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Chapter 4


4-1. The successful conduct of counterinsurgency operations relies on the willing support and cooperation of the populations directly involved. Greater priority and awareness is needed to understand the motivations of the parties involved in the conflict and the population as a whole. The understanding of the background and development of the conflict into which US forces are intervening is of particular significance. This requires a detailed understanding of the cultural environment and the human terrain in which the US forces will be operating and thereby places a heavy reliance on the use of HUMINT.

4-2. The commander requires intelligence about the enemy and the AO prior to engaging in operations. Intelligence assists commanders in visualizing their battlespace, knowing the enemy, organizing their forces, and controlling operations to achieve the desired tactical objectives or end state. Intelligence supports force protection by alerting the commander to emerging threats and assisting in security operations. Intelligence to support counterinsurgency operations focuses on three areas:

  • Factors motivating the insurgency.
  • Appeal the insurgency holds for insurgents.
  • Organization, leadership, and key functionaries of the insurgency.

4-3. "Open-source intelligence" refers to the practice of drawing information from the news media and processing it into intelligence. It is an increasingly common practice among world intelligence organizations. The six categories of media and news sources providing opensource intelligence are--

  • Newspapers.
  • Periodicals.
  • Military and other professional journals.
  • Internet web logs (commonly called "blogs."
  • Visual media (primarily television).
  • Radio.

4-4. Units engaged in counterinsurgency operations may face multiple threats. The commander must understand how enemies organize, equip, train, employ, and control their forces. Intelligence provides an understanding of the enemy, which assists in planning, preparing, and executing operations. Commanders must also understand their operational environment and its effects on both their own and enemy operations. The commander receives mission-oriented intelligence on enemy forces and the AO from the G-2/S-2. The G-2/S-2 depends upon the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) effort to collect and provide information on the enemy and AO.

4-5. One of the most significant contributions that intelligence can accomplish is to accurately predict future enemy events. Although a difficult task, predictive intelligence enables the commander and staff to anticipate key enemy events or actions and develop corresponding plans or counteractions. The most important purpose of intelligence is to enable decision making. Commanders receive the intelligence, understand it (because it is tailored to the commander's requirements), and act on it. Through this doctrinal concept, intelligence drives operations. 4-6. The AO during counterinsurgency operations includes three primary components: physical terrain and weather, society (socio-cultural, often referred to as the human terrain), and infrastructure. These components provide a structure for intelligence personnel to focus and organize to provide support to counterinsurgency operations. These entities are interdependent, not separate. These components enable the commanders to gain an in-depth understanding of their AO during counterinsurgency operations and provide a focus for the intelligence analyst.


4-7. IPB includes information about terrain and weather and civil considerations as well as the enemy. (The six factors of METT-TC--mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops and support available, time available, and civil considerations--make up the major subject categories into which relevant information is grouped for military operations. (See FM 6-0.) Relevant information is all information of importance to the commander and staff in the exercise of command and control (FM 3-0). In counterinsurgency operations, civil considerations are prominent in IPB analysis.


4-8. Expect terrain in counterinsurgency operations to be complex. Unit AOs may consist of various types of terrain, ranging from jungles, mountains, and deserts to rural or urbanized areas. In conventional operations, the primary factor is the natural landscape. In counterinsurgency operations, man-made factors may be the primary terrain factors that a unit must consider. Some of these factors that ought to be considered are the density of construction and population within the AO, the street patterns within urban areas, and compartmentalization of areas within the AO (such as areas separated by waterways or highways) and functional zones for example, the functions different areas serve within the AO, such as residential, commercial, and government areas).

4-9. In addition to weather effects on friendly operations, counterinsurgency operations require the consideration of how weather effects the local population. For example, an ongoing drought within the unit's AO may mean that more outside aid is required. An insurgency movement may take advantage of the population's potential dissatisfaction to recruit support and may even be able to make food or other desirable aid available, thus making the insurgents look like the only competent/legitimate authorities in the region. If the government does not provide necessary aid, the population could view those they believe to be in charge in an increasingly hostile manner for failing to help prevent a disaster.


4-10. Civil considerations comprise the manmade infrastructure, civilian institutions, and attitudes and activities of the civilian leaders, populations, and organizations within an area of operations influence the conduct of military operations (FM 6-0). They include the population of an area and information about it. Factors of interest include the gender and mix of the populace; the cultural, religious, and socio-economic beliefs and thinking; and the beliefs, attitudes, and actions of groups and individuals.

Population and Culture

4-11. The center of gravity in counterinsurgency operations is the population. Therefore, understanding the local society and gaining its support is critical to success in. For US forces to operate effectively among a local population and gain and maintain their support, it is important to develop a thorough understanding of the society and its culture, to include its history, tribal/family/social structure, values, religions, customs, and needs.

4-12. The history of a people can often help explain why the population behaves the way it does. The roots of an insurgency may become clear through that knowledge. A given AO may have several different regions, each with different sets of customs. US forces can anticipate local reaction to friendly courses of action as well as avoid losing indigenous support for the mission through understanding and supporting those local customs. That support, however, must be consistent with US laws and the law of war.

4-13. Understanding and working within the social fabric of a local area is initially the most influential factor in the conduct of counterinsurgency operations. Unfortunately, this is often the factor most neglected by US forces. The density of civilians and the constant interaction required between them and US forces greatly increases the importance of social considerations. The fastest way to damage the credibility of US forces and the legitimacy of our involvement with the local national government is to ignore or violate the social mores or precepts of a particular population.

4-14. The interaction of different cultures demands greater recognition during counterinsurgency operations than in other environments. This greater need for understanding comes from the increased need for interaction with the civilian populace. Every culture has a set of norms and values, and these could involve such diverse areas as protocol and social skills, attitudes toward women, manners, food, sleep patterns, casual and close relationships, and cleanliness. Understanding these differences is only the start of preparation for counterinsurgency operations.

4-15. Religious beliefs and practices are among the most important, yet least understood, aspects of culture. The role religion plays in both culture and individual value systems varies greatly from place to place. While it is never possible to disentangle religion completely from politics, mores, and the other aspects of culture, religion plays an especially powerful and dominant role in some societies. Many conflicts have a strong religious dimension, not only in the origin of the dispute but also in the way the fight is conducted. Some religiously motivated antagonists will operate with a significantly different view of what constitutes just conduct in war than the western consensus that created the law of land warfare and the Geneva Conventions.

4-16. When assessing events, intelligence professionals consider the norms of the local culture or society. Failure to recognize, respect, understand, and incorporate an understanding of the cultural and religious aspects of the society in which US forces are interacting could rapidly lead to an erosion of the legitimacy of the mission. For example, while bribery is not an accepted norm in US society, it may be a totally acceptable practice in another society. If US intelligence professionals assess an incident of this nature using our own societal norms and values as a reference, it is probable the significance of the event will be misinterpreted.

Leaders and Institutions

4-17. US military planners should conduct interagency coordination to identify key government officials early in the operation. US policy officials determine which key HN leaders are supportive of the US military and which are not. These key personnel can provide valuable information needed for successful completion of the operations, to include local infrastructure, a common picture of cultural norms, suspected enemy strengths, and probable means of support and locations for enemy forces. In counterinsurgency missions, US forces are often supporting a state. As such it is critical to understand the potential audience.

4-18. Many governments are rife with nepotism and trading favors, are indifferent to local conditions, and support no security presence at the village level. The power of officials may be based on family and personal connections, clan loyalty, and age, and only after that on education, training, and competence. Corruption may be pervasive and institutionalized as a practical way to manage excess demand for local services.

4-19. A local government's breakdown from a previous level of effectiveness will quickly exacerbate problems of public health and mobility. Attempts to get the local-level bureaucracy to function along US lines may produce further breakdown, passive indifference, or resentment. Any unintentional or intentional threat to the privileges of ranking local officials or tribal leaders or to members of their families will be stubbornly resisted. Avoiding such threats and assessing the importance of particular officials requires knowledge of family ties.

4-20. US military planners must realize that the local populace will behave in their perceived self-interest. They will be keenly aware of five sets of interests at work: those of the US forces, the insurgent/hostile elements, the local opportunists, the legitimate government, and the general population. All five elements assess these interests constantly in order to ascertain their own stakes, risks, and advantages.

Refugees and Ethnic Groups

4-21. Another significant cultural challenge is the presence of refugees within a unit's AO. Rural immigrants displaced by conflict, combined with city residents, can create a significant problem. Noncombatants and refugees without hostile intent can disrupt local missions. Additionally, there may be insurgent troops, criminal gangs, vigilantes, paramilitary factions, and factions within those factions hiding in the waves of the displaced.

4-22. The enemy knows it is nearly impossible for US forces to accurately identify friend from foe from disinterested. Local combat situations can change with bewildering speed, as the supposed innocent becomes an active aggressor within close quarters and an indefensible position. In Chechnya, Chechen rebels and Hezbollah terrorists effectively used the cover of refugees to attack occupying forces. The Chechens counted on the ferocious nature of the Russian counterattack causing heavy civilian casualties to gain support from the indigenous population for the Chechen separatist cause.

4-23. One goal of insurgent forces will be to place stress on the US and local national government soldiers in order to break down discipline and operational integrity. The constant pressure of differentiating friend from foe taxed and sometimes undermined ROE from Belfast to Lebanon, and in some cases, entire missions.

Social Structure and Customs

4-24. Defining the structure of the social hierarchy is often key to understanding the population. Identifying those local personnel in positions of authority is important. These local officials, tribal leaders or village elders are often the critical nodes of the society and influence the actions of the population at large. In many societies nominal titles do not equal power influence does. Many "leaders" are figureheads, and the true authority lies elsewhere.

4-25. Most areas around the world are not governed by the rule of law, but instead rely upon tradition. Often tribal membership, ethnic loyalty, and religious affiliation provide societal cohesion and the protocol of proper behavior and ethics in dealing with outsiders, such as the US and multinational partners. It is important to understand the complicated inner workings of a society where potential internal conflicts predominate. This is difficult and requires a thorough examination of a society's culture and history.

4-26. Identifying and understanding trends and patterns of activity provide important information for intelligence analysts and mission planners. Every local area has discrete and discernible patterns of daily activity. The time of heaviest activity along a line of communication is one case in point. Trade and business transactions, market sales, religious practices, governmental functions, and criminal activity are other examples of daily behavior than can be analyzed for consistencies. Disruptions or irregularities in these patterns serve as a warning that something is amiss in the area.

4-27. It is important to remember that while certain general patterns do exist, most regional areas are normally composed of a multitude of different peoples, each with its own standards of conduct. Treating the local population as a homogenous entity can lead to false assumptions, cultural misunderstandings, and a poor operational picture. Individuals act independently and in their own best interest, and this will not always coincide with friendly courses of action. Do not ignore the presence or actions of the different population components within an AO when developing assessments.


4-28. Understanding the infrastructure and the interrelationships of various elements within a unit's AO and the relationship with neighboring AOs is critical in counterinsurgency operations. Infrastructure has physical, social, economic, and political elements.


4-29. Intelligence staffs identify critical physical infrastructure components (transportation and communications systems, water treatment and waste disposal facilities) and the effects they have on the local, regional, and national populations. Insurgents will use and exploit existing infrastructure. A common method insurgents use to display the weakness of the current local national government is to disrupt or destroy critical components of infrastructure, such as power stations and waterworks, that affect large portions of the local population. They may also create additional infrastructure where gaps in government-provided services exist in order gain the good will of the local population. If successful, this demonstrates the government's inability to protect critical infrastructure components and their inability to provide basic services such as security for the population.

Social, Economic, and Political

4-30. The social infrastructure includes communication, religious, and education centers; and the roles of tribes, families, casts, and clans. Economic infrastructure includes banks, stock markets, and the monetary control system. Political infrastructure includes political parties, party headquarters and offices, government offices, and state institutions.


4-31. During the military decision making process, intelligence personnel provide commanders with a battlefield assessment based upon a systematic approach known as IPB. IPB consists of four steps:

  • Define the battlefield environment.
  • Describe the battlefield's effects.
  • Evaluate the threat.
  • Determine threat courses of action.


4-32. In defining a counterinsurgency environment, intelligence professionals do the following:

  • Consider the nature and strategy of the insurgency.
    • Are there internal factors, external factor, or both that form a basis for the insurgency?
    • Is there an identifiable pattern of insurgent activities?
    • Does the insurgent organization function primarily within the established political system or in open competition with it?
  • Determine international and national support to the insurgents. Include sources of moral, physical, and financial support.
  • Consider the neighboring countries, boundaries and frontiers, and coastal waterways.
  • Consider third-country support for the insurgency.
  • Analyze the HN population, government, military, demographics, and threat.
    • Who are the vulnerable elements in the population?
    • Are they subject to insurgent exploitation?
  • Evaluate HN political structure, economy, foreign policy and relations, and policies on military use.
  • Consider if US presence, or potential presence, by itself could be a catalyst for insurgent activity.


4-33. In defining the battlefield's effects in a counterinsurgency environment, intelligence professionals do the following:

  • Determine points of entry, infiltration and exfiltration routes, C2 structures for operations, and agricultural areas.
  • Evaluate weather's effects on the mobility of insurgents and their logistic efforts, for example, the availability of food supply due to weather extremes.
  • Consider migration and settlement patterns to identify which areas are progovernment or proinsurgent. Identify the locations of groups that create territorial boundaries the insurgents may try to make autonomous to gain political advantage.
  • Determine how political and religious affiliation and practices influence the people's attitudes towards both enemy and friendly operations.
  • Examine efforts to create or increase unrest and dissension among the population. Are the insurgents conducting IO against existing or proposed HN policies and programs?
  • Evaluate how economics and money affect the insurgents' ability to conduct offensive operations. They will influence the populace's active support for or against the insurgency.


4-34. In evaluating the threat in a counterinsurgency environment, intelligence professionals do the following:

  • Identify which insurgent groups are present, thought to be present, or have access to your AO.
    • Is the insurgency linked to a racial, religious, ethnic, or regional base?
    • Does the insurgent organization function through predominately legal means or clandestine operations?
    • What and who constitute the organizational elements of the movement?
  • Identify leaders, trainers, recruiters, staff members, and logistics personnel.
    • Is the leadership clearly defined or do competing actions exist?
    • Is the insurgency affiliated with any political, labor, student, or social organization?
    • What is the philosophy of the leadership?
  • Develop doctrinal templates based on observed operating procedures.
  • Assess and analyze the number of functional specialties within the insurgency. For example, the number of trainers for a specific weapon might indicate the type of tactics, level of readiness, and the number of personnel trained.
  • Determine the types of weapons that the insurgents have at their disposal. Sophisticated weaponry may be an indicator of external support as well as the insurgents' capability to attack important and possibly well-defended targets.
  • Consider the insurgent organization.
    • Does it have a high degree of command and control?
    • What is the level of planning and training within the organization?
  • Analyze movement patterns. Movements may coincide with operational or logistic activities.


4-35. Enemy courses of action might include the following:

  • Attacks and raids on police stations, security forces, military installations, or other HN government and security-related facilities.
  • Attacks on public utility installations (power, water, telephone) or other forms of economic sabotage (pipelines, transmission towers, ports, marketplaces).
  • Kidnapping, murder, or intimidation of public officials (and their families or family members) supporting US or HN forces.
  • Propaganda directed against the populace or local economic leaders (such as shopkeepers and business owners).
  • Ambushes of HN or friendly convoys; kidnapping of drivers and insurgent demands.
  • Attacks on the population.

4-36. Evaluate the most vulnerable locations and facilities that can quickly affect the greatest number of the populace--such as power plants; transmission lines; road, rail and water networks; and local open-air markets--to determine the most likely locations for potential insurgent attacks, sabotage, raids, and roadblocks--most likely insurgent course of action. Insurgent targets and attacks will not be based on a US-style of thinking and application of ethics.

4-37. Use trend and pattern analysis to template, predict, and prioritize insurgent activity to include

  • Movement around potential objectives, such as infiltration or exfiltration routes.
  • Assembly points, rally points, and staging areas.
  • Surveillance positions.
  • Centers of proinsurgent populations. Include an evaluation of individual villages and large political divisions, such as states and provinces.
  • Areas of antigovernment influence and residences of insurgent leadership or key sympathizers.
  • Location of known and suspected base camps.
  • Location of known and suspected training camps.
  • Logistic routes and transshipment hubs.
  • Cache sites, water sources, agricultural areas, and fuel storage and production areas.
  • Locations of communications equipment. Include commercial establishments and government installations where such equipment may be purchased or stolen.
  • Potential ambush sites.


4-38. Insurgents require the support of the local population. That support can be either active or passive. In order to succeed, they must increase the support of the local population in their favor. To defeat the insurgency, US forces assist the local authorities in separating the insurgents from the population and ultimately in gaining the population's active support. If a substantial portion of the population does not actively oppose the insurgency, the insurgents may determine to attack soft targets and purposely inflict civilian casualties to both intimidate the local populace and undermine the legitimacy of HN local authorities.

4-39. Rarely are only two sides involved in modern conflicts. More often, one ethnonational group opposes other groups with conflicting interests. This poses a significantly more complex set of enemy or potential adversaries--entities that leaders must understand. Insurgents try to create conditions to defeat US and HN forces and to slow the support for friendly forces. Increasingly, insurgent groups have no regard for the law of war. They have used human shields, targeted innocent civilians, and occupied religious and health facilities as sanctuaries. These actions and techniques offset US advantages and make it more difficult to locate and defeat the enemy. US reaction to these tactics can also have tremendous propaganda appeal.

4-40. Insurgents develop organizational structures that are functional for their particular operational environment. Because insurgents usually operate in a hostile environment, security is a primary consideration. Therefore, insurgent organizations may be organized both conventionally and unconventionally.

4-41. An unconventional or cellular structure protects members of the organization and allows for better security. Individual elements or cells can operate relatively isolated from other elements or cells, thereby creating increased security. In the event of defection or capture, no one member can identify more than a few others. Some elements within the organization may have multifunction cells that combine several skills into one operational entity, while others create cells of specialists that come together for an operation on an ad hoc basis.

4-42. Due to its unconventional nature, the insurgent threat is difficult to determine and identify. When determining and identifying the insurgent threat, consider the following:

  • Threat staging area. A threat staging area is a geographic area from which insurgent organizations and elements coordinate operations, logistics, finance, and recruiting, as well as stage and plan missions. These areas can be thought of as either the operational or strategic areas in which the group conducts the majority of its "behind-the-scenes" activity, as well as defining the area in which the group has the largest sympathetic base to support its goals.
  • Threat area of operations. Threat AOs are those areas in which an insurgent organization conducts operations against its enemy.
  • Threat objectives. These are long- and short-term insurgent goals that may include but are not limited to --
    • Attracting publicity to the group's cause.
    • Demonstrating the group's power.
    • Demonstrating government and US weakness.
    • Exacting revenge.
    • Obtaining logistic support.
    • Causing a government or US forces to overreact.

4-43. See Annex D for order of battle factors.


4-44. In counterinsurgency operations, threat analysis is a continual process of compiling and examining all available information concerning potential insurgent activities that target elements of the population, local security forces, and facilities or bases. A comprehensive threat analysis reviews the factors of an insurgent's existence, capability, intentions, history, and targeting, as well as the security environment within which friendly forces operate. Threat analysis is an essential step in identifying the probability of insurgent attacks and results in a threat assessment.

4-45. When conducting an insurgency, the threat will normally conform to the five lowintensity imperatives (political dominance, unity of effort, adaptability, legitimacy, and perseverance) (see FM 7-98). Under the conditions of insurgency, the analyst places more emphasis on --

  • Developing population status overlays showing potential hostile areas.
  • Developing an understanding of how each insurgent organization operates and is organized.
  • Determining primary operating or staging areas.
  • Determining mobility corridors and escape routes.
  • Determining the most likely targets.
  • Determining where the threat's logistic facilities are located and how their support organizations operate.
  • Determining the level of popular support (active and passive).
  • Determining the recruiting techniques and methods of each insurgent organization.
  • Locating neutrals and those actively opposing these organizations. Using pattern analysis and other tools to establish links between each insurgent organization and other organizations.
  • Determining the underlying social, political, ideological, and economic issues that caused the insurgency and that are continuing to cause the members of the organization as well as elements of the population to support it.

4-46. As discussed earlier, evaluation of the threat in counterinsurgency operations begins early and covers a wide range of factors in building an accurate threat organizational diagram. In addition to the factors discussed, consider the following:

  • Group collection and intelligence capabilities.
  • Does the actual desired end state differ from that which is publicly advocated? If so, how does that impact operations?
  • Do the insurgents desire a different social or political organization than that which exists under current conditions; if so, what are the differences? How will they conduct operations to achieve that goal?

4-47. Motivation (ideological, religious, monetary). Depending on the echelon, there may be an opportunity to use PSYOP against the group or its support network.


4-48. While identifying the specific structure, leadership, and membership of insurgent organizations is important, it may also be extremely difficult to obtain this information. In the absence of specific information, identifying generalities about the insurgent groups will be of value to the intelligence analyst.

Leader Capabilities

4-49. An insurgent organization capable of exercising C2 over long distances has greater flexibility and reach than an organization that can only operate within the limitations of the leader's interpersonal capabilities.

International and National Support

4-50. Insurgents may receive support from the following sources:

  • Moral. A significant leadership or cultural figure may make pronouncements in support of an organization, activity, or action. This may have the effect of influencing international policy or increasing the success of recruitment efforts.
  • Physical. Physical support includes safe passage, safe houses, documentation, weapons, and training at sites inside the country.
  • Financial. Charities, banks, informal transfer of currency by traveler or courier.
  • Transportation.
  • Religious, political, and ethnic affiliations. Commonalities and differences are significant in terms of estimating potential support or opposition an insurgent organization may receive in a given area. However, in some cultures, such as the Muslim culture, the philosophy that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" may cause strange and unprecedented relationships to form.


4-51. An insurgent organization that recruits from an idealistic and nave upper and middle class will differ significantly from one that recruits from prisons. Some insurgent organizations recruit university students, either to join the movement as operatives and support personnel, or to prepare for future leadership roles. Insurgents recruit lower-level personnel with little or no education because they are more susceptible to insurgent propaganda, although many insurgents come from an upper-middle class background. The impact of target audiences bears directly upon the willingness of the insurgent recruit to fully commit to the cause and to sacrifice self if deemed necessary.


4-52. A thorough analysis of the population within the AO is critical to the execution of successful counterinsurgency operations. Consider the impact the local populace may have on the threat and friendly forces, as well as their location in the AO and area of interest. When analyzing the population, the following are areas to consider:

  • Identify active and passive supporters and why they are supporting.
  • Determine what segment of the general population supports or assists the threat and how.
  • Determine the extent to which the population will support or impede friendly operations.
  • Identify and depict those segments of the population that are friendly or unfriendly toward US/multinational forces.
  • Identify and depict those segments of the population that are pro-government or anti-government.
  • Identify terrorist and/or criminal elements and their relationship to the insurgents and the general population.
  • Determine the availability of weapons to the general population.

4-53. Insurgents move among the local population the way conventional forces move over terrain. The military aspects of terrain (OAKOC; see FM 6-0) may be used to analyze how insurgents might use this "human terrain" to accomplish their objectives.

Observation and Fields of Fire

4-54. Individuals or groups in the population can be co-opted by one side or another to perform a surveillance or reconnaissance function, performing as moving outposts to gather information.

4-55. Local residents have intimate knowledge of the local area. Their observations can provide information and insights about what might otherwise remain a mystery. For instance, residents often know about shortcuts through town. They might also be able to observe and report on a demonstration or meeting that occurs in their area.

4-56. Unarmed combatants might provide targeting intelligence to armed combatants engaged in a confrontation. This was readily apparent in Mogadishu, where unarmed combatants with the ability to observe friendly force activities without the threat of being engaged instructed hidden threat forces on where to fire.

4-57. Deception and adversarial propaganda threats may hinder a clear view of the threat's tactics or intentions.

4-58. Fields of fire can be extremely limited by the presence of noncombatants in a combat zone because restrictive ROE may prohibit firing into a crowd.

4-59. Figuratively, the population or regions within a local area can be identified as nonlethal targets for IO.

Avenues of Approach

4-60. Populations present during operations physically restrict movement and maneuver by limiting or changing the width of avenues of approach.

4-61. People may assist movement if a group can be used as human barriers between one combatant group and another. Refugee flows, for example, can provide a concealed avenue of approach for members of an enemy force.

4-62. A certain individual can provide an avenue of approach to a specific target audience when acting as a "mouthpiece" for an IO mission.

Key Terrain

4-63. The population in counterinsurgency operations is key terrain. This is based on the idea that public opinion and their support or lack thereof can change the course or the aims of a mission. The United States' withdrawal from Somalia following the outcry after seeing a dead Soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu is often used in urban operations literature as an example of the power of an audience. Determining which population or portions of it are key to a mission should not be limited to broad-brush characterizations of large populations, however. Certain sectors or individuals within a population can be as pivotal in modern engagements as a piece of high ground was in past eras, or as the entire US population was in regard to Mogadishu.

4-64. Captured combatants or a well-informed noncombatant can provide valuable information about the enemy. These individuals can be key terrain in terms of the information they can provide

4-65. A group of people that US forces are deployed to protect might be considered key terrain because loss of that group's respect could jeopardize the entire operation.

4-66. Congregated people can be considered key terrain. Whether moving or stationary, a large gathering might be a ripe target for attack, closer observation, or attempts at manipulation.


4-67. One of the largest obstacles to friendly operations is the portion of the population that actively supports the insurgent.

4-68. People conducting their daily activities will often "get in the way" of any type of operation. For instance, curiosity-driven crowds in Haiti often affected patrols by inadvertently forcing units into the middle of the street and pushing them into a single file. No harm was inflicted, but the unit was made move vulnerable to sniper and grenade attacks.

4-69. Strategically, the world audience, as well as its local contingent, can create political, cultural, and ideological obstacles to a mission. The US audience watching events unfold in Vietnam can be understood as an obstacle to the government's strategy of pursuing its strategic objectives. The cultural differences apparent when US forces were deployed for Operation Desert Storm could have been an obstacle if not adequately addressed. For instance, a PSYOP flier produced to encourage a sense of unity among the Arab populations included a picture of two men holding handsa sight not common in Western cultures. A flier designed in accordance with Western standards might not have been as effective.

Cover and Concealment

4-70. Civilian populations provide ubiquitous concealment for nonuniformed forces. Threat forces operating in any part of a local urban area can instantly blend into any type of crowd or activity.

4-71. Threat forces often find cover by operating within a neutral group. For instance, al Qaeda operatives and fighters are able to often move freely among and mix with the rural populace living near Afghanistan-Pakistan border. However, these same people have difficulty remaining nondescript and moving freely among urban populations due to regional differences in their accent, mode of dress, hair and beard styles, and skin pigment. Reportedly, insurgents attempted to move in the company of women and children (acting as family members) and mixed among the populace exiting and entering Fallujah during operations there in spring 2004.



4-72. Human intelligence is the collection by a trained HUMINT collector of foreign information from people and multimedia to identify elements, intentions, composition, strength, dispositions, tactics, equipment, personnel, and capabilities. It uses human sources and a variety of collection methods, both passively and actively, to gather information to satisfy the commander's intelligence requirements and cross-cue other intelligence disciplines (FM 2-0).

4-73. During counterinsurgency operations, the most important information and intelligence will come from the population and those in direct contact with them--HUMINT. The quantity and quality of this information and intelligence will depend on the credibility of the US forces, the continuous security they provide the local population, and their ability to interact with the local population (communicate and establish relationships with members of the local population). Every member of the US force, whether on or off duty, is an informal HUMINT collector and must be aware of the overall intelligence requirements and how their interactions and observations may assist in the intelligence collection plan. This awareness can and should be developed by regular briefings and debriefings.

4-74. Trained HUMINT collectors obtain information from people and multimedia to identify elements, intentions, composition, strength, dispositions, tactics, equipment, personnel, and capabilities within and affecting the local area. HUMINT can assist to establish and more accurately understand the sociocultural characteristics of the local area.

4-75. HUMINT sources can provide early warning of deep-rooted problems awaiting US forces during counterinsurgency operations. HUMINT collectors can conduct debriefings, screenings, liaison, HUMINT contact operations, document exploitation, interrogations, and tactical questioning in support of the commander's intelligence requirements.

4-76. Information provided by HUMINT can greatly assist the intelligence staff in deducing critical patterns, trends, and networks within the local area. HUMINT collection team personnel provide these types of capabilities in support of tactical forces. The S-2/G-2/J-2X coordinates these capabilities between the tactical, operational, and strategic levels, and can provide their units with access to pertinent national level HUMINT.

4-77. Intelligence planning staffs must be aware that battlespace cannot generally be defined in geographical terms for purposes of intelligence collection. This is especially important when determining the allocation of HUMINT assets. Concentrations of humans on the battlefield do not necessarily denote a need to concentrate HUMINT assets in those locations. Threat actions outside a unit's AO may be a source of significant events inside a unit's AO. Additionally, information from sources in one AO may impact operations in a distant AO. Creating arbitrary intelligence boundaries can result in a lack of timely fusion of all critical elements of information that may be available.


4-78. Imagery intelligence is intelligence derived from the exploitation of imagery collected by visual photography, infrared, lasers, multispectral sensors, and radar. These sensors produce images of objects optically, electronically, or digitally on film, electronic display devices, or other media (JP 1-02).

4-79. IMINT has some severe limitations during counterinsurgency operations. Imaging systems cannot distinguish between insurgents masquerading as civilians and the general population. Additionally, imaging systems cannot see through buildings in built-up areas, so low-flying aerial imagery collection platforms often have restricted fields of vision. Likewise they cannot see threats that may be located inside buildings. Additionally, aerial platforms that do not have standoff capabilities may be at risk of being destroyed by local enemy air defense fire

4-80. There are several key advantages that imagery can provide to the commander. UAV imagery may be one of the fastest, least risky methods by which to conduct reconnaissance of specific areas and to update and verify current maps of that area, showing clear routes, obstacles such as damaged and destroyed buildings, and intact and destroyed bridges. The topographical team can use this imagery to create updated mapping products for planning and operational uses.

4-81. Cameras co-located with MASINT systems, such as REMBASS, and activated when those systems are triggered can give the commander additional "eyes on" named areas of interest without wasting manpower by continuously staffing an observation post in those locations.

4-82. Providing patrols with a digital camera or video camera can greatly assist in the debriefing process and allow the intelligence staff personnel to make their own judgments about items of interest that the patrol reports. Videotaping of events, such as a demonstration, can allow analysts who were not on the scene to identify key elements, leaders, and potential indicators to help preclude future incidents. Gun-camera images from aircraft that can provide a stand-off reconnaissance platform may give valuable insight into enemy TTPs. Thermal sights on a vehicle patrolling an urban street late at night may note the hot engine of a vehicle on the side of the road, possibly indicating suspicious activity.

4-83. The Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) can provide such information as the amount of vehicular traffic entering and leaving an area via multiple avenues, which can be useful when trying to determine if the enemy is shifting forces into or out of a specific region, or if there is a covert attempt to exfiltrate or infiltrate the region via lesserused avenues. This could include monitoring traffic crossing international borders.

4-84. The National Geospatial Agency can provide a wide range of imagery products for use prior to and during operations in the urban environment. These products are usually easier to obtain prior to deployment and are often critical to the initial planning stages of an operation.


4-85. Signals intelligence is a category of intelligence comprising either individually or in combination all communications intelligence, electronic intelligence, and foreign instrumentation signals intelligence, however transmitted; intelligence is derived from communications, electronics, and foreign instrumentation signals (JP 1-02). SIGINT has three subcategories:

  • Communications intelligence. The intelligence derived from foreign communications by other than the intended recipients (JP 1-02).
  • Electronic intelligence. Technical and geolocation intelligence derived from foreign non-communications electromagnetic radiations emanating from other than nuclear detonations or radioactive sources (JP 1-02)
  • Foreign instrumentation signals intelligence. Technical information and intelligence derived from the intercept of foreign electromagnetic emissions associated with the testing and operational deployment of non-US aerospace, surface, and subsurface systems. Foreign instrumentation signals intelligence is a subcategory of signals intelligence. Foreign instrumentation signals include but are not limited to telemetry, beaconry, electronic interrogators, and video data links (JP 1-02).

4-86. SIGINT is of value whenever there is any form of electronic emission, whether from communications (such as hand-held or citizen's band radios and mobile phones), combat net radio transmissions, or for other purposes such as the radio control of explosive devices or use of radar for surface-to-air missile guidance. The easy availability of high-tech communications and monitoring equipment now allows most nations to have a relatively sophisticated SIGINT capability.

4-87. Insurgent groups may use unencrypted, low-power, communications systems to conduct local operations. Ground-based SIGINT collection assets must be properly positioned in advance to be certain that they can obtain the best possible intelligence from these sources.

4-88. Collection of unencrypted threat signals can provide key indicators for threat courses of action. Patterns in the amount of known enemy encrypted signals provide indications of specific threat courses of action. Because of signal bounce within urban areas, direction-finding capabilities for all SIGINT collection systems are significantly impaired. During counterinsurgency operations, it may be possible for the local authorities to monitor local telephone lines and provide relevant information they collect to US forces. Likewise, it may be possible for US forces to tip off local national authorities as to what telephone numbers may yield valuable intelligence.


4-89. MASINT is technically derived intelligence that detects, locates, tracks, identifies, or describes the specific characteristics of fixed and dynamic target objects and sources. It also includes the additional advanced processing and exploitation of data derived from IMINT and SIGINT collection.

4-90. MASINT provides important intelligence at the tactical level. Systems such as ground surveillance radars have limited uses in the urban environments because of the lack of wideopen spaces in which they most effectively operate. For that same reason, they can cover large, open areas that are possible avenues of approach or infiltration/exfiltration routes within a unit's AO. Systems such as REMBASS and the Platoon Early Warning Device can play a primary role in monitoring many of the numerous avenues of approach that cannot be covered by human observers due to manpower constraints. REMBASS can monitor avenues such as subterranean passageways (or entrances and exits to such passageways), entrances and exits on buildings, fire escapes on buildings, base camp perimeters, and traffic flow along routes (especially foot trails that may be used to infiltrate and exfiltrate personnel and equipment between urban and rural areas).


4-91. CI is focused on countering adversary intelligence collection activities against US forces. During counterinsurgency operations, CI personnel primarily investigate adversary intelligence collection threats and provide force protection assistance. In conjunction with HUMINT collections, CI agents conduct screening operations to identify personnel that may be of CI interest or have CI leads. CI screening is also conducted during the process of hiring HN citizens (such as linguists). CI investigations and operations may cross-cue the other intelligence disciplines and may in term be cross-cued by the other disciplines. CI personnel work in conjunction with military police, engineers, and medical service personnel to create threat vulnerability assessments that provide commanders and leaders with a comprehensive force protection assessment.

4-92. CI personnel provide analysis of the adversary's HUMINT, IMINT, SIGINT, and MASINT capabilities in support of intelligence collection, terrorism, and sabotage in order to develop countermeasures against them. CI analytical products are important tools in course of action development in the military decision making process.

4-93. CI technical services that may be available and of use during counterinsurgency operations include surveillance, computer network operations (assisting in protecting US information and information systems while exploiting and/or attacking adversary information and information systems), technical surveillance countermeasures (identifying technical collection activities being carried out by adversary intelligence entities), IO, and counter-signals intelligence. As with scouts and reconnaissance patrols, CI teams are most effective when linguist support is provided.


4-94. ISR tasks are the actions of the intelligence collection effort. ISR tasks consist of three categories:

  • Intelligence.
  • Surveillance.
  • Reconnaissance.

4-95. Developing the counterinsurgency operational ISR plan is different from developing the plan supporting conventional operations. Due to the unconventional nature of the counterinsurgency environment, the ISR effort will be significantly more complex in combining and integrating HUMINT collectors and surveillance assets with the capabilities and tasks of limited ISR-assigned assets as well as integrating with interagency resources. Techniques must be modified for every operation to accomplish ISR requirements--each operation is unique. Additionally, local, national, and multinational ISR assets must be integrated into the overall ISR plan at both the local, district, and regional levels.

4-96. The key to successful ISR efforts is the integration of all ISR-capable units, local and HN government and interagency organizations throughout the entire operations process (plan, prepare, execute, and assess). The coordinated actions of the entire staff to develop the threat and environment portion of the common operational picture are key to providing successful ISR support to the commander. (For information on reconnaissance and surveillance tasks, see FM 7-15.)

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