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FM 34-2: Collection Management And Synchronization Planning


The primary purpose of collection management is to answer the commander's intelligence requirements while making the best use of scarce intelligence collection resources. The secondary purpose is to answer intelligence requirements of other intelligence users.

Intelligence requirements generally focus on intelligence required to prevent surprise, support planning, support decisions during execution of' a friendly course of action (COA), and engage high payoff targets (HPTs) in support of that COA. They are products of the decision making and targeting processes. Collection management satisfies these requirements by synchronizing the activities of intelligence collectors and processors with the command's operations.

Collection Management and the Decision Making Process

The decision making process leads to the selection of a friendly COA. The selected COA includes a list of' intelligence requirements, some of which the commander will designate as PIR. Each intelligence requirement supports a decision expected to occur during execution of the selected COA.

Mission Analysis

    In this step, intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) products enable the commander to assess facts about the battlefield and make assumptions about how friendly and threat forces will interact on the battlefield.

    Mission analysis, supported by IPB, identities gaps in the command's knowledge of threat forces, the battlefield environment, and its effects on potential COAs. Based on the commander's guidance, some of these gaps become the collection manager's initial priorities for intelligence collection.

    During mission analysis, the IPB process generates a set of threat COA models. which include situation templates. The significant differences between these COAs are the basis of the initial event template and its supporting matrix. The collection manager uses this initial event template and matrix to focus collection on identifying the COA the threat will adopt.

Develop Courses of Action

    In this step the staff develops friendly COAs based on the facts and assumptions identified during mission analysis. Among other things, they ensure that the potential friendly COAs they develop have realistic expectations of the intelligence system.

Analyze and Compare COAs

    During wargaming the staff "fights" the set of threat COAs against each potential friendly COA. This enables them to assess when and where they might require intelligence about possible enemy activities or other events at key areas within the area of interest (AI). These areas are NAIs.

    Activity at NAIs helps to confirm or deny a particular enemy COA relevant to the friendly COA. When, as a result of wargaming, the commander discovers he must make a decision based on intelligence from an NAI, that NAI becomes a decision point (DP) or creates a DP related to that NAI. The information required to make the decision becomes an intelligence requirement.

    The staff uses several tools to record the results of wargaming:

    • The decision support template (DST) normally depicts--

      º The location of the DP where activity will confirm or deny that the event which will cue a decision has occurred.

      º Time phase lines (TPLs) associated with the event and associated decision, and the command's expected response or options.

    • The battlefield operating system (BOS) synchronization matrix, which is shown at Figure 4-4, supports the DST and is usually included on the DST itself. It normally depicts--

      º The threat activity or other event that keys a decision.

      º The times by which the commander needs to know of the event's occurrence (latest time information of value [LTIOV]).

      º The friendly command's expected response or execution options (for each BOS).

      º Timelines associated with the event and the command's responses.

    • The event template is refined to include NAIs that support each decision as well as target development discussed below in Collection Management and the Targeting Process and the TPLs associated with them.

    • The event matrix is similarly refined to include the results of wargaming each COA. It depicts the indicators and timelines associated with each NAI and target area of interest (TAI).

    During this process the collection manager advises the staff on the ability of the intelligence system to provide the intelligence required to support anticipated decisions. Participating in this process helps the collection manager better understand the concept of the friendly operation and the intelligence required to support it.

    The collection manager uses the tools developed during wargaming to develop and evaluate rough outlines of collection strategies against each identified intelligence requirement; ensuring that intelligence collection is capable of supporting the friendly COA. He develops and depicts these strategies for each potential friendly COA using his own synchronization tools--the intelligence synchronization matrix (ISM) and collection plan.


    Following staff recommendations, the commander decides upon a COA and issues implementing orders. He also approves the list of intelligence requirements associated with that COA, developed before and during wargaming, and identifies the most important as PIR.

    During this step of the decision making process, the collection manager normally briefs the intelligence collection strategies that support each intelligence requirement. Once the commander selects and approves a COA, he also approves the collection manager's collection plan. The collection manager then implements his plan by tasking and requesting collection.


    As the command executes the selected COA, the collection manager monitors execution of the collection plan. He uses the ISM to ensure that--

    • Collection assets are focused on the proper intelligence requirement at each stage of the operation.

    • Intelligence required to support decisions is delivered on time.

    During execution the collection manager keeps abreast of both current operations and the intelligence situation. He maintains continuous coordination with asset managers to ensure effective cross-cueing and retasking of collection assets. This allows him to take advantage of presented opportunities, to prevent surprise, and to keep intelligence operations synchronized with the command's operation.

    For a complete discussion of the decision making process, see FM 101-5. For a complete discussion of IPB, see FM 34-130.

Collection Management and the Targeting Process

The targeting process results in targeting guidance that supports the command's COA. This guidance generates additional intelligence requirements in support of each potential friendly COA the targeting process supports.


    As part of COA analysis and comparison, or immediately after, the staff generally starts the targeting process with a targeting conference. Using the results of staff wargaming and IPB as a guide, they decide--

    • What targets to acquire and attack HPTs.

    • What target selection standards (accuracy and timeliness) to use.

    • Where and when these targets will likely be found (NAIs and TAIs).

    • How to attack the targets, based on the commander's targeting concept.

    • Whether battle damage assessment (BDA) on each target is required to support the commander's intent or the command's COA, and bow detailed it must be.

    During the conference the collection manager advises the targeting team on the ability of available collection systems to acquire, identify, track, and assess BDA on HPTs. As needed, he assists them in developing an architecture that relays target intelligence to the attack systems in near-real time (NRT).

    The targeting team further refines the event templates and matrices to include the information the collection manager will need to focus intelligence in support of targeting. He uses these products, as well as the target selection standards, to further develop and refine SIRs that directly support the targeting process.


    During this step the collection manager develops collection strategies that will satisfy SIR which support the targeting process. He plans for synchronized collection, focusing on the proper HPT at each phase in the command's COA. If BDA is required to support the command's COA, the collection manager plans collection to satisfy that set of SIRs as well. When possible, he plans and arranges direct dissemination of targeting intelligence from the collector to the targeting cell or appropriate fire support element (FSE).

    During conduct of the COA, the collection manager monitors execution of the collection plan. He uses the ISM (see Chapter 3) to ensure that collection assets are focused on the proper HPT (and their associated NAI and TAI) at each stage of the operation. As targets of opportunity present themselves, he tips off the appropriate FSE and cross-cues collection assets to support the targeting effort, arranging BDA as needed.


    During delivery, the collection manager cues NRT collectors and reporters to continue tracking targets during their engagement. Preplanned or cued BDA collection and reporting help determine if the engagement produced the desired effects; if not, continued tracking supports immediate re-engagement.

    For a complete discussion of the targeting process, see FM 6-20-10.

Collection Management and Intelligence Synchronization

Intelligence synchronization is the process that ensures the intelligence system provides answers to intelligence requirements in time to influence the decisions they support.

Synchronization begins with the decision making and targeting processes. Taken together, these processes identify the decisions that must be made during execution of a COA and its branches and sequels. It is these decisions which drive the command's intelligence requirements. Every identified decision should be supported by an intelligence requirement.

Other commands (higher, subordinate, and adjacent) develop their intelligence requirements through the same processes. They communicate their requirements to the collection manager in the form of specific orders (from higher commands) or specific requests (from subordinate or adjacent commands). The collection manager integrates their requirements into his planning to satisfy his own command's requirements.

To facilitate coordination, the collection manager establishes intelligence handover lines between higher and subordinate units. Requirements for intelligence in a given area can then easily be directed to the unit with responsibility for that area of the battlefield. Intelligence handover lines are especially useful when tracking particular threat units or HPTs. "Handing over" responsibility for the target as it crosses the coordination line, accompanied by liaison, ensures that it is not lost in the transition.

Synchronization continues during the collection management process. The collection manager uses the products of IPB, the decision making process, and the targeting process to develop SOR sets that synchronize the activities of collectors with the command's DPs. He ensures--

  • That all requirements are fully supported by a set of SORs.
  • That the collection and reporting timelines will deliver intelligence in time to influence each decision.
  • That he plans and allocates time for collection, processing, and dissemination.

During execution the collection manager follows up and monitors the collection effort reporting to ensure synchronization. As needed, he prompts asset managers to meet timelines, cross-cueing, and retasking as necessary to keep intelligence operations synchronized with the command's operations.

An Example

    While wargaming potential COAs, the division commander states: "If the enemy commits more than one regiment to secondary avenue of approach (AA) CAROL before the 1st Brigade completes its counterattack, I will want to divert the attack helicopters from the counterattack to reinforce the defense there."

    The collection manager coordinates with the G2 and G3 plans officers and learns that 1st Brigade's counterattack should be completed by H + 12 (with H-hour defined as whatever time the enemy begins his main attack). The collection manager writes a draft intelligence requirement supporting the commander's decision about diverting the attack helicopters to read: "Will the enemy commit more than one regiment to AA CAROL before H + 12?"

    Following the wargaming session, the collection manager coordinates with the all-source production section (ASPS) to further develop the intelligence requirement. They identify several SIRs and identify the NAIs and times, relative to H-hour, they should appear. One of these SIRs reads: "Are more than 24 artillery weapons located in NAI 17?"

    This particular SIR is active only until H + 11, so the collection manager establishes an LTIOV of H + 11. (H+ 11 because the ASPS determined that the enemy would have the artillery in NAI 17 not later than (NLT) H + 11 to support the commitment of maneuver forces in AA CAROL by H + 12.) Similarly, based on current dispositions and the set of predicted enemy COAs, the ASPS deduces that H-3 is the earliest time the enemy would deploy the artillery in NAI 17 (see Figure 2-1).

    The collection manager uses this information to focus collection on NAI 17 during a specific time window: H-3 to H + 11. This ensures the best use of assets by making them available for other missions during times outside this window.

    After reviewing available collection systems, he decides to use a cueing strategy to answer this SIR. He plans to use Joint STARS coverage to monitor movement into NAI 17. If any is detected, he plans to cue unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) coverage of the NAI to identify the specific numbers and types of equipment moving into the NAI. During those periods Joint STARS coverage is not available, he plans to use signals intelligence (SIGINT) to identify any artillery-associated activity within the NAI. Again, he will cue UAV coverage if any is detected.

    Noting that Joint STARS coverage is available from H+ 2 to H+ 7, the collection manager requests moving target indicator coverage of NAI 17 during that complete period (see Figure 2-2). He follows this with an order to the division's GSM to monitor the mission results and "...report the arrival of more than 24 vehicles in NAI 17...."

    For SIGINT coverage of the periods from H-3 to H +2, and again from H + 7 to H+ 11 (when Joint STARS coverage is unavailable), the collection manager develops similar SORs for his SIGINT collection agencies (see Figure 2-3). These are tailored to their specific capabilities. For example: "Report artillery associated communications within NAI 17 between H-3 and H +2.... Negative reports required NLT H+2:30..."

    To ensure that the UAV will be able to respond to cues expected from the other collectors, the collection manager writes an "on order" tasking.

    In this case, it reads: "Between H-3 and H+11, be prepared to conduct reconnaissance of NAI 17. Report the presence of artillery weapons or associated equipment; include number and type of equipment. Negative reports required..." He coordinates with the division's air space managers to ensure that air space to conduct the mission will be available during the entire period (see Figure 2-4).

The Collection Manager's Role

    As the link between the command's intelligence requirements and the collectors that satisfy them, the collection manager is the key to intelligence synchronization.

    The collection manager checks to ensure that all decisions identified during COA development are supported one-for-one by intelligence requirements. This usually involves coordination with the planning staff or ASPS. He then manages the collection management process to ensure that--

    • Collection supports all intelligence requirements.

    • All SORs support some intelligence requirement.

    • Collection strategies are properly "backwards planned" to ensure timely receipt of intelligence.

    • Collectors and processors have dissemination guidelines.

    • Collectors execute the strategies within the timelines each intelligence requirement dictates.

Desired End Effect

    During planning of the command's COAs, the G2 or S2 can trace every--

    • SOR to the operational decision it supports.

    • Operational decision to its supporting set of SORs.

    During execution of the command's COAs, the G2 or S2 ensures that the intelligence needed to support intelligence requirements reaches decision makers in time to influence their decisions.

So What?

    Successful synchronization provides critical intelligence on time and on target.

    Failure to synchronize results in--

    • Decisions made without the benefit of intelligence.

    • Collection against intelligence requirement that are no longer valid.

    • Collection of intelligence that will not influence the COA.

    • Under- or over-used collection systems.

    The remainder of this manual addresses the application of the collection management process to accomplish synchronization. The process itself is discussed in Chapter 3. Common tools am techniques collection managers use to synchronize intelligence are in Chapter 4.

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