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Chapter 9

Measurement and Signatures Intelligence


9-1. MASINT is technically derived intelligence that detects, locates, tracks, identifies, and/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.

9-2. MASINT collection systems include but are not limited to radar, spectroradiometric, E-O, acoustic, RF, nuclear detection, and seismic sensors, as well as techniques for gathering NBC and other material samples.

9-3. It requires the translation of technical data into recognizable and useful target features and performance characteristics. Computer, communication, data, and display processing technologies now provide MASINT in support of commanders throughout the full spectrum of operations.

9-4. The subdisciplines within MASINT include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Radar Intelligence (RADINT). The active or passive collection of energy reflected from a target or object by LOS, bistatic, or over-the-horizon radar systems. RADINT collection provides information on radar cross-sections, tracking, precise spatial measurements of components, motion and radar reflectance, and absorption characteristics for dynamic targets and objectives. A SAR system, coupled with advanced MASINT processing techniques:
    •   Provides a high resolution, day and night collection capability.
    •   Can produce a variety of intelligence products that identify or provide change detection, terrain mapping, underwater obstacles, dynamic sensing of targets in clutter, and radar cross-section signature measurements.
  • Frequency Intelligence. The collection, processing, and exploitation of electromagnetic emissions from a radio frequency weapon (RFW), an RFW precursor, or an RFW simulator; collateral signals from other weapons, weapon precursors, or weapon simulators (for example, electromagnetic pulse signals associated with nuclear bursts); and spurious or unintentional signals.
  •   Electromagnetic Pulses. Measurable bursts of energy that result from a rapid change in a material or medium, resulting in an explosive force, produces RF emissions. The RF pulse emissions associated with nuclear testing, advanced technology devices, power and propulsion systems, or other impulsive events can be used to detect, locate, identify, characterize, and target threats.
  •   Unintentional Radiation Intelligence (RINT). The integration and specialized application of MASINT techniques against unintentional radiation sources that are incidental to the RF propagation and operating characteristics of military and civil engines, power sources, weapons systems, electronic systems, machinery, equipment, or instruments. These techniques may be valuable in detecting, tracking, and monitoring a variety of activities of interest.
  • E-O Intelligence. The collection, processing, exploitation, and analysis of emitted or reflected energy across the optical portion (ultraviolet, visible, and infrared) of the EMS. MASINT E-O provides detailed information on the radiant intensities, dynamic motion, spectral and spatial characteristics, and the materials composition of a target. E-O data collection has broad application to a variety of military, civil, economic, and environmental targets. E-O sensor devices include radiometers, spectrometers, non-literal imaging systems, lasers, or laser radar (LIDAR).
  •   Infrared Intelligence (IRINT). A subcategory of E-O that includes data collection across the infrared portion of the EMS where spectral and thermal properties are measured.
  •   LASER Intelligence (LASINT). Integration and specialized appli-cation of MASINT E-O and other collection to gather data on laser systems. The focus of the collection is on laser detection, laser threat warning, and precise measurement of the frequencies, power levels, wave propagation, determination of power source, and other technical and operating characteristics associated with laser systems: strategic and tactical weapons, range finders, and illuminators.
  •   Hyperspectral Imagery (HSI). A subcategory of E-O intelligence produced from reflected or emitted energy in the visible and near infrared spectrum used to improve target detection, discrimination, and recognition. HSI can detect specific types of foliage: supporting drug-crop identification; disturbed soil: supporting the identification of mass graves, minefields, caches, underground facilities or cut foliage; and variances in soil, foliage, and hydrologic features: often supporting NBC contaminant detection.
  • Spectroradiometric Products. Include E-O spectral (frequency) and radiometric (energy) measurements. A spectral plot represents radiant intensity versus wavelength at an instant in time. The number of spectral bands in a sensor system determines the amount of detail that can be obtained about the source of the object being viewed. Sensor systems range from multispectral (2 to 100 bands) to hyperspectral (100 to 1,000 bands) to ultraspectral (1,000+ bands). More bands provide more discrete information, or greater resolution. The characteristic emission and absorption spectra serve to fingerprint or define the makeup of the feature that was observed. A radiometric plot represents the radiant intensity versus time. An example is the radiant intensity plot of a missile exhaust plume as the missile is in flight. The intensity or brightness of the object is a function of several conditions including its temperature, surface properties or material, and how fast it is moving. For each point along a time-intensity radiometric plot, a spectral plot can be generated based on the number of spectral bands in the collector.
  • Geophysical Intelligence. Geophysical MASINT involves phenomena transmitted through the earth (ground, water, atmosphere) and manmade structures including emitted or reflected sounds, pressure waves, vibrations, and magnetic field or ionosphere disturbances.
  •   Seismic Intelligence. The passive collection and measurement of seismic waves or vibrations in the earth surface.
  •   Acoustic Intelligence. The collection of passive or active emitted or reflected sounds, pressure waves or vibrations in the atmosphere (ACOUSTINT) or in the water (ACINT). ACINT systems detect, identify, and track ships and submarines operating in the ocean.
  •   Magnetic Intelligence. The collection of detectable magnetic field anomalies in the earth's magnetic field (land and sea). An example is a Remotely Emplaced Battlefield Surveillance System (REMBASS) sensor detection indicating the presence and direction of travel of a ferrous object.
  • Nuclear Intelligence (NUCINT). The information derived from nuclear radiation and other physical phenomena associated with nuclear weapons, reactors, processes, materials, devices, and facilities. Nuclear monitoring can be done remotely or during onsite inspections of nuclear facilities. Data exploitation results in characterization of nuclear weapons, reactors, and materials. A number of systems detect and monitor the world for nuclear explosions, as well as nuclear materials production.
  • Materials Intelligence. The collection, processing, and analysis of gas, liquid, or solid samples. Materials intelligence is critical to collection against NBC warfare threats. It is also important to analyzing military and civil manufacturing activities, public health concerns, and environmental problems. Samples are both collected by automatic equipment, such as air samplers, and directly by humans. Samples, once collected, may be rapidly characterized or undergo extensive forensic laboratory analysis to determine the identity and characteristics of the sources of the samples.


9-5. MASINT provides intelligence to the commander throughout the full spectrum of operations to facilitate situational understanding. MASINT can thwart many of the camouflage, concealment, and deception techniques currently used to deceive ISR systems.

9-6. MASINT is perceived as a "strategic" discipline with limited "tactical" support capabilities. But, by application of real-time analysis and dissem-ination, MASINT has a potential ability to provide real-time situation awareness and targeting not necessarily available to the classic disciplines. Specifically, MASINT "sensors" have unique capabilities to detect missile launch, detect and track aircraft, ships, and vehicles; do non-cooperative target identification (NCTI), combat assessment, and BDA; and detect and track fallout from nuclear detonations. Often, these contributions are the first indicators of hostile activities. For example, two EXOCET-equipped Mirage F-1s were shot down during the Operation DESERT STORM due to MASINT collection and analysis. As evidenced by Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF), MASINT will play a decisive role in the targeting of smart munitions with the signatures (fingerprint) of the targets they are seeking (for example, infrared signatures).

9-7. The MASINT systems most familiar on today's battlefield are employed by ground surveillance and NBC reconnaissance elements.

9-8. MASINT spans the entire EMS and its capabilities complement, rather than compete with, the other intelligence disciplines. MASINT provides, to varying degrees, the capability to:

  • Use automatic target recognition (ATR) and aided target recognition (AiTR).
  • Penetrate manmade and/or natural camouflage.
  • Penetrate manmade and/or natural cover, including the ability to de-tect subterranean anomalies or targets.
  • Counter stealth technology.
  • Detect recently placed mines.
  • Detect natural or manmade environmental disturbances in the earth's surface not discernible through other intelligence means.
  • Provide signatures (target identification) to munitions and sensors.
  • Enhance passive identification of friend or foe.
  • Detect the presence of NBC agents to include prior to, during, or after employment.
  • Detect signature anomalies that may affect target-sensing systems.


9-9. Before discussing the functions of the intelligence process within a MASINT, the following paragraph provides an overview of organizational structure of MASINT.

9-10. Within DOD, the DIA provides central coordination for MASINT collection efforts through the Central MASINT Office. Each service, in turn, has a primary command or staff activity to develop requirements and coordinate MASINT effort. Army responsibility currently resides with INSCOM. Army weapons systems programs that require MASINT information to support system design or operations submit requests through the Army Reprogramming Analysis Team (ARAT) or INSCOM channels for data collection and processing. The S&TI community also performs MASINT collection and processing primarily to support R&D programs and signature development. Every S&TI center has some involvement in MASINT collection or production that reflects that center's overall mission (for example, NGIC does work on armored vehicles and artillery). Service R&D centers such as the Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) Research, Development, and Engineering Center (RDEC), and Night Vision and Electronic Systems Laboratory are also involved in developing sensor systems for collecting and processing MASINT.

9-11. In addition to supporting the S&TI mission, INSCOM units also execute limited ground-based operational collection to support Theater and ASCC PIRs. This capability will expand upon the standup of INSCOM TIBs and TIGs.


9-12. Some MASINT sensors can provide extremely specific information about detected targets, whereas other sensors may only be capable of providing an indication that an entity was detected. Additionally, there are varying capabilities of detection, identification, and classification among MASINT sensors. It is these varying capabilities that require synchronizing the employment of MASINT sensors both within the MASINT discipline and within the ISR effort as a whole. See FM 2-01 for more specific information on ISR synchronization.

9-13. As previously mentioned, there are many types of MASINT sensors. Depending on the type of sensor employed, a given MASINT collection target or NAI may not necessarily receive continuous coverage due to the possible conflict between the number and priority of targets and the number and availability of MASINT assets. However, a commander may decide to have continuous surveillance of certain targets by using his own MASINT assets (for example, REMBASS or Improved-REMBASS).

9-14. Another consideration when planning MASINT missions is whether to use active, passive, or a combination of both when planning MASINT coverage.


9-15. The G2/S2 MASINT related actions during the prepare function of the intelligence process include properly establishing or verifying the MASINT portion of the intelligence communications architecture functions. Addi-tionally, the G2/S2 must ensure that required MASINT analytical assets and resources are prepared to provide support or are available through intelligence reach. Since the products of MASINT are not as well known as products from other intelligence disciplines, the G2/S2 must be aware of the types of MASINT products available to support the operation, and then educate the rest of his unit's staff on the use of these MASINT products. Lastly, the G2/S2 must also ensure MASINT reporting and dissemination channels and procedures are in place and rehearsals are conducted with all pertinent MASINT elements to ensure interoperability.


9-16. MASINT provides information required to answer PIRs and other intelligence requirements in support of the ISR effort. As stated earlier in this chapter, MASINT collection must not only be synchronized within its own discipline but also be synchronized and integrated into the unit's overall ISR effort in order to be effective.

9-17. MASINT sensors are employed throughout the full spectrum of operations from a variety of platforms: sub-surface, ground, marine, and aerospace.


9-18. Just as in the other intelligence disciplines, MASINT involves dealing with huge volumes of data that have to be processed before beginning analysis and production. The process function regarding MASINT involves converting esoteric data into a form that is suitable for performing analysis and producing intelligence. MASINT processing can include relatively simple actions such as converting a REMBASS sensor activation into a report, to a complex task such as processing HSI into a report identifying the composition and concentrations of carcinogenic chemicals present in the emissions from a factory upwind from a US forces encampment.


9-19. Effective and timely MASINT requires personnel with diverse skill sets. The MASINT producer must ensure the MASINT product satisfies the associated intelligence requirements and that the product is in the required format. The quality, fidelity, and timeliness of MASINT products are highly dependent upon the type of target, the collection system, the system's position in relation to the target or NAI, and the weather, as well as the MASINT system operator's ability to identify the appropriate threat activity.

9-20. The objective of MASINT production is to be used in an all-source analytical approach.


9-21. The intelligence staff analyzes intelligence and information about the enemy's equipment, doctrine, and TTP to determine appropriate MASINT collection strategies. Conversely, a corresponding analysis of the friendly force's MASINT capabilities must be conducted to ensure the continued effectiveness of, or to improve upon, MASINT collection.


9-22. MASINT of critical importance to the force, including answers to the PIRs, is disseminated via the most expeditious means possible.

9-23. For intelligence reach operations, MASINT products are available and disseminated in a variety of forms. The requestor must ensure that the MASINT product can be transmitted over the available communications systems. This includes verifying the appropriate security level of the communications system.


9-24. The primary goal of the MASINT assess function is to determine whether the results of MASINT collection and production meet the requirements of the unit's ISR effort. MASINT producers must assess all facets of MASINT operations, from receipt of the ISR task to the dissemination of MASINT, in an effort to determine the effectiveness of MASINT. This assessment is not only directed at each MASINT asset individually but also throughout the supporting intelligence communications architecture, to include intelligence reach and the unit's entire ISR effort.

9-25. Also, the G2/S2 immediately assesses MASINT products upon receipt for accuracy and relevance. He must inform the MASINT producer of the extent to which the product answered the PIR or intelligence requirement. Providing feedback to the MASINT producer: and collector: helps improve the effectiveness and efficiency of MASINT.


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