Academic journal article Military Review

DIRECT SUPPORT HUMINT in Operation Iraqi Freedom

Academic journal article Military Review

DIRECT SUPPORT HUMINT in Operation Iraqi Freedom

Article excerpt

HUMAN INTELLIGENCE (HUMINT) collection has been a central facet of intelligence support to combat operations in Iraq since March 2003. The experiences of the past six years have provided a volume of information on the successful use of HUMINT capabilities and improvements to maximize HUMINT effectiveness. This article focuses on echelon above division (EAD) HUMINT assets, most commonly used in direct support relationships, and their employment in support of maneuver commanders. EAD HUMINT capabilities comprise a significant percentage of all HUMINT collection capabilities at any level in Iraq. A larger aperture for analysis exists because they are employed countrywide in every brigade combat team (BCT) operating environment. As forces inevitably draw down in Iraq, the demand for and possible employment of EAD HUMINT assets will rise to support expanded operational environ ments that center on strategic hubs containing advisory and assistance brigades.

The lessons discussed in this article also apply to BCT-organic HUMINT capabilities. Strategic HUMINT and HUMINT not related to tactical operations are beyond the scope of this article. Those assets typically support the theater commander and their contributions to tactical maneuver operations are less directly observable than those of HUMINT assets found within FORSCOM organizations.

Since the start of the war, three military intelligence (MI) brigades have played a significant role in HUMINT collection in Iraq. The 205th MI Brigade, the 504th MI Brigade, and the 525th MI Brigade rotated through Iraq several times and provided most of the EAD HUMINT assets employed in Iraq. Commanders of Combined Joint Task Force-7 and the Multi-National Corps-Iraq used them throughout Iraq.

Having served in multiple rotations to Iraq as leaders in two of the three brigades, we will address how operational and tactical commanders in Iraq can improve the effectiveness of EAD HUMINT assets operating in their area of operations. This article examines HUMINT collection teams (HCTs) provided by MI brigades and suggests ways commanders can maximize the support they receive from those assets.1

The MI HUMINT community has learned much from its experiences in Iraq, working closely with maneuver commanders. For example, Fort Huachuca reorganized HUMINT formations to expand the HUMINT Collector Military Occupational Specialty 35M because these Soldiers were in greatest demand and were cost effective to educate and train. The introduction of the HUMINT Joint Training Center of Excellence at Fort Huachuca has gone a long way toward professionalizing the force through the improved Defense Source Operations Course and Advanced Source Operations Course. In addition to updating technical training, tactical training of HCTs ensures they are tactically competent to conduct missions either alone or in conjunction with maneuver units.

There is an awareness that to remain operationally agile in the counterinsurgency (COIN) environment, the HUMINT community must shed some of its old ways of doing business. This will mean being more responsive to the targeting process and working with other intelligence disciplines both jointly and operationally to meet maneuver commanders' needs. With the transformation of tactical MI brigades to battlefield surveillance brigades (BfSBs), the BfSB now provides EAD HUMINT assets. The Army's second BfSB, the 504th, is now deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In addition to HCTs, the BfSB also provides multifunctional teams that bring a much enhanced HUMINT, signals intelligence, and tactical site exploitation capability. The MI community has improved its ability to enable targeting and replace ad hoc augmentation of skill sets at the BCT level. Despite the recent transition, the HUMINT collection mission of the BfSB remains similar to that of legacy MI brigades.

There are four primary areas to improve in EAD HUMINT operations:

* HCTs are best suited to conduct source operations and should make source operations their primary focus when not conducting interrogations or similar occupational specialty-specific tasks. …

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