By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
Nov. 27, 2007 - Iraqi forces can now gather intelligence and go after targets as successfully as U.S. units there, a senior intelligence advisor in the region said today. Iraqi intelligence gathering and processing has progressed at the tactical level to the point that target information is collected, processed and approved and then sent to Iraqi units, who go after the target. The cycle is successful in yielding results about 30 percent of the time.
That is about the same as U.S. efforts, said Daniel M. Maguire, the senior intelligence advisor and director of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior intelligence transition team, speaking via telephone to a group of Internet journalists and "bloggers."
"They are right now on par in terms of going after targets and having success ... with the rest of the coalition forces," Maguire said.
Maguire's joint team of about 80 military members and civilians work within the ministries of Defense and Interior, advising and mentoring Iraqi officials as they build the capacity of the intelligence efforts. His department falls under Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, which is responsible for training, manning and equipping Iraqi security forces.
Maguire said he believes intelligence capabilities within the Iraqi government should be self-sustaining by this time next year. In Baghdad "we have gone from submitting probably less than a dozen targets on a weekly basis, of which none were actionable, to most recently being able to submit between 50 and 60 on a weekly basis, 90 percent which are actionable" or have sufficient details that Iraqi forces can go out and make an arrest, seize a target or pick up the weapons cache, Maguire said.
Some targets, though, still are sent to coalition forces, depending on their sensitivity or if they are out of Iraqi forces' technical capabilities.
"But the success story is really (that), from the front end to the back end, (the) complete cycle is Iraqi-run and Iraqi-executed," he said.
Under Saddam Hussein's rule, intelligence organizations within Iraqi security divisions were there more often to spy on commands than to collect outside target information.
Maguire said his team is working to resolve commanders' suspicions by directly working with commanders and assigning senior intelligence officers at division levels so the commander and the intelligence officers establish working relationships.
Iraqi intelligence efforts are limited in some technical capabilities, such as intelligence gathering. Maguire's office is working to get the Iraqis some low-level capabilities that would apply against target sets they are confronting, he said.
At a more senior level, the biggest challenge is recruiting trained analysts and supplying them with secure communications devices and analysis computers and software. They have about 80 percent of what they need, Maguire said.
But, he added, the Iraqi government is hiring and recruiting mostly by word of mouth at universities and reaching out to former military and intelligence officers.
Maguire said he thinks that this time next year they will be "perfectly capable of collecting (intelligence) against a target and executing against a target probably in most of the provinces."