Task Force 714 in Iraq
When Joint Special Operations Command deployed Task Force 714 to Iraq in 2003, it faced an adversary unlike any it had previously encountered: al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). AQI’s organization into multiple, independent networks and its application of Information Age technologies allowed it to wage war across a vast landscape. To meet this unique threat, TF 714 developed the intelligence capacity to operate inside those networks, and in the words of commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal, USA (Ret.) “claw the guts out of AQI.”
In Transforming US Intelligence for Irregular War, Richard H. Shultz Jr. provides a broad discussion of the role of intelligence in combatting nonstate militants and revisits this moment of innovation during the Iraq War, showing how the defense and intelligence communities can adapt to new and evolving foes. Shultz tells the story of how TF 714 partnered with US intelligence agencies to dismantle AQI’s secret networks by eliminating many of its key leaders. He also reveals how TF 714 altered its methods and practices of intelligence collection, intelligence analysis, and covert paramilitary operations to suppress AQI’s growing insurgency and, ultimately, destroy its networked infrastructure.
TF 714 remains an exemplar of successful organizational learning and adaptation in the midst of modern warfare. By examining its innovations, Shultz makes a compelling case for intelligence leading the way in future campaigns against nonstate armed groups.
Richard H. Shultz Jr. is the Lee E. Dirks Professor of International Politics and the director of the International Security Studies Program at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is the author of several books, including The Marines Take Anbar: The Four-Year Fight Against Al Qaeda and, with Andrea J. Dew, Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias: The Warriors of Contemporary Combat.
“Richard Shultz has crafted a compelling narrative that relates the hidden history of how intelligence operations have been transformed to meet, and master, the daunting challenges posed by terrorist networks and other adversaries in this complex new era of conflict.”—John Arquilla , distinguished professor of defense analysis, US Naval Postgraduate School
“Dick Shultz tells the fascinating story of how JSOC’s Task Force 714 re-created itself organizationally to shatter al Qaeda in Iraq’s secret insurgent networks during the Iraq war. He reveals how 714 employed network analysis tools to mine massive amounts of intelligence–today’s big data–to find and dismantle those networks resulting in a major decline in the capacity of AQI to carry out terrorist operations.”—James Stavridis, USN (Ret.) Operating Executive of The Carlyle Group and Supreme Allied Commander, NATO (2009-13)
“Richard Shultz has over the decades emerged as the preeminent civilian academic on the timeless yet vexing subject of irregular war. This new book encapsulates his trademark comprehensive approach to the subject.”—Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Return of Marco Polo’s World: War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-first Century
“As Americans debate the future of US military commitments overseas, it is important that they understand how their forces have adapted to the demands of modern warfare against unconventional enemies. In this masterful history, Richard Shultz delivers an illuminating and fascinating account of how America’s warriors and intelligence professionals fought terrorists and insurgents that were perpetuating a destructive civil war in Iraq and across the Middle East . . . .His account . . . is a model of clarity and insight. It should be read by all who want to understand how America’s sons and daughters are fighting against the most pernicious threats to national, international, and human security. The lessons in Transforming US Intelligence for Irregular War transcend the military and apply to other organizations that must continually adapt under challenging conditions to prevail against determined competitors.”—Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, USA (Ret.), author of Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam
“In Transforming U.S. Intelligence for Irregular War: Task Force 714 in Iraq, author Richard Shultz, a preeminent figure in the field of intelligence studies, covers the crucial transition from the Cold War, Industrial Age intelligence practices, to the modern information age intelligence community.”—Proceedings
Table of Contents
List of Figures
Gen. Joseph L. Votel, USA (Ret.)
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: War unlike Yesterday’s
1. Adapting Intelligence for Twenty-First-Century Irregular Warfare
2. Transforming from Hierarchy to Networks to Empower Armed Groups
3. Transforming Intelligence Collection for Irregular War
4. Transforming Intelligence Analysis for Irregular War
5. Transforming Covert Paramilitary Operations for Irregular War
6. Task Force 714 and the Sources of Transformation
Epilogue: More Irregular War and the Challenge of Revisionist State Powers
About the Author