Lessons learned: six things every “2” must do—fundamental lessons from OIF

Lessons learned: six things every “2” must do—fundamental lessons from OIF – military intelligence during war with Iraq

James A. Marks

During OIF MG Marks was deployed as the C2, CFL CC. LTC (P) Steve Peterson, Student National Defense University, was also deployed as the Chief Planner, C2, CFLCC, during OIF. This article and slides are adapted from the Intelligence Officer’s Battlebook prepared for Military Intelligence leaders. (1)

In March 2003, Coalition Forces under the leadership of the United States invaded Iraq to remove a tyrant. With slightly more than two divisions, we invaded a country the size of France with a population of approximately 26 million and entered into conflict with an Army of 23 divisions and approximately 450,000 regular and irregular forces. As coalition troops crossed the line of departure no one knew the degree to which Iraqi forces would fight, whether weapons of mass destruction would be used, and whether Saddam Hussein would order the destruction of dams to flood the approaches to Baghdad or the oil fields to hamper coalition operations.

We did know how Iraqi forces were arrayed, where they were likely to defend, whether they were moving, and what they were doing as the war approached. We knew water levels and rates of flow, locations of thousands of survivability and fighting positions, the status of heavy equipment transporters, preparations for defense or destruction of the oil fields, and thousands of other facts.

But intelligence is more than facts and figures. The Intelligence Battlefield Operating System (BOS) is–

[] An adaptive network of properly trained, equipped, and deployed intelligence organizations manned by some of the finest soldiers and civilians in our nation.

[] A complex system that operates worldwide, from mud-to-space in real time, in support of an operation, to include the ability to leverage theater and national capabilities.

[] Cooperation and division of labor internally, higher, lower, adjacent, and across components and the coalition.

[] Systems designed for collecting information, processing data, analyzing and refining intelligence and influencing decision making.

The job of the intelligence officer is to make it all work in concert to meet the commander’s needs. The following principles are fundamental to a “2” at any echelon from battalion to Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC). It is a Herculean task, but the “2” can succeed by doing six things:

[] Set the Vision.

[] Build the Architecture.

[] Build the Team.

[] Build Analytic Collaboration.

[] Fight Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR).

[] Influence Decision Making.

All six areas are closely interrelated, and the lines among them are blurred, but they provide a useful construct for conducting an effective intelligence operation. These six things were not pulled out of thin air; they were derived from a careful study of the evolution of the CFLCC C2 in preparation for and during execution of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF).


Doing the right things and getting them done right requires a vision–an objective for which to strive. Unless you have a vision and are driving your organization forward, you will be falling behind. “Maintaining the status quo” should be thought of as “dead in the water.” As the “2” you must drive the organization forward by setting the standard for the staff–and for that, you need vision!

Start With an Assessment

To set the vision for your organization, you must first understand where you are starting. You must make an assessment and establish a thorough understanding of the baseline–your organization, personnel, systems, training, support, and where you fit in the context of the larger formation.

Look at your structure and how you are organized:

[] What are the functions performed by each part of your organization?

[] How are you manned?

[] Do your personnel have the skills to accomplish the mission?

[] What systems are you using, both internally and to communicate externally?

Examine how you presently operate:

[] What does your commander and staff need and when do they need it? Are you presently meeting your commander’s and staff’s needs?

[] What do you get from and provide to subordinate, higher, and adjacent units?

[] Lay out how you operate–identify the inputs you receive and the outputs you produce. What processes do you use to convert your inputs to outputs?

[] What is the battle rhythm of your headquarters, your section, and of the intelligence organizations with which you interact?

[] What would improve the quality of the support you are providing?

[] Where does your unit fit in the context of the larger formation and in the intelligence effort as a whole?

During OIF, after I was assigned as the CFLCC C2, I immediately set out to assess the existing organization and determine what was needed. I spent a month visiting organizations, consulting experts, and determining what resources we would need to leverage. We studied the enemy, our theater, and the units that would compose CFLCC. Then I set a clear vision and we worked to drive the organization to meet that vision.

Understand Where You Fit … You Do Not Work in a Vacuum

Successful intelligence operations influence decisions. Intelligence operations are essentially characterized by collection of intelligence, accurate reporting on that intelligence, and access to national databases and analytic centers that contribute to the intelligence–i.e., collection, analysis, processing, and dissemination. As a “2” you will not work in a vacuum; you must leverage every possible resource. There is more to this task than you might think. Today, intelligence in support of tactical commanders depends on worldwide operations in real time (across services, joint, coalition–tactical to strategic).

During OIF, small unit actions drew directly upon national level intelligence delivered to commanders on the ground in real time. SIGINT operations involving national assets and entities on three continents were used to provide real time force protection and targeting data directly to tactical commanders. Similarly, IMINT products processed far from the battlefield were used to direct targeting, even to cross-cue and verify unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) video to direct close-air-support (CAS) operations in real time.

Develop a List and Diagram

Begin to lay out where you fit. You are going to capture your place in the staff, the formation, your higher, lower, adjacent organizations, and other entities to which you will reach for data, products, or processing. Give yourself sufficient room because you are going to end up with a larger network of interactions than you first think. Write down your unit, its higher, the higher above that–go step-by-step all the way up to the national level (do this even if you are a battalion “2”) and do not leave out any echelon of command. Write down the echelons below you–go all the way down to individual soldier (do this even if you are at the combatant command level). Be specific and seek out those who can help you get it right.

You will rely on the collection and reporting that you diagram through all of these echelons, and the intelligence you produce is of relevance at these echelons as well. The modern environment blurs the strategic, operational, and tactical doctrinal framework. Success depends on seamless information exchange.

Identify the intelligence organizations and intelligence collectors associated with each entity and echelon. Do not forget that every element on the battlefield (combat, combat support, combat service support) is also a collector, processor, and communicator of information. Be sure you include other services, coalition entities, and national agencies that will be operating in the battle space. If there are nongovernment organizations (NGOs), other international organizations, or press operating in the battle space, understand that they may be sources of information and intelligence that you can leverage as well. Understand who owns them, who controls them, who tasks them, and how and what they collect is processed, exploited, and disseminated.

Talk to other staff elements and find out what information and reporting systems they rely on for situational awareness (for example, artillery counter-battery radars, air defense missile and aircraft early warning, maneuver element scouts, aviation reconnaissance, service support convoy debriefings, etc).

Start to understand how all of these entities report and communicate. Diagram their connectivity in simple terms–just draw lines showing who talks to whom under existing structures. You will have many question marks and holes as you put together this diagram. When you run into an unknown, continue to press on and try to fill in the gaps.

Then determine which of these entities has information that is of use to you and your commander. Who in this diagram will have information relevant to you–not only in terms of the level of detail but also in terms of the timeliness with which it can be accessed? Who can provide you collection, processing, and analytic products that are not feasible for you to produce? Do not get hung up on how–that comes later.

Now seek to understand what networks they are tied into. Work to understand how entities will communicate higher, lower, adjacent, and through intelligence reach to support outside the theater. Develop a close working relationship with the communications officer. You will need to understand general battlefield communications structures and architectures as well as the intelligence specific communications structure. Some entities bring their own communications (for example, satellite communications, high frequency, etc.) independent of that unit’s networks.

Finally, you need to take a close look at your requirements again (what the commander, staff, and you need). You have to understand what outputs you must provide and to whom. For each output, which will you produce and which will you get from others? As you set your vision, objectives, and the baseline for your tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), keep in mind three considerations: relevance, timeliness, and tailored products for the decision makers.

During OIF, the CFLCC Joint Analysis and Control Element (JACE) often leveraged NGIC extensively. The NGIC LNO understood the scheme of maneuver and priorities for that day. Together the JACE chief and NGIC LNO would focus NGIC’s exploitation of imagery to meet specific needs. At certain points in the battle, national imagery was exploited by NGIC and passed to the JACE within 30 minutes–a remarkable example of timely information exchange.

During OIF, elements in the JACE had direct access to missile warning data feeds through a carefully designed architecture. As a result, they would receive missile launch warning even slightly before the rest of the CFLCC staff and could immediately begin working the cross-cueing of collection for counter-surface-to-surface missile (SSM) suppression and targeting.


Think of an architecture as simply the set of interconnected physical systems by which you receive or pass information or data from one entity to another for a specified purpose. In thinking about an architecture you will need to think about inputs, processors, communications, and outputs. More specifically you will need to think about hardware, software, communications, circuits, communications security (COMSEC) materials, network classification, technicians, funding, database access, liaison officers (LNOs), training, and TTPs.

Use the list and diagram that you developed as a part of the vision and add details, to include specific questions and answers, about what your requirements are, what you have in place now, with whom do you interact (send and receive data, information, and intelligence), and what communications are in place.

During OIF, CFLCC had a highly capable, skilled, and talented systems architect. The commander made it very clear that having a vision to drive the architecture is the most critical aspect of building an effective architecture.

The Devil Is in the Details

Now you are ready to start working through the specific details of moving data and building the architecture. None of this will happen unless you pay close attention to putting the architecture in place to accomplish it. Do not assume that this is something that will happen on your behalf–it will not, and the parts that do will not work the way you require. If you are thinking, “I will leave that to the Army, the contractors, and the systems experts to provide,” you will fail. Although you will rely on experts to work through the details, you must define the functions the architecture will perform and ensure it will get you what you need when you need it.

Depending on what echelon you are at, your architecture might be relatively simple (for example, at battalion level) or it might be very complex. Every situation is different. You will never master all the technical aspects of every architecture and do not need to. However, you do need to know how to think through the development of an architecture and the types of questions to ask to ensure that your architecture meets your requirements. Whether you are a battalion S2 or a combatant command J2, there are basic things you will need to know. Some of the things you will have to know include–

[] Where you will operate from and where you will be moving.

[] What you want to receive and send (from and to where, whom, and if they will be moving).

[] What communications and COMSEC will be required.

[] What power and facilities will be required.

[] What operator training will be required.

[] What maintenance and system or data administration will be required.

[] What approvals and permissions will be required.

[] Interoperability of data, communications, hardware, and software.

[] How the architecture will need to grow over time.

[] What alternative methods and means of communications are available.

During OIF, National Security Agency (NSA) teams deployed with SATCOM capabilities in order to leverage national processing in real time. NIMA deployed its own communications packages to provide bandwidth necessary to pass imagery in a timely manner. These teams brought capabilities to the Corps, the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) and, in some cases, to the Division level.

Work With Others

The answers to the previous set of questions plus many others will help you define the architecture. By doing your homework and setting a clear vision you can get the decision maker’s and other staff’s consensus, approval, and resourcing to build your architecture. Some tips to succeed include:

[] Make use of experts to work through the technical aspects of the architecture.

[] “Sell” your objective architecture and understand how to build it incrementally.

[] Look for other people’s money first Contingency operations come with money.

[] Prioritize those pieces that can demonstrate tangible results and use those results to gain further buy-in.

[] Realize that there are often opportunities to make gains with little investment. First look for opportunities where procedural or policy changes will yield improvements.

[] Look for ways to leverage existing architectures in different ways. When bandwidth limitations do not let you pass imagery in real time, load it to local storage devices in advance and only pass overlays during operations.

[] Prepare to make use of the unfunded requirements process and do not hesitate to work internal budget processes to compete for resources.

During OIF, CFLCC used a system called command and control personal computer (C2PC) to display the common operating picture at all echelons. Bandwidth limitations made it difficult to pull map data across the network. To overcome that limitation, systems loaded the map data locally and then only had to send and receive overlay files and across the network. This dramatically reduced the demand on limited bandwidth.

Drive the Architecture to Meet Your Functional Requirements

If you need live, full motion video, you will have to put the systems, communications, hardware, and software in place to get it.

You will have to do the same if you want specific capabilities for unit reporting, terrain data, geospatial products, measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), human intelligence (HUMINT), imagery intelligence (IMINT), open-source information, technical data, etc., as a part of the architecture.

In today’s world, intelligence is mud-to-space. It is complex and technical. Do not be afraid to ask questions and admit what you do not know. You will need to leverage experts–do not let them baffle you with “techno-speak.” Sometimes they do not know as much as they want you to think. Remember also that sometimes you do know more than you think. Only by asking questions of many different people will you learn whom you can rely on. Remember, no one will give you the architecture you need unless you define it and put personnel to work building it. Having the right architecture is critical to your success as a “2.” Pay attention to the architecture development early and ensure it will deliver what you need.

While the right architecture is important, it alone will not deliver success. Intelligence depends upon analysis. And there is no better analytical engine than the human mind. Remember, intelligence is about predicting human behavior, and it takes “men in the loop” to do that effectively. Your ability to put together the right team is critical to your success as a “2.”

During OIF, we decided early on that we wanted to distribute Hunter video across the theater. To do so required the development of an architecture that could make use of the Global Broadcast System (GBS). This required CFLCC to bring GBS stations into theater for units that did not normally have them. It also required engineering of display architectures.

During OIF, national systems that processed intelligence in the United States, Europe, and other locations across the globe were used to provide immediate force protection warning and targeting information to soldiers and marines in contact. This was possible because the architecture foresaw the need for immediate communications with NSA that were not available through “organic” communications. This was identified to the command, and the CFLCC C2 advocated a request to provide the Corps and the MEF with Critical Source Lites with analysis teams. This task required the right hardware, software, communications, circuits, COMSEC, technicians, funding, database access, LNOs, and TTPs.


As the “2” you must build a team that spans echelons and organizations. Building the team involves understanding who else you must work with within the unit–higher, Iower, adjacent, and across the intelligence community–through effective intelligence reach opera tions. It is a matter of knowing capabilities, training the necessary collective skills, establishing effective relationships, developing mutual battle rhythms and TTPs, and leveraging the right architectures and collaboration tools.


Teams rely on skilled individuals. You must ensure your soldiers are equipped with the right skills to perform the required tasks. They need to be competent in their military occupational specialty (MOS) and/or area of expertise. You must ensure they receive the training and certifications necessary to be expert in their individual specialty skills. As you develop battle drills, production requirements, standing operating procedures (SOPs), and TTPs you must train your soldiers within each area. Since they will leverage a variety of tools, you must train them on their use. They must understand the hardware, software, communications, and databases–how to use them and how to troubleshoot them.

Intelligence soldiers also must be highly proficient at briefing, writing, and other communications skills. Intelligence is worthless if it does not influence decision making. Therefore, leaders must train every intelligence soldier in how to communicate clearly and effectively. Miscommunication leads to incorrect analysis, incorrect conclusions, and incorrect decisions. Even if a soldier is not a briefer, we must train him or her to be precise and succinct to facilitate collaboration with other members of the intelligence and greater warfighting team.

During OIF, the JACE recognized how critical specialized systems training was and leveraged all-source analysis system (ASAS) training teams prior to deployment and again in theater. They also ensured software and hardware experts were embedded in the staff.

During OIF, the JACE ensured that its six weeks of vignette training incorporated the requirement that the junior analysts briefed the products they developed to the senior leadership.


Section training is the next level essential to team building. No individual works alone. You must give attention to building the “digital squad.”

During OIF, this was another area of emphasis during the JACE’s vignette training. Each section had to develop a functional diagram to show where it fit in the context of the larger intelligence effort. They had to understand their products, the products of the other sections, and the ways in which they interacted. Thus, when the war began, there was no misunderstanding of roles or dependencies and the JACE functioned quite effectively as a single entity.

Across Sections

Just as you must have the right skill sets within a section, you must have the right distribution of skills across sections. Do you have a battle captain that knows how it all fits? Can your senior analysts correctly inform and leverage the collection effort? Do your collection managers understand their role? Training is obviously a critical part of team building. You must train as you fight and practice as a team; only in this way will you build synergy. However, building the team goes beyond matters of training alone.

Teamwork across sections also includes organizational structure, the physical configuration of work areas, and collaboration with external agencies and with other parts of the staff. Structure yourself to facilitate teamwork.

You cannot work effectively as a team unless you know your counterparts, have practiced with them, and understand the positions they hold. You must understand the organizations in which they work, their role in those organizations, and how they interact with your organization.

During OIF, CFLCC paid close attention to physical structure as an important aspect of team building. It rearranged its organization to improve interactions and it built facilities that would allow optimal interaction and synergy between sections. When the JACE was hampered working in tents, CFLCC designed and built an open-floor structure that would allow the sections to improve fusion, mutual situational awareness, and cooperation. We embedded intelligence elements within the different operations and planning elements to ensure optimal teamwork with the rest of the CFLCC staff. Additionally, we relocated some systems to ensure they were properly used and realigned the HUMINT Analysis and Requirements Cell under the JACE when we needed to improve crosstalk.

During OIF, the CFLCC went to great lengths to do this. They had face-to-face coordination meetings with U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), major subordinate commands (MSCs), and personnel from all participating intelligence agencies during the months leading up to the war. Additionally, they had training exercises and rehearsals. Finally, they began the MSC video teleconferencing (VTC) in November to develop and practice TTPs in the December and February exercises. Analysts used chat and information workstation (IWS) sessions (on-line collaboration tools) and VTCs to coordinate their efforts. TTPs for web posting were put in place throughout all units and agencies. By the time hostilities began, the CFLCC intelligence team extended literally around the globe.

Battle Rhythm

Battle rhythm is another important aspect of building an effective team. You must understand your command’s battle rhythm and how it fits with the battle rhythms of higher, Iower, and adjacent commands as well as within the larger intelligence community. You must work to nest your battle rhythms within these other battle rhythms so you are providing effective and timely inputs to decision making.


The effective use of embedded liaisons is an important aspect of teamwork with national intelligence organizations through intelligence reach. The most effective intelligence reach operations have a “front end” colIocated with the supported organization. This liaison must be more than a passive representative in order to be effective. The liaison must–

[] Understand their parent organization thoroughly to include capabilities and how to leverage them.

[] Come equipped with the right database accesses and have the right communications.

[]Must be proactive and involved in all aspects of the plan.

[] Aggressively advocate for applying their parent organization’s capabilities to the fight; they must not wait to be tasked.

[] Look for opportunities to contribute. However, even the best liaison forward can succeed only if his parent organization provides a responsive point of entry at the home station.

Optimally, the parent organization will have a dedicated support element whose battle rhythms will be 24/ 7 and matched to the forward element’s needs. When both of these conditions are met (a responsive representative forward and a tailored support element at the parent organization), team work is optimized.

During OIF, we were successful at using battle rhythms to work as a team across the unit; the timing of the daily CFLCC MSC VTC synchronized the intelligence picture with V Corps and I MEF. The VTC was held at 0600 local. This was after the 0400 analyst-to-analyst VTC with CENTCOM and before the intelligence update to the Commanding General at 0800. It gave the opportunity for the C2 and the G2s to discuss the intelligence picture, gain a common understanding of planned operations, and discuss the intent for collection before their first decision-making sessions within their respective staffs. Thus, the Intelligence BOS spoke with one voice each day.

During OIF, the CFLCC was fortunate to have many liaison elements and supporting organizations that functioned in this way. The best example was NGIC. NGIC’s liaison was superb. He was involved in every aspect of CFLCC intelligence operation. This liaison developed superb methods of coordination with the JACE, understood NGIC’s capabilities, and understood how to leverage NGIC. The other critical part of NGIC’s superb support came from the NGIC commander’s willingness to reorganize to provide optimal support. NGIC matched its battle rhythms to CFLCC’s needs.


Effective analytic collaboration must leverage complementary capabilities. This requires more than an architecture that enables communication and the use of collaborative tools. It requires careful mutual planning, division of labor, defined responsibilities, and procedures for adapting to changing circumstances as they develop.

Prior coordination and thorough planning is the key to effective analytic collaboration that avoids duplication of effort, ensures maximum coverage, and provides for optimal analysis. You must assign the right tasks to the right entities. This cannot be done in isolation; you have to work to secure agreement from team partners on their responsibilities, timeliness requirements, procedures, and under what circumstances arrangements will be changed. Division of labor works best when responsibilities match organizational interests. Similarly, assign responsibilities to organizations that have the most direct access to the information for which they are responsible. Make units responsible for analysis and reporting in (and often beyond) their areas of operation and for collection reporting for assets they command and control. Do not assign responsibilities to organizations that do not have the capability or the architecture to respond quickly enough to meet your needs.

It is very important to develop procedures for dividing responsibilities to avoid duplication of effort. If three organizations all receive the same data feeds, you do not want all three to focus their effort on the same exploitation problem. For example, you do not need National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), and your Tactical Exploitation System (TES) all exploiting the same piece of imagery while other imagery goes unexploited.

You must also plan how you will shift effort as the battle develops.

The above scenario emphasizes that it is important to plan in advance what the intelligence handover lines will be in managing the analytic distribution of responsibility.

During OIF, this was not always accomplished well. There were actual instances in which three organizations worked on analyzing the same piece of imagery simultaneously while other images went unexploited. To make the problem worse, in at least one instance all three organizations gave different reports based on the same piece of imagery. Fortunately, this was the exception and not the rule and in most cases CFLCC had effective collaboration procedures in place.

During OIF, CENTCOM took responsibility for the Republican Guard; Europe Command (EUCOM) Joint Analysis Center (JAC) had responsibility for the corps in the Northern Reporting Area; and CFLCC had the III and IV Corps. CFLCC further gave responsibility for the first echelon divisions to V Corps and I MEF. Operations proceeded very quickly and outpaced a shift in analytic responsibility. CFLCC’s interest turned to the Republican Guard prior to responsibility for tracking it passed to them.


I use “Fight ISR” here specifically instead of “manage collection” (or the new encompassing doctrinal task of intelligence synchronization) to emphasize that the proper application of ISR assets is a combat multiplier when treated like a weapons system–one that we must focus at the point of decision, and dynamically retask as the situation changes. Fighting ISR also includes the intelligence equivalent to the operational paradigm of “fight the enemy not the plan.” This mindset includes using well-developed procedures and carefully planned flexibility for dynamic retasking in support of emerging targets, cross-cueing, and for post-strike battle damage assessment (BDA). Processing, exploitation, and cross-staff combat assessment procedures must be developed and practiced in advance if they are to be effective.

Of all of the tasks a “2” must undertake, fighting ISR is perhaps the most challenging. It requires detailed specialized knowledge and training and the ability to effectively use a variety of complex visualization and collection management tools. Most importantly, it requires a collection manager (at some echelons the “2” is the collection manager) that–

[] Shows a fighting spirit.

[] Thoroughly understands war-fighting, targeting, and ground maneuver.

[] Aggressively competes for resources and does not take no for an answer without a fight.

[] Verifies every collection detail during planning and follows up during execution.

Several conditions must be met for the “2” and collection manager to “fight ISR” effectively. The “2” and collection manager must thoroughly understand–

[] Every aspect of the collection assets operating in theater, to include capabilities and limitations (those they control and those controlled by others).

[] Tasking, processing, exploitation, and dissemination for each collector, along with how they are employed.

[] How collectors communicate and how they can be retasked dynamically.

[] Effective cross-cueing and the leadtimes for retasking.

[] Targeting and the processes by which target decks are loaded, sensor packages are selected, and assets are allocated.

[] The collection planning process and the battle rhythms associated with the air tasking order (ATO) and the execution of planned collection.

[] The physics of the battlefield and the staging and employment of assets.

* How long will it take an asset to get to the target area?

* How quickly and how far can it travel if dynamically retasked? What threat conditions will limit its employment?

*What are the ranges and durations of its missions? What factors may constrain its operation (temperature, elevation, etc)?

The development of a detailed plan enables the collection manager to be an effective advocate for the allocation of collection resources he does not control. It also helps hito cover gaps using other assets when he is not successful in securing support from higher echelons. Collaboration higher, Iower, adjacent, and across components is also essential; there must be synergy between the application of collection assets. Duplication of effort must be avoided and procedures for handing over collection responsibilities across boundaries must be well understood, coordinated, and practiced.

While fighting ISR the “2” and collection manager must–

[] Use systems that show in real time where the collector is and what it is Iooking at and they must have the ability to communicate with those who control the platforms.

[] Use established procedures for getting immediate processing and exploitation.

[] Understand the maneuver concept of operations, the commander’s priority intelligence requirements (PIRs), and enemy capabilities and doctrine.

* Actively participate in the planning process and they must communicate effectively with the commander to ensure his priorities are being met.

* Use well-developed relationships with collection managers, analysts, and asset managers at higher, lower, and adjacent, and remain in close contact with those who control the tasking and employment of the collection platforms.


A “2” can get everything right if he sets the vision, builds the architecture, builds the team, builds analytic collaboration, and fights ISR and still fail if he does not influence decision making. “Perfect intelligence” is useless if the commander does not receive it, does not understand it, or does not believe it. Your success depends on your credibility with the commander. Credibility is the critical prerequisite to influencing decisions and the key to being an effective “2.” Here is how you build credibility:

[] Know what commanders, staff, and soldiers at all echelons need for the fight and give it to them. You must knowboth your business and the business of warfighters; you cannot be an effective intelligence officer unless you understand what warfighting is all about.

[] Adapt your products to the needs of the commander. You must master the visual portrayal of information to communicate quickly, clearly, and succinctly and put the information and intelligence in forms your commander best understands.

[] Be competent, confident, and communicate clearly.

[] Know the business of intelligence inside out. You must know intelligence capabilities and how to leverage the greater intelligence community.

Relevance, timeliness, and tailoring products to the decision maker–these are the critical elements to remember in producing intelligence. To influence decision making, you must be in the thick of it. You must be an integral part of developing the plan. In fact, you must shape the commander’s interest and not merely respond to it.

Intelligence must drive operations, but it will not automatically happen. It depends on you. Set the vision, build the architecture, build the team, build collaboration, fight ISR, and, above all influence decision making. If you do, you will set the standard for the staff and serve your commander well.

During OIF, the CFLCC C2’s role in influencing the decision to attack early to seize the oil fields to prevent their destruction is a superb case study of how a “2” can effectively influence decision making. It started with an assessment persuasively stated to the C5. After convincing the C5 that we would best achieve tactical surprise by a ground attack before air operations, we put the case before the Commanding General who discussed it with the CENTCOM Commander (all well before operations began). The C2 equipped the MEF with intelligence products tailored to their requirements, which prepared them to attack quickly and effectively. At the point of decision, effective intelligence analysis and collection equipped the “2” with a proper read of the indicators that the Iraqis were preparing to destroy the oil fields. Effectively presenting that case to the Commanding General and CENTCOM led to the decision to attack early. That decision was well inside the Iraqi’s decision cycle, and the results were superb. Intelligence drove operations.


(1.) Readers can obtain a copy online at AKO Knowledge Coordination Center “After Actions Reviews” folder under “Intel Officer Handbook and OIF Lessons Learned” subfolder.

MG James A. Marks, a native of New York was commissioned 4 June, 1975, into Military Intelligence upon graduation from the United States Military Academy. During his 26 years of commissioned service, MG Marks has held command and staff intelligence assignments including Company Commander, 1st Battalion, 503d Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, KY; Aide de Camp, Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, Camp Smith, HI; S3, 319th Military Intelligence Battalion (Airborne), 525th Military Intelligence Brigade, XVIII (Airborne) Corps, Fort Bragg, NC; Executive Officer, 313th Military Intelligence Battalion (Airborne), 82d Airborne, Fort Bragg, NC; Commander, 107th Military Intelligence Battalion, 7th Infantry Division (Light), Fort Ord, CA: G2, 6th Infantry Division (Light), Fort Wainwright, AK; Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Army; Commander, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, Fort Hood, TX; Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Headquarters, US Army, Europe and Seventh Army, Heidelberg, GE; Executive Officer to the Commanding General, Stabilization Force, Sarajevo, Bosnia; Assistant Chief of Staff, J2 (Intelligence), United States Forces Korea and Deputy Chief of Staff, C2, Combined Forces Command; Commander, United States Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca; deployed as C2, Coalition Forces Land Component Command; resumed Command of United States Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca. He is an Honor Graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School, a Master Parachutist, Air Assault qualified, and authorized to wear the Canadian and Republic of Korea Airborne wings. MG Marks holds a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of Virginia and a Master of Science degree in Theater Operations from the School of Advanced Military Studies. He is a graduate of the Military Intelligence Officers Advance Course, the United States Army Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies, and the Army War College.

COPYRIGHT 2003 U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School

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