Transforming Army Intelligence While at War

By Alexander, Keith B. | Army, October 2004 | Go to article overview

Transforming Army Intelligence While at War


Alexander, Keith B., Army


We are at war with the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11, adversaries who target our people and our homes, aiming to destroy our way of life. The Army plays a critical role in keeping these terrorists at bay, and Military Intelligence soldiers, some 4,000 of whom are currently deployed, are instrumental in the fight. Although Army soldiers successfully uprooted terrorist sanctuaries in Afghanistan and eliminated Saddam's lawless regime, we continue to fight in a global campaign, a war that may span generations rather than years, a war for our very survival and freedom.

Our enemies know that they cannot confront U.S. armed forces directly. Instead, the terrorists attack asymmetrically, avoiding our strengths, attacking at tactical, operational and strategic points of opportunity. The terrorists avoid costly tactical operations, striking instead from the shadows against our perceived weaknesses, with improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers. Their plans continue to strive for targets with mass casualties and, of course, to play on the global battleground for public opinion. They plan and will attempt to shape the course of nations, as they did in Spain, and as they will surely attempt again in the United States. The enemy continues to adapt and seek new ways to wage war, to seek any course to achieve their goals.

Asymmetric attacks provide opportunities for the terrorists. To counter, we must leverage the warrior ethos with the power of American technology and ingenuity. In this, Army Intelligence plays a key role: to strip away the advantages of the enemy's stealth, discover the terrorists before they can strike and blunt their asymmetric attacks. The challenge is twofold: to improve intelligence capabilities for soldiers currently in the fight while making fundamental and lasting changes to the way we do business-transforming Army Intelligence while at war.

There are no more safe havens or rear areas. All soldiers must be prepared to fight, and they must all serve as intelligence collectors. Iraq and Afghanistan immersed soldiers in dynamic operating environments. Every day, in towns, cities and the countryside, soldiers talk to the inhabitants, seeing and observing more relevant information than all our combined technical intelligence sensors can collect. Significantly, soldiers differ from these collection systems because they interact with the populace.

Soldiers constantly receive valuable information that must be collected, processed and integrated into our common operating picture. Our concept, every soldier is a sensor, represents this dynamic.

Following Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), the Army led an assessment of intelligence resources and processes in Iraq, and working with the U.S.-led coalition command, Combined Joint Task Force-7, the team identified long- and short-term solutions to improve intelligence for OIF. Of the 127 needs originally identified, more than 95 percent are fixed, and we continue to identify new needs. The intelligence lessons learned encompassed four major areas: increasing tactical collection capabilities; ensuring reports from every soldier feed into analytic centers; providing better access to national intelligence so that data can be mined from all sources to create actionable intelligence; and networking the analytic centers seamlessly, from unit intelligence officers to national agencies.

The global war on terrorism accelerated the need for Army Transformation. In 2003, the Army Chief of Staff created 17 focus areas to transform the Army, including the soldier, modularity, network and actionable intelligence, which:

... provides commanders and soldiers a high level of shared situational understanding, delivered with the speed, accuracy and timeliness necessary to operate at their highest potential and conduct successful operations.

The six critical actionable intelligence initiatives are:

* Red teaming capability: Integrate an ability to see ourselves as the enemy sees us. …

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