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Actionable Intelligence: UAs to beef up MI assets

By Gary Sheftick
November 19, 2004

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 18, 2004) -- The 3rd Infantry Division "units of action" deploying to Iraq will have unmanned aerial vehicles, the Prophet collection system and more assigned intelligence assets than a typical brigade combat team.

With the transformation to modularity, about 9,000 new military intelligence positions will be created over the next few years Armywide, said Lt. Col. Steve Iwicki, director of the Actionable Intelligence focus area in Department of the Army G2. He said about 5,000 of those will be with the brigade-sized units of action. Another 3,000 will be at the division or UEx level and the final thousand with UEy or corps.

Under the Objective Design built by Task Force Modularity, each of the new UAs will eventually have about 60 more intelligence analysts than a Force XXI BCT, Iwicki said. Each will have an organic MI company, a separate Analysis and Interrogation Platoon, a UAV Platoon with three or four Shadow 200 unmanned aerial vehicles, and more MI analysts in both battalion and brigade-level S2 sections.

"This significant growth is a challenge to resource in the near-term as we simultaneously grow the training base," Iwicki said, adding that the first several transforming units, including those in the 3ID, are manned at lower personnel levels.

"You can't just grow 9,000 overnight," Iwicki said, "particularly NCOs and warrant officers."

Until now, MI companies have normally been in direct support to a deploying BCT, Iwicki said. But UAs will now have assigned MI companies that will both train and fight with the brigade, providing added synergy, he said.

The Prophet system with the UAs will be mounted on a Humvee and be capable of collecting and processing signal intelligence.

Each of the 3ID units of action will also have a Distributed Common Ground System. DCGS beefed-up software will be loaded on a light laptop All-Source Analysis System, or ASAS. It will provide: connectivity back to national intelligence agencies, geo-spacial mapping tools, and the ability to exploit captured documents, Iwicki said.

The 101st Airborne Division UAs will also receive tailored DCGS systems whenever they deploy, Iwicki said, explaining the software they receive will be based on their perceived needs.

"Anything that can save a Soldier's life, should be in their hands," Iwicki said.

In addition to the new systems, the division will also have about 15,000 "organic sensors," Iwicki said, pointing out that "every Soldier is a sensor."

Before Soldiers deploy, mobile training teams now educate them on the asymmetric threat in Iraq, as well as the culture, Iwicki said.

"Our Soldiers on the ground are our most brilliant collectors," Iwicki said. "They see, hear and understand their environment. They sense something is different and out of place."

Patrols will be able to drastically cut the time it takes to file an intelligence report when the new hand-held Commander's Digital Assistants are fielded, Iwicki said. The new Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below CDAs are part of the "Land Warrior" system, but 75 of them are scheduled to be fielded in Iraq first of the year with the 525th MI Brigade, part of the XVIII Airborne Corps.

The CDAs are rugged handheld devices that provide two-way satellite communications. They use some of the same software as Blue Force Tracking, officials said, and can show the locations of snipers or improvised explosive devices as blinking red dots. The CDAs can be used to both display current intelligence information and also to feed reports into the system.

With CDAs, patrols may be able to send an intel report up the chain minutes after an incident, rather than two to six hours later, Iwicki said, after they return to their base.

When Army intelligence officials visited Iraq last year, they found 400,000 patrols had been conducted, but only 6,000 reports had been filed to higher echelons, said Collin Agee, director of intelligence, sensors, and reconnaissance in G2.

Agee was a panel member in the Actionable Intelligence session Oct. 26 at the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army. He said CDAs should make it easier for patrols to send intelligence forward, and also easier for small units on the move to receive intelligence.

In order for intelligence to be "actionable," it must be delivered to the operational level in time for commanders to act on it, said Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin at the AUSA session.

"Windows (of opportunity) open and close quickly," said Boykin, deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence and warfighting support.

"At coalition level, we must get information where it needs to go," said Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, former Combined Joint Task Force-7 director of intelligence in Baghdad.

In the Cold War, satellite surveillance and signal intelligence could be relied upon to provide the big picture of units on the move, panel members said. But when fighting an insurgency, it's often an individual that is targeted, Fast said.

An example of this approach worked well with the capture of Saddam Hussein, Boykin said.

A series of raids and patrols gathered intelligence, narrowing the search area until Soldiers eventually found the former dictator hiding in a spider hole.

With insurgency, "It's all about the people," Fast said.


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