Posts Tagged ‘Military’


FOI Daily Dose: Soldiers blow the whistle on Army’s ‘money pit’ intelligence network

One week ago Democratic U.S. senators from Virginia Mark Warner and  Tim Kaine introduced a bill to expand protections for military whistle-blowers and sexual assault victims. Yesterday, a Politico article gave legislators another reason to consider the bill: to protect junior-level soldiers who want to blow the whistle on costly and inefficient battle technologies.

Three soldiers told Politico the Army’s multi-million dollar battlefield intelligence network (DCGS-A) is “a huge, bloated, excessively expensive money pit” too complicated and unreliable to use on the ground level. But the whistle-blowers felt compelled to conceal their identities because top Army commanders praise the system as a high-tech breakthrough that satisfies the long-term need for inter-operable intelligence sharing.

Politico notes that soldiers complaining about the intelligence network have used it routinely in Afghanistan and say it doesn’t work well for their “here and now” needs — especially in remote locations where bandwidth is scarce.

Former-Marine-turned-congressman Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., says it’s yet another example of how Army bureaucracy is out of touch with realities on the ground in Afghanistan, and he’s blowing the whistle on commanders for choosing an intelligence system that won’t be fully operational for several years over a system that meets soldiers’ needs. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Hunter plans to propose an amendment during the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act debate that could cut some of the intelligence network’s funding.

Kara Hackett is SPJ’s Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern, a freelance writer and a free press enthusiast. Contact her at khackett@spj.org or on Twitter: @KaraHackett.

FOI Links: The search for military records and compliance with a subpoena

FOI Links: Kennedy documents revealed and military phonies caught

Documents called the bluff of military’s reporter profiling

Kudos to the Stars and Stripes for showing through government records that the military has been rating the tenor of reporters’ news coverage and denying access based on the journalists’ perceived negativity (see Stars and Stripes coverage).

For some time the military denied that its hired PR firm rated reporters as either negative, neutral or positive. But documents leaked to the paper showed otherwise. More so, the firm analyzed how easily manipulated reporters are, and provided suggestions for how to do so. One reporter’s coverage was deemed “subjective” and steering him toward covering “the positive work of a successful operation” could “result in favorable coverage.”

The military fired the firm, but I doubt this is the end of the practice. The newspaper has put in a formal FOIA request for all the documents, so we’ll see what else pops up. I wonder what other agencies are doing the same thing?

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