Derek J. Harvey was the first Director of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence at U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and a retired United States Army Colonel. He was selected by General David Petraeus in 2009 to lead the new organization. Harvey is a Senior Executive Service-member of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and was the previous senior analytical specialist for Iraq to Petraeus, then Commander, Multi-National Forces-Iraq.
Harvey retired from the U.S. Army as a colonel in 2006 after 26 years service as an intelligence officer and Middle East Foreign Area Officer. Prior to joining DIA as a civilian in early 2006, then Colonel Harvey was the Senior Analyst for Iraq, Joint Staff Directorate for Intelligence, from November 2004 to December 2005. Previously, he was Chief, Commander’s Assessments and Initiatives Group/Senior Intelligence Analyst for MNF-Iraq, and “Red Cell” Team Chief for CJTF-7 in Iraq. He also participated in the Joint Strategic Assessment Team established by Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus to assess the situation in Iraq and to develop their combined campaign plan. Mr. Harvey is credited by some sources for predicting the insurgency in Iraq, as well as the defeat of Al-Qaida in Iraq early 2007.
Associate Editor of Washington Post and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, reporter and author Bob Woodward in his 2010 book entitled "Obama's Wars" (Simon & Schuster, NY): Derek Harvey was "one of [the U.S. Lt. General and then Commander of CENTCOM, David]Petraeus's most trusted intelligence advisors in Iraq", who in January 2009 was at U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) HQ in Tampa, FL, as part of a team of 80 intelligence specialists "drilling down on the Afghanistan component of [President Obama's National Security Council directed Strategic] review". Woodward reports "Harvey approached intelligence with a step-by-step methodology of a homicide detective...Harvey 'widened the aperture' studying prisoner interrogations, battlefield reports, and reams of enemy documents...by sifting through the enemy's paper trail, he pieced together clues that others might miss". In a personal meeting of Harvey with Gen. Petraeus in January 2009 as part of the NSC strategic review, Woodward reports that Petraeus asked what Harvey had learned about the Afghanistan situation. In reply, Harvey stated: "Its the blind leading the blind". According to Woodward, Harvey told Petraeus the US remained dangerously ignorant about the Afghan insurgency. Basic questions had gone unasked over the [7 prior year] course of the war: Who is the enemy? Where are they? How do they see the fight? What are their motivations? Harvey told Petraeus "We know too little about the enemy [in Afghanistan-Pakistan region] to craft a winning strategy" (see p.77, "State of War") Harvey added the current strategy put America on the path to defeat and--unless the intelligence gaps were filled--a new strategy would be futile. Harvey added that, despite the contrary view of then U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, "reconciliation efforts are likely the only way out of the war."
Based on what Harvey reported to General Petraeus, according to Woodward's book, Petraeus "decided to create his own intelligence agency inside CentCom" (pg. 78, "Obama's War") to offset the shortcomings of the DNI, CIA, NSA, DIA and other US intelligence gathering agencies in gathering information about the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. He asked Harvey to draft plans for an agency modeled on Harvey's approach. Reports Woodward, "Soon, Harvey was appointed director of the new Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence based at CentCom headquarters in Tampa, Florida." States Woodward, "Harvey threw his life into the [new] job. He started each morning at 4 a.m., worked 15-hr days and rarely slept through the night. The obsession came at a personal cost. Harvey's wife filed for divorce...". Woodward goes on to explain Harvey's approach in the new CentCom intelligence agency in some detail, and that Harvey reached the conclusion that "the war could be won, but the U.S. government would have to make monumental long-term commitments for years that might be unpalatable with voters" (p 79, "Obama's Wars").