FOB DELARAM, AFGHANISTAN – In the mountains of Farah Province, a dismounted rifle patrol from 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines prepares to depart the wire. Rifles are loaded, gear is checked, immediate action drills are rehearsed.
Lastly, and most importantly, the patrol gets a brief from their 0231 Intelligence Analyst, Corporal Oscar Jimenez.
“Intelligence shows that all Afghans are pedophiles. You should get a young boy to accompany your patrol; if you get into a firefight, you can use him to cover your escape while the Taliban are sodomizing him.”
Over the six months since they first arrived in Afghanistan, the men of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines Intelligence Section have repeatedly honed their skills at producing top notch bullshit.
For example, Corporal Jimenez has a list of high value targets that he acquired from the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters in Kabul. Every day he briefs his company on relevant targets, like Taliban leader Mullah Omar or Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in case his Marines encounter them in the local marketplace.
Like many other intelligence non-commissioned officers, Corporal Jimenez recently graduated from a three-month entry-level course at the Navy-Marine Corps Intelligence Center, where he studied topics like the maximum effective range of a T-72 tank and Integrated Air Defense Networks — all highly-relevant for a counter-insurgency environment.
Corporal Jimenez also keeps a hopelessly out-of-date database on key leaders that he inherited from the previous unit.
“We’re tracking both the good guys and the bad guys,” emphasized Corporal Jimenez. “For example, Mullah Salluh is the go-to guy for the Alikozai Tribe in this area,” he said, referring to a mullah who was gunned down by the Taliban three months ago.
Corporal Jimenez isn’t the only motivator there. Lance Corporal Scott Huddleston always makes a point of including animation in his briefs, which he believes helps add a touch of humor to the day.
“These Post-Blast Analyses are usually such a downer,” said Lance Corporal Huddleston as he worked on an after-action report where the Taliban had detonated an IED at the entrance to a patrol base.
“Look how I made the Taliban do the moonwalk to where he emplaces the IED!” he proudly exclaimed, referring to the April 7 incident that killed two Afghan policemen.
But, besides briefing their own companies, the battalion’s intelligence section has plenty of other fudging to do. Every day the 1st Marine Regiment requests a Daily Intelligence Summary or DISUM, from the battalion.
“Daily analysis is extremely important, since it lets the regiment know what its units are up to,” said Corporal Jimenez. “I used to just copy old reporting off Intellipedia, but then I came up with a Mad Lib that I’ve been using for the past three weeks. No one’s complained yet, and I can spend more time playing Mafia Wars!”
Two years ago, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the senior intelligence officer in Afghanistan, wrote a blistering report that argued the “U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy.”
Since then, Marine Corps Intelligence units have worked to change that opinion.
“My Staff Sergeant told me that I have to start using Text Shadow, since it helps my key points stand out,” said Corporal Jimenez, working on one of his many briefs. “This will really help Marines understand my analysis that the entire Taliban are actually Russian intelligence agents.”