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FM 34-43: Multiservice Procedures for Requesting Reconnaissance Information in a Joint Environment

Chapter I


1. Background

Reconnaissance supports the gathering of intelligence and, ultimately, provides the user with the "answers" needed to conduct operations. When accessing the intelligence community's ability to fulfill requirements, understanding the differences between reconnaissance, intelligence, and combat information is critical. This chapter will explain how reconnaissance fits into the overall intelligence process. After defining the basic terms, the chapter examines the intelligence collection process, its collection disciplines, the intelligence cycle, and the categories of reconnaissance.

Definitions in this chapter are extracted from Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms.

2. Reconnaissance

A mission undertaken to obtain, by visual observation or other detection methods, information about the activities and resources of an enemy or potential enemy, or to secure data concerning the meteorological, hydrographic, or geographic characteristics of a particular area.

3. Intelligence

Intelligence is the product resulting from the collection, processing, integration, analysis, evaluation, and interpretation of available information concerning foreign countries or areas.

Intelligence is categorized as being either strategic, operational, or tactical. The focus and definition of each is tailored to the echelon and type of decisionmaker being supported.

a. Strategic intelligence is that required by national and allied decisionmakers for the formulation of national and foreign defense policy.

b. Operational intelligence is that required by corps through theater level commanders in planning and conducting campaigns.

c. Tactical intelligence is that required by commanders for fighting battles.

4. Combat Information

Unevaluated data, gathered by or provided directly to the tactical commander which, due to its highly perishable nature or the criticality of the situation, cannot be processed into tactical intelligence in time to satisfy the user's tactical intelligence requirements.

The distinction between intelligence and combat information is the urgency, reliability, and completeness of the final product. For finished intelligence, the emphasis is on reliability. For combat information completeness is sacrificed due to the urgency of the need. If data must be processed and analyzed before it becomes useful (especially, if integration with other data is required) then the product is intelligence and not combat information.

5. Imagery Intelligence (IMINT)

Intelligence information derived from the exploitation of collection by visual photography, infrared sensors, lasers, electrooptics, and radar sensors such as synthetic aperture radar wherein images of objects are reproduced optically or electronically on film, electronic display devices, or other media.

Imagery is analyzed to locate and identify enemy activity, installations, and equipment. Imagery can also provide the commander environmental information impacting operations (such as traffic-ability and hydrography). There are four types of imagery: radar, photo imagery, infrared, and electrooptical.

a. Radar is capable of detecting both fixed and moving targets with near-optical capability and can datalink with surface terminals for analysis. Radar is equally capable during day or night and is practically independent of weather condition. However, the unique capabilities of radar depend on the equipment suite being used.

b. Photo imagery can be accurate but is susceptible to weather and sophisticated camouflage, concealment, and deception (CCD) techniques. However, in many cases, photo imagery can identify and confirm equipment, and some photo-imaging systems offer standoff capability through the use of oblique-look angles and long focal-length lenses.

c. Infrared (IR) imagery depends on heat, rather than light, and best results are usually obtained at night. IR imaging systems have the capability to detect individual thermal images of personnel and equipment.

d. Electrooptic (EO) imaging systems are similar to photo imagery systems. However, EO systems produce a digital/analog image that can be manipulated to obtain optimum results.

6. Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)

A category of intelligence information comprising either individually or in combination all communications intelligence, electronics intelligence, and foreign instrumentation signals intelligence, however transmitted.

SIGINT is the product resulting from the collection, evaluation, analysis, integration, and interpretation of information derived from intercepted electromagnetic emissions. It is subdivided into communications intelligence (COMINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT), and foreign instrumentation signals intelligence (FISINT).

a. COMINT consists of information derived from intercepting, monitoring, and locating the enemy's communications systems: COMINT comes from exploiting enemy radio transmissions.

b. ELINT consists of information derived from intercepting, monitoring, and locating the enemy's noncommunications emitters. While COMINT focuses on the enemy's radio equipment, ELINT exploits the enemy's radars, beacons, and other noncommunications emitters.

c. FISINT consists of technical information derived from the intercept of electromagnetic emissions, such as telemetry, associated with the testing and operational deployment of foreign aerospace surface and subsurface systems.

7. Human Intelligence (HUMINT)

The intelligence information derived from the intelligence collection discipline that uses human beings as both sources and collectors, and where the human being is the primary collection instrument.

HUMINT consists of all information derived through human sources. The ideal HUMINT sources are privy to decisions and intentions before they are widely communicated or acted upon. HUMINT includes, among other things, information derived from the interrogation of enemy prisoners of war and civilian detainees; translation of enemy documents; long-range surveillance operations, patrols and observation posts; liaison with allied forces and the local populace; and, most importantly, reports from friendly troops. Examples of HUMINT reports include an aircrew's in-flight report, a long-range reconnaissance patrol's spot report, or an agent's intelligence report.

8. Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT)

Scientific and technical intelligence information obtained by quantitative and qualitative analysis of data (metric, angle, spatial, wavelength, time dependence, modulation, plasma, and hydromagnetic) derived from specific technical sensors for the purpose of identifying any distinctive features associated with the source, emitter, or sender and to facilitate subsequent identification and measurement of the same.

MASINT systems provide much of the data used in creating the programs for electronic countermeasures systems. MASINT would provide information for reprogramming an electronic countermeasures/electronic attack (ECM/EA) pod carried by aircraft to counter a newly discovered threat. MASINT may provide information of critical strategic and tactical importance through systems such as nonimaging radars and nonimaging infrared sensors.

9. Intelligence Cycle

a. Intelligence resources, like virtually every other military resource, are not infinite. As a result, users compete for these limited resources. However, some resources can fill the needs of many users simultaneously.

b. The 5-step intelligence cycle (Figure I-1) is the process by which intelligence is obtained, produced, and made available to users. It prioritizes planning and direction, management, processing, production and dissemination, and maximizes the use of limited resources against all intelligence requirements. This 5-step cycle converts raw information into intelligence and makes it available to users.

    (1) Planning and Direction. Planning and direction is the first step in the process. It concerns identifying, prioritizing, and validating intelligence requirements; synchronizing intelligence operations with the supported commander's intent and operational requirements; preparing a collection plan; issuing orders and requests to information collection agencies; and continuously checking on the productivity of collection agencies.

    (2) Collection. Collection involves the acquisition of information from ground, air, sea, or space-based systems and providing the information to elements that process it and produce intelligence products.

    (3) Processing. Processing is the conversion of collected information and data into a form suitable to producing finished intelligence. It involves converting information into formats that are readily usable by intelligence specialists in analyzing and producing intelligence. Processing includes graphics, art work, photo processing, video production, printing, and so forth.

    (4) Production. Production is the process of analyzing, evaluating, and integrating raw data and information into finished intelligence products for known or anticipated uses. Products may be developed from single sources of information or all-source collections and databases.

    (5) Dissemination. Dissemination involves the distribution of combat information and intelligence to commanders and users. Producers disseminate intelligence in many forms, using either secure or nonsecure means, dedicated or common-user communications circuits, and can include dissemination of raw data or finished intelligence. Intelligence organizations will normally send the products or information to requesters and users by the fastest, most reliable means possible. They will send it in a form that is usable by any component of a joint force and at classification levels permitting access and prompt application by the user.

10. Reconnaissance Categories

There are four general categories of reconnaissance: visual, imagery, electronic, and weather. Imagery reconnaissance is further subdivided into optical and non-optical imagery.

a. Visual. Visual reconnaissance is the most basic of the four reconnaissance categories. Visual reconnaissance can come from a wide range of sources and simply entails an observer reporting on what is seen. Surface-based sources could include individual personnel, reconnaissance units, special operations forces (SOF) teams, or naval vessels. Aerial sources are as varied as there are types and missions. A passing strike aircraft, airborne forward air controller, or escort fighter could provide visual reconnaissance information as could a dedicated reconnaissance aircraft.

b. Imagery. Imagery reconnaissance involves collection of images or pictures recorded electronically (on film, digitally, on tape, etc.). The principal image types are optical and nonoptical.

    (1) Optical Imagery. Optical imagery is essentially traditional visual photos (recorded on film, tape, or electronically) using visible light to illuminate the objects being photographed.

    (2) Nonoptical Imagery. Nonoptical imagery includes infrared and radar.

Both optical and nonoptical images may be formed, recorded, transmitted, and processed in a variety of ways, and both have distinct capabilities and limitations that users should know and understand. Appendix A provides a detailed discussion of the fundamental capabilities and limitations of different kinds of imagery. While some imagery systems like the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) can provide near-real-time products, imaging which comes from the majority of sensors must first be developed by a processing station, interpreted by trained analysts, and then disseminated as finished intelligence. Under the best conditions, this process can take as little as 30 minutes; however, it may take hours or even days to get products in the hands of users, depending on location and the availability of processing equipment, communications facilities, and information receive terminals.

c. Electronic. Electronic reconnaissance supports both SIGINT and electronic warfare (EW) missions. Electronic reconnaissance involves intercepting, identifying, and locating enemy communications and radar emissions. Ground, air, sea, or space-based systems can conduct electronic reconnaissance from either a friendly or hostile environment and under all weather conditions during day or night.

d. Weather. Weather reconnaissance obtains weather data over areas where more conventional weather observations are not available. Methods for obtaining weather reconnaissance include visual observation and reporting by aircrews, specialized reconnaissance/scout teams, or data recording and reporting from atmospheric sensor equipment capable of obtaining meteorological data at selected altitudes.

If you are considering a request for weather reconnaissance, exhaust all other means for obtaining the weather data prior to making such a request. Weather reconnaissance is usually collected only during the course of normal operations, and data is obtained through such routine methods as aircrew debriefings.

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