02 December 2009

Crossroads: Learning From Intelligence-led Policing & Integrating Social Networking to Ensure Optimal Intelligence

This posting will be available in two separate parts, the first of which is posted here. After introducing a systematic framework for understanding our joint capabilities to combat transnational terrorism, I assess the major issues relevant to the intelligence-led policing model so we can begin to bridge our understanding to meet practical methods of optimal operation in the 21st Century. Following this post will be the conclusion of my arguement proposing an integration of a social networking system which I wish to call, "bubblenet intelligence."

I. The Introduction of “Bubblenet Feeding”
Systems theory predominantly refers to an interdisciplinary field of biological science that studies the nature of complex systems, but can be understood as a framework for analyzing entities that work in concert for the purpose of producing a result(s).[1] The most important lesson expressed by systems theory in learning about the existence of inter-relatedness amongst biological ecosystems is the promise of organizational collaboration as participants in the complex field of security. Each process and procedure of one entity is, in some way and to some degree, can be understood as related to a second entity, and so on.

Within the past decade, the growth in precision of the scientific field known as biomechanics has enabled doctors to promise patients, for example, new muscle tissue to combat decay or an incurable disease. Similarly, by incorporating their study of photosynthesis, military scientists have used the field of bioengineering to develop a protein-based photovoltaic coating that is applied to the top of a combat soldier’s helmet in order to provide electrical power for missions and lighten carrying load.[2] An emerging field now being called biomimicry seeks to enhance human capabilities for living more simply and solving more problems by mimicking natural processes. One of the well-known examples of biomimicry is the development of wind turbine blades fashioned after the flippers of humpback whales that have 32% less drag than other whales.[3]

Surprising enough, another process by humpback whales can be utilized to serve as the foundation for developing a structural system that shares intelligence information horizontally and maintains vertical hierarchy across national security organizations. Humpback whales feast primarily on krill throughout their oceanic journeys. It has become known to marine biologists that these whales eat at the highest rate when they employ their tactic of “bubblenet feeding.”

First, a group is formed, including both males and females, and roles are distributed among participates. After all participants dive down slowly to a specified depth beneath the pools of fish, one whale swims horizontally past his companions while blowing bubbles at a high rate. When this whale reaches the end of the line a second whale swims horizontally across and sounds a high-pitched noise. As a result, the high-pitched noise scares the krill swimming above the humpbacks and causes them to swim toward the surface. Simultaneously, while the bubbles trap the krill in a net-like area some whales herd the fish together.[4] This scenario allows the humpbacks to swim easily to the surface and savor large amounts of krill as they rise above the surface with a mouth full of protein. Above all, what ensures the success of the whales' mission is teamwork.

II. Assessing the Main Issues With Intelligence-led Policing
Terrorism itself is a morphing phenomenon, and recent occurrences such as the shooting at Fort Hood has shown that the intelligence community’s collaboration efforts have fallen short of expectation which spotlights the importance of stronger teamwork. An emerging threat in transnational terrorism is the increasingly domestic nature of its activity in scope: terrorist operatives utilize criminal activity as an avenue for internationally-based operations.[5] Also worth mentioning is the unearthing of the lone-wolf terrorist, such as persons like Nidal Malik Hasan who was motivated by extreme jihadist ideology.[6]

The intelligence community is a collection of chessmasters who strive to strategically stay ahead of the enemy. We can learn from the growing system of intelligence-led policing in order to incorporate an interdisciplinary system that overcomes the barriers of communication to solve complex problems by including intelligence and counterterrorism analysts and agents and military officers and investigators alike.

As a “proactive approach to crime management” that is “managerially-centered and top-down in decision-making format,” it proves to be – and shall remain so – a dynamic internal measurement system for directing policing efforts to fight recidivists and serious crime offenders (Ratcliffe et al, 4). Furthermore, though the “central tenets of intelligence-led policing make intelligence analysis pivotal to organizational planning” (4) the post-9/11 organizational chart is compartmentalized into “geographical hierarchies” (9) for the purpose of creating intelligence flow.

This structure has proven, to a certain extent, to work on the state level, particularly in the New York region; however, there is no solid evidence or case study analysis available that supports reasons for its adoption on the federal level. Events such as Fort Hood raise the question, once again, about why “institutional friction, intelligence-hoarding, and information silos” prove to be cultural barriers to advancing the intelligence community's efforts (Ratcliffe, 12). The processes and procedures of our communication need to be strengthened, as our situation begs the question as to whether or not they are sustainably promising when combating transnational terrorism.[7]
[1] Systems Theory. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved June 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_theory.
[2] Armstrong, RE. & Warner, JB. (March 2003). Biology and the Battlefield. Retrieved November, 2009 from Defense Horizons website: http://www.ndu.edu/inss/DefHor/DH25/DH25.pdf.
[3] Wind Energy Institute of Canada. (July 2008). WhalePower Tubercle Blade Power Performance Test Report. Retrieved from WhalePower website: http://www.whalepower.com/drupal/.
[4] National Geographic Xpeditions. (n.d.). Lesson Plans: How Do Humpback Whales Feed? Retrieved from http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/lessons/18/g35/cchumpback.html.
[5] I have in mind two specific occurrences which spotlight the growth of domestic, homegrown plots. One, in the summer of 2009 Bryant Neal Vinas confessed that he joined al Qaeda while in Pakistan and plotted with conspirators to execute suicide bombings on Long Island Railroad trains while stationed in Penn Station in New York, New York. Also, in September of 2009 Najibullah Zazi and his father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, were arrested and charged with lying to federal investigators and conspiracy to bomb undisclosed locations in the United States.
[6] When using the phrase, “lone-wolf,” I have in mind that which is exposed by Evan Kohlmann, a private sector International Terrorism Consultant who is the author of the influential book, al-Qaida's Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network (2004).
[7] Ratcliffe, JH & Guidetti, R (in press). ‘State Police investigative structure and the
adoption of intelligence-led policing’, Policing: An International Journal of
Police Strategies and Management

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