CIA Director David Petraeus, the former commander of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, has directed his intelligence analysts to give additional weight to the opinions of troops in the battlefield, the AP reports.
The Central Intelligence Agency, currently in the process of putting together a National Intelligence Estimate on the course of the Afghanistan war, will now consult with battlefield commanders to more comprehensively gauge the military’s opinions on the conflict.
Previously, CIA analysts would only send their work to the top military commander, toward the end of the process. Now, analysts will share their assessments with lower-level officers earlier to give them a chance to object to their conclusions, as well as earlier on in the process, the AP said.
The further input of military commanders in the intelligence assessment may improve the ongoing analysis of the war - in the past, the generally more optimistic military reports have often contrasted with more pessimistic civilian analysis.
During his confirmation proceedings, Petraeus said that one thing he hoped to change was the way that civilian analysts evaluate wars. As a military leader, and especially as he oversaw counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan, Petraeus expressed frustration over negative reports coming from the CIA.
The CIA says that Petraeus’ adjustment is a change in the equation which will increase accuracy rather than bias the results towards positive results.
“Analytic debate and discussion haven’t been chilled; they’ve been promoted,” CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood told the AP.
The CIA’s national intelligence estimates are seen as a key basis on which the White House and Congress decide on future policies.
Petraeus became the director of the CIA last month after a career that transformed the way the U.S. military thinks about counterinsurgency strategy.
His most recent military assignment involved commanding coalition troops in Afghanistan for a year. Before that, the four-star general served as the commander of U.S. Central Command from 2008 to 2010, and head of the coalition forces in Iraq from 2007 to 2008.
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