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



This chapter describes how the ARSOF SIO uses the standard IPB process to support ARSOF operations. It outlines the TTP for conducting IPB for SF, rangers, SOA, PSYOP, and CA units. See FM 34-130, Chapter 4, for more information on the IPB process and examples of standard templates that can be adapted to meet ARSOF requirements.


ARSOF SIOs use the IPB process to support commanders and their staffs in the decision-making process. The commander directs the IPB effort through his critical IR. All staff elements are active participants in the IPB process. IPB results in a graphic and written intelligence estimate that evaluates and portrays probable threat, friendly, and nonbelligerent third-party capabilities, and their respective vulnerabilities and probable COA. To be of value, IPB products must assist with situation and target development; they must aid the analytical process so that the intentions and activities of the population and threat forces can be predicted.

Although IPB is currently a time-consuming and labor-intensive manual process, it is becoming increasingly automated. However, SIOs still should prepare IPB products well ahead of operations and keep them current through updates. Once operations begin and new data become available, IPB products are dynamic; they change as the situation changes in the objective area. The SIO uses IPB to determine-

  • Where to look.

  • When to look.

  • What to look for.

  • What to look with.

  • What to expect to see.

In turn, the SIO can recommend where and when to conduct operations, what they will operate against, and what results to expect, including possible reactions of third parties.

IPB is a cyclical process of intelligence analysis and evaluation that focuses on the assigned operational area and the forces that are expected to be operating in that area. IPB is the systematic and continuous process of integrating and analyzing data on the populace (threat, friendly, and nonbelligerent third-party), weather and climate, and terrain in a specific geographic area and operational environment.

To be effective, IPB must be a coordinated effort between the commander, his staff, and outside agencies, from the lowest operational elements through the theater command. The SIO compiles, analyzes, and disseminates the gathered data. Figure 10-1shows the IPB process.

Although commanders have a different focus at each echelon, their IPB must be mutually supporting. The intelligence analysts at each echelon must understand this scaled IPB hierarchy. Once the intelligence cycle is underway and IPB begins, the SIO will use the results of the IPB to guide the commander toward the next phase of the operation to support mission objectives.


For the SIO, graphics play a key role in quantifying the results of the IPB process. Although ARSOF intelligence requirements are generally more detailed than those of conventional military units, ARSOF IPB graphics must be readable and usable by supported and supporting forces.


The last two steps in the IPB process -- threat evaluation and threat integration -- involve using templates. Templates are graphic illustrations of threat -- and sometimes friendly -- force structure deployments and capabilities. Figure 10-2 describes the four standard templates, their purpose, and the IPB step in which they are prepared. ARSOF applications and variations of these templates are discussed in detail in the threat evaluation and threat integration sections of this chapter.


The bullseye concept at Figure 10-3 shows the focus of ARSOF commanders by echelon. The outermost ring consists of the country and regional analysis of geographic areas of responsibility assigned to the SF group, ranger regiment, SOA regiment, POG, and CA battalion.

This general analysis and its associated intelligence production efforts are accomplished at echelons above group or regiment, and are provided to the subordinate elements. The analysis does not focus on any specified area within the total region or country.

The middle ring represents the mission area analysis conducted at battalion or task force level. This level focuses on the JSOA assigned to the battalion or task force within a region or country. Products associated with this level represent the area specific intelligence necessary to support the operational elements in their specific missions.

The innermost circle covers the specific operational or target areas; it consists of a mission-specific analysis, which requires the development of a TIP.

Theater army intelligence assets develop the TIP and other supporting intelligence products for ARSOF operational elements. The TIP focuses directly on the operational elements' target site or area. The TIP contains answers to specific operational intelligence requirements.

In SF, ODAs also contribute to the development of this inner circle of intelligence by applying CARVER target analysis during isolation. (See Appendix C.)


IPB is not a set of rigid rules, but a tool for developing graphic and written solutions through intuitive thinking. The essential difference between IPB for conventional forces and IPB for SOF is the degree of detail required. The commander focuses the IPB effort. SIOs conduct IPB throughout the operational continuum in detail. Also, SF IPB requires complete population analysis to support FID and UW missions. Figure 10-4 shows the five IPB steps and the equivalents for ARSOF, which are discussed later in this chapter.

At SF group level, the IPB effort includes the group S2, the intelligence analysts of the group MI detachment's ASPS, and the USAF weather team. The center of mass of the IPB effort will shift to SF battalion level and lower in FID, UW, or when SF battalions or companies are operating with relative independence or autonomy from the group.

For the ranger regiment, the commander focuses the IPB effort. The center of mass of this IPB effort shifts to the ranger battalion S2 when ranger battalions are committed to battle separately, even though regimental SIO support will continue throughout the operation.

At the SOA regiment, the nucleus of the IPB effort is the SOA task force S2. The SIO for the joint psychological operations task force (JPOTF) is the nucleus of the PSYOP IPB process. The JPOTF SIO is usually the S2 of a regionally oriented PSYOP battalion. The SIO and staff perform detailed IPB of the AO.

S2s and NCOs in the PDCs and other independently operating detachments (for example, forward support detachments) perform abbreviated IPB of their specific AO, and do detailed analysis of targets developed through this IPB. The PDCs also provide the SIO with information for the SIO data base and IPB. At the CA battalion, the nucleus of the IPB effort is the CA battalion S2.


IPB begins with a battlefield area evaluation (BAE). This is an assessment of the battle area that considers the overall nature of the friendly and enemy forces and the operational environment. It normally covers the AO and AI. In this step, the SIO determines and answers requirements for weather, climate, and terrain (including hydrological, topographical, and population). To support SR missions, the SF SIO develops information on nonbelligerent third-party forces.

For other missions, the SIO conducts limited population and cultural evaluation, micro-infrastructure evaluation, and installation evaluation. The types of overlays and categories of subjects plotted vary according to actual mission requirements. Using a graphic keying system and color scheme on large-scale maps greatly facilitates data analysis when transparent overlays and integrating associated matrixes and other products are used.

Area of Operations

The AO is the area assigned the commander by a higher commander. The commander has authority and responsibility for conducting operations in this AO. It is usually the area where the actual struggle will occur, defined as a boundary or geographical feature, and usually includes routes of access and egress. This does not mean, however, that home base and routes of access and egress are given the same degree of attention as the area where the ARSOF unit executes its mission.

The SF AO extends from home base to the operational bases, to the JSOA, to the TAI or target, and back again. For FID and UW, the SF primary AO normally includes a designated JSOA or subdivision that may cover hundreds of square miles, or even an area larger than one country. The SF AO for SR and DA normally is quite smaller. Usually it comprises-

  • A TAI for SR.

  • A "bullseye" from 10 to 20 NM from the target for DA (with greatest emphasis 5 to 10 kilometers from the target).

  • The infiltration and exfiltration corridors to and from the target or TAI.

The ranger AO is the same as the SF DA AO (including routes to and from home station), except that the target normally covers a much larger area than for SF DA missions. For example, a ranger battalion may target an entire airfield, whereas an SF team may target airframes and crew billets.

The SOA AO extends from the initial staging base (ISB) to the forward staging base (FSB) to the SR TAI or DA target and back again. The PSYOP AO is tied to its targeted populations, and may comprise a country, a part of a country, or an international region. The CA AO normally is that part of a country in which CA operations are actually taking place.

Area of Interest

The commander selects the AI based on the staff estimate of the situation. It covers future threats to the command and supports future operations. The AI includes missions. E&E corridors, and serves as a guide for supporting intelligence requirements.

The SF AI for FID and UW normally includes countries or areas that actually or potentially provide military, political, economic, psychological, and social aid to threat forces.

The SF AI for SR normally covers areas which pose military, political, psychological, and social threats to the mission.

The SF AI for ranger DA missions normally covers those areas outside the target bullseye and access and egress routes from which tactical military threats to the mission can emanate. The SOA AI-

  • Encompasses threat airfields, refueling and rearming points, surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites, and air defense

  • Extends upward to the maximum altitudes of friendly and threat air defense systems.

The PSYOP AI comprises areas from which operational and strategic threats to mission accomplishment can emanate. The CA AI normally includes areas from which threats to mission accomplishment can emanate.

BAE for Special Forces. SF concerns include and go beyond the tactical battlefield. This is particularly true in FID and UW. Thus, the SF SIO begins the IPB effort with an operational area evaluation (OAE), which covers the SF AO and AI. During this function, the SF SIO begins to collect data to fill basic intelligence requirements in the following areas:

  • Political.

  • Military.

  • Economic.

  • Social.

  • Climatology.

  • Geographic.

  • Psychological.

  • Cultural.

  • Friendly forces.

  • Hostile forces.

  • Nonbelligerent third-party forces.

It is here that key data is developed and tailored to the specific operational area and mission. It is also during this procedural step that the SIO fine-tunes the limits of the AOs and AIs, including those in the electromagnetic and psychological spectrums. SF OAEs for SR and DA missions focus on the location of the target and defenses or obstacles and specific orders and requirements (SOR).

The SF SIO conducts micro-infrastructure evaluations using 1:12,500 scale or larger maps, blueprints, floor plans, or photographs. Natural terrain is examined down to individual square meters of ground. OAE for FID and UW missions is more complex than for SR and DA. During the OAE for a FID mission in a counterinsurgency (COIN) environment, the SIO should raise and answer the following PIR:

  • What is the insurgent political or military structure and key personalities and leaders?

  • Where can we expect to find threat and nonbilligerant third parties applying the elements of power (military, informational, economic, and political)?

  • Where can we expect to not find the insurgents applying the elements of power?

  • What forces within society can be expected to apply the elements of power independently of the insurgents or government; and where, when, and how will they apply these elements?

BAE for Rangers. Rangers begin the BAE with a specific target area evaluation (TAE). It is focused on answering the following types of questions:

  • What are the threats on or near the objective?

  • What are the size and dimensions of the target?

  • How does the target correspond to other selected targets in terms of criticality and importance?

  • What is the importance of this target to the threat or host country?

  • Is the environment permissive, semipermissive, or nonpermissive?

  • What is the physical layout and functional organization of the target?

  • What is the construction of key components of the target, including dimensions, materials, and entry points?

  • What are the primary and alternate energy supplies for the target?

  • What and where are the fuel supply and storage facilities on the target?

  • What are the lighting and detection systems on the target?

  • What is the reaction time, size, and location of threat reinforcements?

BAE for SOA. During the BAE function, SOA SIOs evaluate threat ground, air, and naval forces which are expected to operate within the battlefield area (including routes to and from a target or TAI). They are evaluated to determine their capabilities in relation to the weather, terrain, and friendly mission. Particular attention is paid to air bases (including ships carrying aircraft), refueling points, LZs, DZs, and air defense weapons, radars, and other sensors operating within the battlefield area.

BAE for PSYOP. PSYOP units, like SF, begin IPB with an OAE. It is initially comprised of the basic and special PSYOP studies and assessments of the AO. These studies and assessments are produced by the PSYOP units and are listed in the DIA RIP. These studies are augmented with additional intelligence data in preparation for the PSYOP mission. PSYOP analysts doing OAE also focus on, but do not limit themselves to, identifying-

  • Ethnic, racial, social, economic, religious, and linguistic groups of the area, their locations, and their densities.

  • Key leaders and communicators in the area, both formal (such as politicians and government officials) and informal (such as businessmen and clergy).

  • Cohesive and divisive issues within a community (for example, what makes them a community, what would split the community, and attitudes toward the US).

  • Literacy rates and levels of education.

  • Types and proportions of media consumed by the community.

  • Any concentrations of third-country nationals in the AO, and their purposes and functions.

During the OAE, the PSYOP SIO prepares a matrix identifying groups, their leaders, preferred media, and key issues that need to be developed. This supplements population overlays. Based on the population makeup of the AO, the SIO-

  • Determines what groups to focus on.

  • Locates mass media facilities in the AO that aid in the dissemination of PSYOP products and identifies their operational characteristics.

  • Evaluates studios and transmitters for AM and FM radio and television and their operational characteristics (wattage, frequency, programming).

  • Evaluates heavy and light printing facilities, including locations, types, and capacities of equipment that can supplement the capabilities of PSYOP units.

  • Evaluates accessibility of such facilities to PSYOP forces (for example, who controls them and whether they will cooperate with the US).

BAE for CA. Like other ARSOF units, CA units begin IPB with OAE. CA OAE in FID consists of-

  • An evaluation of host-nation civic action programs.

  • Population and resource control.

  • Civilian labor.

  • Materiel procurement.

The CA SIO also evaluates future sites and programs for civic action undertaken in the AO by the host nation unilaterally or with US support. In making this evaluation, the SIO often relies primarily on local and regional HUMINT assets of the host nation and the supported command to get an accurate feel for the insurgency or lawlessness and other major aspects of the operational environment.

CA OAE in UW evaluates hostile government CA operations for strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities that can be exploited by US-supported insurgents. This evaluation forms the basis for alternative programs conducted by the insurgents.

The CA OAE support of DA focuses on identifying the location, number, and disposition of civilians in and around the target for CA operators and supported SOF and conventional forces. The OAE also identifies potential sites for noncombatant assembly areas. These areas provide a place where civilians who have information of potential intelligence value can be protected and debriefed.

The primary role of CA when supporting DA missions is to minimize civilian casualties and interference. The CA SIO identifies procedures to safeguard PWs and noncombatants, and cultural factors which should be considered by tactical unit commanders. For example, CA OAE should identify churches used as a primary gathering site for religious functions as well as social events.

In NEO, CA OAE identifies the location and number of US and third-country nationals to be evacuated. This is done on the basis of the State Department's F-77 report, contained in the embassy Contingency Support Package (CSP). The CSP also includes imagery of all planned and potential AAs and evacuation points for official and US personnel. In disaster relief operations, CA OAE identifies the type and geographical limits of the disaster. When dealing with DCs, the CA OAE establishes the location, number, and status of all DCs in the AO. The OAE also includes identifying-

  • Displaced civil measures to apply.

  • Where the DCs are living.

  • How they are getting their food.

  • Sanitary conditions and afflicting diseases.


The second step in IPB is terrain analysis. Terrain analysis is performed to reduce the uncertainties and effects of natural and synthetic terrain, and to assess the effects of the population on military operations.

As part of IPB, all ARSOF units employ the factors of OCOKA. However, ARSOF units often must have more details on the total environment than OCOKA can provide because they operate in environments and perform diverse missions.

ARSOF missions may require the SIO to perform what is called geographic analysis; this consists of terrain analysis and population analysis. Geographic analysis and component parts are discussed later in this chapter.

Key Terrain

Mission requirements and the commander's intent determine ARSOF selection criteria for key terrain. Key terrain is an area or locality in which the seizure or control will afford a marked advantage to threat or friendly units. Key terrain applies during DA missions. However, it is not so cut and dried in FID or UW.

In FID, for example, key terrain may include a hilltop overlooking a host-nation military installation. The seizure or control of that hilltop is key to the security of the installation. However, the local population living along the approaches to the hilltop are key to an insurgent force trying to reach the hilltop to reconnoiter or attack the installation.

While the local population is not terrain, their presence is key to the insurgent force which counts on direct or tacit civilian support for free movement. Take away that civilian support, and insurgent movement towards the key terrain becomes more difficult.

Physically seizing and controlling these people by voluntary or forced relocation can solve the immediate problem, but may ultimately create new ones. However, "seizing their hearts and minds" through PSYOP and CA operations will deny the insurgents free access to the hilltop. An alert and cooperative population is an excellent early warning device against insurgent movement. Obviously, people are not key terrain; but their presence on a terrain feature can make that location key terrain to threat or friendly forces.

The SIO must use caution when recommending key terrain. For example, the control of coca crop areas may deny its use to the drug cartels, but will alienate local farmers from the government.

Terrain Overlays

Normally, ARSOF use the five basic terrain overlays that are developed from geographic and terrain analysis. These terrain overlays are prepared in the terrain analysis step but are used and updated throughout the IPB process.

Population Status Overlay. Figure 10-5 reflects the results of the population analysis subset of geographic analysis. It depicts the population -- an often critical factor in ARSOF operations -- especially in FID and UW environments. While population is not specifically a terrain feature, the presence of people and their associated activities in a given geographic area often determine the importance of that terrain to friendly and threat operations.

The population can provide support and security to friendly and threat forces. For example, the failure of the November 1989 insurgent offensive in San Salvador, El Salvador, was largely a result of the insurgents' inability to mobilize the urban masses against the government. This inability resulted in a tactical and operational military failure and severely undermined the credibility of the insurgents' claim to be representing the will of the people.

Figure 10-5 also shows the sectors of the population that are pro-government, neutral, and pro-insurgent. A numeric graphic may also show education, religion, ethnic, or economic aspects of the population.

A more refined graphic in an urban environment would show the homes and work places of key friendly or threat military or civilian personnel and their relatives. In this instance, large-scale maps and imagery are used to accurately plot the information by marking rooftops of buildings. This refined graphic should be cross-referenced to OB files, such as personality files and faction or organization files. This graphic-

  • Assists the commander to see the AO or target area and to develop his mission plans.

  • Enables the commander to determine the prospects for attacking or securing a key node in a built-up area and then factors in the possibility of collateral damage to the population and to property. (This tool is valuable in counter-drugs operations.)

Concealment and Cover Overlay. Figure 10-6 shows the availability, density, type, and location of concealment and cover to friendly and threat elements. It should depict concealment and cover from the ground as well as from the air.

In areas with a significant threat of aerial attack or observation, overhead concealment and cover may be important for threat selection of base camps, mission support sites, drug laboratories, and the like.

Surface configuration primarily determines cover, including natural and synthetic features (such as mines, bunkers, tunnels, and fighting positions). Vegetation is the primary feature that provides concealment. Some vegetation may provide concealment from both aerial and ground observation, while other types will provide concealment from only the air or ground. Canopy closure data is critical for the determination of areas that offer concealment from aerial observation, particularly in tropical rain forests.

This information is incorporated into the concealment and cover overlay for rural and other forested areas. In built-up areas, synthetic structures are also assessed for the concealment and cover they offer.

When used with the population status overlay, the concealment and cover overlay can be used to determine dwelling and work places, safe houses, routes of movement, meeting places and others. For FID, UW, DA, CT, and SR missions, this can also narrow the area of search for key personnel and other C2 elements.

Logistics Sustainability Overlay. Figure 10-7 shows the location of items essential to friendly and threat operations. Detecting and locating supply lines and bases are critical to finding and defeating hostile activities. Attention is given to basic food, water, medicine, and material supply. In rural areas, this overlay shows potable water supplies, farms, orchards, growing seasons, and the like. In built-up areas, this overlay shows super-markets, food warehouses, pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and the residences of doctors and other key medical personnel.

In counter-drug operations, this overlay identifies the locations of supply outlets offering precursor chemicals. In FID and UW environments, this overlay is used to locate businesses offering PVC tubing used to produce indigenous mines and booby traps, and retail or wholesale outlets that sell printing materials necessary to produce PSYOP products. Key to preparing this overlay is knowledge of threat and friendly forces, their logistical requirements, and the availability and location of materiel and personnel to meet these requirements.

Trap or Key Facilities Overlay. Figure 10-8 graphically portrays the location of possible threat targets within the AO. In FID environments, this overlay shows-

  • Banks.

  • Bridges.

  • Electric power installations.

  • Bulk petroleum facilities.

  • Friendly military and government facilities.

  • Residencies and work places of key personnel. This overlay requires particular refinement for threat DA and SR missions against large facilities and infrastructure systems (such as air bases, rail yards, and bulk electric power supply grids).

This graphic overlay is used to determine the points most susceptible to attack based on threat capabilities and intentions. For example, the threat to a large air base may focus on air frames, crew billets, and POL storage; instead of runways, aprons, and the control tower.

The trap overlay is significant to the friendly commander's defense planning because it shows him where to concentrate his defenses and, conversely, where his defenses can be more diffused. The trap overlay utilizes CI personnel to focus on indicators of threat preparation for attack, such as the discovery of an indigenous worker pacing off the distances between perimeter fences and critical nodes. The trap overlay is also useful in disaster relief and counter lawlessness operations by identifying likely locations for rioting, pilfering, or looting.

Lines of Communications Overlay. Figure 10-9 high-lights transportation systems and nodes within the AO (such as railways, roads, trails, navigable waterways, and airfields). In urban environments, mass public transit routes and schedules, as well as underground sewage, drainage and utility tunnels, ditches, and culverts are shown. Where applicable, this overlay also shows seasonal variations.

Care is taken to compare recent aerial imagery and map products to ensure new LOC are added to the final product. If operating in tropical rain forests and conflicting a FID mission, freshly cut trails may not be observable from the air and may require specific map tracking debriefs of SR teams and other patrols.

The extent and regularity that a trail is repaired or improved can indicate the pattern and type of threat activity, and may in itself indicate preparations for large-scale movement or attack. In many situations, LOC products are readily available from the host nation or other local sources.

Terrain Analysis for Special Forces

The terrain analysis step for SF is called geographic analysis in FID and UW, and microterrain analysis for SR and DA. Because of its universal applicability, population analysis is discussed later. In SF geographic analysis, the SIO-

  • Considers subcategories of terrain, microterrain, and population.

  • Analyzes the political, military, economic, social, psychological, and cultural factors of the AO and AI under the category of population.

  • Determines how they separately and collectively affect friendly, threat, and nonbelligerent third-party capabilities, vulnerabilities, and COAs.

SF SR and DA microterrain analysis cover all mission-essential aspects of the terrain. Each individual mission will dictate the level of focus and the specific factors the SIO will consider. This requires the use of 1:12,500 scale maps when these maps are available. Factors to include:

  • OCOKA factors in a radius (to be determined by the mission and operational considerations) of the target or TAI, such as threat air, ground, and water AAs and infiltration corridors; vegetation, foot trails, mountain passes, small wadis, steep slopes, thickets, and elevations in excess of 50 meters in height and potential OPs, LPs, and cache sites.

  • All significant synthetic features in the AO. (Examples would be military garrisons, installations, airfields, and seaports; rail facilities, bridges, and tunnels; petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) complexes; electric power and telecommunications facilities; villages, nomadic camp sites, and artesian wells; shacks and towers; surveillance cameras and other early warning devices; churches, mosques, cemeteries, and monuments; utility poles and gas stations.)

  • LOCs in the AO that could support friendly or hostile forces.

  • Air corridors for extraction, reinforcement, or fire support aircraft.

  • Potential LZs, DZs, and beach landing sites (BLSs) for extraction or for additional SF deployments or reinforcement.

  • Food and water sources suitable for human consumption in the AO (including capacities by season).

  • Cross-country mobility (in overlay form) for friendly and hostile dismounted personnel and wheeled and tracked vehicles.

  • Elevation contours (in overlay form) of the AO, integrated with digitized computer terrain graphics for a ground perspective of the AO.

Terrain Analysis for Rangers

Ranger SIOs conduct microterrain analysis and consider the same basic factors as SF microterrain analysis within a larger target area. This includes specific air corridors for ranger airborne and air assault operations.

Terrain Analysis for SOA

SOA SIOs conduct in-depth studies of each optional flight route during the terrain analysis step of IPB. This study is imagery intensive because target areas are often inaccessible by ground or are behind enemy lines. SOA operate primarily at night and under limited visibility. Therefore, identifying and measuring terrain features are often critical to the success of the SOA mission.

Imagery with highly detailed mensuration is used for detailed pre-flight planning. For SOA's flying long infiltration and exfiltration routes, critical terrain consists of identifiable reference points that aid in navigation, as well as terrain features that can mask friendly aircraft from detection and hostile fire.

SOA terrain overlays depict all the obstacles to flight, reference points, check points, masked areas, and danger zones. These factors are used to determine the best flight routes to the target. The SIO uses the combination obstacle overlay to determine flight routes for infiltration and exfiltration. This overlay is the basis for input to the SOA requirements section of the TIP.

When preparing to support DA and SR ground missions, SOA terrain analysis must equal or surpass the detail of the ground force terrain analysis. Due to the low altitudes that SOA aircraft fly, features that are obstacles to ground forces may also be obstacles to SOA.

For example, SOA terrain analysis requires the SIO to measure buildings, poles, trees, wires, streets, open fields, and anything else that could be in an LZ, pickup zone (PZ), or obstacle to flight during insertions and extractions. Following are some considerations.

  • Slope is an obstacle to fast rope assault operations.

  • Open fields and rooftops provide viable insertion and extraction points for ARSOF personnel.

  • Streets in urban areas or trails in wooded areas can be used for ultra low-level flight to hide the aircraft from detection and fire.

Terrain Analysis for PSYOP

CA SIOs conduct PSYOP terrain analysis focusing on how geography affects the population of the AO, and the dissemination of PSYOP products. This step includes preparing a line-of-sight (LOS) overlay for radio and television stations derived from an obstacle overlay that shows elevations and other LOS information. For PSYOP, terrain analysis will, for example, focus on determining the respective ranges and audibility of signals from the most significant broadcast stations identified during OAE.

Terrain Analysis for CA

CA SIOs conduct terrain analysis in support of DA missions to aid the commander in accomplishing his mission while minimizing civilian interference and reducing collateral damage.

In FID and UW environments, the CA SIO conducts geographic analysis to identify critical government and insurgent food, water and resupply routes, and potential locations of insurgent base areas. In FID and UW, the SIO primarily determines how terrain affects the ability of the supported group to conduct civic action and civil defense. For example, extremely rugged or thickly vegetated areas may be unacceptable for some civic action projects because they are inaccessible to the necessary personnel and equipment needed to run such projects.

Population Analysis

As stated earlier, population analysis is a subset of geographic analysis. It has applications for all ARSOF units, including ranger and SOA units. Rangers and SOA require an understanding of population issues when battlefield developments force them to operate in isolation for extended periods. An understanding of the population is crucial to successful E&E from threat forces if stranded in threat or denied territory.

Population is a major consideration to ARSOF in FID and UW environments, as well as in SR and some DA missions. Consequently, their SIOs must undertake a distinct population analysis of the AO in support of these missions. During this step, the SIO identifies, evaluates, and prepares overlays and other products, as appropriate, for-

  • Social organizations.

  • Economic organizations.

  • Political organizations.

  • History of the society.

  • Nature of the threat.

  • Nature of the government response.

  • Effects on nonbelligerents.

  • COA of the threat, government, and nonbelligerent.

Because of the shared interest in population analysis, ARSOF SIOs operating in the same AO must coordinate their efforts during this step.


Although not a part of IPB, factor analysis is a concur-rent process with IPB.

The SIO performs a factor analysis to determine which activities and programs accommodate the common goals of the politically and socially active groups. The SIO determines which groups and composite groups are supporting, or are inclined to support, the government; to support the threat; or to remain neutral.

Social Organizations

In evaluating social organizations, the SIO looks at-

  • Density and distribution of population by groups, balance between urban and rural groups, sparsely populated areas, and concentrations of primary racial, linguistic, or cultural groups.

  • Race, religion, national origin, tribe, economic class, political party and affiliation, ideology, education level, union memberships, management class, occupation, and age of the populace.

  • Overlaps among classes and splits within them. For example, do union members belong to one or a few religious or racial groups? Are there ideological divisions within a profession?

  • Composite groups based on their political behavior and the component and composite strength of each. For example, who are actively or passively supporting the government or the insurgents, and who are neutral?

  • Active or potential issues motivating the political, economic, social, or military behavior of each sub-group and group; and population growth or decline, age distribution, and changes in location by groups. For example, economic benefits, social prestige, political participation, and perception of relative deprivation.

Economic Organizations

The SIO identifies economic programs within our values and resources to generate favorable support, stabilize neutral groups, or neutralize threat groups. In evaluating economic organizations, the SIO looks at-

  • Major ideologies. An example is the principal economic ideology of the society with local innovations or adaptation in the operational area.

  • Economic infrastructure. Examples of indicators are fuel and mineral resource locations, bulk electric power production and distribution, transport facilities, and communications networks.

  • National economic performance. Examples of indicators are gross national product, gross domestic product, foreign trade balance, per capita income, inflation rate, and annual growth rate.

  • National production performance. Examples of indicators are public and private ownership patterns; and the concentration, dispersal, and distribution of wealth in agriculture, manufacturing, forestry, information, professional services, transportation, mining, and the like.

  • Public health. Some indictors are birth and death rates, diet and nutrition, water supply, sanitation and health care availability, and endemic diseases.

  • Foreign trade patterns. Some examples are domestic and foreign indebtedness (public and private) and resource dependencies; analysis of economic benefit, how wealth is distributed, what is the level of poverty, and where does it occur.

  • National education programs. Some factors to determine if the educational policies of the country meet national needs are how accessible it is to groups and individuals; grouping by scientific technical, professional, liberal arts, and crafts training; and skill surpluses and shortages.

  • National employment patterns. Indicators of employment are unemployment, underemployment, and exclusion of groups; and horizontal and vertical career mobility.

  • National revenues. Indicators are taxing authorities, rates, and how rates are determined.

  • Population dispersal patterns. Indicators are population shifts and their causes and effects (for example, rural to urban, agriculture to manufacturing, and manufacturing to service).

Political Organizations

In evaluating political organizations, the SIO looks at-

  • The formal political structure of the government and the sources of its power. For example, the SIO must determine whether a country has a pluralist democracy based on the consensus of the voters or a strong-man rule supported by the military.

  • The informal political structure of the government, and its comparison with the formal structure. The SIO must determine the true functional system by comparing it. For example, is the government nominally a democracy but really a political dictatorship?

  • The legal and illegal political parties and their programs, strengths, and prospects for success. The SIO also studies the prospects for partnerships and coalitions between the parties.

  • The nonparty political organizations, motivating issues, strengths, and parties or programs they support, to include political action groups.

  • The nonpolitical interest groups and the correlations of their interests with political parties or non-party organizations. These can include churches, cultural and professional organizations, and unions.

  • The mechanism for government succession, the integrity of the process, roles of the populace and oligarchy, regularity of elections, systematic exclusion of identifiable groups, voting blocks, and patron-client determinants of voting.

  • The independence, subordination, and effectiveness of the judiciary. To determine this, the SIO answers the following questions: Does the judiciary have the power of legislative and executive review? Does the judiciary support constitutionally guaranteed rights and international concepts of human rights?

  • The independence or control of the press and other mass media, and the alternatives for the dissemination of information and opinion.

  • The centralization or diffusion of essential decision making and patterns of inclusion or inclusion of specific individuals or groups in the process.

  • The administrative competence of the bureaucracy. To determine this, the SIO answers the following question: Are they altruistic public servants or self-serving crooks? Can individuals and groups make their voices heard within the bureaucracy?

History of the Society

The SIO correlates political, economic, and social groups and identifies political programs which will neutralize opposing groups and provide a plurality favorable to friendly groups. In evaluating the history of the society, the SIO specifically looks at-

  • The origin of the incumbent government and its leadership. To determine this, the SIO answers the following questions: Was the government elected? Does it have a long history? Have there been multiple peaceful successions of government?

  • The history of political violence. The SIO analyzes the political history of the country and asks: Is violence a common means for the resolution of political problems? Is there precedent for revolution, coup d'etat, assassination, or terrorism? Does the country have a history of consensus building? Does the present threat have causes and aspirations in common with historic political violence?

Nature of the Threat

The SIO determines the legitimacy of the government; acceptance of violent and nonviolent remedies to political problems by the populace; the type and level of violence required by friendly and threat forces; and the groups or subgroups that can be expected to support or oppose the use of violence.

In evaluating the nature of the threat, the SIO looks at-

  • External support to the threat, including direct military intervention by third-party nations.

  • The desired end state of the threat, the clarity of its formulation, the openness of its articulation, the commonality of points of view among the elements of the threat, and the differences between this end view and the end view of the government.

  • The groups and subgroups supporting the general objectives of the threat.

  • The cleavages, minority views, and discord within the threat.

  • The groups that might have been deceived or duped by the threat about the desired end-state of the threat

  • The organizational structures and patterns used by the threat, any variations and combinations to these structures or patterns, and any shifts and trends.

  • The stage and phase of the threat and how far and long it has progressed and regressed over time.

  • The unity and disagreement with front groups, leadership, tactics, primary targets, doctrine, OB, training, morale, discipline, and materiel resources.

  • External support.

  • Whether rigid commitment to a method or ideological tenet, or other factor, constitutes an exploitable vulnerability and weakness on which the government can build strength.

Nature of the Government Response

In evaluating the nature of the government response, the SIO looks at-

  • General planning or lack of planning for countering the threat, comprehensiveness of planning, and correctness of definitions and conclusions.

  • Organization and methods for strategic and operational planning and execution of plans, strengths, weaknesses, resource requirements and constraints, and reality of priorities.

  • Population and resources utilization, and the effects on each group.

  • Organization, equipment, and tactical doctrine for security forces. How does the government protect its economic and political infrastructure?

  • Areas where the, government has maintained the initiative.

  • Population and resource control measures.

  • Economic development programs.

Effects on Nonbelligerents

The SIO correlates government and threat strengths and weaknesses and identifies necessary changes in friendly security force programs, plans, organization, and doctrine. The SIO determines the strengths and weaknesses of the nonbelligerent, the depth of their commitment to remain neutral, and the requirements to make them remain neutral or to support friendly or threat programs or forces.

Also important is how civilian communities react to the US forces operating in their area. The SIO needs to know whether the civilian community views the US as a friendly and benign force there to aid the country and people; or, if they see the US as an overbearing super-power trying to exert its control over the oppressed. The SIO needs to determine if the civilian population is likely to assist US or friendly forces in escaping and evading capture by threat forces.

In evaluating the effects on nonbelligerents, the SIO looks at-

  • Mechanisms for monitoring nonbelligerent attitudes and responses.

  • Common objectives of groups neither supporting nor opposing the threat.

  • Effects of government military, political, economic, and social operations and programs on the populace. Does the government often kill civilians in its counter-threat operations? Are benefits of government aid programs evenly distributed?

  • Weather the populace is inclined to provide the threat and the government with intelligence.

COA of the Threat, Government, and Nonbelligerent

In evaluating the COA for threat forces, government, and nonbelligerent, the SIO considers the above factors and determines likely COAs and the effects of each. For example, to keep the threat from killing teachers and substituting ideologically based educational programs in village schools, the government-

  • May provide its teachers with bodyguards.

  • May form small, armed, and highly mobile squads to minimize the effects of threat destruction of power line support towers. The squads must be capable of reaching, repairing, or replacing damaged towers in less time than it takes the threat to plan and execute attacks on these targets.


The third IPB step is weather analysis. Normally, ARSOF SIOs preparing for DA and SR missions receive the results of weather analysis and climatological data from the SO SWO. However, the distance to the objective and the duration of a mission may require climatological data and light data from several time zones and weather seasons.

SF, PSYOP, and CA in FID and UW environments, and SOA on extended operations, however, have concerns that go beyond weather and extend to climate. In these situations, the SIO performs a climatology analysis. He looks at the climate, weather, and light conditions in the AO, over time, to determine their effects on friendly, threat, and nonbelligerent third-party operations.

The SIO-

  • Considers climate types by area and season, and their effects on military, political, social, and economic activities.

  • Develops historic weather data and weather effects overlays during this step.

  • Gives special considerations to light data and its effect on friendly, threat, and nonbelligerent third-party operations and activities; this is because weather and light conditions can influence the number of civilians who will be in or around a DA target, SR TAI, or other ARSOF AI. The effects of weather and climate are integrated with terrain analysis.

SF, rangers, SOA, and threat forces often choose darkness and adverse weather conditions for DA and SR operations. Weather strongly influences-

  • Infiltration and extraction.

  • Foot movement.

  • Night observation devices (NODs).

  • Laser target designation (LTD) operations.

  • SR surveillance ranges.

  • Weapons effectiveness.

  • Deployments or reaction times.

For rangers, weather analysis concentrates on the effects of weather on-

  • Airborne and air assault operations.

  • Troop morale.

  • Weapons effectiveness.

  • Rotary-wing lift capabilities.

  • Ground movement of light infantry.

  • Observation limitations.

  • Fields of fire.

Light and lunar data are pertinent to ranger operations. Lunar data influences the efficiency of night vision goggles (NVGs).

Weather Analysis for SOA

For SOA, weather analysis must be detailed. Generic weather summaries for a country are not sufficient for SOA elements. Weather patterns for each geographical region must be obtained and compared to the terrain area to develop the best flight routes. Weather data which may have negligible impact on conventional Army aviation assets may be critical for night infiltration operations in denied areas.

Within the target area, last minute weather conditions may be a critical element of the target analysis. Soil composition combined with weather can severely affect operations.

  • Moon illumination and angle are important for flight operations with NVGs.

  • Visibility, wind speed, and wind direction can significantly affect light helicopter operations.

  • Conditions of sand or snow in a moderate wind; loose rock and gravel in a high wind; and sudden brown-out or white-out can render SOA operations ineffective.

  • Sea and water conditions are also important to know for survivability and for combat search and rescue (CSAR) operations when SOA work over water.

The SOA SIO and his analyst use much of the same data as SF and ranger SIOs. Ground and air ARSOF sometimes operate together; therefore, to achieve rapid, thorough, and accurate analysis for all mission participants, coordination-and even consolidation-of intelligence during terrain analysis and other stages of IPB are critical.

Weather Analysis for PSYOP and CA

Weather and climate can play an important role in the development of a PSYOP plan or CA mission. In FID and UW missions, particularly, weather and climate affect CA projects, PSYOP media, and dissemination operations. For example, wind direction and speed at 500 feet above ground level (AGL) increments are required for leaflet operations; recruitment of locals in sub-zero weather is extremely difficult; periods of drought may force farmers to become bandits or insurgents; and flooding can interfere with food and medicine distribution.


The fourth IPB step is threat evaluation. Threat evaluation is a detailed study of threat forces, their composition and organization, tactical doctrine, weapons and equipment, and supporting systems. Threat evaluation determines threat capabilities and limitations and how the threat would fight if not constrained by weather and terrain.

Threat Evaluation for SF

Because SF often operate in fluid environments where opposing sides may not be well-defined or may change, the SIO focuses on correlating the interaction of friendly, threat, and nonbelligerent third-party forces in the AO. Figure 10-10 shows the correlation of forces in FID and UW. The SF SIO-

  • Identifies the threat, friendly, and nonbelligerent third-party forces and develops a detailed OB data base.

  • Determines their strengths and weaknesses in relation to each other.

Unlike non-ARSOF SIOs, who look two echelons up and one down, the SF SIO must look at all echelons of forces that can affect the mission, regardless of echelon.

In SF DA and SR operations, predictive templates are produced during the threat evacuation step. Predictive templates portray known and suspected threat activity on or near a target or TAI. They can be general sketches, photographs, or imagery products. These templates are in addition to the doctrinal overlays and other traditional products. The SIO pays special attention to-

  • Security and reaction force capabilities, weapons, fortifications and barriers, morale, uniforms, and communications.

  • Threat indirect fire weapons coverage.

  • Point and area air defense.

  • NBC and other special weapons or hazards that may be present or used on the target or in the TAI.

  • Threat, friendly, or nonbelligerent third-party forces status; out to 25 kilometers from the target or TAI.

In FID and UW operations, SF SIOs pay particular attention to military and paramilitary police forces on the government side, and the regular and irregular forces and infrastructure (auxiliary and underground) on the threat side. SF correlation of force evaluation in these environments includes analysis of the following factors for friendly, threat, and nonbelligerent forces:

  • Key personalities.

  • Composition.

  • Strength.

  • Logistics.

  • Training (individual, unit, and special).

  • Electronics technical data.

  • Disposition (location).

  • Tactics and methods.

  • Operational effectiveness.

  • Other situation-specific data such as-

    - History and lineage of threat organization and factions.

    - Cultural peculiarities.

    - Dialects.

    - Religious peculiarities.

    - Ethnic.

    - Drug use.

The SF SIO -

  • Determines how the friendly, threat, and nonbelligerent forces can use geography, offensive actions, security, surprise, and cross-country mobility to allow the S3 to develop locally superior applications of the elements of power.

  • Identifies strengths and weaknesses of friendly, threat, and nonbelligerent forces.

  • Determines the political, social, economic, and psychological effects of each side's COA, tactics, and countertactics.

  • Analyzes the COA and makes recommendations to the S3 to optimize the application of the elements of combat power by the friendly side.

Threat Evaluation for Rangers

For rangers, the amount of detail studied during threat evaluation is generally greater and is focused on a much smaller AO. HVTs are identified during this step. HVTs are based on the commander's guidance, specific target area evaluation, and knowledge of threat capabilities en route and at the target location. In conducting threat evaluation, data on the threat's composition, disposition, organization, and tactics are gathered and evaluated. In addition, rangers determine and evaluate-

  • Foreign forces on the target; this includes all OB (air, ground, electronic, naval) and C3I systems.

  • Communications, ESM, ECM, and imitative communications deception operations.

  • Data on threat security and reaction forces capable of reinforcing the objective.

  • Local militia present and their status.

  • Uniforms, equipment, and weapons (and associated capabilities) used by threat forces.

  • Target fortifications, barriers, and point air defenses.

  • Morale and likely reactions of target defenders.

  • Reactions and status of the onsite work force.

  • Threats from indirect fire, air, and NBC to rangers on target.

  • Locations of arms rooms and caches.

  • Data on the local populace (for example, their language, whether they are armed and support the government, and their feelings toward the US).

  • Other historical background data.

Threat Evaluation for SOA

For SOA threat evaluation is often difficult and complex because of the environment in which SOA aircraft work. Many of the systems presenting a threat to SOA do not affect conventional commanders. Since the mission for SOA in DA and SR missions is undetected infiltration and exfiltration, the primary threat is anything that can detect and report aircraft movements.

Civilian and commercial systems may be as dangerous to SOA as threat soldiers and military systems. Detection and early warning from civil air traffic control radars, navigational radar on fishing vessels, or others are as harmful as early warning by a military air defense radar.

Unique vulnerabilities of SOA aircraft must also be considered. A rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) is more dangerous to a low-flying helicopter than an SA-7 or SA-14. The SOA SIO must assess potential threats that range beyond standard OB files on the objective country and neighboring countries.

During threat evaluation, the SOA SIO also examines communication links. A threat that can detect the mission aircraft but cannot report its presence in a timely manner is not a major concern to the SOA element. On the other hand, a lone rifleman with a radio or a telephone can ruin an SOA mission. Terrain masking is a critical factor in determining the threat's detection and reporting capabilities.

Threat evaluation of the SOA target site itself is also complex and goes beyond the usual OB available or target area. SOA elements need to know nearly as much as the ARSOF DA ground element about security forces. They also need information on aerial patrol reaction forces, lighting at the target, and so on. When SOA and other ARSOF work together, close coordination--or even consolidating their threat evaluations--is necessary.

Threat Evaluation for PSYOP

For PSYOP, threat evaluation serves two purposes. First, it gives the JPOTF commander an understanding of the existing and potential opposing products in the AO. It is a safe assumption that US PSYOP will be countered by the threat. Opposing PSYOP may be "products of the deed," like civic actions. This opposing product may come from governments, political parties, labor unions, or religious groups. US PSYOP forces in the AO must anticipate and be able to counter or prevent threat products directed at US and allied forces and the local populace.

Second, the supported unit commander depends upon the JPOTF commander for advice on any PSYOP consequences of US operations, and for recommended alternative measures within each COA.

To conduct threat evaluation, the SIO and staff must determine the capabilities of hostile organizations to conduct product operations and to counteract US and allied PSYOP. The demographics of any threat military and paramilitary forces should be evaluated at this step; if they were not considered during OAE. These organizations may be within the AO or AI, and even in another country. Specific capabilities to be evaluated include the ability to-

  • Conduct offensive product operations targeting US, allied forces, or the local populace.

  • "Inoculate" its personnel against US PSYOP efforts(defensive counter-products).

  • Counteract US PSYOP efforts by exploiting weaknesses in US PSYOP campaigns (offensive counter-products).

  • Conduct active measures or "dirty tricks" campaigns.

  • Conduct ECM against US or allied PSYOP broadcasts.

Threat Evaluation for CA

During threat evaluation, the CA SIO must determine the noncombatants during military operations. This is especially critical where the opponent is not a standing military force or if the force is not equipped with standard uniforms and weapons, like guerrillas or terrorists. These military forces can often blend into or intermingle with the civilian community. Threat evaluation for CA units identifies threat OB and the modus operandi of these threat forces.

Threat forces use social, religious, and other types of forums to employ the elements of power and methods of countering them.

Doctrinal Templating

Where possible, the ARSOF SIO uses doctrinal templates to graphically show the results of threat evaluation. These templates depict the force structure, deployment, or capabilities of hostile, friendly, and nonbelligerent third-party doctrinal deployment.

This is shown for various types of operations without the constraints imposed by climatological conditions and geography. It is used as a comparative data base to integrate what is known about threat, friendly, and nonbelligerent third-party forces. Military operating systems, like artillery, air defense, or engineers, may also be templated.

Pattern Analysis

In the absence of identifiable doctrine, pattern or trend analysis is used. Insurgent or terrorist threat operations, for example, can be shown at the operational level by flow charts showing the essential steps, with time windows of typical operations, like assassinations.

At the tactical level, diagrams can show how the threat forces have executed type operations in the past, such as abductions from vehicles. In the latter war-of-movement stage of insurgency, types of data displayed are-

  • Composition.

  • Formations.

  • Frontages.

  • Depths.

  • Equipment numbers and ratios.

  • HVTs (subclassified as movers, emitters, shooters, and sitters).

Other Threat Evaluation Templates

ARSOF SIOs may employ a combination of standard and nonstandard doctrinal templates.

For COIN operations, a recommended technique for templating the reactions of threat forces is to use the reactive doctrinal template (RDT). The RDT is simply a series of concentric circles keyed to time-distance assumptions. Figure 10-11 shows an example of an RDT.

The RDT is a variant of the doctrinal template. It depicts how insurgent groups usually react to friendly activity in their area. Like the standard doctrinal template, the RDT does not take terrain and other external factors into consideration.


The final step in IPB is threat integration, SF, PSYOP, and CA SIOs refer to this step as data base integration. However, because of the relatively narrow range of factors considered by ranger and SOA, this function remains threat integration in ranger and SOA IPB. This is the final stage in the development of a TIP. In turn, the TIP supports development of the POE for the ARSOF element. At this step, all of the factor analysis performed in the preceding steps are integrated that presents the total picture to the SIO, commander, and staff. Templates play a key role in presenting this picture to the commander.

Situation Template

The SIO uses situation templates to show how threat, friendly, and nonbelligerent third-party forces might operate and communicate within the constraints imposed by specific meteorological conditions and geography.

The situation template is basically a doctrinal template with geographical and meteorological constraints applied. It is used to identify critical threat, friendly, and nonbelligerent activities and locations, and provides a basis for situation and target development and HVT analysis.

A situation template is a snapshot of what a particular force might do at a certain time and place. In FID, this template might be substituted for a target analysis over-lay that displays -

  • All the potential targets (people and places) within the AO.

  • Insurgent ambush points on friendly avenues of approach.

  • Possible locations for sighting indirect fire and antiaircraft weapons.

  • Infiltration corridors.

  • Post-attack escape routes.

Situation templates are very important for ranger operations, but in contrast are only important for SOA where the SOA element is called on to perform sustainment operations. When the target analysis overlay is used with pattern analysis, additional NAIs can be pin-pointed.

Event Template

Event templates show locations where critical events and activities are expected to occur and where critical targets and opportunities will appear. The SIO uses the event template to predict time-related events within critical areas. It provides a basis for collection operations; predicting threat, friendly, and nonbelligerent third-party intentions; and locating and tracking HVTs.

This type of template assists the SIO in-

  • Wargaming each threat, friendly, and third-party COA.

  • Depicting NAIs and the relationship of events.

  • Providing a means for analyzing the sequence of activities and events that should occur for each COA and how they relate to one another. The SF SIO in FID, for example, attempts to identify the significant actions the insurgents may take (for example, to engage in nationwide economic sabotage, assassinate mayors in contested regions, and negotiate with the government). As the force is visualized critical areas become apparent. Within these areas, significant events and activities will occur and targets and opportunities will appear.

Figure 10-12 shows insurgent planning for an operation. These NAIs are points or areas where human activity or lack of activity will confirm or deny a particular COA. Events within NAIs can be analyzed for indicators that the SIO can direct intelligence and target acquisition resources against. NAIs and SIR are incorporated into the collection plan.

The SF SIO may have to correlate types of events with historical or insurgent commemorative dates. In this case, the SF SIO first-

  • Identifies an historical or commemorative day or timeframe when the insurgents are likely to conduct an operation.

  • Identifies the types of training, logistics, intelligence, and tactics the insurgents would likely employ in the operation.

For example, a possible insurgent COA may be to seize a small district capital on a significant national holiday and hold it for at least 24 hours with the hope of triggering an insurrection among the inhabitants.

Insurgent planning for such an operation would require detailed HUMINT, deception, psychological preparation of the populace, and pre-attack target surveillance. Selected key nodes would have to be identified and targeted by specialized assault teams in the opening stage of the assault. Examples would be police stations and the military garrison headquarters, government radio and television station, telephone exchange, power plant, and fuel depot.

The insurgents would need a battalion-sized assault force supported by indirect fire and antiaircraft weapons, and the employment of product teams, population screening, and control measures for the actual operation.

Therefore, the insurgents must designate AAs and routes to the objective. All of these insurgent activities can be observed by establishing NAIs and TAIs. It takes detailed knowledge of the threat in a particular area for this template to be useful. Tactics, organization, and political or military objectives can change periodically and from area to area.

Decision Support Template

The SIO uses the decision support template (DST) to show decision points that are keyed to significant events and activities. The DST is the intelligence estimate in graphic form. It does not dictate decisions to the friendly commander, but identifies critical events and human activities relative to time and location that may require tactical or operational decisions by the commander. It is, at best, the SIO's in-progress review for intelligence, and is determined as part of a decision briefing provided to the commander by his entire staff.

DSTs identify where and when targets can be attacked or other opportunities exploited to support the commander's concept for executing the mission. The DST for SF, ranger, and SOA DA missions shows critical nodes, HPTs, and target components within the objective. The DST for SF in FID, for example, shows areas of likely insurgent or government activity or influence, potential future insurgent targets and objectives, and TAIs.

A TAI is an area or point along an infiltration route of mobility corridor (MC), where successful interdiction will cause hostile forces to either abandon a particular COA or require the use of unusual activity and support to continue. Examples of TAIs include -

  • Key bridges.

  • Road junctions.

  • Chokepoints.

  • DZs and LZs.

  • Known fording sites.

  • AAs.

Figure 10-13 shows a TAI within an NAI. TAIs which are essential to the uninterrupted progress of threat forces may become HVTs. The identifying TAI is a joint effort between the intelligence and operations staffs. In FID, population groups can be TAIs for targeting by PSYOP, CMO, and other nonlethal means.

Decision points (DPs) are geographical and chronological points where and when the commander must make decisions in order to seize or retain the initiative. DPs can be NAIs or TIAs. Their selection is primary an operations officer function.

Decisions must be made early enough to ensure that they can be implemented in time to achieve the desired effects.

Decisions cannot be made until there are indications that particular events will occur and their locations can be determined with a high degree of confidence. DPs are determined by comparing times required to implement decisions, doctrinal movement rates (adjusted to compensate for the effects of meteorological conditions, geography, and human action on mobility), and distances. For example, if it requires 2 hours to implement a friendly decision, the decision must be made while the threat force is at least 2 hours from the TAI where the event is expected to occur.

Time phase lines (TPLs) are based on doctrine, pattern, and trend analysis. TPLs help to determine where the threat, friendly, or nonbelligerent third-party force will be and what it will look like. A TPL is drawn across an AA or MC to show potential threat advance at doctrinal or historical rates, as modified by geography and meteorological conditions. TPLs project where a particular force is expected to be at any given time. TPLs do not show the effects of friendly action, except when light or heavy opposition is built into doctrinal or historical rates of advance.

Other Threat Integration Templates

ARSOF SIOs may produce a combination of standard and nonstandard templates during the threat integration step. These include but are not limited to-

  • Reactive situational templates (RSTs).

  • Reaction event templates (RETs).

  • COIN DSTs.

  • NEO event templates.

  • Disaster relief templates.

Reactive Situational Template. In COIN missions, the RDT, which is a variant of the doctrinal template, becomes the RST when it is applied to the actual terrain in the operational environment. The RST shown at Figure 10-14 uses TPLs to project where the insurgents are likely to be in reaction to friendly actions.

Reaction Event Template. The RST becomes the RET when the SIO adds NAIs and TAIs to it. Figure 10-15 shows an example of an RET.

COIN DST. The COIN DST is the RET with TAIs and DPs added. DPs, in the context of FID or COIN, would indicate when reaction and blocking forces would be inserted into the TAIs For UW, RETs with TAIs and DPs constitute the DST. In this case, TAIs would be areas for harassment and delay (for example, with direct and in-direct weapons fire); DPs would indicate the timing of key decisions (for example, abandonment of an insurgent base). Figure 10-16 shows a reactive DST for COIN.

NEO Event Template. The event template for NEO portrays-

  • Any events that pertain to the safety of US citizens in the country.

  • Movements of threat forces.

  • The status of all other forces involved in the operation, including nonbelligerent third parties.

This template should show the location, number, and status of all potential COAs, NAIs, TAIs, and DPs. NAIs will be potential assembly areas for evacuation to take place, potential chokepoints for roads, and possible locations for critical installations.

Disaster Relief Template. Overlays for disaster relief show the locations of critical facilities and of key personalities within the national and local governments. Key personalities are people who can be mobilized to reestablish law and order, get government functioning again, and stabilize the situation.

Graphic overlays for DC operations include information on the location of existing and potential DC camps, LOC, and destinations. Critical installations and facilities also are templated and analyzed for potential use.

Threat Integration for SF

In UW or FID environments, the SIO applies threat, friendly, and nonbelligerent third-party data to the constraints imposed by the weather and terrain. This is to determine how the friendly, threat, and nonbelligerent forces might actually operate in the AO. This lets the intelligence analyst identify significant military, political, psychological, economic, and social events in the AO and to predict probable COAs.

During this function, the SIO develops the event, situation, and DSTs, as well as other products to clarify the situation in the operational area for the commander and staff. These products become the basis for tactical intelligence operations and associated command decisions.

In DA and SR missions, SF requires templates with TPLs that depict the probable approach of threat forces from their known location to the target area, and in pursuit of the operational element. The SIO develops and adds NAIs along likely AAs to indicate threat reactions. From the event template, the SIO develops the DST by adding TAIs, where a threat reaction force can be delayed; and by adding DPs where the SF operational element must decide on a COA (for example, withdrawal).

Threat Integration for Rangers

For rangers, threat integration is based on known and suspected threat locations at a specific installation or piece of terrain. It takes the known information of the installation and the surrounding area and attempts to show where threat forces could be located.

The SIO develops a situational template from predictive templating to help the commander visualize suspected threat intentions. This could include suspected OB or AAs for reaction forces. He then draws the situational template over the predictive template in a different color to contrast known and potential threat locations and intentions, especially for air and ground reaction forces within the target areas. The ranger TAI normally does not extend beyond 10 kilometers from the target, because of the rangers' limited fire support assets.

The next step for the ranger SIO conducting threat integration is event templating. During terrain analysis, the SIO uses the LOC overlay with the cross-country movement overlay to assist the analyst in determining NAIs that are crucial to accomplishing the ranger mission. During the analysts' briefing, the commander will determine where to deploy reconnaissance assets based upon the threat and terrain and their influence on the target. Not all NAIs will have rangers observing for threat activity.

Ranger battalions have a 12-person reconnaissance detachment. The only intelligence collection asset assigned to the ranger regiment is the regimental reconnaissance detachment which can be deployed 48 hours prior to the main assault force. AC-130 gunships providing fire support can also provide visual reconnaissance on and near the target area. Through direct communications between the reconnaissance detachments and the AC-130, threat reaction forces can be monitored and engaged. By observing pertinent NAIs, rangers are able to detect and respond to enemy reaction forces.

For rangers, the last step in threat integration is the DST. The DST concentrates on the most critical targets and answers the following type PIR:

  • What are the critical nodes or HPTs within the objective?

  • Is the CP more critical than the ammunition supply point?

The ranger SIO develops TAIs in conjunction or in proximity to NAIs on the event template. As reaction force installations are identified, key routes or AAs become evident from microterrain analysis products. Based on these products, the SIO identifies TAIs that will affect the reaction, organization, or movement of threat ground forces. Observing these TAIs allows rangers to monitor or confirm target destruction by aerial fire support assets.

Since ranger reconnaissance and fire support assets are not deployed more than 10 kilometers from the target, the friendly reaction events from the threat to the objective occur in a matter of minutes.

The ranger AI is so small that engagement of TAIs by ranger fire support occurs as soon as the information is passed through intelligence and operations channels if the gunners have not already engaged the target. Hourly tracking of a threat force moving to reinforce an attacked ranger target does not occur at the ranger regiment level. This is because the ranger force will not be on the target long enough to be engaged by larger threat follow-on forces. On some targets, there is no threat reaction force, and TAIs are engaged solely on the target itself.

Threat Integration for SOA

During threat integration SOA SIOs must also integrate their pertinent threat data into situational and event templates which affect their choice of flight routes and modes of infiltration or exfiltration.

For SOA, this is the final step in the development of their target folder. The threat as it relates to flight route options is the final factor in deciding which option provides the best route. Threat integration helps determine the best approach and final assault paths into the target area. It provides the necessary visual products for the integration of coordinated assault fires if needed. Situation templates become important for SOA only if the element is called upon to perform sustainment operations.

Threat data is integrated with the target terrain data, which includes information on where every building and telephone pole is located and measured. This final product-

  • Depicts the best insertion or extraction points.

  • Identifies targets for destruction by support attack helicopter fire.

  • Helps reconcile multiple flight routes in very limited air space.

Finally, threat integration results in the DST for SOP when in the form of-

  • Air defense zone coverage overlays.

  • Threat aircraft reaction times.

  • Combat radii overlays.

  • Terrain masking overlays.

The DST shows the best flight route and COA on the target under varying conditions. This final DST depicts terrain, obstacles to flight, routes, LZs, PZs, alternate PZs, OB, targets or TAIs, and often operational time lines. In a sustained DA or SR mission, NAIs are used in conjunction with TAIs when SOA aircraft are tasked for interdiction missions.

Threat Integration for PSYOP

For PSYOP, threat integration is known as data base integration. PSYOP threat interaction relies heavily on templating, although the situation template is not normally used. The PSYOP SIO uses the event template and event analysis matrix to-

  • Identify trends or patterns of activities exploited by either US or threat forces.

  • Identify ongoing product campaigns harmful to friendly forces and threat situations, and highlight those events that are important to PSYOP.

The DST is seldom done entirely as an overlay. In some instances, a map is not used at all. Normally, NAIs and TAIs are terrain-oriented. However, for PSYOP, NAIs and TAIs are people-oriented.


  • NAIs are people or groups of people (audiences) that could affect the outcome of friendly operations. PSYOP intelligence collection efforts are targeted against these NAIs. NAIs can be converted to TAIs as the situation changes.

  • TAIs are the NAIs the PSYOP SIO and PSYOP S3 recommend to the commander as targets for a PSYOP campaign. The PDC conducts a detailed analysis of these TAIs to develop PSYOP campaigns. TAIs may be categorized as HVTs or HPTs.

When PSYOP SIOs conduct data base integration, the event template reflects friendly, threat, and nonbelligerent third-party situations and highlights events that are important to PSYOP. TPLs and DPs may be days, weeks, or months before the beginning of the supported operation or PSYOP campaign. These are best represented as timelines on a calendar, with milestones.

Only in the later stages of a PSYOP campaign in support of active combat operations are TPLs tied to terrain or the movement of forces on the ground. In this case, DPs and TPLs are used to synchronize PSYOP campaign implementation within the supported operation.

Threat Integration for CA

For CA operations, threat integration is called data base integration. The products of data base integration are several graphic overlays that the CA SIO uses when briefing the commander on the situation and potential COA. NAIs and TAIs for CA operations focus on people and facilities rather than on terrain or units.

The DST consists of areas where civic action projects or civil defense training are most valuable and necessary. TPLs are not used in the traditional sense, if at all, for CA in UW. A DP for when and where a CA mission should be conducted is stated in terms of months or years rather than in terms of hours or minutes.

Graphic overlays that aid the CA commander during decision making for a DA operation are related to locations and numbers of civilians in and around the objective. They show the locations of critical facilities and installations such as hospitals, water sources, power sources, sanitation facilities, railroads, airports, and government buildings that must be protected and avoided during the attack. CA units do not normally conduct operations in support of SR.

In data base integration in support of FID missions, event templates and insurgent leader profiles and matrixes are valuable. A well-organized insurgency operates with some sort of doctrine and methodology. Although there may be readily apparent doctrine, the plotting of events may yield consistent patterns.

The CA SIO must also consider the actions of the host-nation government and host-nation military in countering the insurgency. US military operations should be consistent with the efforts of the host nation and represent a unified effort spearheaded by the host nation, not by the US. The DST includes NAIs that are possible locations of insurgent bases, as well as potential sites for future civic action activities. TAIs must be examined from a reactive standpoint. The site of a CA program could become the target for the threat. DPs and TPLs are in terms of when and where to concentrate CA activities and when and where not to conduct them.

UW does not normally lend itself to doctrinal templating, so doctrinal and situation templates are usually not used in CA UW intelligence preparation of the battlefield. The event template is used and must be kept accurate and current. Through careful analysis of the event template, patterns and trends of the threat emerge.


The ARSOF SIO produces a variety of templates, overlays, association and event matrixes, and flow charts, as appropriate, to support and illustrate METT-T. As these products are completed, the SIO provides them to the commander and S3 for approval and guidance. After the commander approves them, the S3 integrates IPB with other staff products and applies them to mission planning and execution.

As a follow-up, the SIO must-

  • Ensure that the right products are promptly provided to the right consumers, and are adequate for and properly used by them.

  • Advise and coach nonintelligence MOS personnel in appropriate use of products.

  • Use his IPB products to identify gaps in the intelligence database and redirect his collection effort.

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