Magazine article National Defense

Appetite for Intelligence: Outdated Army Training, Education Programs Get Revamped

Magazine article National Defense

Appetite for Intelligence: Outdated Army Training, Education Programs Get Revamped

Article excerpt

The U.S. Army is preparing to expand its intelligence workforce by as many as 15,000 officers during the next several years.

The move, which is intended to provide field commanders with on-the-spot intelligence, not only will require additional manpower, but also a sweeping overhaul of Army training and education programs that were fashioned for the Cold War.

With intelligence units now deployed on average one year out of two, the stress is taking a toll on the force, said Lt. Col. Stephen Iwicki, Army deputy director for actionable intelligence. "Retention is falling in high-optempo units," he said in an interview. Battalion intelligence staffs in Iraq have doubled in recent months, from four or five analysts to 10.

The number of soldiers and officers assigned to brigade intelligence staffs is expected to soar from 51,000 today to 66,000 by 2011, as the Army reorganizes its 10 divisions into 43 self-sustaining "modular" brigades. The largest increase, of about 9,000, will be in the ranks of "humint," or human intelligence specialists, who rely on their own wits and knowledge of the local culture to identify the enemy, rather than on information collected by sensing devices.

Other occupations forecast to grow in demand are unmanned aircraft operators, electronic signals intelligence specialists and data analysts, said Iwicki.

Cuts to intelligence budgets following the end of the Cold War and outdated training programs left the Army ill equipped to contend with "irregular" enemies such as the insurgent guerillas it is fighting in Iraq, Iwicki noted.

During the past two years, the Army has launched a number of efforts that are aimed at making up for gaping holes in intelligence training, he added. A case in point is the upcoming opening of the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

The program will cover three major areas: cultural awareness, red teaming (learning how to think like the enemy) and open-source intelligence analysis.

Red-teaming courses will start in October and will last 18 weeks, Iwicki said. The Army funded two courses a year and is setting up a distance-learning curriculum as well. Non-Army participants will be allowed a small percentage of the slots available, he said.

The ultimate goal, set by Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Army chief of staff, is to have a red-team trained officer in each brigade staff. It will take at least four to five years to get there, Iwicki said. Each team will have about 20 people.

To assist U.S. commanders in Iraq, meanwhile, the Army Intelligence and Security Command assigned four groups of experts, known as "tactical over-watch" teams, to become a sort of 911 service for troops in the field, Iwicki said. Each team of about 20 includes uniformed Army personnel, intelligence civilians and contractors. The 3rd Infantry Division has been testing the concept since August. "They provide relevant tactical support 24 hours a day," Iwicki said. "The 3rd ID is happy with the support."

In creating these teams, the Army is recognizing that, with limited access to classified intelligence, commanders in Iraq have become dependent on information that is collected and scrutinized by analysts working from secret facilities in the United States.

Although tactical commanders are benefiting from improved information systems that they control from the battlefield, such as mapping technologies and imagery databases, they rely on analysts based in Fort Belvoir, Va., to provide sensitive intelligence that only is available on classified networks.

In acknowledgment that the intelligence available to U.S. forces often can be inadequate, Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, recently approved the opening of a joint intelligence operations center that is scheduled to be up and running in Iraq this summer.

The center will be responsible for "collaborative intelligence analysis," Iwicki said. …

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