Transforming Army Intelligence

By Kimmons, John F. | Military Review, November-December 2006 | Go to article overview

Transforming Army Intelligence


Kimmons, John F., Military Review


THE U.S. ARMED FORCES face a changed paradigm of warfare. Ongoing counterterrorism (CT) and counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere reflect the tough challenges inherent in countering savage, extremist enemies in highly complex environments. We are fighting smart, adaptive, ruthless opponents who leverage globalization, employ asymmetric tactics, and conduct deliberately brutal, indiscriminate attacks on an unprecedented scale.

As part of the Army's efforts to increase full-spectrum operational capacity at the brigade combat team (BCT) level, Army intelligence is transforming its organization, training, and techniques to provide fused, all-source, "actionable" intelligence along tactically useful timelines to Soldiers and commanders. Four components are key to this transformation:

* Increasing military intelligence (MI) capacity and skills balance.

* Enabling distributed access to an all-source, flat, integrated network.

* Revitalizing Army human intelligence (HUMINT).

* Increasing intelligence readiness.

Increasing MI Capacity and Skills Balance

The complex, dynamic nature of warfare today makes it essential that BCTs have the ability to collect intelligence on all aspects of their environment. Each BCT and subordinate battalion must be able to rapidly detect and positively identify, track, and target enemy activities with minimal assistance from higher-level intelligence centers. Even more important, to understand norms, changes, linkages, and significance in near-real time, each BCT and battalion intelligence section must be able to rapidly fuse and visualize all sources of information, regardless of classification, on common geospatial displays.

The 1990s-era MI structure and skills mix at brigade and battalion levels are inadequate for today's demands, a shortfall painfully highlighted by wartime experiences since the 9/11 attacks. Aggressive efforts are now underway to significantly increase the number of MI collectors, intelligence synchronizers, and analysts at brigade and battalion levels. Maneuver battalion S2 (intelligence) sections have increased from 4 to 9 people; BCT S2 sections have more than doubled, from an average of 8 MI Soldiers in a BCT S2 section in 2001 to 21 Soldiers today; and there will be an additional increase, to almost 40 people, by 2011. Each transformed BCT has an assigned MI company with organic HUMINT, unmanned aerial vehicle, signals intelligence (SIGINT), and analysis platoons.

Even with these enhancements, wartime experience suggests that BCTs also require additional downward reinforcing intelligence support in highly demanding settings like Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, additional intelligence capabilities are required to work white-space regions, boundary areas, borders, and seams beyond the limits of BCT areas of responsibility. To accomplish these tasks, the Army is forming from 8 to 10 MI collection battalions heavily weighted with HUMINT source-handler and interrogator capabilities as well as advanced SIGINT collection and site exploitation teams well suited to combat in complex terrain. These purpose-built MI battalions form the core of new, multifunctional battlefield surveillance brigades (BfSB) designed for enhanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in both conventional and irregular environments.

The Army is concurrently building four Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center battalions to provide robust, expert interrogation capability at theater and/or joint task force levels in close coordination with military police detention forces. By 2013, the Army will add over 7,000 MI Soldiers to its ranks. More than 90 percent of that growth will be aligned with enhanced tactical collection and analysis. Army HUMINT capacity will increase more than any other intelligence discipline and will more than double in strength. Ongoing intelligence transformation will produce a better balanced, more capable, more modular MI force to meet the heavy demands facing Army and joint forces. …

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