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



The ARSOF commander employs the IEW system throughout the operational continuum. This chapter describes how the total IEW system works with ARSOF to accomplish the mission. ARSOF commanders have limited organic IEW assets and depend highly on connectivity with theater and national level intelligence agencies for operational intelligence support. Figure 2-1 lists these assets by organization and echelon.


All intelligence operations follow a four-step process known as the intelligence cycle. The mission drives the intelligence cycle. Supervising and planning are inherent in each step of it. Figure 2-2 shows ARSOF unit intelligence cycle functional responsibilities.

The intelligence cycle is continuous. Even though the four steps are conducted in sequence, all are conducted concurrently. While available information is processed, additional information is collected, and the intelligence staff is planning and directing the collection effort to meet new demands.

Previously collected and processed information (intelligence) is disseminated as soon as it is available or needed. Often this process must be compressed to meet mission requirements. For example, ranger battalions must deploy and be target-bound within 18 hours. Products resulting from this process are used to support the ARSOF commander's changing PIR and IR.

Intelligence planning begins concurrently with other staff planning. Until an intelligence estimate is available, detailed operational planning cannot be completed. The SIO must be ready to provide an estimate for the next operation and revise the current estimate to meet changing operational conditions.

As planning progresses and operational details are developed, the commander continues the decision-making process. As a result, intelligence plans are either substantiated or changed. The farther an operation is projected into the future, the more likely it is that changes in the situation will alter intelligence plans. The commander's intent, concept of the mission, and the intelligence estimate are the basis for allocating resources. Intelligence planning and supervising must remain flexible. IPB is an integral part of planning and supervising throughout the intelligence cycle.

Both the intelligence cycle and the IPB process are cyclic in nature. Just like the intelligence cycle, all IPB functions are performed continuously and simultaneously to support the commander's concept and mission. The estimate is developed from conclusions derived from the IPB process and from information drawn from intelligence data bases.


The commander, through the SIO, directs the intelligence effort. The ARSOF S2 performs collection management planning before the operation begins and guides the effective employment of collection resources during the operation. The graphic data bases are developed and maintained through research and IPB. IPB, coupled with available data bases, provides a foundation for situation and target development. This provides a means for projecting battlefield events and activities in the operational area and for predicting COAs. By comparing these projections with actual events and activities as they occur, the SIO can provide the commander with timely, complete, and accurate intelligence.

Intelligence agencies from national level down constantly develop and maintain intelligence data bases. The SIO accesses these data bases to prepare initial intelligence estimates and to analyze the area of operations (AO) showing probable foreign COAs. This analysis is based on mission requirements and the commander's PIR. The product resulting from this guidance is an intelligence estimate. (See FM 34-1, Appendix B.) The intelligence estimate is integrated with other staff estimates. It is presented to the commander who decides what actions are needed to accomplish the mission.

Based on the commander's intent, PIR, and initial intelligence estimate, the SIO determines the specific IEW assets needed to satisfy the commander's requirements. FM 34-2, Chapter 2; and FM 34-130, Chapter 5, discuss IPB collection management.

The commander's PIR drives the SIO collection and dissemination efforts. Based on thorough knowledge of all operational factors, the SIO develops recommended intelligence requirements to support the commander's concept of the operation. The intelligence staff--

  • Accesses data bases.
  • Tasks assets.
  • Assesses capabilities.
  • Directs, processes, and disseminates intelligence and combat information during and after deployment.
  • Uses national intelligence capabilities to forecast foreign intent, COAs, and vulnerabilities.
  • Coordinates multidiscipline counterintelligence (MDCI) support before, during, and after the operation.
PIR and IR are the basis for intelligence collection and production. ARSOF PIR are as concerned with host nation and local populace as they are with the threat and the other characteristics of the AO. The commander approves PIR and the SIO approves IR. These IR reflect some of the intelligence requirements that are less critical to the commander's decisions, but still include information to support the operations. Once approved, PIR and IR are integrated into the all-source intelligence collection plans that drive situation and target development.

As these mission requirements change or as old requirements are met and new requirements are established, the SIO develops new PIR and IR to answer them. Appendix A contains a sample collection plan and a chart that lists sources and agencies with the units and activities that fit into each category.


Collecting entails gathering information from all sources. Collection operations are guided by PIR and IR. The SIO focuses them on named areas of interest (NAIs), which are points or areas where activity confirms or denies a particular COA; or on target areas of interest (TAIs), which are engagement points or areas. These areas usually are along an avenue of approach (AA) mobility corridor where the interdiction of a threat force by fire, maneuver, or jamming will reduce or deprive that force of a particular capability.

ARSOF TAIs include population groups, installations, and critical facility nodes within a strategic target system. Some examples are key bridges, assembly areas, transportation systems, and air defense artillery (ADA) systems. See Chapter 10 for more information on NAI and TAI.

For ARSOF, the collecting phase of the intelligence cycle begins as soon as mission area requirements are identified. The collection process is conducted using all the means available within the IEW system -- both internal and external to the ARSOF organizations. Collected information is reported to the collection management and dissemination (CM&D) section of the MI detachment. As incoming reports are received, they are matched with the collection requirements they satisfy and forwarded to the all-source production section (ASPS) for processing.


Processing is the phase of the intelligence cycle where information becomes intelligence. Processing results finished intelligence products the ARSOF commander and staff use for planning and executing the mission. Processing consists of the three operations discussed below.


Recording converts information into writing or other forms of graphic copy and then arranges it into groups of related items. Recording can be done manually or by computer and ranges from the simple logging-in of incoming message traffic to preparing IPB terrain products. Posting on an incident map or overlay would be recording.


Evaluation determines if the information is pertinent, reliable, and accurate. The analyst can rule out or confirm the validity of the information by applying his knowledge of the terrain or other conditions. However, this process can require the reorientation of collection assets to confirm or deny the validity of a given report. This is criticaI for ARSOF units preparing to operate against targets deep behind enemy lines or in denied areas.


Analysis determines the significance of the information, based on information and intelligence already known, and then draws conclusions about the probable meaning of the evaluated information. Analysis is a continuous process applied to all available data. However, it becomes critical during the threat integration function of the IPB process. During threat integration, the friendly commander and staff analyze all available information against all possible enemy and friendly COAs. An important task performed through the evaluation and processing operations is indications and warnings (I&W).


The final part of the intelligence cycle is disseminating and using. Intelligence and combat information are of little value if they are not delivered when and where they are needed. Failure to do this defeats a thorough and successful collection and processing effort. Since most intelligence and combat information is time sensitive, intelligence products must be disseminated to the ARSOF operations officer and commander when they need it and in a form they can use. Report formats are discussed in FM 34-1, Chapter 3 and Appendix G, and are shown in FM 34-3, Appendix A.

Disseminating is driven by ARSOF operation requirements. The fast-moving nature of ARSOF operations dictates the need for transmitting information quickly. Electrical message, data link, secure voice radio, and courier are the primary means of dissemination during ARSOF operations. Spot reports can be transmitted quickly and contain the bulk of combat information.

Combat information and operational data are the mainstay for ARSOF commanders. ARSOF commanders use this data to accomplish their mission. Any element that obtains combat information must disseminate it by the fastest, most direct means available. In an ARSOF unit, this is done by entering the appropriate net. ARSOF commanders must ensure that intelligence nets are established. If direct communication over these nets is not possible, information should be passed through any available communications net to a relaying headquarters.

Combat information also is reported through intelligence channels for processing and disseminating. Intelligence, combat information, and targeting data are disseminated based on established requirements stated in unit SOPs. Although these requirements may vary, each unit must use a system that establishes priorities to distribute the most critical information first.


Because the intelligence cycle is predicated on the commander's intent, the ARSOF commander executing a mission is best suited to define his intelligence needs. When the commander clearly identifies and prioritizes the PIR, MI assets can provide the type and amount of intelligence needed to direct the operation.

To best support their commanders, ARSOF collection managers must identify and prioritize their standing and time-sensitive collection requirements. They must then forward these requests for intelligence information (RIIs) to their higher headquarters to be incorporated into the theater and national requirements list. The Joint Tactical Exploitation of National Systems (J-TENS) Manual and FM 34-2, Appendix C, specify request formats to get support from national systems. Other support requests should use theater-specified formats.

The five IEW mission tasks, which are shown at Figure 1-4, are discussed below.


Situation development is the process resulting from colllecting and integrating intelligence and combat information into all-source products that provide an estimate of the situation and a projection of foreign capabilities and intentions. These products let ARSOF commanders see and understand the operational environment in sufficient time and detail to employ their forces effectively. Thus, a picture is developed based on an analysis of intelligence holdings which are continuously updated by collecting and processing information. Situation development incorporates all four steps of the intelligence cycle.

During situation development, the SIO uses IPB in the mission planning process to provide systematic and continuous analysis of all the operational factors in specific geographic areas.

The following types of ARSOF analytical products are integrated into the IPB product to support situation development.

  • General area study.
  • PSYOP estimate.
  • Target intelligence package (TIP).
  • Area assessment.
  • Civil-military operations estimate.

General or specific area studies provide broad background knowledge of an area, region, or country. Each ARSOF unit performs a general area study to orient its members on potential operational areas. With ASPS support, the unit's area specialist team (AST) manages the area study program and assists the ARSOF element with its general area studies. Appendix B provides a sample outline for a general area study.


A PSYOP estimate is an analysis of the current situation from a psychological viewpoint. It considers all of a commander's feasible COAs, analyzes and compares them, and then recommends key PSYOP factors affecting accomplishing the overall mission. Appendix C provides a sample outline for a PSYOP estimate.


TIPs containing operational area intelligence are detailed studies of specific targets within a designated joint special operations area (JSOA). The special forces group (SFG) and battalion ASTs and ranger order of battle (OB) sections maintain libraries of approved special operations mission planning folders (SOMPFs). With ASPS support, they continually review and update TIPs to provide the latest operational area intelligence to deploying SOF units. Once an ARSOF unit deploys, the supporting AST or OB section continues to search for intelligence of interest to the ARSOF team. The AST monitors RIIs submitted by the deployed ARSOF unit and ensures timely answers to the unit's questions.

Multiple military and national intelligence agencies prepare TIPs to satisfy ARSOF planning needs for specific targets. Each TIP includes data on the target and important installations in the surrounding area, military aspects of terrain, and forces near or at the target that could affect accomplishing the mission.

TIPs are specially designed to support SOF requirements; however, they should also be useful to any services' ground forces, or air targeting forces with a mission against the target. TIPs include but are not limited to--

  • Army country profile (ACP), which is used to obtain basic data on a specific AO.
  • Imagery, which plays the biggest role in the up-to-date information that goes into each TIP. It is used to confirm or deny existing OB information, as well as to provide the latest images of ongoing construction and levels of activity. Imagery is also used to produce the highly detailed graphics and overlay that accompany each TIP. JCS Publication 3-05.5 specifies the format and control of TIPs.
  • Maps and overlays, which are used to portray the latest known locations of units in the field, units in garrison, defense sites, key terrain, and other facilities such as communication sites, ports and harbors, and lines of communication (LOC).
  • Automatic data processing (ADP), which is used to produce up-to-date information that is incorporated into each TIP.
  • Country studies and other publications, which are used to provide information demographics, culture, religion, hydrology, and other general subjects.

ARSOF area assessments are internally generated. The area assessment is a continuous process that confirms, corrects, refutes, or adds to previous intelligence gained before deploying. The ARSOF unit transmits the results of the area assessment to its operational base only when there is new intelligence that differs significantly from the intelligence they receive before deploying. By conducting an area assessment, a deployed ARSOF unit continually adds to its knowledge of the JSOA. The ARSOF unit begins its area assessment as soon as it enters its operational area.

There is no rigid format for making an area assessment, but the area study outline at Appendix B provides a guide. The area assessment serves as the basis for the commander's estimate of the situation. Some major aspects of the area assessment include--

  • Foreign situation and security measures.
  • Situation of the supported indigenous force.
  • Attitude of the civilian population.

The civil-military operations estimate aids commanders in accomplishing their missions while minimizing civilian interference and reducing collateral damage to the civilian populace and economy. These estimates include information concerning civilian population density, configuration, public health, public safety, and probable routes and numbers of dislocated civilians. Appendix D contains a sample outline for a civil-military operations estimate.


Target development for ARSOF is conducted during peacetime, conflict, and war. ARSOF employs two distinct target development processes which overlap:

  • Deliberate targeting process, which is a long-term process that occurs during peacetime.
  • Adaptive targeting, which is an accelerated process used during crisis or war.
The MI concept of targeting most closely parallels the SOF adaptive targeting process.


In the deliberate targeting process, ARSOF missions focus on facilities, installations, and system components which are critical to a nation's warfighting capabilities, infrastructure, or internal stability. This target selection program must examine all potential target systems to determine which are best suited to accomplish the supported CINC's objectives. Since the deliberate targeting program occurs prior to hostilities, critical node selection is based on peacetime data bases and analysis.


In the adaptive targeting process, target selection goals are not confined to destroying or damaging a freed target. The major goals are to alter, affect, impede, or report threat activity. Movers, shooters, emitters, and sitters which are identified and located by ARSOF in the JSOA become a critical set of target categories.

However, while a conventional forces targeteer can task units to actively pursue threat forces -- much as a hunter stalks prey -- the ARSOF targeteer must approach the deep battle adaptive targeting process from the mindset of a trapper. The ARSOF SIO examines the JSOA and its adjoining areas to predict threat force movement patterns and to assess their speed of movement. These analyses result in identifying NAIs which the ARSOF commander can nominate as future TAI or future JSOAs to his theater special operations commander. These TAIs can then become assigned JSOAs for ARSOF target missions.

It is important for the ARSOF SIO to know that the deliberate and adaptive targeting processes depend on effective and timely use of the intelligence cycle. ARSOF target development is the result of complete and accurate situation development during peacetime contingency planning and battlefield analysis during conflict or wartime. IPB supports target development programs and provides the ARSOF commander with the intelligence needed to select valid target nodes for his operational elements.


EW coordination is a shared responsibility of the ARSOF staff. This staff consists of the S2, S3, signal officer, and MI detachment commander. The commander uses EW to determine, exploit, disrupt, and deceive foreign C2 systems whale protecting friendly use of the electromagnetic spectrum. EW can be defensive or offensive. It contributes significantly to command, control, and communications countermeasures (C3CM). ARSOF commanders consider integrating Air Force and other non-SOF EW support into special operations. EW support is used--

  • During infiltration and exfiltration.
  • During critical times in mission execution (partitularly in DA and CT missions).
  • As an anti-pursuit expedient.

Defensive EW, or electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM), protects friendly C2 systems. ECCM include such passive procedures as emission control and terrain masking. They also include immediately identifying and reporting meaconing, intrusion, jamming, and interference (MIJI) of a friendly C3 facility. The signal officer has staff responsibility for ECCM. However, ECCM is the responsibility of every soldier who uses or supervises the use of communications and noncommunications emitters.


Offensive EW exploits, disrupts, or deceives threat command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) systems. There are two types of offensive EW: electronic countermeasures (ECM) and electronic support measures (ESM).

Electronic Countermeasures

ECM systematically disrupt hostile C3I systems by jamming and deception. Selective jamming and imitative deception can disrupt and delay foreign reaction to the presence of SOF on the ground at the objective. The S3 has staff responsibility for ECM. The SF group has a very limited organic tactical jamming capability so it relies primarily on theater systems to provide ECM support for its operations. The S3 EW officer (normally an additional duty) plans and coordinates this support with the help of the S2. One of the major duties is to protect friendly frequencies. The Joint Restricted Frequency List (JRFL) is a time and geographically oriented listing of taboo, protected, and guarded functions, nets, and frequencies. It is compiled and managed by the signal officer, coordinated with the intelligence officer, and approved by the operations officer. The JRFL is limited to the minimum number of frequencies necessary for friendly forces to accomplish assigned missions. It facilitates friendly EW actions by placing the minimum number of restrictions on ECM systems.

Electronic Support Measures

ESM intercept, identify, and locate threat emitters. ESM provide information required for ECM, ECCM, targeting and situation development, and operations. ESM resources provide information to support EW activities like avoidance, targeting, and homing. Such resources may also be a source of information for loc electronic order of battle (EOB) development, target surveillance, and EW mission control. In the process of performing the functions listed above, ESM also provides intercept, location, and identification of hostile signals by using equipment and techniques similar to those used to produce SIGINT. ESM may also draw on data bases produced by other SIGINT activities and intelligence sources.


CI provides analysis of foreign intelligence threats to include espionage, sabotage, subversion, assassination, terrorism, and other threats. This is accomplished through the four major CI functions: investigation, collection, operations, and analysis and production. (See FM 34-60, and FM 34-60A, for more information on CI.) CI operations--

  • Must include specific actions which support the protection of the force.
  • Counter the foreign multidisciplined intelligence threat.
  • Counter foreign sabotage, subversion, assassination, and terrorism.
CI does not include--

  • Personnel or information security.
  • Physical security.
  • Operations security (OPSEC).
MDCI analysis provides ARSOF commanders with detailed assessments of foreign all-source intelligence and security threats near their operational bases and in their operational areas. These foreign threat assessment are critical to the unit's OPSEC and base defense programs.

MDCI analysts also support ARSOF deception operations by determining foreign intelligence collection assets. MDCI analysts provide the S3 with recommendations of friendly activities to support the deception; if these activities are employed, they will help evaluate their effectiveness. See FM 90-2 and FM 90-2A for details on battlefield deception and electronic deception principles and TTPs.


I&W is a critical subfunction of the processing step of the intelligence cycle. This is where the intelligence community monitors threat activity to ensure that their political, military, economic, or diplomatic actions are not a prelude to hostilities or other acts contrary to US interests. Analysis of I&W reports can alert the system to possible threat activity and can be used to refocus and adjust intelligence requirements and collection efforts.

At the national level, the Department of Defense (DOD) performs I&W by using the Worldwide Warning and Indication Monitoring System (WWIMS). Under the auspices of WWIMS, the national intelligence agencies, service branches (Army, Air Force, Navy), and unified and specified CINCs maintain 24-hour I&W watch centers.

At the theater level, I&W analysis allows commanders to better anticipate and understand NCA actions which may lead to the decision for military involvement. In order to impede a threat attempt at strategic surprise, theater-based all-source intelligence analysis is vital to the theater commander and to the NCA.

High-intensity conflict in a theater of war would be preceded by a failure on the part of the countries involved to adhere to long-standing rules of behavior.

Once a theater intelligence staff has discerned the threat's political designs, the information gleaned during the performance of the second and third functions of operational level of war IPB yields a broad picture of how a threat could be expected to fight and to what objectives.

ARSOF is both a consumer and producer of I&W reporting. It uses I&W reporting on world military-political developments to focus and refine its intelligence collection priorities and update and guide its operational and contingency planning. This becomes increasingly critical once an ARSOF element enters the final mission preparation and execution stages.

Once deployed, ARSOF elements can provide unique, first-time I&W reporting from denied areas, and can confirm or deny I&W reporting from other sources. Although WWIMS supports all of DOD, the SOF-specific I&W centers are located at the Joint Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, NC, and at US Special Operations Command at McDill AFB, FL. For ARSOF, the USASOC EOC monitors the I&W system from its headquarters at Fort Bragg.


The IEW team that provides dedicated support to ARSOF operations is led by the ARSOF commander. Under the C2 and guidance of the ARSOF commander, the S2, S3, and the supporting MI unit commander work together to provide the information and intelligence the ARSOF commander needs to support the concept of the operation.

The MI commander executes the SOF commander's I&W directives. The ARSOF commander leads the IEW team. The commander provides team leadership, motivation, focused perspective, and direction. He provides the SIO with initial guidance on his intent and concept of the operation and identifies his PIR. The SIO evaluates the commander's PIR and recommends adjustments if needed. The commander then approves the final PIR and the intelligence cycle begins.

The SIO manages and supervises SOF intelligence operations and security programs. Based on intelligence requirements, the SIO develops intelligence collection requirements and tasks subordinate elements, including organic and supporting MI units.

The S3 plans and directs EW and OPSEC based on mission requirements. The S3--

  • Tasks subordinate elements to carry out these missions.
  • Determines friendly vulnerabilities by comparing the friendly force profile with the MDCI estimates provided by the CI section.
  • Recommends OPSEC measures and evaluates their effectiveness. The MI detachment commander manages organic MI assets to accomplish assigned IEW missions and exercises C2 over all organic and attached MI elements and operational control (OPCON) over supporting MI assets.

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