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Beginning with World War I and continuing through World War II and the Korean War, U.S. Army counterintelligence (CI) has been an indispensable branch of the nation's military arsenal. With only a few notable exceptions, CI special agents receive the kind of training and support that allows them to fully use their specialized, hard-learned skills, thus helping bring those conflicts to their successful conclusions sooner than might otherwise have been the case.
Since the mid-1970s, however, the counterintelligence function of the U.S. Army has been greatly damaged by decisions made by Congress and the Pentagon. The result is that the current U.S. Army CI force is impotent, demoralized, ineffective, and in poor shape to confront the current growing terrorist threat to the nation. Today a highly trained expert in espionage, linguistics, science, law, and criminal investigation can be—and often is—negotiating the surrender of a senior al-Qaeda operative in the morning and pulling KP duty that afternoon.
Adding to these ill-advised assignments is a culture in which the generals have no training or understanding of the abilities of the CI personnel under their command, and they simply refuse to learn. Even though five years have passed since 9/11, the army leadership still does not understand that the struggle against Islamic terrorism is not going to be won by brute military force but by understanding the enemy, anticipating and reacting to his next move before he has a chance to strike.
Our Generals Don't Even Know Who We Are is about more than gloom and doom. In looking at our current failures, including 9/11, Dave DeBatto provides insights gained from interviews with current and former CI agents and offers concrete, easy-to-implement solutions for getting this critical component of the U.S. military branch back on track.
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Dave DeBatto is a former U.S. Army counterintelligence special agent and army instructor who served in Iraq in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. While there, he was a team leader of a tactical human intelligence team. He has written articles for Vanity Fair, Salon, American Prospect, and Spiegel television in Germany. Currently he is under contract to Warner Books for a four-book series of counterintelligence novels. He lives in Holiday, Florida.
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