Friday, May 06, 2011

Counter Terrorism and JFIC

I stumbled upon a fascinating report today, Review of Joint Forces Intelligence Command Response to 9/11 Commission.

According to Secrecy News Volume 2010 Issue No. 18 of March 9, 2010, the review was only recently declassified. Also see this March 5, 2010 cover letter to the original November 4, 2008 FOIA request from the Department of Defense Inspector General.

Page 9 - Objective

(U) The objective was to determine whether the JFIC [Joint Forces Intelligence Command]  misled Congress by willfully withholding operational information in response to the 9/11 Commission.
The review notes and confirms that JFIC was never identified in the 9/11 Commission Report.

At first glance, it might seem that this review has little relationship to this blog. But there, smack dab in the middle of the review, are members of the Joint Forces Intelligence Command that former USAF Capt. Kirk von Ackermann once associated with.

So with all of the news coverage about the death of Osama bin Laden, I thought now would be a good time to look at what is known about von Ackermann's previous work in counter terrorism while serving in the US Air Force.  While a general overview of anecdotes can be found here: Counter Terrorism and Kirk von Ackermann, what I'm after are the specifics - who, what, when.

So let's start with the photos and try to peel this apart.

Capt. Kirk von Ackermann received a Joint Forces Intelligence Command (JFIC) Commendation Medal from CAPT Santez on April 26, 2000. Two personnel, the Head and Deputy Head of the Asymmetric Threat Division at JFIC during this same time period (Spring 2000), are identified on page 18 of the review. Additional personnel are also identified within the review, but it's not clear they were with JFIC during the specified time period.

Capt. Kirk von Ackermann also received a Certificate of Appreciation from CAPT J. M. Dundas, US Navy of the JFIC on March 20, 2000. 'CAPT Janice Dundas USN' is identified by name as the commander of the JFIC on page 20 of the review.

Excerpts from the Review of Joint Force Intelligence Command Response to 9/11 Commission are quoted below. I've highlighted additional details of interest. It's not much, but it gives just a little more insight into the world of counter terrorism that Kirk von Ackermann was once working within.

Review of Joint Forces Intelligence Command Response to 9/11 Commission
Report No. 2008-INTEL-15
Inspector General United States Department of Defense
September 23, 2008

Page 5 - Executive Summary - Background

(U) The Joint Forces Intelligence Command was established in 1999 and was subordinate to the United States Joint Forces Command. The mission of the Joint Forces Intelligence Command was "to provide general and direct intelligence support to United States Joint Forces Command, United States Joint Forces Command staff directorates, subordinate unified commands, joint task forces, Service component commands and subordinate joint forces commands tasked with executing United States Forces Command geographic or functional missions." In 1999, the Joint Forces Intelligence Command created the Asymmetric Threat Division to take a non-traditional approach to analysis. The Asymmetric Threat Division provided current intelligence briefings and produced Worlwide Terrorist Threat Summary in support of the Intelligence Director for the United States Joint Forces Command. The Asymmetric Threat Division also provided support to the Joint Task Force-Civil Support. The Joint Task Force-Civil Support assisted civil authorities with disaster assistance.
According to his wife's blog, Capt. von Ackermann headed up the Y2K task force - which places him at JFIC prior to January 2000 - as well as attended some White House intelligence briefings. She was under the impression he had analyzed the threat of the weaponization of small pox as well as proposed unorthodox methods of attacking United States interests. Small pox - a biological weapon - is an important detail.

Page 6
The analysis completed by the Joint Forces Intelligence Command, specifically the Asymmetric Threat Division, was not applicable to the questions asked by the 9/11 Commission.
Which leads me to believe the 9/11 Commission did not ask the correct questions. Anyway...back to the review.

Appendix B. (U) Scanned JFIC Response:

Page 17 - Request
Please provide a list of the officers within your agency that are principally responsible for counter-terrorism activities on a day-to-day basis and identify the heads and deputy heads of these offices and their dates of service from 1995 to present. (Note: we are not asking for everyone in supervisory chain of such officials). If the individuals occupying these positions are current employees of your agency, please indicate this.
Page 18 - Response
Nov 1999-Summer 2001: Asymmetric Threat Division, Division Head MAJ Oliver Wright III (USA) still at JFIC, Deputy John Rodriguez (NCIS) now at DIA.
Von Ackermann was receiving accolades from the JFIC in the Spring of 2000. His participation on the Y2K task force makes clear he was already serving at JFIC at the very latest by December of 1999.

Appendix C. (U) Scanned USJFCOM Response:

Page 20
Subject: Congressional Inquiry into 11 September 2001 Terrorist Attack (U)

(U) JFIC did not track in-CONUS foreign threat or terrorist information prior to 11 Sep 01, so its answers to Mr. Snider's questions are mostly negative. The answers are attached to this email; they have been reviewed by CAPT Janice Dundas USN, JFIC Commander.

Maj. John A. Robinson, USAF
As mentioned, CAPT J. M. Dundas signed a letter on JFIC letterhead dated March 20, 2000, attached to a Certificate of Appreciation issued to Capt. von Ackermann.

Page 30
Appended below are the Joint Force Intelligence Command's replies to the Congressional Inquiry questions tasked by VADM Wilson. JFIC POC is CDR Mike Villareal. JFIC ADJ. DSN 836-7168 JFCOM/J2 POC is Maj. John Robinson. JFCOM/J237, DSN 836-6006
It's unclear if any of the above three men served at JFIC during the same time as Capt. von Ackermann.

Page 31 - Question
What does your agency consider its marching orders both past (since 1985) and present, in terms of its responsibilities in the counter-terrorism arena, ie. what documents establish your requirements and priorities? Please identify these by title and set them aside for review by the staff of the joint inquiry.
Page 32 - Response
b. Fall 1999-Sep 11, 2001: Focus on Asymmetric Threats OCONUS to include terrorism and CBRN [Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear threats] issues. As Joint Force Provider, emphasis was on force protection for JFCOM Components and support to JTF-CS (Joint Task Force-Civil Support). JFCOM J2 and JTF-CS PIRs set the requirements.
And that's where it becomes crystal clear that Capt. von Ackermann - the counter terrorism officer - was assigned to the Asymmetric Threat Division cited earlier in the review. As 'Asymmetric Threats' included terrorism and biological threats - there's the link to the weaponization of small pox mentioned above.

Some statements from the JFCOM website from the Spring of 2000:

US Joint Forces Command
11: New Name, Future Focus
In October 1999, the name of Atlantic Command changed to United States Joint Forces Command to emphasize the command's role leading transformation of U.S. military forces

Still one of five geographic combatant unified commands, U.S. Joint Forces Command formally took on a more functional role with the new name. It is the only unified command with both a geographic area and functional responsibilities.

Joint Forces Command gained a functional mandate to lead transformation of U.S. military joint warfighting into the 21st Century. The command's geographical responsibility was modified to more closely align with existing NATO Allied Command Atlantic's (ACLANT) area of responsibility -- both a long history of cooperation with European Allies and recent history in Central Europe indicate future military operations will not only be joint, but also combined national efforts.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Vision 2020 [Ed note: this document was released May 20, 2000] projects that conflicts of the future will go to the side with the right technology, applied at the right time with the right warrior. Re-designation reflected the command's commitment to experimentation with new warfighting concepts and technologies that answer the call in the Joint Chiefs vision.

Concurrently the command was charged to answer another national call to support terrorist response operations in the continental U.S. Joint Forces Command created the first domestic Joint Task Force, JTF-Civil Support, to provide military assistance to civil authorities, like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and FBI, for consequence management of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) incidents in the United States.
A news article from the time period describes the Joint Vision 2020 report mentioned above. Two paragraphs stand out.

Joint Vision 2020 Emphasizes Full-spectrum Dominance
By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service, June 2, 2000
Adversaries will probably not challenge U.S. strengths, but seek to attack the United States and its interests through "asymmetric means." They could identify vulnerable areas and devise means to attack them.

"The potential of such asymmetric approaches is perhaps the most serious danger the United States faces in the immediate future - - and this danger includes long-range ballistic missiles and other direct threats to U.S. citizens and territory," the report says. 
Prior to going to Iraq, counter terrorism was the world in which Kirk von Ackermann was immersed. How can anyone honestly think he then forgot all of his training and experience, jumped into an unfamiliar SUV in Iraq, drove 180 miles - much of it on an isolated road - alone - with a bad tire.

Such reasoning defies logic.


Review of Joint Forces Intelligence Command Response to 9/11 Commission PDF
Deputy Inspector General for Intelligence
Department of Defense
September 23, 2008

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