Gen. Stanley McChyrstal was at the Brookings Institution yesterday talking about his new book, My Share of the Task, and how the forces under his command in Iraq transformed from "shooters" into "intelligence people that carried a gun."
He gives an extensive description of the intelligence cycle that the Joint Special Operations Command developed in their hunt for terrorists. Teams that usually focused on capturing or killing wanted men evolved into mobile analysts hungry for new pieces of raw intelligence--basically any form of data, electronic or otherwise, that they could get from their target or his location. What was once put into big burlap sacks and shipped off for analysis, which could take weeks, became immediate fodder for the the next JSOC mission.
"Operations were something we did to get more intelligence," McChrystal said. The experience was formative and, he said, presages an evolution in combat.
"The people who win the next war are not going to be the people with the most of anything except who knows the most. It's who understands fastest. It's going to be a fight for knowledge. And who can do that quickest."