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US intelligence officials pessimistic on war in Afghanistan

Asia, Fri, 17 Feb 2012 ANI

Washington, Feb.17 (ANI): Senior American intelligence officials have offered a bleak view of the war in Afghanistan in testimony to Congress.


The Los Angeles Times quoted Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, as telling the Senate Armed Services Committee at its annual worldwide threat hearing, that endemic corruption and persistent qualitative deficiencies existed in the Afghan army and police forces, and these drawbacks were undermining NATO-led coalition efforts to extend effective governance and security.


James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, said that while the Taliban had lost ground in the last year, he was of the view that the Hamid Karzai government may find it difficult to survive if the U.S. steadily pulls out its troops and reduces military and civilian assistance.


The only people who objected to the gloomy findings were Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, commander of Western forces in the war, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.


"Without going into the specifics of classified National Intelligence Estimates, I can certainly confirm that they took issue with the NIE on three counts, having to do with the assumptions that were made about force structure-didn't feel that we gave sufficient weight to Pakistan and its impact as a safe haven, and generally felt that the NIE was pessimistic," Clapper said.


Clapper, who has served nearly half a century around U.S. intelligence, argued that it was only natural for intelligence analysts to see things differently than ground commanders in a war.


"If you'll forgive a little history, sir," he said, "I served as an analyst briefer for Gen. [William] Westmoreland in Vietnam in 1966. I kind of lost my professional innocence a little bit then, when I found out that operational commanders sometimes don't agree with their view of the success of their campaign as compared to and contrasted with that perspective displayed by intelligence.


"Fast-forward about 25 years or so and I served as the chief of Air Force intelligence during Desert Storm," he said. "Gen. Schwarzkopf protested long and loud all during the war and after the war about the accuracy of the intelligence. In fact, it didn't comport with his view."


"Classically, intelligence is supposedly in the portion of the glass that's half empty, and operational commanders and policymakers, for that matter, are often in the portion of the glass that's half full," he said.


"Probably the truth is somewhere at the water line. So I don't find it a bad thing. In fact, I think it's healthy that there is contrast between what the operational commanders believe and what the intelligence community assesses." (ANI)


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