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The Military

Military Taps Social Networking To Hunt Insurgents 69

Hugh Pickens writes "The New York Times has an interesting article about the thousands of analysts based in the United States for the Central Intelligence Agency and the US military who are showing how the Facebook generation's skills are being exploited — and paying dividends — in America's wars. Analysts monitor enemy communications and scan still images from drones in Afghanistan, then log the information into chatrooms, carrying on a running dialogue with drone crews and commanders and intelligence specialists in the field, who receive the information on computers and then radio the most urgent bits to troops on patrol. Marine intelligence officers say that during an offensive in February, the analysts managed to stay a step ahead of the advance, sending alerts about 300 or so possible roadside bombs, paving the way for soldiers to roll into Marja in southern Afghanistan with minimal casualties. 'To be that tapped into the tactical fight from 7,000 to 8,000 miles away was pretty much unheard of before,' said Gunnery Sgt. Sean N. Smothers, a Marine who stationed as a liaison to the analysts. New analysts, who were practically weaned on computers and interactive video games, have been crucial to hunting insurgents and saving American lives in Afghanistan. The Air Force, which has 4,000 analysts, is hiring 2,100 more. For the most part, the networking has been so productive that senior commanders are sidestepping some of the traditional military hierarchy and giving the analysts leeway in deciding how to use some spy planes."

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