Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 04/2011

Secret Weapon: High-value Target Teams as an Organizational Innovation

Christopher J. Lamb, Evan Munsing

March 2011

Institute for National Strategic Studies


The first innovation was network-based targeting. This meant charting the clandestine terrorist and insurgent cells and their immediate supporters in order to attack them, but also using all-source intelligence to reveal the local environment, its social networks, and key decision makers and their motivations. The second innovation was the fusion of improved all-source intelligence with operational capability. Having intelligence and operations working together in common space on a sustained basis produced persistent surveillance, improved discrimination, and better decision-making. The third innovation was the integration of counterterrorist and counterinsurgency efforts and the proliferation of this model. All three innovations-networked-based targeting, fusion of intelligence and operations, and counterterrorist-counterinsurgency integration-required unprecedented collaboration between diverse departments and agencies and between SOF and conventional forces. Together, these innovations set the stage for the dramatic reversal of the security situation in Iraq in 2007.