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UN Peacekeeping Intelligence

The ASIFU experiment

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UN Peacekeeping Intelligence

The ASIFU experiment

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Samenvatting

Today’s military missions are often broad in scope and face a multitude of
political, socio-economic, and security challenges. Enemy-centric
intelligence is therefore no longer sufficient. Based on their experiences in
Afghanistan, retired General Michael T. Flynn and his colleagues noted
that U.S. and allied forces were unable to answer the fundamental questions about their operational environment and the people they sought to
persuade:
Ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the
powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced, incurious about
the correlations between various development projects and the levels of
cooperation among villagers, and disengaged from people in the best
position to find answers—whether aid workers or Afghan soldiers—US
intelligence officers and analysts can do little but shrug in response to
high level decision-makers seeking the knowledge, analysis and
information they need to wage a successful counterinsurgency1
Within United Nations (UN) missions a similar need to acquire
comprehensive intelligence persists. But integrating intelligence
capabilities within UN missions has historically been very challenging.2
Some have argued that the UN could lose its credibility and impartial
image by gathering intelligence,3 while others have stressed the UN’s
lack of organizational and technical capability.4 Fueled by the complex
and dangerous environments in which many post-Cold War UN
peacekeeping operations take place, the UN has stepped up its
intelligence efforts during the past few years.5 One of the most
significant developments was the establishment of Joint Mission Analysis
Centres (JMACs) in several missions to “produce mission-wide integrated
analyses for the senior management of peacekeeping missions.”6 Their
implementation has, however, received mixed responses. While some
stress the significant contribution made by the JMACs in providing
intelligence,7 others argue that the JMAC concept meets with substantial
resistance on the ground.8 According to Shetler Jones, JMAC’s mandate
is ambiguous because UN policy is unclear about whether a JMAC’s
primary focus is on mission security, operational planning, or long-term
strategic mission planning.9
In the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali
(MINUSMA) that began in 2013, the UN enacted an unprecedented
increase in its intelligence capacity. Several Western nations have
contributed highly professional capabilities to MINUSMA’s intelligence
chain. The flagship of MINUSMA’s intelligence capacity is a unit known
as ASIFU, the All Sources Information Fusion Unit; its task is to
“contribute especially to traditionally non-military intelligence analysis,
such as illegal trafficking and narcotics-trade; ethnic dynamics and tribal
tensions; corruption and bad governance within Mali and MINUSMA
area of interest.”10 The intelligence that ASIFU delivers is meant to
enhance the decisionmaking process of MINUSMA’s military and civilian
leadership. The ASIFU controls many high-tech sensors, well-educated
intelligence personnel, and a state-of-the-art information technology (IT),
including databases and command systems. These elements make the ASIFU
a unique asset within the context of UN missions.
While some political as well as military leaders believe that the ASIFU
might be part of future UN peacekeeping operations, others warn that it
might be controversial at best and could potentially intensify the divide
among military, development, and humanitarian personnel.11 Moreover,
integrating a high-tech intelligence capacity within a low-tech organization
such as MINUSMA is likely to pose serious challenges. Altogether, these
doubts and concerns warrant a thorough and evidence-based12 analysis of
“the ASIFU experiment” from an academic as well as from a practitioner
perspective. The goal here is to review how ASIFU was organized within
the overall MINUSMA framework and assess how its intelligence
operation has worked out in practice.

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OrganisatieNederlandse Defensie Academie
Gepubliceerd inInternational Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence Intel Publishing Group, Vol. 30, Uitgave: 3, Pagina's: 532-556
Jaar2017
TypeArtikel
TaalEngels

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