Central Command

Trump OKs 1,500 more U.S. troops to Middle East amid Iranian tensions

President Trump has ordered the deployment of another 1,500 troops to the Middle East amid rising tensions with Iran. “We want to have protection,” Mr. Trump confirmed Friday to reporters at the White House. “We’ll be sending a relatively small number of troops. It’ll be about 1,500 people.” Mr. Trump has given his approval to acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan to deploy the additional troops to the Persian Gulf region to deter Iranian threats, after meeting with his military chiefs Thursday evening. But the number approved was smaller than the up to 10,000 troops previously reported, and — with some of the new troops already in the region — the net increase amounted to just 900. “Today, I informed Congress that I approved [U.S. Central Command’s] request for the deployment of additional resources and capabilities to the Middle East to improve our force protection and safeguard U.S. forces,” in the wake of Iranian threats, Mr. Shanahansaid in a statement Friday. The deployment represents “a prudent defensive measure and intended to reduce the possibility of future hostilities,” with Tehran and its regional allies, he added. The new tranche of American forces heading into the Middle East will include a military engineering unit, as well as Air Force fighter squadron, drone units and additional aerial intelligence aircraft, Joint Staff Director Vice Adm. Mike Gilday told reporters at the Pentagon. In addition, Pentagon leaders have extended the deployment of a 600-strong Army Patriot missile defense battalion, which had been sent into the Middle East earlier this month.

For more, click on the text above.

House sets up task force to investigate intelligence

House Republicans are establishing a special task force to investigate allegations that U.S. Central Command’s top intelligence officials pressured analysts to discard parts of their reports that reflected poorly on the war effort in Iraq and Syria. Three committees announced Friday that the task force will produce preliminary results early next year. Republican Reps. Ken Calvert of California, Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Brad Wenstrup of Ohio will lead the investigation. The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating the allegations of intelligence puffery. A former Central Command official said more than 50 intelligence analysts had complained that their conclusions were undercut. One or more senior analysts from the command made a written complaint to the Defense Department inspector general in July, prompting an investigation that officials have publicly acknowledged.

As a former senior intel analyst for CENTCOM J2 (U.S. Central Command’s Intelligence Directorate), myself, this doesn’t surprise me one bit..  We’ll, of course, be keeping an eye on this..

Dozens of intelligence analysts reportedly claim assessments of ISIS were altered

Dozens of intelligence analysts working at the U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) have complained that their reports on ISIS and the Nusra Front in Syria were inappropriately altered by senior officials, according to a published report. The Daily Beast reported late Wednesday that more than 50 analysts had supported a complaint to the Pentagon that the reports had been changed to make the terror groups seem weaker than the analysts believe they really are. Fox News confirmed last month that the Defense Department’s inspector general was investigating the initial complaint, which the New York Times reported was made by a civilian employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The assessments in question are prepared for several U.S. policymakers, including President Obama. The Daily Beast report, which cited 11 individuals, claimed that the complaint being investigated by the Defense Department was made in July. However, several analysts reportedly complained as early as this past October that their reports were being altered to suit a political narrative that ISIS was being weakened by U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria. “The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command,” the report quotes one defense official as saying. According to the report, some analysts allege that reports deemed overly negative in their assessment of the Syria campaign were either blocked from reaching policymakers or sent back down the chain of command. Others claim that key elements of intelligence reports were removed, fundamentally altering their conclusions. Another claim is that senior leaders at CENTCOM created a work environment where giving a candid opinion on the progress of the anti-ISIS campaign was discouraged, with one analyst describing the tenor as “Stalinist.” The report alleges that when the analysts’ complaints were initially aired, some of those who complained were urged to retire, and did so. Facing either resistance or indifference, other analysts self-censored their reports, the Daily Beast claims. The defense official quoted by the Daily Beast said that some who spoke up did so out of guilt that they did not express doubts about former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s alleged chemical weapons program in the run-up to the Iraq. War. “They were frustrated because they didn’t do the right thing then,” the official said. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have been advised of the complaint that prompted the inspector general’s investigation, which is required if Pentagon officials find the claims credible. Government rules state that intelligence assessments “must not be distorted” by agendas or policy views, but do allow for legitimate differences of opinion. Central Command spokesman Col. Patrick S. Ryder said in a statement Wednesday that they welcome the IG’s “independent oversight.” “While we cannot comment on ongoing investigations, we can speak to the process and about the valued contributions of the Intelligence Community (IC),” he said, adding that intelligence community members typically are able to comment on draft security assessments. “However,” he said, “it is ultimately up to the primary agency or organization whether or not they incorporate any recommended changes or additions. Further, the multi-source nature of our assessment process purposely guards against any single report or opinion unduly influencing leaders and decision-makers.” Earlier this summer, on the eve of the anniversary of the launching of airstrikes against Iraq, the Associated Press reported that U.S intelligence had concluded that the airstrikes had helped stall ISIS after sweeping gains in the summer of 2014. However, the report also said the terror group remained a well-funded army that could easily replenish its numbers as quickly as fighters were eliminated.

Very interesting.. Boy have things changed since I was a senior intel analyst at CENTCOM J2 (CENTCOM’s “Intelligence Directorate”) both here in the states, and in Afghanistan. Sounds like there are several yes-men in senior O-6 (i.e. Colonel) and above positions of power at CENTCOM. As you might imagine, we’ll keep an eye on this one..