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“We’re All Smarter Than Any One of Us”: The Role of Inter-Agency Intelligence Organizations in Combating Armed Groups

Author(s): Hull, Jeanne

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Abstract: Non-state armed groups present a direct threat to U.S. national security at home and abroad. Their decentralized structures, informal and formal logistics networks, and ability to merge with and hide among the world’s civilian populations make them extremely difficult targets for threatened states and their intelligence and security organizations to address. Joint interagency and international intelligence and security efforts are arguably necessary to respond to such threats; however, despite the obvious advantages of intelligence collaboration at all levels of a conflict, obstacles to inter-agency and international cooperation remain. These obstacles arise from lack of capability, a lack of will, or a combination thereof. This paper discusses three lack-of-will challenges related to collective action and two capability problems using as case studies tactical-operational joint-agency task forces in Bosnia and Northern Iraq Based on lessons learned from these cases, I recommend that Joint Inter-Agency Task Forces (JIATFs) become integrated into U.S. joint doctrine, that lead agencies or personnel for these organizations be established at their inception, that JIATFs at the strategic level focus more on the importance of networking and cooperation than operations, and the incentive mechanisms for participants be restructured to promote teamwork over individual accomplishment. These recommendations address a variety of problems with inter-agency collaboration; other problems—personalities paramount among them—require a more long-term approach.
Publication Date: 2008
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Public and International Affairs
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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