Improving Marine Corps Intelligence: A Navy View CSC 1992 SUBJECT AREA Intelligence EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Title: Improving Marine Corps Intelligence: A Navy View Author: Lieutenant Commander Guy Holliday, United States Navy Thesis: Marine Corps intelligence deficiencies during operation Desert Storm reflect functional and structural problems that can be improved upon using the Naval intelligence model. Background: The senior Marine operational commander in the Gulf War found his tactical intelligence to be seriously deficient. Weaknesses included a poor operational mindset on the part of officers, poor analysis, and inadequate targeting intelligence. Naval intelligence is structurally and functionally different from the Marine community. The differences suggest ways to improve the performance of Marine intelligence in an operational environment. With a few significant, but inexpensive changes to organizations and personnel management practices, Marine Corps intelligence can implement lessons learned over decades of Navy experience. Recommendations: The Navy can share its experience in air intelligence, including modern tactical reconnaissance systems. The Marine's SRIG should be abolished and more intelligence officers should be assigned to national and regional intelligence centers. The Marine Corps needs to hold operational commanders accountable for their intelligence training and planning in order to improve the overall quality of the people and the product. Improving Marine Corps Intelligence: A Navy View Outline Marine Corps intelligence deficiencies during Operation Desert Storm reflect functional and structural problems that can be improved upon using the Naval Intelligence model. I. Intelligence deficiencies highlighted in Operation Desert Storm A. Lack of "operational mindset" 1. Inward focus 2. Fixation on intelligence cycle B. Poor intelligence analysis 1. Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield 2. Misdirected analytical process C. Weak targeting intelligence 1. Lack of USMC experience in JIC's 2. Lack of realistic training II. Differences between Navy and Marine intelligence communities A. Direct accession vs. lateral transfer B. Early operational experience with mentors III. Suggestions for improving Marine intelligence A. Take advantage of Navy air intelligence experience B. Invest in tactical air reconnaissance system C. Create Marine intelligence "community" D. Abolish the SRIG E. Operators take responsibility for intelligence F. Intelligence officers earn operator respect G. Improve reality of training IMPROVING MARINE CORPS INTELLIGENCE: A NAVY VIEW by LCDR Guy Holliday, United States Navy "The weakest area I observed was tactical intelligence."1 With these words in the Marine Corps Gazette, BGen Paul K. Van Riper introduced a three-paragraph indictment of United States Marine Corps intelligence support during Desert Storm that has generated a second storm within the Marine Corps' intelligence community. Tactical intelligence support to Marine Corps operations suffers from several deficiencies, a few of which were dramatically highlighted during the operations in the Arabian Gulf. In the Gazette article, General Van Riper identified poor "operational mindset" on the part of intelligence officers, weak analysis, a lack of targeting expertise, and a lack of organic photographic intelligence capability as specific problems. He also made general suggestions (improved selection, training, and education) regarding how to correct them. Marine officers and enlisted men in the intelligence field have responded in print with many additional insights into the state of Marine Corps intelligence that should go a long way toward improving the focus of the argument and the practical implementation of needed changes. The purpose of this discussion is to examine the issues raised, and a few others, from the perspective of a mid-grade Navy intelligence officer attending the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and to offer practical suggestions based on my experience and current daily exposure to nearly 150 field-grade Marine officers. Operational Mindset When General Van Riper cited a deficiency here he cut every Marine intelligence professional to the quick, and the pain felt in the fleet was palpable in the letters published by the Gazette. The General developed the topic somewhat, citing an "inward" focus on the "intelligence cycle" and an apparent fascination with "systems and procedures rather than the product being (or more often not being) provided to the operators."2 This paragraph raises some of the most important sub-issues of Marine intelligence limitations, including a misunderstanding of the "intelligence cycle" itself (and its misapplication in the fleet), the over- reliance within the Marine Corps on doctrinal approaches to problem-solving, the use (and misuse) of intelligence- related systems, and the intelligence/operations interface problem. The intelligence cycle, as explained in depth in both FMFM 3-21 MAGTF Intelligence Operations and FMFM 3-20 Commander's Guide to Intelligence is a four-step process that proceeds from "direction" (planning to meet requirements) to "collection" (gathering of information) to "processing and production" (turning information into intelligence in a usable form) to "dissemination" (delivering it in a timely way to the right user) and back to "direction." The entire intelligence community uses one version of this cycle or another as a guideline to the process of continuous intelligence support. If the cycle was apparent to a senior operator such as General Van Riper, his complaint is legitimate -- he should be on the receiving end of "dissemination" and the delivery end of operational "direction" and the rest should be transparent to him. The cycle is not an intelligence officer's excuse for failure to deliver the goods. If the operator describes a problem in dissemination, that is direction, and the problems with collection, processing and production are for the intelligence officer to fix. In practice, the cycle is an abstraction, and the degree to which Marines cite doctrinal abstractions in the course of their work is disconcerting to a Navy officer, accustomed to operating in what for better or worse is the least doctrinally-bound service. At the operational level, the cycle is complex, branching to various levels and types of commands in the collection, processing, production and dissemination phases and responding to direction from as many levels. Rather than describe the process to the operator, the intelligence manager should ensure that he is aware of the levels of activity within the cycle that apply to a given requirement, and coordinate its application to the operator's need. If he thinks he can describe the way the cycle applies to a given problem, he probably isn't working hard enough. To use an example from the Gulf War, operators have complained that they could not get timely pictures of enemy positions. One can easily imagine the division commander saying to the G-2, "Get me a picture of the enemy positions in grid squares "A through X." The failure of tactical intelligence officers to respond with an hours-old overhead photograph for the operators to peruse has been laid to the lack of a method for dissemination of national and theater- level imagery, and to the Marine Corps' shortsighted retirement of its tactical reconnaissance aircraft without an operational replacement. Both are serious problems, but not the answer to the tasking quoted above. Rather than cite the deficiencies noted above, the right answer for the intelligence officer is to ask the operator what intelligence he really wants (or better, to know what he wants). A photo is not intelligence, it is a source of intelligence and a visual aid. What the division commander really wanted was intelligence on the disposition, fortifications, training level, equipment, leadership, morale, experience, tactics, etc., of the enemy he is facing. And a picture would be helpful in visualizing the battlefield. The intelligence officer, knowing before he is asked that the operators want all these things, including a picture, could have done the following: (1) Express the requirements up the chain of command. They can be called EEI's (essential elements of information), OIR's (other intelligence requirements), RFI's (requests for information), or anything else the doctrine calls them, but they must be communicated in English to someone who can act on them. When the general noted that the focus on the intelligence cycle seemed to be "inward" in orientation, he hit on a critical point. FMFM 3-21, the Marine intelligence "bible," goes into excruciating detail on Marine collection capabilities, and refers the reader to boilerplate descriptions of national and component intelligence agencies, but leaves out the operational chain of command and the joint intelligence centers that can actually manage intelligence collection and produce intelligence for operators. More on this later. (2) Find out what imagery is really coming and how it will get to the command. In Desert Shield/Storm, Marine division-level requirements were not met by the imaging systems, but much of the intelligence required was available, or taskable, from other systems in a timely way. Order of battle data must be pieced together (fused) from imint, sigint, humint, etc., and transferred to a chart or existing image by hand. If the image has been taken and can't be delivered, it is being analyzed and reported on in message form in very short order if the requirement has been stated. Each of the flat-deck amphibious ships has imagery aboard, which may be months or years old, but which can be, and (in the Navy) routinely is, updated with current overlays of the pertinent intelligence. Such a photo/overlay is what you provide the operator (with a large-scale chart/overlay) when you can't get him an hours- old picture. Analysis General Van Riper mentioned "analysis of information to produce usable intelligence" as a particular weakness of the Corps, and pointed to increased training in IPB (intelligence preparation of the battlefield) as the likely direction to go in correcting it. IPB is a process developed to a high state by the Army, and developed doctrinally in Army FM 34-130 Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield. It provides a systematic approach to defining intelligence requirements and integrating information into a comprehensive picture of the battlefield, at any scale. What it fails to address is the process of ensuring that current intelligence is flowing in from all sources, in the most efficient and useful form, to be integrated into the picture. Because of this, IPB has a static feel to a Navy intelligence officer, however much sweat and energy is expended on it. "Analysis" is an important part of the intelligence cycle, but operators are generally as capable of analysis, given the available intelligence inputs, as anyone else, and are prone to do it themselves anyway. The cycle does not belong to the intelligence officer, it is a management responsibility. The intelligence officer has to be able to analyze the intelligence itself, how it was gathered, when it will be updated, how reliable it is, how perishable it is over time, etc. This level of analysis is a product of experience working with the intelligence system at a level that extends well beyond the tactical staff and associated Marine intelligence assets. Indeed, this kind of experience is only available in the large joint intelligence commands that work with these issues and systems on a daily basis. Schoolhouse training will not serve the purpose. Targeting Naval intelligence suffers some of the same limitations in targeting expertise that the Marines suffer. The Navy has had intelligence officers involved in carrier-based targeting for years, but the process aboard ship, despite the improvements brought about by such computer tools as TAMPS (tactical air mission planning system), cannot adequately support retargeting and bomb damage assessment in a fluid threat environment. Until top-quality imagery is fused with other intelligence at the level of command at which fires are controlled (and this day is not coming as soon as one would hope) these assessments will continue to be made at the national level. Intense training in JIC's, manned by Marines as well as the other services, will help improve the likelihood that targeting, BDA and retargeting will be done with the appropriate operational view. The Air Force has an excellent targeting school to meet the needs of the highly technical weapons systems they employ. The Marines and the Navy need to gain these skills, either by attending the Air Force school or by incorporating an equivalent course into the existing Navy/Marine Corps intelligence schools. Among the more interesting elements in the series of responses from FMF intelligence personnel to the general's criticism was a consistent description of the failure of Marine Corps operational staffs to man intelligence billets at the appropriate grade and the more telling failure to integrate intelligence into training and operations in peacetime. Marine intelligence officers (0202 military occupational specialty, or MOS) decried the large number of collateral duties assigned to battalion level S-2's and the impact it has on his skill development.3 They also deplored the failure to employ tactical intelligence assets in training,4 and described a more general lack of respect and confidence from their "operator" counterparts.5 The Identity crisis suffered here is familiar, but more profound in the Marine Corps than the Navy. Although we play a key role in operations, intelligence officers are not "operators" in the sense of taking personal responsibility for the operational decisions. In the Navy we have a "restricted line officer" status that defines this well enough. The Marines, by bringing officers into the intelligence specialty solely through lateral moves, then limiting the career development of intelligence officers by failing to adequately fill intelligence billets outside the mother institution, creates a second-class citizenry in the 0202 MOS. The contrast with Navy intelligence officers is worth describing. In comparing Marine and Navy intelligence officers, the greatest difference is found at the 0-3 level. Marines become intelligence officers at around this rank after transferring from a combat specialty. Although many outstanding Navy intelligence officers transfer from the unrestricted line (surface warfare, aviation, and submarines), most are commissioned directly Into the designator and have over half a decade of intelligence experience at the point in their careers when Marine intelligence officers are selected. The Navy officer enjoys a head start including a sea tour, providing direct operational intelligence support, and a shore tour, usually at one of the large analysis and production centers providing intelligence to fleet and joint forces. Naval Intelligence enjoys a further operational training advantage over the Marine Corps in the fact that each deploying carrier employs almost two dozen full-time intelligence officers, and as many enlisted intelligence specialists. Assigned to the embarked airwing and staff as well as the ship, they spend the majority of their time working on breaking intelligence matters of current interest to operational forces. The Carrier Intelligence Center (CVIC), is the place where Navy Intelligence Officers from 0-1 to 0-5 learn together how to provide direct operational intelligence support. Of the two dozen officers, well over half are normally 0-2 and below, on their initial sea tour. Although there is no comparable opportunity for Marine intelligence officers, there are several specific improvements that can be made to enhance the ability of Marine Intelligence to provide timely and appropriate intelligence support to future combat operations, and address some of the concerns expressed in the Gazette exchange. (1) Take advantage of Navy air intelligence expertise. Each Navy aircraft squadron, including the training squadrons, has at least one full-time intelligence officer in the wardroom. The squadron skippers and fliers are accustomed to integrating intelligence considerations into mission planning. As importantly, over 90% of all first tours for intelligence officers are with squadrons, providing a tremendous breadth of aviation intelligence experience in the community. The Marine Corps should assign full-time intelligence officers to aviation units and ensure that they interact closely with Navy counterparts to share their experience and learn to tap into the vast data, expertise, and technical assets of deployed carriers. A three or four-week experience tour as the assistant to a Navy airwing intelligence officer during a carrier deployment would pay tremendous dividends for the officer assigned, and the Marine aviators he supports. (2) Invest with care. A tactical reconnaissance capability for the F/A-18 is a proven necessity, as is continued investment in the RPV program. In the meantime, Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod Systems (TARPS) deploy with every Navy airwing. Methods to integrate this capability Into Marine intelligence planning are underdeveloped and can be dramatically improved at relatively low cost. The Tactical Air Mission Planning System (TAMPS) being integrated Into Marine air intelligence has been deployed aboard carriers since the early 1980's. The Navy can help make it work for the Marines. (3) Create a strong intelligence community within the Corps. Although blessed with many hard-working and capable officers, Marine intelligence does not enjoy the "community" benefits of mutual support, mentors, and networking that give every Navy intelligence officer access to reservoirs of help. Too many Marine intelligence officers operate alone. The Marine officer accession policy should be to commission the future nucleus of the intelligence MOS as 0202 second lieutenants, and put them into intelligence jobs from day one. (4) Abolish the SRIG. The recently established Surveillance/Reconnaissance Intelligence Group (SRIG) should form a nucleus for the community, but likely does more harm than good by increasing the real and perceived distance between operators and intelligence people. Lumping intelligence officers into a command which dissolves and disperses in an operational environment is counterproductive to the goal of continuity in operational support. Another question: what to do with the SRIG commanding officer when the assets of his command (personnel and equipment) are given to an operational commander in wartime. The doctrinal answer seems to be to make the SRIG CO a "special staff" officer. If I were the G-2 or J-2 I would not want another intelligence officer (probably of higher rank) floating around the staff when I was responsible for the people and capability that was formerly under his command. It is a recipe for disaster. (5) Take responsibility. Intelligence support for Marine units, like any other supporting or combat arm, is as good as the Commanding Officer demands that it be. Incredibly, senior Marine commanders have returned from the Gulf to criticize the intelligence support they received as though they had no responsibility for the limitations that were revealed in the desert. Would the same officers complain if they were "surprised" to find critical deficiencies in their artillery? Probably not, because it is obvious to any Marine that the Commanding Officer should know his artillery inside out, and take responsibility for how well it meets his requirements. What has yet to be observed is a series of Marine officers in command positions taking personal responsibility for their failure to ensure, through adequate training, education, exercises, staff interaction, etc., that their intelligence personnel could support them in combat. The issue of tactical intelligence is a combat readiness issue at every level of command, and third-person responsibility is not adequate if solutions are to be found. Until intelligence is recognized as a command responsibility rather than something to be delivered, the basic problem will not be solved. (6) Earn operational respect. Intelligence officers must ensure that they are support oriented and that they are not hiding behind the "green door." It isn't as good a hideout as it used to be, as most of the senior operators have the appropriate access to get in. Neither should those who do not have special intelligence access perceive a barrier of access to needed intelligence support. The vast majority of the information used in the fusion of intelligence either a) does not originate in the special intelligence world, or b) can be sanitized quickly to make it available for open-door fusion. Intelligence analysis would be better respected by the operators if it were done in the open, elbow to elbow with the G-3. This can be achieved if the special spaces are seen and used as a resource rather than a hideout. (7) Make it real. Training begins in the schoolhouse, but sets in when it is applied. Navy intelligence officers provide real intelligence support for operators at sea, and ashore are assigned to analytical support and production commands whose job it is to support those same operators. The Marines can take advantage of carrier deployments by assigning exchange officers to CVIC, and the Navy intelligence officers rotating through Marine intelligence billets would gain as well. The Marines can build expertise by filling billets in the shore-based intelligence commands as well, particularly the Joint Intelligence Centers engaged in direct operational support on a daily basis. Until Marine intelligence officers are required to do real intelligence full-time, they cannot develop into the command assets they should be. Additionally, there is no excuse for the failure of the Marine Corps to conduct field training that tests the intelligence officers and men assigned to any unit. It is a readiness issue. It may be harder, it may take some creativity, it may not be the way things have been done in the past, but the poor quality of intelligence field training6 must be corrected. The Marine Corps, like the Navy, is accustomed to independent operations. The price paid for the security of self-reliance is the failure to take advantage of critical capabilities that can be provided by sister services. Joint operations in the future will continue to break down the resistance to interdependence, and the Navy is the natural choice to help the Marine Corps accelerate the process and minimize confusion. Intelligence will play an increasingly critical role as a force multiplier for the Marine Corps and the Navy. When we find ourselves at the ends of the Earth, forming the nucleus of a Joint Task Force, the Navy-Marine Corps combat team will demand intelligence support that can only be delivered by a better organized, trained and coordinated team of professional Navy and Marine Corps intelligence officers. ENDNOTES 1. BGen Paul K. Van Riper, "Observations During DESERT STORM," Marine Corps Gazette, Jun 91, 55. 2. Van Riper, p. 58. 3. Capt. Jason M. Williams, "Does the Marine Corps Need Infantry Battalion S-2 Officers?," Marine Corps Gazette, Sept 91, 24. 4. Maj C. E. Colvard, "Unfortunately, We Fought Like We Trained," Marine Corps Gazette, Sept 91, 20. 5. Maj Russell A. Keller, "Intelligence Is a Team Sport," Marine Corps Gazette, Mar 92, 14. 6. Colvard, p. 20. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Clayton, CWO2 Steven B. "Intelligence Training and Support." Marine Corps Gazette September 91: 27-28. 2. Clayton, CWO2 Steven B. "Marine Corps Imagery Support." Marine Corps Gazette September 91: 25-26. 3. Colvard, Maj. C. E. "Unfortunately, We Fought Like We Trained." Marine Corps Gazette September 91: 20-22. 4. Combat Intelligence Study Guide. Quantico, VA: Intelligence Instruction Section, Marine Corps University, MCCDC, Quantico, VA, Aug 90. 5. Decker, Michael H. "Assessing the Intelligence Effort." Marine Corps Gazette September 91: 22-23. 6. FM 34-130 Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield. Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1989. 7. FMFM 3-20 Commander's Guide to Intelligence. Quantico, VA: Combat Development Command, 1991. 8. FMFM 3-21 MAGTF Intelligence Operations. Quantico, VA: Combat Development Command, 1991. 9. Keller, Maj. Russell A. "Intelligence is a Team Sport." Marine Corps Gazette March 92: 14-17. 10. Leonhardt, Maj. Kent A. "All the Intelligence in the World Is Useless Without the Means To Disseminate It." Marine Corps Gazette March 92: 21-23. 11. McTernan, LtCol. Walter F. III "Intelligence: You Get What You Pay For." Marine Corps Gazette March 92: 23-24. 12. Peterson, Maj. Harries-Clichy, Jr. "Intelligence: Fix It or Forget It." Marine Corps Gazette March 92: 18-20. 13. Williams, Capt. Jason M. "Does the Marine Corps Need Infantry Battalion S-2 Officers?" Marine Corps Gazette September 91: 24-35.
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