to the document. "Issues related to the provision of timely and actionable intelligence to CEFCOM, and by extension, to deployed forces, needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency."

The senior officers recommend that a common operations centre for three of the new commands be created to ensure more effective and efficient delivery of intelligence to those in the field.

The report also notes that another office, the Chief of Defence Intelligence or CDI, has been providing good support to various organizations in the military and that should improve in the future as more analysts are hired.

But it also warns that the "CDI cannot support two lines of operations with currently available assets; therefore, it is unable to meet the intelligence capability expectations of the government."

The report recommends the consolidation of the CDI's offices into one facility, and also the creation of what is called a fusion capability and intelligence enhancement.

Gen. Hillier has been pushing for that capability, which is expected to end up as part of a new command centre in Ottawa that will marshal intelligence data from combat zones and from across the country.

Military officers privately say the general has been frustrated at the lack of immediate information from the battlefield in Afghanistan.

The $64-million program to build the joint information and intelligence fusion capability would bring together large amounts of information, including video imagery, still photographs, map displays and other data as it is transmitted from various sources. In some cases, officers would be able to watch live imagery from unmanned aerial drones flying on missions in Afghanistan.

The military is also looking at the potential construction of a new building to house personnel from the various commands as well personnel and the computer infrastructure associated with the information fusion project. No estimates are available on what that might cost.

Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, head of the Senate's defence committee, said the report is a warning sign that more financial resources need to be funnelled to the Canadian Forces. "If Gen. Hillier's transformation plan is going to work then a whole lot more money will be needed," he said.

The Senate defence committee has recommended a significant boost to the defence budget. Mr. Kenny noted that planning records used to support the Conservatives' defence capability strategy called for a best case scenario of increasing the military budget to $36-billion by 2025.

"That's simply not enough," he said. "We [the Senate committee] think they've got to be there by 2012 to do what they want to do."

© National Post 2007


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