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How the warfighter can learn from the crimefighter

counter-ied-arrest

Owing to the ever volatile drug war still ongoing in Mexico, presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto has stated that he intends to increase the size of the Mexican federal police force and create a new paramilitary force to counteract a situation that has become simply too intense for local authorities to deal with alone.

Such a plan would provide the government with a military-calibre force, but trained in police methods, removing much of the sting from accusations such as human rights abuses or the notion of martial law.

So how much of a similarity is there between today’s organised criminal element and the adversary soldiers are facing on the 21st century frontline? In a recent interview with a man who has worked on disrupting both, the answer is far more than most militaries have yet come to accept.

Louis DeAnda is more than familiar with the Mexican Cartel, having worked as a federal law enforcer, counterterrorist operative and organised crime specialist on both sides of the Mexican-US border. DeAnda has found himself in recent years in the unique position of training and working with JIEDDO, the US military’s improvised explosive service, which involved work in a classified (at the time) capacity with Fox Team 1 in Iraq. He’s been called “the real-life Jack Bauer” – tasked with the unenviable position of ‘interviewing’ those suspected of planting bombs as soon as they’re captured. Feeding this intel back into the wider intelligence effort is part of the new method of attacking the entire network behind the device, as opposed to just the immediate person putting it in the ground. Forensics is the new black.

According to DeAnda, the parallels between his work disrupting criminal “families” in the West, and insurgent activity further east are immense, but that the military’s capacity to identify this and adapt its tactics appropriately has been too slow on the uptake.

In his hugely enlightening article for Defence IQ, DeAnda explains how his entire career has led him to the conclusion that an Enterprise Theory approach could topple Al-Qaeda in the same way Al Capone eventually got caught out by his accounting.

The root of the problem is the same, he says: money. Even for those supposedly waging holy war, the real reason behind the violence is in fact more about the Green God than any traditional one.

So why haven’t militaries fully embraced informant-based intelligence?

“I don’t blame them, they’re not police,” says DeAnda.

“They’re soldiers and that’s not their portfolio. I call it the culture gap. There are strategic differences between the military and police culture, and we need to fuse those because terrorists have now fused with organised crime.”

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