COMMUNITY DEFENSE FRAMEWORK Introduction to Intelligence Support to the Warfighter

I’ve recently ‘teamed up’ with Max Velocity and agreed to moderate a sub-forum over at the MVT Forum called Intelligence Support to the Warfighter.  Here we’ll aggregate and solve the intelligence collection/analysis problems encountered on the tactical side and also work towards establishing a flat, open surface on which intelligence travels.  This article is written for both the warfighters (the door kickers, the shooters, etc.) and the intel element (collectors and analyzers) to build a better relationship between FREEFOR Ops and FREEFOR Intel.

Typically, intelligence information flows upward from tactical to operational to strategic (company to battalion to brigade to division); we call that, facetiously, “a stovepipe of excellence” (like a stovepipe, it only goes up).  Intelligence from division or brigade G2 never seems to migrate back down to the battalion or company S2 shop.  Unless we plan accordingly, FREEFOR will experience the same or similar problems with good intelligence arriving today for those who needed it yesterday.  It’s not so much our inability to collect good intelligence information (sometimes it is) as our inability to ensure the widest dissemination.  Therefore we need to ensure that:

– every soldier is a sensor;

– those soldiers are able to report back intelligence information to the intel element;

– the intel element is able to synthesize new or update old intelligence from that information;

– and the intel element is able to turn that intelligence back around to the warfighter in a timely manner.

As the intelligence element in combat operations, our job is to support the warfighter, period.  They have very limited resources to collect and analyze information, and more often that not, they are operating solely off whatever we give them.  I’ll say it a million more times: intelligence drives the fight.  When I enlisted, there was a parody of an Army commercial:  There are 212 ways to join the Army (and 211 of them support the infantry).  So everything we do is to feed targeting, planning, and force protection.  Examples of each would be:

– Leroy Jenkins lives at 123 Elm Ave. (targeting);

– The Leroy Jenkins Gang is robbing and burglarizing homes south of Highway 247 past the Oakman Bridge (planning);

– The Leroy Jenkins Gang is planning to ambush a FREEFOR patrol at the intersection of Main St. and Hwy 247 (force protection).

We arrive at this intelligence information through some different ways.  There are numerous intelligence disciplines – Human Intelligence (HUMINT), Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) to name a few – and there are several intelligence functions – collection, analysis, counterintelligence to name a few.

FREEFOR Operations: we need to know what you need to know.  We need to know what to collect, and since everything we do supports the warfighter, we need to answer your questions, assist your planning through mission analysis and estimates, and dump our target decks into your laps.  You want to know where the bad guys are?  You have two options: patrol around until you find them (or until they find you), or get with us and let us tell you where they live.

We update the commander that the Leroy Jenkins Gang (LJG) is the most dangerous threat in our AO, and he makes eradicating the LJG his top priority. As the intel element, we need to deepen and widen our intelligence collection networks, use all available means to find these guys, find out what kind of weapons they have, how they operate, where they’re going to be tomorrow or next week, and flip that back to the commander so he can start planning operations to eradicate the LJG from the AO.

This relationship is symbiotic, but as the intelligence element, our job is, to borrow from my intelligence background: to find, know, and never lose the enemy.  THAT IS YOUR JOB as the intelligence element.  Find those bastards so the warfighter can go shoot them in the face.

And for their part, operations (the warfighters) need to a) find an appropriate intelligence element, and b) give them a seat at the table.  Why?  Because intelligence drives the fight.  Without intelligence, the warfighter doesn’t know where to patrol, which door to kick in, which insurgent to arrest, which terrorist leader to kill, etc.  The warfighter might know something (i.e., we take fire from that specific compound on each patrol), but the warfighter doesn’t know everything.  So just imagine if we, as the intelligence element whose job is to know everything about the enemy, inform the warfighter about everything we know.  That’s how that works.  The warfighter says, “We’re going to clear and hold this hill/forest/neighborhood and build a patrol base – give us everything you have so we can plan accordingly.”  We support the warfighter.  Simple as that.

No sense in beating a dead horse.  If anyone has any questions, I’d be happy to help out.  The bottom line and the way forward is this:

Budding warfighters – build an intelligence element because you will need one when the bullets start flying and, as far as intelligence goes, you don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground.  If you’re a trigger puller, you won’t have the time or resources to collect intelligence to sustain your operations.  It just won’t happen, and if it does, it won’t be timely, relevant, accurate, specific, or predictive.

Budding intelligence element – start performing all the things we discuss every week on this blog and get a rolling head start for the future.  If you don’t have warfighters to support, then keep digging and find them – you should be good at digging and finding people because it’s your job.  Get with your ops guys and get familiar with the mission.  If the mission is to protect the community during an emergency, start generating your own intelligence requirements and ask the commander what he needs to know (and then generate some more intelligence requirements). And then start answering them.

For those interested, I started up a service so I can coach folks through building intelligence products that you’ll need in the future.  We’re in Week Four out of five of the Area Study, a basic intelligence product that will provide enough intelligence information to aid in security/stability operations planning for post-SHTF.  That should interest you, so you can go sign up at Forward Observer Dispatch.


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