Friday, May 13, 2011

The President Blows the OBL Intelliganece "treasure Trove"

On May 1st, 2011, President Obama held a press briefing1 where he announced the killing of Osama Bin Laden (OBL), the terrorist behind the 9/11/2001 attacks. Shortly thereafter representatives of the Whitehouse held an additional briefing2 adding detail to the operation to take out OBL. CBS New York3 then tells us, and the terrorists, that we have a "treasure trove" of information. These briefing would not take place without the Commander in Chief's express approval.

One of the many things a soldier learns is operational security: doing everything humanly possible to deprive the enemy of any information about your security operations. The idea is to prevent the enemy from knowing what you are doing and what you know about their operations. This only makes sense. If the enemy doesn't know what you are doing, what your strengths and shortcomings are, where you secure your assets, and how you conduct military operations, along with many other considerations, they will have a much harder time fighting your forces. Or in the case of Al Quaeda, avoiding them. On their side, if they do not know what we know about them, they are much more vulnerable and may be defeated with less loss of life and limb on both sides of the conflict.

One major consideration is to prevent the enemy from piecing together a picture of your state of readiness by getting bits of information from here and there, that many times seem unrelated, but just may be the the final puzzle piece that they need to get an advantage over your forces and this can will cost lives.

The very last thing the Commander in Chief should be doing is bragging on national, rather international, TV and giving the terrorists pieces of our intelligence about them: that he has taken out the enemy's leader and that we now have a "treasure trove" of information about Al Qaeda's organization and assets.

Many may not know why that was an extraordinarily bad idea and why the continued releasing of more details of the operation makes the situation worse. So I will try to help.

The first is that the enemy now knows their leader is dead and will have to quickly find another to take his place. Delaying the news leaves the enemy without a leader, without an explanation of his absence and would be far more disruptive to their operation than being notified within a few hours of Osama Bin Laden's death by the President and his staff.

If the announcement had been made a few weeks or months after it happened, our forces would have had time to use the intelligence that was gained from the OBL. If some of their mass murdering plans had been set in motion, we were in a position to stop them. But, now that they know what they are doing they will have to re-plan their attack. Some will say, "but delaying them is a good thing". Maybe, but wouldn't it be better to find and stop them and confiscate any equipment, supplies, and funds they may have? Instead, they will just try again next week or next month when we don't know what they are up to. As it is, they have the knowledge to start protecting themsleves by discarding cell phones, changing locations and names and moving their finances and supplies to avoid losing it.

But don't get me wrong. The president deserves credit for making the decision to take out OBL. But his inexperience, coupled with advisers who seem to be inexperienced, and quite frankly, juvenile, have taken a great advantage in the war on terrorism, the demise of OBL and the gathering of valuable intelligence on our enemies, and squandered it for a few minutes of chest thumping.

Generally speaking, we probably all know that no one man, or woman, can expert on all things. When you apply for a job, you may not know all aspects of the job that you must be knowledgeable on. This includes the job of President of the United States. For the president, these shortcomings can be overcome through the use of expert advisers. His current crop of advisers apparently cannot help him effectively on national and operational security (among other things). He needs a new set of advisers and he needs them fast.

(1) Remarks by the President on Osama Bin Laden
(2) Press Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on the Killing of Osama bin Laden,
(3) Bin Laden’s Death Yields Flood Of New Al Qaeda Intel

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