Always out front

Always out front – military intelligence

John M. Custer

Much has been written recently about the Transformation of our Army. We are on a path from an “Iron Army” (whose strength has been based on layers of rolled homogeneous steel) to an “Information Army” (whose power revolves around the commander’s situational understanding). This transformation portends great changes within Military Intelligence…our Branch. We should, however, understand up front that although the “how” of our business may drastically change, the “what” will remain constant throughout the Army’s transformation. The “what” are the Military Intelligence core competencies that will provide the critical path in gaining greater importance and value as our Army transforms to a more flexible, more deployable, more lethal force.

The basic framework of the future force “See First, Understand First, Act First, and Finish Decisively” is firmly rooted in our core competencies. The systems we develop and the soldiers we train will prove to be both the enabling and the deciding factors in the Objective Force’s ultimate success. The five Military Intelligence core competencies comprise the fundamental processes that make our branch so important to the Army today and so critical to the force we hope to build in the future. I use the acronym “ICAP2” to quickly enumerate our Military Intelligence core competencies. These equate to–

* ISR Synchronization.

* Collection.

* Analysis.

* Presentation.

* Protection.

ISR Synchronization: The Objective Force’s Future Combat System (FCS) will depend on the systems and sensor integration performed by intelligence soldiers, noncommissioned officers, and officers throughout the Unit of Action (UA) and Unit of Employment (UE). With thousands of sensors sending millions of reports, it quickly becomes clear that the synchronization and fusion of such vast amounts of information will be the critical path in the “See First” paradigm. Synchronization of sensors and systems from “mud to space” has long been viewed as a primary mission of Military Intelligence.

Collection: The unique collection capabilities of our branch will continue to be a vital resource for the Objective Force, and no other branch will contribute as much to the commander’s situational awareness. The information provided by Aerial Common Sensor (ACS), Prophet, and the fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be crucial to the “Understand First” construct. Our human intelligence and counterintelligence professionals provide another facet to the unique collection equation, and automation or any other capability simply cannot replicate their contributions.

Analysis: Even as we build the future Army the need for human analysis at every echelon remains constant, as the “soldier in the loop” can never be replaced by computers. The Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) architecture will provide new analytical tools and the dissemination path for vast amounts of required information. Target recognition technologies hold great promise, but targeting success will require a human brain to decide whether a truck moving through enemy territory is in fact carrying artillery shells or school children. The advent of network-centric collaborative tools, flattened information environments, and reach to the joint level to facilitate targeting capabilities will prove the continuing requirement for human analysis at every echelon.

Presentation: The method a commander’s staff uses to process data into information and ultimately knowledge makes the presentation of information another critical factor for a force that will perform battle command on the move. How the S2, or “Knowledge Officer,” of the future packages and presents information will directly influence the commander’s decision. This concept of “presentation” will emerge as an even more significant consideration for intelligence training as our automated processes constantly increase both reporting speed and the amount of information available to commanders. The S2, or “Knowledge Officer,” will have to be confident and expert in selecting the crucial “nuggets” of information the commander requires. There simply will not be time for the commander to analyze everything, and any attempt will quickly debilitate unit operations.

The Military Intelligence core competencies will continue to provide the foundation for our Army’s success in the Objective Force. Beginning long before deployment, these core competencies will continue to shape the battlefield and provide the cornerstone for victory. The allure of technology is narcotic but we must constantly remind ourselves that both today’s Army and the Army of tomorrow need trained intelligence professionals who understand how to support tactical commanders by manipulating emerging technologies. These professionals will continue to be the centerpiece of our Branch and the Army.

Protection: Force Protection will continue to be of great importance to commanders, a requirement that must continue to be answered by military intelligence units and soldiers deployed across the battlefield. Every soldier bears a responsibility to protect the force but few have the total battlefield perspective of our branch. As we report enemy locations, activities, and intentions, military intelligence personnel are specifically contributing to the overall force protection effort.

COPYRIGHT 2003 U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group