Developing a Mandatory, Formal "Lessons Learned" Approach To Doing Business

This document contains several pages re. taking a "lessons learned" approach to agency work. Suggests that, prior to deployment overseas, the FBI should brief agents "regarding the Bureau's policy on presence during/assistance to (etc.) coercive interrogations."

Non-legal Memo
Thursday, October 29, 2009

Docname: lessonssaac
Updated: final
Developing A Mandatory, Formal
"Lessons Learned" Approach
To Doing Business
HERE HI I::; UIle LAS:;:: 11"1E1: As an institution we need to develop 8:nd im,plement a formalized "Lessons
Learned':' approach to doing business vv:hich assures that both operational and
administrative lessons that we learn are identified, documented and distributed to all
relevant parties for futm:e use. '
Current Situation: As an institution we do no't have a.formalized and effective
procedure for identifying, 'documenting and distributing the operational and
administrative lessons that we learn. To the extent that we do currently perform lessons .
learned analysis outside of tti.e crisis management arena, our efforts are ineffective du~ to
the fact that the process is largely informal, the results are rarely documented and are not
routinely distributed to the parti,es who might benefiffrom them. Our efforts in crisis
management lessons learned, where after-action reviews are currently required, are
largely , ineffective due to incomplete/spotty compliance with existing rules and a failure'
to effectively distribute the collected lessons through out the Bureau. Accordingly, we
can, and often do, make the same mistakes again and again at the expense of Agent safety
and operational efficiency and effectiveness. '
For exampl~, with regard to the Bureau's immediate response to the
attacks·on 9!11,~what are the top five crisis response lessons that the Bureau, as ~ .
institution,leamed? Where can we go to find them? What are the principle lessons
learnyd by the New York ap.d Washington, DC field offices and how can the rest of the
Bureau leverage off the experiences of these offices? Undoubtedly, reviews were
conducted at all levels after 9/11 and, based on these reviews, lesspns were learned.
Unfortunately, the reviews were probably informal, the results of those revi~ws\'vere
generally not officially documented and, even if some were, they were not provided the
Bureau-wide distribution that they deserve. Are the crisis response lessons learned after
9111 very different from the lessons l~arned by the Oklahoma City field office during its
response to the bombing of the Murrah Building? . Where can we go to find the lessons
learned that day? . . ,
The need for lessons learned extends beyond crisis management arena.
Where can we go to find the lessons learned during the Bureau's successful multi-year
manhunt for Mir Aimal Kansi (CIA shooter) and the Bureau's large and costly, yet
unsuccessful manhunt, for Erik Rudolph (abortion clinic bomber)? How can the lessons
. learned during the Kansi manhunt in Pakistan and Afghanistan help us during our current
counter-terrorism efforts in those two countries? Where do we go to find the lessons
learned during the successful penetration and dismantling of the New York organized
Page 1" of 4
FBI CTLU#l #5 FBI-0000182
--........•...•. ----------------D-O-JO-IG 006361
, ,
docname: saaciraq.wpd
updated: fmal
Concerns Regarding 'Overseas Operations
In recent years, particularly since 9111, the FBI has "seen a tremen40us "increase in
overseas operations. Teams of Agents have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other
dangerous areas in support of our counterterrorism mission. In many of these deployments the
FBI is doing things which it has never done before and, naturally, there is a significant
institutional learning curve. The SAAC notes and'appreciates the continuing effort by the
:Counterterrorism Division, Critical Incident Response Group, and the Rapid
Deployment/Logistics Upit, to learn and adapt to the new circumstances in which we find
ourselves. However, we believe that there needs to be more deliberate planning and forethought,
'on a wide variety of issues, ~rior to, !h~ deployment of Agents to hostile ar~as of the ~orld.
The followLTlg is a list oflessons· lea..111ed during recent deployments to Iraq. The issues
addressed here were applicable at least through Rotation 7 (which dep~eci Iraq in May 2004)' ,
and specific examples of each ~ssue are available upon request. Some ofthe issues were resolved
during-the deployments and other~ have since be,en addressed, in whole or in part. However, the
,issues, in the aggregate, demonstrate that we need to devote mOl,'e efforts to all aspects of the
, deployment process. In reviewing this list, the SAAC is particularly conceIl1:ed that-many:of
these less.ons should,have, 'but were not, learned in prior deployments (Africa, Bosnia, etc.). A
, number of these issues should have, at a minimum, been addresse~ prior to sending any Agents
to Iraq.
, We bring this list forWard as an example of what we hope would become a rOl:ltine
. practice in the Counterterrorism Division and we are a~ai1able tt? ft,uther, discuss the specifics
behind each lesson learned. We understand that there is often a difference between,
as they are addressed at FBIHQ, and the practical application of those policies in the field. In
) reviewing these lessons learned, it is important to remember that the recommendatio"ns in this list'
were agreed upon by three rotations of Agents who spent, in the aggregate, a total- ~f six months .
. deployed in Iraq.
FBI, CTLU#l ,#5 FBI-0000186
DOJOIG 006362
docname: saac/overseas
updated: fmal
Iraq Issues w Lessons Learned
1) Utilize Mandatory, Formal After ActionlLessons Learned Debriefings: A forinal process
,needs to be implemented to identify, document, and distribute to all relevant personnel, lessons ,
learned during the deployments. (RDLU should be commended for its efforts in this regard;
however, more needs 'to be done.) The after action debriefs should be mandatory for all deployed
personnel. They should be formally documented and the results should be 'shared with all "
relevant parties. '
2) Overseas Operations/Deployments Must Start W~th A Clearly Defined and Ar~iculated
Mission: Prior to sending Agents overseas, the FBI must be able to articulate specific, clearly
'd~fined and prioritized, goals and' objectives'. The Bureau should not be sendipg' bodies merely
to have an "FBI presence" nor should we have some vague and amorphous mission 'statement.
During the course of the deploym,ent, continual evaluations should be'made in order to determine
whether the "results" are worth the effort/risks.
3) Operation of Sources Overseas: 'Given our ever expanding int~mational role, consideration
, needs to be given to working with the CIA (and other relevant governmental officials) to craft
mutually agreeable' guidelines which would, in limited situations; allow Agents to operate
sources overseas. The Agents sent to Iraq were given the mission of protecting "the United
States against terrorist attack and espion,age activity by engaging in intelligence gathering
activities" but were expressly prohibited fr9m operating sources. The ability to be 'successful at
that mission is sev~rely adver~ely affected by the prohibition- a~ainst operating sources overseas.
4) Bureau Policy/Guidance regarding Coercive Interrogations: During the Iraq deployment
FBI Agents routinely worked with intelligence personnel from other agencies/entities whose
policies and procedures regarding coercive interr9gations differ' from ours (i.e., military .
intelligence, CIA, DOD contractors, Iraqi. nationals). Prior to deployment, all Agents should be
briefed regarding ti?-e Bureau's policy oIUJresence during /assistance to (etc.) coercive
interrogations. '
5) Decentralized Decision Making: Approval of sensitive site exploitations should be made by,
the On-Scene ~ommander ("OSC"), or his designee, and not by an Assistant Dir~ctor ("AD") at
FBIHQ, literally half way around the world. The existing policy of requiring AD approval at '
FBIHQ of the military because we could not cotnmit to operations within the short time frame which the
military operates. In addition, in the military's eyes, the existing policy undermined the alJ.thority
and effectiv~ne~s'ofthe OSC because he did not have the authority to make operational decisions
which are routinely made, in militarY operations, at the correspondingly lower levels.
Page 1 of, 3
DOJOIG 006363 FBI-0000187