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FM 34-36: Special Operations Forces Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Operations



Although there is no prescribed collection plan format, the two formats in this appendix are recommended because-

  • They can be easily modified to support mission or unit requirements.
  • They are easily tailored to reflect the collection assets available throughout an operation, battle, or mission.


The first format is designed to support most conventional (linear) battlefield collection management requirements.

  • Figure A-1 shows examples of standard collection plan SOF PIR and IR.
  • Figure A-2 shows an example of this type of collection plan format with sample entries.
  • Figure A-3 gives instructions on how to fill out the major parts of a standard collection plan format.

The standard collection plan format is a valuable aid during all phases of the collection management process. (See Chapter 3.) Written collection plans help the collection manager to focus efforts and to monitor requirements like threat capabilities and vulnerabilities. The amount of detail needed, of course, depends on the particular requirement to be satisfied and the amount of overall collection effort required. FM 34-2, Chapter 4, contains additional information on the collection management process.

For some operations, a collection plan might be as simple as a list of available collection resources and brief notes or reminders about current intelligence requirements or specific information that must be collected. For other operations, more complex plans may be required. ARSOF operations often have several PIR and IR that require analysis and extensive collection effort over longer periods.


The second format is designed to support nonlinear battlefield collection management requirements. Figures A-4 and A-5 support the explanation of the non-linear battlefield collection plan. Since ARSOF are routinely deployed in nonlinear environments, this format is particularly suited to meet their collection management requirements.

The ARSOF SIO uses nonlinear battlefield collection plans and worksheets to manage and answer the volume of diverse PIR and IR generated in a nonlinear environment. Although detailed, the format-

  • Simplifies collection management tasks.
  • Can be filled out on the computer or by hand.
  • Facilitates identifying collecting and reporting tasks during all phases of the collection management process.
  • Requires only four steps to complete:

    - List the PIR and IR. Then assign alphanumeric letters to PIR and IR.

    - Determine potential indicators and prioritize those that effectively answer the PIR and IR. Any indicator that does not answer the PIR and IR is deleted.

    - Analyze the indicators and target characteristics to determine SIR. Then prioritize the SIR and determine the appropriate collection agencies.

    - Give the various collection agencies a prioritized SIR tasking list that is easy to read and understand.


The first step is to list and prioritize the PIR and IR. As in all collection plans, the nonlinear battlefield collection plan format is designed to assist the SIO in answering the commander's PIR. However, these PIR and IR are not immediately added to the collection plan. Instead, they are posted next to the plan and given numerical or alphabetical designators. Figure A-5 shows examples of prioritized nonlinear battlefield PIR and IR.

The most important PIR is assigned the number 1; the next, number 2; and so on. IR are given alphabetical designators and prioritized the same way as PIR. This allows the collection manager to continually add, revise, and reprioritize PIR and IR. Use these numbers or letters in the PIR and IR number column on the collection plan to reference specific PIR or IR.


The second step is to determine what activities or characteristics of the operational area will answer the PIR and IR. This procedure is called determining indicators. This is the most important step in the collection management process.

An indicator is any positive or negative evidence of threat activity or any characteristic of the operational area that points toward threat capabilities, vulnerabilities, or intentions. The ability to read indicators (including deception indicators) contributes to the success of friendly operations. This is because an analysis of all available indicators is the basis for recommendations to the commander for specific COAs.

Potential indicators are written down and analyzed to determine if they can answer any of the established PIR and IR. AH the indicators that answer one or several PIR or IR are prioritized. Any indicator that does not answer a PIR or IR is deleted.

The resulting list of indicators forms the basis for collection tasks. By knowing what indicators satisfy PIR and IR - and the most likely methods and places of finding them - the collection manager can determine the specific collection tasks and assign them to available resources. The collection manager needs a thorough knowledge of the threat, the characteristics of the operational area, and the general capabilities of collection assets before he can translate the commander's PIR and IR into indicators. This includes a detailed knowledge of-

  • The threat organization, equipment, and doctrine.
  • The biographical data on major personalities.
  • The present and past performance of units and organizations.
  • Terrain and weather activities.
  • Patterns of current operations.
  • Degree of popular support.

The collection manager must also understand the circumstances and support required for a particular indicator to occur. These include but are not limited to a detailed knowledge of the-

  • Amount and availability of support required for a particular action or activity.
  • Normal doctrinal activity or disposition.
  • Activity required for a particular COA.
  • Actions within threat capabilities and limitations.
  • Characteristics of foreign commanders.
  • Possible or practicable operations.
  • Collection characteristics.
  • Identification of target characteristics.

Established patterns can also be used to determine indicators. Often these existing patterns link a particular event or activity to probable COA. Sometimes, they can even be used to determine when and where that activity might occur. Patterns help to decide-

  • Where to look.
  • When to look.
  • What to look for.


Figure A-6 is a nonlinear battlefield indicator worksheet to help determine indicators. Instructions for using this worksheet follow:

  • IND NO. This is used as a reference point. Each line is labeled in numerical order to orient personnel to indicators on the worksheet.
  • INDICATOR. All potential indicators are written and analyzed to determine if they answer any PIR or IR.
  • PIR/IR NO. The ASPS records the PIR and IR number or letter that can be answered by the corresponding indicator. For example, indicator 1 may provide information regarding PIR 1 and 5 and IR A, B, and C. The collection manager would insert the numbers 1 and 5 and the letters A, B, and C in the appropriate block. When indicators fail to support any PIR or IR, they are deleted and replaced by another potential indicator.
  • INDICATOR PRIORITY. In this column each indicator is prioritized. The collection manager determines which indicator answers the most important PIR and IR and rates them accordingly. Examples:

    - Indicator l answers PIR 1 and 5 and IR A, B and C.

    - Indicator 2 answers PIR 1, 2, and 5 and IR B and C.

    - Indicator 3 answers PIR l and 2 and IR, A, B, D, and E.

Therefore, indicator 1 would be the 17th priority, number 2 the 2d, and number 3 the 3d priority.


In the third step, the ASPS analyzes the prioritized indicators and target characteristics to determine SIR. SIR are the basic questions that need to be answered to confirm or deny the existence of an indicator.

For example, the first PIR is where and in what strength there are insurgent forces. (See Figure A-5.) Some indicators that may assist in answering this requirement are-

  • The location of enemy base camps.
  • The establishment of new and unexplained agricultural areas or recently cleared fields.
  • The size and location of insurgent forces.
  • Any unexplained firing or explosions in the countryside.

All the above indicators can assist in answering the first PIR.

Then these indicators are analyzed to develop SIR. Some examples of SIR for indicator 1 - Where are enemy base camps located - could be:

  • Report the location, quantity, and type of unexplained firing in the area.
  • Report any presence of mines, booby traps, and obstacles in the area.

The accurate determination of indicators and SIR is essential for effective collection management. Knowing where, when, and what to look for helps in selecting what to look with.

This process maximizes the use of limited collection assets against an array of collection targets. After indicators and SIR are prepared, the ASPS passes them to the CM&D section for collection action.

The collection manager prioritizes the SIR and tasks appropriate sources to answer them. The list of taskings for each source should also be prioritized. All of this can be completed in step 3.

The nonlinear battlefield collection plan format provides the collection manager with an effective format to organize and monitor this task.


Figure A-7 is a sample of a completed nonlinear battlefield collection plan format. Instructions for using this format follow:

  • SIR NO. Use as a reference point. Label each line numerically to orientate personnel to SIR on the worksheet.
  • TIME. List the start and stop times the corresponding SIR should confirm or deny a particular SIR. (These SIR may be extremely time sensitive, such as reporting a reaction force leaving its post to reinforce a SOF target; or the indicator may remain in effect throughout the entire operation, such as reporting the avoidance of a specified area by the local populace. In this case, list indefinite.)
  • NAI. NAI can be shown vertically or horizontally on the chart. The NAI listed in the vertical NAI column indicates where the SIR should be observed. An NAI may pertain to one or more SIR or vice versa. List the NAIs that each particular source is responsible for in the horizontal NAI column. An ODA may be responsible for only one NAI, while a SOT-A may monitor several NAIs.
  • SIR. In this column the CM&D section lists the SIR they believe will confirm or deny particular indicators and which help to answer one or more PIR and IR. It is not uncommon to develop several SIR from one indicator or for each SIR to provide information on several indicators and PIR and IR.
  • PIR/IR NO. Here, members of the CM&D section record the PIR and IR numbers or letters that can be answered by the corresponding SIR.

  • SIR PRIORITY. In this column each SIR is prioritized. The collection manager determines which SIRS answer the most important PIR and IR and rates them accordingly.
  • AGENCIES AND AGENCY COLLECTION PRIORITY. Listed across the top of this section are all organic and supporting collection agencies. In the block below them, their respective NAIs are listed.

Before a particular agency or unit is selected to collect on a SIR, the collection manager determines what assets are available and capable of collecting the information needed. This includes assets in organic, supporting, and higher collection agencies.

To do this, the collection manager needs to know the capabilities and availability of each available asset, such as-

  • Frequency ranges for SOT-A team radios.
  • Aircraft mission durations.
  • Number of flights, mobility, linguistic capabilities.

This information is essential to determine which asset or agency is capable of collecting information to answer SIR. The DOD capabilities handbook has profiles of system capabilities. Host nation or HUMINT resources capabilities must be obtained from the parent organization. Figure A-8 shows a capability and requirement correlation chart.

After determining asset capability and availability, the collection manager places a mark (check or asterisk) in the small square in the lower left corner of the block that corresponds to the SIR that a particular agency or asset can answer. Next, he determines which agency or asset can best answer the SIR and prioritizes them. To do this, he considers the location, range, and threat to the collector, as well as other mission requirements. This step is shown on the worksheet by placing the appropriate number in the small square in the right corner of the block.

Example: (Refer to Figure A-7.) The CM&D section determines that the CI team, the CA unit, and host-nation police are capable of answering SIR #4 - Report sightings of groups of strangers in and around the operational area.

  • The collection manager places a mark (check or asterisk) in the square located in the lower left corner of the block that corresponds to that particular SIR and each of the three capable agencies.
  • After further consideration he determines that the host-nation police can best answer the SIR, followed by the CA unit, then the CI team. He then puts the number 1 in the square located in the lower right corner of the block that corresponds to SIR #4 and the host-nation police, the number 2 in the CA unit block, and the number 3 in the CI team block.


In the final step the CM&D section prepares a prioritized tasking list for each collection agency that is easy to understand. To do this, he reviews the SIR each agency is tasked to answer and then prioritizes them according to the SIR priority column.

Example: (Refer to Figure A-7).

  • The SOT-A (1) is tasked with SIR #1,6, and 28.
  • IR #1 has an SIR priority of 20, SIR #6 a priority of 10, and SIR #28 a priority of 3.

This means the collection manager must provide the SOT-A (1) with a prioritized tasking list as follows:

l-Report time, frequency, and location of any insurgent radio traffic or EW activity (SIR #28).

2-The number, size, equipment, composition, route, and time of suspected insurgent patrols in the area (SIR #6).

3-The location, quantity, and type of unexplained firings in the area (SIR #l).


The only exception to this procedure is when the collection manager tasks interrogators. Interrogators need verbatim PIR and IR. This is in addition to the indicators or SIR containing specific intelligence or combat information requirements.

Interrogators need this information because their primary source of information and intelligence comes from people who have different levels of understanding and background. This means interrogators must tailor their questions so that the subject can understand what is being asked. Often, interrogators must ask a subject several different questions, all seemingly unrelated to the other, before the subject understands and can answer the question.

Example: CM&D tasks interrogators to ". . . report instances of dead foliage." This SIR is specific. If the subject is not native to the area, he may not have noticed dead foliage. However, if the interrogator knows the larger PIR is to ". . . locate insurgent supply caches . . ." he can rephrase or ask different questions to secure this information. By knowing the larger question, the interrogator is able to quickly secure the information or intelligence the commander needs and spot report it back immediately.

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