War on Terrorism

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Intelligence, Countering Bombs Get Centcom Focus

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

May 12, 2010 - Countering roadside bombs and improving intelligence efforts are among 10 capabilities the military needs to improve on in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, Centcom's commander said here today.

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus shared what he said is his annual list of Centcom capability shortfalls as the keynote speaker at the 2010 Joint Warfighting Conference here:

-- Counterinsurgency and human intelligence and their enablers;

-- Persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance;

-- Countering improvised explosive devices;

-- Integrated missile defense;

-- Countering adversary information;

-- Having a variety of resources to build partnership capacity;

-- Theater command and control computer capabilities;

-- Biometrics for things like identifying insurgents at checkpoints; and

-- Countering maritime mines.

Petraeus didn't expand on the capability needs, but held a question-and-answer session with the audience that included discussions about U.S. relations with Pakistan, sharing information with allies, and managing contractors downrange.

Asked about U.S. relations with Pakistan in light of the recent attempted car bombing in New York that investigators say is tied to the Pakistani Taliban, Petraeus said the Pakistani government has the same enemy in the terrorist group and has been working to defeat it.

"There is a common enemy out there, and we all have to cooperate" in defeating it, he said.

The Pakistani military proved its resolve when it went after the Taliban effectively last year in its northwest territories, Petraeus said. He added that he was in western Pakistan last week and two months ago, and that the Pakistani military was doing a good job of clearing the area of insurgents.

"It's important to give Pakistan credit for what it has done," he said.

Asked about the need to better share information with allies, Petraeus said it is a "hugely important" issue that requires a change in philosophy. "The question should not be whether there is a need to know, but it should be is there a need to share," he said.

The challenge, Petraeus said, is having confidence that the allies "will keep it in the right category" and will not share the intelligence further.

The general also discussed the increasing use of contractors in the combat theater, based on one attendee's questions about how to integrate them into military force and exercise oversight.

The military typically has more contractors on the battlefield than servicemembers, Petraeus said, because they are less expensive, and because if they come from the host nation, they increase public support. When he was commander of forces in Iraq in 2007, Petraeus said, it was important to use contractors for jobs such as maintenance and cooking to free troops for the fight during a period when attacks numbered 200 per day.

The imbalance in Iraq came when the military began decreasing troops and the private sector increased contractors, Petraeus said. The situation has improved because the military now has authority over contractors and is increasing its personnel to oversee them, he added.

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