U.S. intel in Afghanistan under fire

KABUL — NATO's top intelligence officer has ordered significant changes in the way information is collected and shared in Afghanistan, saying that without reform the U.S. intelligence community will continue to be only "marginally relevant" to the counterinsurgency mission.

In a stinging assessment of the U.S. intelligence effort after eight years of war, U.S. Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn directed intelligence workers to focus less on the enemy and more on civilian life.

The report was compiled before a suicide bomber killed seven CIA operatives in eastern Afghanistan. The CIA is not mentioned in Flynn's report, which focuses more on the thousands of uniformed and civilian intelligence personnel serving with the Defense Department and joint interagency operations in the country.

Flynn's reform plan was published Monday by the Washington-based Center for a New American Security. Flynn acknowledges that releasing the 26-page report through a think tank was unconventional, but the report was aimed at commanders and intelligence professionals in Afghanistan and in the United States and Europe.

The report said field agents are not providing the kind of intelligence that analysts need to respond to inquiries from President Obama and the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

"These analysts are starved for information from the field — so starved, in fact, that many say their jobs feel more like fortune-telling than serious detective work," said the report. "It is little wonder then that many decision makers rely more on newspapers than military intelligence to obtain 'ground truth.' "

"The U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy," the report concluded.