“Did the New Spooks on the Block Really Fix U.S Intelligence?” (Foreign Policy)

James Clapper

“For decades intelligence reformers sought to centralize the U.S. intelligence community in a single office with real power over budgets, personnel, and operations. Ten years ago they finally got their wish. Following an intense congressional fight, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) set up shop in April 2005 with high expectations. The office was supposed to ensure the kind of inter-agency coordination that was supposedly missing before the 9/11 attacks. It was to be the fulcrum of sharing and collaboration among agencies with long histories of mutual suspicion and occasional disdain. Ultimately it sought to unify a sprawling constellation of civilian and military agencies into “fully integrated intelligence community” that would “inform decisions made from the White House to the foxhole.”

See the article here.

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France ‘foils five terror attacks’ – PM Valls (BBC)

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“French police have foiled five terror attacks in recent months, Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said.

He said the latest was a planned attack on churches in Villejuif outside Paris.

An Algerian man was arrested on Sunday over the alleged plan, after he apparently shot himself by accident and called an ambulance.”

See the full report here.

The Bureaucracy of Terror New Secret Documents Reveal al Qaeda’s Real Challenges (Foreign Affairs)

Osama

“A new trove of documents that were among those seized in the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, were presented recently during the trial of Abid Naseer at the Brooklyn federal district court.

The documents—which consist of correspondence between Osama bin Laden and senior al Qaeda leaders—reveal the state of the global terror operation in the months leading up to bin Laden’s death. They paint a picture of an organization crippled by the U.S. drone campaign, blindsided by the Arab Spring, and struggling to maintain control over its affiliates—and yet still chillingly resolute in its mission to strike inside the United States.

The documents offer some insight into the effectiveness of U.S. counterterrorism efforts against al Qaeda. They also, believe it or not, provide a few laughs.”

Read the full article by Jennifer R. Williams

Shabab Militants Learning to Kill on a Shoestring (JEFFREY GETTLEMAN of the NYT)

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“In the pecking order of the world’s leading terrorist groups, the Shabab militants, based in Somalia, operate on a shoestring budget. But as the attack on a Kenyan university last week showed, they have become proficient in something terrible: mass murder on the cheap.”

See the full article here.

Strengthening the Strategic Partnership of the United States and Afghanistan (State and FP)

Featured Image -- 917“During the historic visit to Washington of President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah from March 22 to 25, 2015, U.S. and Afghan officials have reviewed the achievements of the last 13 years and discussed the actions each country needs to take to ensure that the social, economic, security, and human rights gains made over that period are sustained and advanced. Secretary of State John Kerry — joined by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew, and other senior U.S. officials — held strategic dialogue sessions at Camp David with President Ghani and the Afghan delegation on March 23 to discuss a broad range of bilateral issues.” (State)

U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday, March 24, that he would slow the rate at which U.S. troops leave Afghanistan over the next two years, but will stick with his plan of having almost all of them out of the country by 2017.

Under the new timeline, 9,800 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan through the end of this year. Obama’s previous plan had called for drawing down to 5,500 troops by the end of 2015. The new plan allows the United States to keep control of two key bases in Kandahar and Jalalabad, where the Taliban threat is close by. With more troops staying in the war zone, U.S. casualties could rise still higher. Since the start of the war, America’s longest conflict, the military has suffered 2,215 deaths and 20,000 wounded.” (FP)

Thus, the U.S. will continue to have troops in Afghanistan until at least 2017.

REPORT Yemen Was Washington’s Counterterrorism Success Story. Not Anymore. (Foreign Policy)

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“The sudden departure of U.S. special operations forces from Yemen marks a devastating blow to a counterterrorism campaign that Barack Obama’s administration had heralded as a success story, officials and experts say, as Washington suffers another intelligence reverse in the fight against the al Qaeda group that poses the greatest threat to Americans.”

Read the full article here by Sean Naylor.

Stabilizing Iraqi Territories (State Department)

Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition To Counter ISIL 
Prime Minister’s Guest House
Baghdad, Iraq
March 16, 2015

“It is good to be back in Baghdad and to see so many familiar faces. I want to thank the Prime Minister and COMSEC for hosting us today. I also want to thank the Iraqi deputy ministers, Dr. Hamid, Dr. Turki, German Charge Milan Simandl and leaders who have come together to discuss a series of efforts that are vital to the peaceful and prosperous future of Iraq.

We also have a team today from the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, the UN, and the EU to learn from you today. We will bring your message back to the other Coalition partners who will meet in Berlin on Wednesday.

When I was here last, Prime Minister Abadi and I spoke about the importance of planning for Stabilization Operations. I have come to Baghdad today with a team of experts because we agreed that Stabilization planning must begin in earnest. Today and tomorrow our team will learn and understand how the Coalition can best support the Iraqi plan for stabilizing territories your country will take back from Daesh.

As Daesh is defeated in population centers and the military forces must move on to other objectives, there will be an immediate need for policing and public security efforts to set the conditions for essential service delivery. Populations that have fled the fighting will need shelter, assistance, and security, until they can return home. In many cases facilities will have been destroyed or made insecure by IEDs. Providers will need to rapidly assess and respond with basic medical care, water, electricity and other municipal services. All first responders, whether civil or military, should be sensitized to the special needs of those who’ve suffered under Daesh, especially women and girls.”

See the full press release here.