The Army has conducted reconnaissance and surveillance tasks since its inception. The production of intelligence (the product resulting from the collection, processing, integration, analysis, evaluation, and interpretation of available information concerning an enemy force or area of operation) has always been critical to successfully accomplishing the mission. ISR is the term currently applied to a combined arms enabling operation that combines what has previously been described as reconnaissance and surveillance (a maneuver or collection task) with the production and dissemination of intelligence (a staff task). ISR is a constant, continuous, and optimized operation that focuses on the collection of relevant information that is analyzed to create intelligence to support the commander's and or leader's situational understanding and the operational cycle.
     This chapter is intended to serve as a guide to understanding the ISR operation and its associated planning process. Staff planners need to understand the relationships between IPB, collection management, and the decision-making process to successfully plan effective ISR operations. The information presented in this chapter is arranged and discussed sequentially to reflect the order of these processes.


Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations are used to collect information about the enemy, terrain, weather, and other aspects of the AO that will affect friendly combat operations.


Within the SBCT, ISR combines the product (intelligence) with the information-gathering actions of reconnaissance and surveillance. ISR operations are conducted to answer information requirements (for example, confirmation or denial of enemy courses of action, targeting information) and maintain the SBCT common operational picture. Additionally, ISR goes a step further to facilitate situational understanding. Where reconnaissance and surveillance answered the "what," "where," and "when" on the battlefield, ISR has the additional requirement of answering "why." The two primary organic ISR elements of the SBCT are the cavalry squadron (RSTA) and the MI company.

a.   While not mutually exclusive, the following characteristics describe successful ISR operations:

  • Enabling operation.
  • Combined arms operation.
  • CCIR-focused.
  • Continuous operation.
  • Facilitates commander's visualization and decision-making.
  • Facilitates the application of the other four elements of combat power.
  • Orients on the area of operations.
  • Requires a staff or analysis capability.

b.   The ISR process is driven by IPB and centers on the commander's information requirements. The ISR synchronization matrix serves as the baseline for ISR operations and as a guide for preparation of the ISR OPORD. The SBCT staff develops and monitors the ISR tasking matrix, with input from commanders and other staff members. The SBCT S3 and staff, in conjunction with the cavalry squadron (RSTA), develop the ISR OPORD, and the commanders implement it. The ISR OPORD must be synchronized with current and future operations. The ISR OPORD must provide for the rapid shifting and diversion of resources as the situation develops or alters or as tasks and requirements are satisfied.

c.   The IPB process is integral to the development of the ISR plan. The IPB process will not be discussed in detail in this chapter. FM 34-130, FM 34-2-1, and FM 34-80 contain additional information on the IPB process, collection management, and ISR planning.


The SBCT XO or S3 should designate an ad hoc ISR planning cell to conduct planning and dissemination of ISR orders. In the past, development of the ISR plan habitually fell on the SBCT S2 since he normally coordinated ISR assets and was the primary user of ISR products. With the advent of national and tactical intelligence sensors, an increased emphasis is being placed on the S2 and his ability to fuse both national and tactical intelligence to target enemy units and disseminate the results. This will allow the commander to place indirect fires on the enemy to impede, harass, or attrit him, then employ maneuver forces to destroy him.

a.   S2. The SBCT S2 and S3 must work in concert with the entire staff and cavalry squadron (RSTA) to identify collection requirements and implement the ISR plan. The S2 determines collection requirements and develops the ISR matrix with input from the staff BOS representatives and continues to work with the staff planners to develop the ISR order.

(1)   The S2 section coordinates with subordinate units, primarily the cavalry squadron (RSTA), infantry battalions, and MI company in development of the ISR plan in order to meet the needs of the subordinates and the commander. Coordination with higher headquarters is essential to ensure that higher collection tasks are met and that the ISR effort at all echelons is integrated.

(2)   The S2 and S2x identify those ISR assets (HUMINT, imagery intelligence [IMINT], measurement and signatures intelligence [MASINT], or signals intelligence [SIGINT]) which can provide answers to the commander's PIR and CCIR. Assets required to answer the commander's intelligence requirements may be tasked within the SBCT or they may be requested through the SBCT S2 to the G2 at division, joint task force (JTF) headquarters, adjacent units, and cooperating forces.

b.   S3. The S3 is the primary ISR integrator within the SBCT. He coordinates and directs the ISR operations planning and execution. Through the plans cell, the S3 collaboratively plans the ISR operation and ensures its synchronization with the full support of all the SBCT's capabilities. The S3 should appoint a battle captain from the S3 section as the ISR battle captain, whose sole duty is to implement, track, and synchronize support to and for ISR operations.

c.   ISR Battle Captain. The battle captain works closely with the S2, collection manager, and cavalry squadron (RSTA) staff planners during execution of the ISR operation. He must, therefore, have a total understanding of all intelligence gathering assets, their tasks, and status. On execution of the ISR OPORD, he monitors task compliance and, as required, works with the S2 and collection manager to ensure that all intelligence gaps and requirements are covered by an ISR asset. For example, he may re-task assets to observe a named area of interest (NAI) which cannot be covered by an in-place asset (such as a RSTA reconnaissance platoon) due to restrictive terrain, or he may re-task assets to replace a destroyed collector. The battle captain must understand the functionality of the digital systems with which he will work as well as the automated tools at his disposal to accomplish ISR synchronization. (See FM 2-19.401/ST, Digital Brigade Intelligence Operations, Chapter 2.) He should have the authority to coordinate, task, and support ISR assets as required; he monitors the implementation of the current ISR order, directing changes as required.

d.   Fires and Effects Coordination Cell. The FECC coordinates the lethal and non-lethal effects that will support the conduct of the SBCT's ISR operations. Early positioning of assets in the ISR planning process is critical and should be treated as a battle drill within the unit's tactical SOP for ISR operations.

e.   Maneuver Support Cell. The SBCT commander will often require information concerning the trafficability of roads, bridges, and urban areas. The maneuver support cell must be able to not only support the units conducting ISR operations but also direct subject matter experts to answer information requirements for the commander.

f.   S4. The S4 directs and synchronizes the logistical support of the SBCT ISR operation.

g.   BSB. The BSB positions assets to support the cavalry squadron (RSTA) and other SBCT assets conducting ISR operations within the AO. These include emergency classes of supply (such as Class III, Class IV) and medical assets.


ISR operations require a continuous, collaborative, and parallel planning process between the SBCT staff and the cavalry squadron (RSTA) and MICO. The following paragraphs present a generic outline of how this collaboration could work.

a.   Upon receiving initial ISR guidance from the brigade (for example, general concept of the impending mission, initial information requirements, time constraints), the cavalry squadron (RSTA) staff identifies the tools and techniques required to answer PIR and CCIR for the brigade commander. In collaboration with the SBCT staff, it integrates other brigade assets into an overall ISR plan. That plan forms the basis for the squadron internal OPORD and drives early employment of RSTA and brigade assets to answer information requirements that are then fed back into the MDMP to refine and focus the emerging SBCT operation order. Critical to successful ISR operations is the early identification of information requirements within the MDMP cycle. These requirements may change over time, but the SBCT's ISR assets (for example, the cavalry squadron [RSTA]) will be postured to adjust to the changing information demands.

b.   In order to support an ISR OPORD, the initial ISR plan is developed early during the decision-making process (Figure 3-1). The ISR plan for the next operation should be developed for implementation as a portion of the later phases of the current operation. Time is the critical factor. The all source analysis system-remote work station (ASAS-RWS), maneuver control system (MCS), and other digital systems greatly enhance the SBCT's ability to conduct parallel planning to assist in overcoming the time limitations placed on the staff. The RSTA and other assets must receive the SBCT plan early enough to conduct their own planning and rehearsals to achieve the desired results.

c.   The SBCT commander must be intimately involved in the ISR planning process and must quickly and clearly articulate his CCIR to the staff. He charges the XO, S3, S2, and other key staff officers with preparation of the ISR plan and development and dissemination of the ISR OPORD (Figure 3-2). Once the ISR plan is formulated and the ISR OPORD executed, the CCIR and PIR drive any modifications needed to answer intelligence requirements. If required, modifications to the ISR OPORD will be identified by the S2 and staff and executed by the S3.

d.   From an ISR perspective, ISR planners need to know what intelligence assets (for example, sensors) are available to them as well as their capabilities and limitations in fulfilling needed intelligence requirements since these are critical to successful ISR operations. See Section IV for a list of collectors, processors, and dissemination systems available to the SBCT in support of ISR operations.

e.   ISR operation planning requires several subtle changes from the historical reconnaissance and surveillance planning conducted by legacy forces. Once the SBCT commander perceives or receives a new mission, he and the SBCT staff develop the initial information requirements to support it. This guidance is delivered to the cavalry squadron (RSTA) as soon as it is available and may or may not be formally published in a WARNO. The SBCT S2 conducts an initial assessment of the initial requirements to determine what SBCT-level assets (MICO, S2x, for example) can fill them. Requirements appropriate for the assets of the cavalry squadron (RSTA) and MICO are forwarded for their refinement and planning.

Figure 3-1. The ISR decision-making process.

Figure 3-1.  The ISR decision-making process.

Figure 3-2. The planning cycle.

Figure 3-2.  The planning cycle.

3-4. ISSUE the WARNO

The commander and his staff need not wait until planning is completed before issuance of the WARNO. Operations can commence with minimal information needed to set the operation in motion and details related to the operations provided in the ISR OPORD. The WARNO should include a sufficient amount of detail related to ISR activities to allow ISR planning to commence and allow the squadron and battalion commanders to begin their planning process (MDMP). At a minimum the WARNO provided to the cavalry squadron (RSTA), infantry battalions, MICO, and attached ISR assets should include the task organization, the zone or AO the ISR assets will operate in, CCIR, and an initial location of any critical operations identified by the commander. If this information is not available at the time the WARNO is issued, the S3 may prepare and issue a second WARNO.


After receiving the WARNO, the cavalry squadron (RSTA) commander and staff then develop a more detailed ISR plan. This should be accomplished in a collaborative manner with the SBCT plans cell, allowing the plan to develop as an SBCT operation. Once the plan is completed, it is recommended that an ISR planning meeting be held (either virtually or in person) at the SBCT level. This will allow the SBCT staff (under the direction of the XO or S3) to integrate and synchronize the cavalry squadron (RSTA) plan at the SBCT level. All members of the SBCT staff should be represented at the meeting to provide for a true combined arms effort focused on answering the SBCT commander's information requirements.

a.   Once the ISR plan is completed, it is communicated to the SBCT in the form of a WARNO. The order should not be tied to a specific timeline within the SBCT's planning process, as its publication will be situation dependent. However, the ISR plan must be communicated to provide for enough time to posture the SBCT's assets to support the information needed for COA development and analysis. This would normally require the issuance of the order prior to the SBCT's mission analysis brief to the commander. As CCIR and other information requirements are answered and changed, the SBCT plans cell and cavalry squadron (RSTA) staff adjust the ongoing ISR operation to support the new needs.

(1)   Once the adjustments are made (such as new NAIs, changes in effects support, movement of logistical assets), the SBCT plans cell publishes it as an additional WARNO. To those units already executing the ISR operation, this order may appear more as a FRAGO; however, within the SBCT planning process it remains a WARNO. These orders are published as necessary to maintain the ISR operational focus of the SBCT. They include the ISR instructions found within the SBCT's OPORD.

(2)   ISR operations continue throughout the SBCT's execution of the mission and are re-focused based on the SBCT commander's informational needs that support his current decision-making and those needs that will drive the next mission (Figure 3-2). The SBCT XO or S3 must ensure that, as the ISR focus shifts, it does not lose its combined arms nature at the SBCT level.

b.   The OPORD should include the commander's guidance, TAIs, NAIs, PIR, and or specific information requirements (SIR), tentative locations of critical observation posts (OPs), known friendly and enemy obstacles, and tasking requirements for specific ISR assets. The OPORD will establish boundaries, AOs, or "limits of responsibility," movement instructions, and where subordinate units can conduct ISR operations. It may also direct subordinate units to secure their AO from enemy observation and prepare for enemy reconnaissance forces entering their sector. It also must contain the necessary synchronization at the SBCT level to ensure a combined arms effort is generated.

c.   Key elements of successful ISR operations are their continuous nature and the ability of units and collectors to rapidly transition from one mission or phase to the next. Plans must anticipate and address the sustainment and rapid reconstitution of ISR assets. Some operations may permit reconstitution after each phase or during redeployment as units are retasked. Some plans may provide for early relief from low priority missions, echeloning, sequencing, or phasing of ISR assets to permit reconstitution or placing assets in reserve in order for them to adequately prepare for the next mission or phase of the operation.

d.   Additionally, ISR operations must be supported by indirect fires, and this requires the development of a detailed fires and effects plan. Positioning, ammunition requirements, and the reconstitution needs of the SBCT's fire support assets must also be considered and included in the plan.

3-6. The ISR Overlay

The ISR overlay (digital or hard copy) is the ISR plan in graphic form (Figure 3-3). The purpose of the ISR overlay is to show both the assets and the key staff officers exactly where the ISR assets are operating. Overlay graphics and symbols can be extracted from FM 101-5-1.

a.   There are two parts to the ISR overlay. The first part is the graphic display of deployed or planned deployment of ISR assets. The second part is the marginal data consisting of the legend, administrative data, specific instructions to each asset, and the distribution list. (Refer to FM 34-2-1 for specifics.) The ISR overlay, at a minimum, should contain:

  • Friendly boundaries.
  • Limits of responsibilities.
  • NAIs, TAIs, CAS target boxes (CTB), field artillery (FA)/mortar targets.
  • Current and planned fire support coordination measures (FSCMs).
  • Start points, release points, checkpoints.
  • Infiltration routes, exfiltration routes, and resupply routes.
  • Known friendly and enemy obstacles, natural obstacles, restrictive terrain, and gaps.
  • Graphics depicting zone, area, or route reconnaissance.
  • Primary, alternate, and supplementary positions.
  • Sectors of scan for sensors.
  • Restricted operations zone (ROZ), air corridors, and other A2C2 control measures.

DRAFT Figure 3-3. Revised overlay figure.

DRAFT Figure 3-3. Revised overlay figure.

b.   After the ISR assets deploy to collect against their NAIs, onboard precision lightweight global positioning system receivers (PLGRs) and or global positioning system (GPS) are used to automatically update their location. Upon receipt of this information, the SBCT staff sections and subordinate commanders will update their digital maneuver, CS, and CSS overlays in their respective digital systems.


Fratricide from indirect fires is a major danger to ISR assets operating forward of the forward edge of battle area (FEBA) or in non-contiguous AOs. Unit SOPs for reporting, tracking, and establishing restrictive fire support coordinating measures are required to protect ISR assets from friendly fire.



The ISR plan is never a finished product. Like the collection plan, it undergoes continuous revision as dictated by changes to the situation or modification of the commander's PIR and or IR. However minor the adjustments might be, the basis of the plan is formed from the thorough analysis of the decision support template (DST) and the commander's CCIR.


Collection management synchronizes the activities of the SBCT's information-gathering assets to provide intelligence to the SBCT commander needed to confirm his COA selection and targeting requirements. Integral to this process is the S2 collection manager, who acquires the information that satisfies the commander's intelligence requirements within timelines that support operational decisions. The S2, in coordination with the S3 and the staff, ensures all available collection resources are providing the required intelligence information and recommends adjustments to asset locations, if required.


Intelligence requirements generally focus on meeting the commander's intelligence needs in order to—

  • Prevent surprise.
  • Support war gaming and planning.
  • Support decisions related to friendly COAs.
  • Engage high payoff targets in support of friendly COA.

Collection management is cyclic in nature. At SBCT and battalion level, the S2, collection manager (in concert with the S3), and staff will follow the steps listed below to develop and refine the intelligence collection plan.

a.   Step 1. Develop Requirements. This step involves the identification, prioritization, and refinement of uncertainties concerning the enemy and battlefield environment that must be resolved to accomplish the SBCT mission. The overall purpose of this step is to receive, analyze, and prioritize the intelligence requirements from higher, subordinate, and adjacent units.

(1)   The IPB process facilitates the identification of unknowns related to weather, terrain, and the enemy (disposition, organization, equipment). What is known about the enemy has targeting implications and may result in identifying TAIs; what is not known has reconnaissance implications and may require development of NAIs to focus and control reconnaissance activities. The gaps in this knowledge will generate information requirements, which form the basis of the commander's CCIR. Normally, these gaps are identified during mission analysis in the decision-making process. The commander's guidance given at the end of the mission analysis brief provides directions to the SBCT staff. He also provides the staff with his intent for the operation and the CCIR that support his intent.

(2)   The commander states PIR and IR, or they are recommended by the staff and approved by the commander. PIR and IR provide focus to the collection plan. For example, a PIR may be to determine that the enemy has selected a COA. When answered, this requirement provides the commander with the time to make decisions and maneuver or execute the desired effects inside the enemy's decision cycle.

(3)   The SBCT commander's intent for fires, mobility, or other battlefield effects and the SBCT's deep battle plan provide additional requirements that must be included in the ISR plan. The identification and attack of HPTs requires the establishment of TAIs; targets; observation posts; and the assignment of assets to find, engage, and provide battle damage assessments (BDAs). The results of these fires also provide valuable information and help the commander to make timely decisions.

(4)   When the staff receives intelligence requirements from higher, subordinate, and adjacent units, it should prioritize and consolidate them with the commander's PIR. Once all requirements have been identified, they are converted into specific taskings for ISR assets. When a requirement cannot be feasibly collected by a collection asset, the S2 must provide an explanation to the requester.

b.   Step 2. Develop ISR Synchronization Plan. This step involves the selection, integration, and synchronization of the best ISR collectors to cover each intelligence collection requirement based on resource availability and capability. With the linkage of ISR sensors through force XXI battle command brigade and below (FBCB2) and other digital systems, the SBCT S2 can develop and disseminate a timely and highly accurate picture of the enemy. Integration and synchronization are accomplished through development and refinement of the ISR matrix. This matrix is the graphic representation of the SBCT's collection strategy and the assets used to execute that strategy. During this step, staff representatives, the collection manager, the ISR analysis and integration platoons, and the SBCT's FECC initiate a close working interface related to mission management. The S2 collection manager is the resident expert on collector capabilities and limitations and knows the status and availability of collectors and processors. These may be organic to the SBCT, may be coordinated through division or JTF, or may be digitally downlinked to the ISR integration platoon's command ground station (CGS).

c.   Step 3. Task or Request Collection. This step involves the implementation of the intelligence collection plan through execution of system-specific taskings or requests for collection. The tasking process provides the selected collection unit with specific, prioritized requirements. The staff becomes intimately involved in the intelligence collection process. The ISR OPORD is the tool that identifies the SBCT commander's collection strategy to higher, subordinate, and adjacent units. When collection tasks or requests are passed to units, they must provide specific details that clearly define the collection requirement and make sense to the collector. These requirements are—

  • Clearly defined collection requirements in either pre-formatted taskings or free text messages.
  • Latest time the information is of value.
  • Reporting instructions (format).
  • When and how long to collect.

d.   Step 4. Disseminate. This step involves the delivery of intelligence, combat information, and targeting data to the user who requested or needs it. Digitization allows a very high volume of data to be received, correlated, analyzed, and viewed graphically. With digitization, information can be disseminated to flow directly from the collector or processor to the requester in near real-time. Information must be passed from collector to analytical elements for rapid fusion, evaluation, and analysis. Critical information/intelligence must be rapidly identified and disseminated to avoid becoming filtered out or lost in a database. In addition, information not relevant to the SBCT's information needs only clogs the system and serves to slow the processing and dissemination process. Direct dissemination is especially important for intelligence that supports maneuver decisions and targeting efforts. The S2 must determine which information to send the consumer/user based on individual need, security requirements, and data perishability. Information must be distributed as soon as possible via voice, FBCB2, MCS, ASAS-RWS, or any other BOS digital systems. See FM 34-2, Collection Management and Synchronization Planning, for dissemination techniques and methods.


The optimal mix is to send graphics and or text immediately via digital means with a notice that voice clarification can be accomplished if the digital traffic is not understood. Under all circumstances, it is important to ensure that the recipient received the information sent.

e.   Step 5. Evaluate Reporting. Step five determines how well the ISR systems are satisfying the SBCT's intelligence requirements as well as those of subordinate, adjacent, and higher units. The S2, in coordination with the ISR analysis and integration platoons, must continually evaluate information produced as a result of the ISR collection process to ensure it is satisfying the commander's PIR and or IR. It is important to determine if the collection asset is accurately reporting what it sees based on its capabilities and if the report answers the original question. If the PIR and or IR are not being answered, and based on the S2's recommendation, the S3 may task the relocation of sensors or the collection manager will request support from higher headquarters to answer specific information requirements. The objective is to fully satisfy intelligence requirements in a timely manner while keeping the intelligence system fully synchronized. It is vitally important that both the S3 and the S2 collection manager remain aware of the status of collection systems and the requirements levied on them. Additionally, it is imperative to determine when collection requirements have been satisfied or are no longer of value. Units and collectors tasked with obsolete or outdated requirements can then be identified as available for other collection requirements.

f.   Step 6. Update Collection Planning. As the current tactical situation changes, adjustments to the overall collection plan are made to keep intelligence efforts synchronized to optimize collection and exploitation capability. Intelligence requirements are constantly updated to ensure that intelligence gathering efforts are synchronized with current operations while also supporting future operations planning. As PIR and IR are answered, the ISR collection plan/synchronization matrix is updated. The collectors are repositioned and or re-focused to begin answering other intelligence questions.

3-8. The Reconnaissance and Surveillance Tasking Matrix

It is important to include detailed instructions for each ISR collector shown on the overlay. The ISR tasking matrix is the tool used. Figure 3-4, shows an example of an ISR tasking matrix.

a.   The first column shows the priority of each mission and depicts which ones are the commander's PIR.

b.   The next column provides the asset with terrain focus through the NAI number or grid coordinate.

c.   The start/stop column informs the asset of the times for the mission.

d.   The SIR column explains to the assets exactly what they are to obtain, look, or listen for (target).

e.   The next set of columns lists the unit or assets tasked to conduct each mission. An "X" placed under an asset identifies the tasking.

f.   The coordination column tells the assets which units to coordinate with for the mission.

g.   The last column provides the assets with reporting requirements.


DRAFT Figure 3-4. Sample ISR tasking matrix.



Regardless of the type of CP or tactical operations center, each must be able to record and display the combat information and intelligence received from higher, subordinate, and adjacent units. Additionally, the CP or TOC must assist with the dissemination of time sensitive targeting- and decision-focused information.


The CP and or TOC must have an ability to quickly process the information, record and post it, and disseminate critical information needed by users to enhance their battle planning and decision-making.

a.   The SBCT ISR plan and PIR provide the commander with the capability to anticipate the enemy's intent and maintain the initiative on the battlefield. The staff must be able to track the battle using its digitized systems and automated tools to provide the commander timely and pertinent information.

b.   Information flow between staff members and subordinate units begins upon the receipt of information. With digitization, information can be quickly shared at all command levels and among all staff members. Digitization enhances the ease by which the primary and special staff can conduct war gaming, coordinate and synchronize actions, and conduct needed cross talk prior to and during battle. The unit must develop SOPs that promote intra- and inter-staff operations and negate duplication of effort and information. The commander must be provided accurate and timely information on which to base his combat decisions.

3-10. Receive and Record the Message

The SBCT and battalion CPs receive combat information from top down and bottom up communications feeds.

a.   At the battalion level, the bottom up feeds will generally be supplied via FBCB2 in the form of spot and or size, activity, location, unit, time, and equipment (SALUTE) reports. Both top down and bottom up intelligence and combat information are fused by the S2 in concert with the ISR analysis platoon. This intelligence information is then provided immediately to the user, ASAS-RWS, or other C2 INFOSYS.

b.   For those subordinate units that are not digitally equipped, voice or message traffic will be used to provide needed intelligence or intelligence updates.

c.   BDA is an important part of the battletracking and recording process. The results of the BDA are integral to the S2's assessments of enemy strength and ability to sustain combat operations. When the requirement within a PIR concerns an HPT, the collector must ensure that post-strike battle damage is assessed and accurately reported. If the collector observing the target area is unable to provide the BDA due to METT-TC factors, the S3 tasks another collector to assess the resultant damage.

3-11. Filter THE Information

In a digitized environment, all commanders and staff officers at SBCT and battalion level can expect to receive voluminous amounts of data prior to, during, and after the start of battle. Procedures must be in place to filter critical information. The battle captain, along with the S2 and the ISR analysis and integration platoons, plays a key role in this process. He must be able to quickly review incoming combat information, sort it according to criticality and user need, and prioritize it for integration and fusion. The ASAS-RWS can be used to track the commander's PIR and will automatically alert the operator when information is received regarding PIR specifics. In addition, TOC personnel must be aware of the CCIR. CCIR consist of EEFI, friendly force information requirements (FFIR), and PIR. CCIR, when answered, require an immediate alert to the commander.

3-12. Post the Information

As the situation develops, the S2 will monitor the enemy situation and update the COP to assist the commanders with their battle evaluation and decision-making. The S2 is also responsible for providing friendly units with the enemy situation via MCS or FBCB2. The S3 is responsible for providing the friendly relevant picture of the battlefield to the S2 via MCS. Units must develop SOPs which clearly define the who, what, when, where, and how combat information will be tracked, posted, and disseminated. The conventional map with overlays will serve as a backup for battletracking and posting of combat information. However, the conventional map and other manual displays may not need to be meticulously posted if the enemy picture resides in the ASAS-RWS database.

3-13. Disseminate the Information

Answers obtained to the PIR require immediate dissemination. These answers often influence the commander's decision-making process and force employment. This information can be digitally transmitted and received both horizontally and vertically between the C2 INFOSYS and FBCB2 via the TI. The user of the information received must be aware that the information when collected was in near real-time and must evaluate the value and validity of the data in terms of current events. To prevent information bottleneck, it is the SBCT S2's responsibility to develop procedures and close working ties with the analytical control team (ACT) so that combat information is quickly filtered, analyzed, fused, and disseminated by the fastest means possible to all users within the SBCT. While fused intelligence may be the best intelligence, partially analyzed or raw intelligence may serve to cue the commander as to enemy intentions that were not previously addressed during the war gaming process.

3-14. Modify the ISR PLAN

Whether modifying reporting requirements because of new reporting criteria, new or modified PIR, loss of an asset, or changes in mission, the S2 (in concert with the ISR analysis and integration platoons) must be ready to modify the ISR plan to fit the commander's needs. Modifications to the ISR OPORD will be identified and executed by the XO or S3. During modification of the ISR plan, the following considerations should be addressed:

  • What collection assets need to be shifted?
  • What is the new collection requirement (for example, focus)?
  • What is the target location?
  • Must the collector move to a new location?
  • What is the risk in moving the collector? Is it worth the potential information to be gained?
  • Does the collector functionally match the collection requirement based on
  • What and when does the collector report?
  • How does the collector report?
  • Who does the collector report to?

Situation templates (SITEMPs) updated during previous battle phases can be used as a baseline for re-focusing the ISR effort. ISR assets are re-tasked as appropriate for follow-on missions.


Reconnaissance is a focused operation to gather timely and accurate information about enemy forces and the terrain within a specific area. The SBCT, as part of higher headquarters operations, may be assigned reconnaissance missions. The most likely missions for the SBCT are reconnaissance in force and zone reconnaissance. As part of all SBCT operations, the SBCT commander may assign any of the reconnaissance missions to a subordinate unit. Reconnaissance planning and execution in support of SBCT operations is discussed in Chapter 2, Battle Command, and Chapter 4, Offensive Operations.


A reconnaissance in force is a deliberate, limited objective attack by at least a battalion-size force. It uses the method of aggressive reconnaissance, augmenting other ISR assets to obtain information about the enemy. Reconnaissance in force locates and tests the disposition, strength, intention, and reactions of an enemy force. However, as part of a reconnaissance in force, other units may infiltrate enemy positions and conduct reconnaissance. A reconnaissance in force may be assigned when the commander desires more specific information on the enemy and when this information cannot be gathered by any other means.

a.   Organization. The lack of information about the enemy force may dictate that the SBCT organize a force that is large enough and strong enough to sufficiently develop the situation, protect the force, cause the enemy to react, and put the enemy at some risk. Based on these requirements, the SBCT may be tasked by a higher headquarters (or the SBCT may task a subordinate unit) to conduct a reconnaissance in force. A reconnaissance in force is normally conducted as a movement to contact or a series of attacks across a broad frontage. It may also consist of a series of strong, but small, offensive actions to test the enemy's reactions at selected points in his disposition. The enemy's reaction, or lack thereof, may reveal a weakness. However, the SBCT commander must also recognize that the reconnaissance in force may lead to an engagement of his forces under unfavorable conditions, and it may also reveal future friendly plans to the enemy. For these reasons, the SBCT must produce a plan that provides sufficient detail about the extrication of forces and the exploitation of success.

b.   Exploitation of Gaps or Weak Points. If the reconnaissance in force finds a gap or a weak point in the enemy's disposition, the higher headquarters must be prepared to immediately exploit that weakness. The SBCT commander can exploit the situation by directing the unit conducting the reconnaissance in force to continue the attack, or he may commit additional forces to pass through and continue the attack.

c.   Task of Reconnaissance in Force. A unit conducting a reconnaissance in force performs the following tasks within the limits of its capabilities:

  • Penetrates the enemy's security zone to determine its size and depth.
  • Determines the strength and disposition of the enemy main battle area (MBA) positions.
  • Attacks enemy positions and attempts to cause the enemy to react by using local reserves or counterattack routes and forces, employing fire support assets, adjusting positions, and employing specific weapon systems.
  • Determines weaknesses in the enemy's dispositions that can be exploited.

d.   Planning Considerations. The plan for conducting a reconnaissance in force must include—

  • Defined objectives.
  • Commander's intent.
  • Limitations (to include a limit of advance).
  • Augmentation of additional combat and ISR assets.
  • Risk specified in terms of friendly strengths and operational reach.
  • Key terrain to seize, to retain, or to control.
  • Actions for the commitment of follow-on forces.
  • Control measures such as boundaries, objectives, and phase lines to focus the operation.
  • Known and templated obstacles.


Zone reconnaissance is a directed effort to obtain detailed information concerning all routes, obstacles, terrain, and enemy forces within an AO. A zone reconnaissance is assigned when the enemy situation is vague or when information concerning cross-country mobility, not along a specified axis of advance, is desired. The SBCT commander, through his intent, may focus the reconnaissance on the enemy, the terrain, or a combination of the two. Zone reconnaissance is a precursor to subsequent combat operations.

a.   Time-Consuming Operation. A zone reconnaissance is a deliberate, time-consuming process; it takes more time than any other reconnaissance mission. If time is a constraining factor to accomplishing the zone reconnaissance, the SBCT commander must focus his reconnaissance particularly at the enemy or other objectives defined by the higher commander. Each situation requires a certain minimum time for adequate reconnaissance and an acceptable level of risk. The commander must direct the pace of operations based on his risk analysis.

b.   SBCT-Level Zone Reconnaissance. An SBCT-level zone reconnaissance is normally force-oriented. A force-oriented zone reconnaissance will not spend time collecting data about bridges or fords unless specifically directed or required to do so. The SBCT should direct its reconnaissance efforts to find all of the elements that satisfy PIR, as well as identify massed enemy formations and other enemy forces that are specifically a danger to the higher headquarters but are not listed as PIR. This type of reconnaissance usually has a specific time by which the reconnaissance must be completed. The SBCT normally conducts a zone reconnaissance by dividing its AO into subordinate AOs (contiguous or noncontiguous) and assigning reconnaissance or offensive tasks to subordinates. Since this form of the zone reconnaissance is principally constrained by time, the SBCT will need to designate objectives and NAIs to properly focus the reconnaissance of subordinates.


There are numerous ways (offensively and defensively) that the cavalry squadron (RSTA) and the infantry battalion's companies and reconnaissance platoons can work together to accomplish the SBCT's reconnaissance objectives. The following are examples of the cavalry squadron (RSTA) and the infantry battalions working together during combat operations:

  • During an SBCT movement to contact, the cavalry squadron (RSTA) reconnaissance troops may hand over key observation post positions to battalion reconnaissance platoons as they advance through the AO.
  • During an SBCT movement to contact, the RSTA reconnaissance platoons may bring the infantry battalion reconnaissance squads into position and keep them informed about terrain, enemy positions, and obstacles that have already been found.
  • During an SBCT attack, the battalion reconnaissance platoons can provide overwatch for the cavalry squadron (RSTA) reconnaissance troops as they continue movement to their next series of OPs or to continue reconnaissance of the area or zone.
  • In the defense, the infantry battalion reconnaissance elements may also be integrated into the SBCT's overall counter-reconnaissance operation.
  • In counterreconnaissance operations, the infantry battalion reconnaissance and cavalry squadron (RSTA) scouts provide stealthy observation, augmenting other ISR assets and providing early warning of the enemy's reconnaissance elements.
  • In counterreconnaissance operations, the reconnaissance elements and scout teams (finders) locate the enemy reconnaissance forces and then move other counter-reconnaissance elements (finishers) to the enemy force (Figure 3-5).
  • In the defense, the infantry battalion and RSTA reconnaissance elements can be employed in depth to provide multiple screens for the counterreconnaissance force.

Infantry battalions may be required to provide some portion of their combat to assist the cavalry squadron (RSTA) in obtaining information requirements or breaking contact from the enemy. The cavalry squadron (RSTA) may also need logistical support for its troops if it is operating in a highly decentralized manner. Due to the large distances between its subordinate elements, the squadron may have difficulty keeping them supplied, and the SBCT commander may task an infantry battalion to assist.

Figure 3-5. Counter-reconnaissance organization of SBCT RSTA and infantry battalion reconnaissance platoons.

Figure 3-5.  Counter-reconnaissance organization of SBCT RSTA
and infantry battalion reconnaissance platoons.

In order for an infantry battalion reconnaissance platoon and the cavalry squadron (RSTA) to work together, the infantry battalion, cavalry squadron (RSTA), and SBCT staffs need to coordinate the following:

  • C2 INFOSYS infrastructure management.
  • Command and control responsibilities.
  • Terrain management.
  • Collection plan (NAI coverage and intelligence gaps).
  • Fires and effects control measures.
  • Fratricide avoidance measures.

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