UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


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

Chapter III


1. Background

The first two chapters of this publication explained reconnaissance and intelligence and described the products generated by the intelligence and reconnaissance systems. This chapter establishes the responsibilities of the reconnaissance customers and explains how to use request formats to tap into the intelligence and reconnaissance systems.

2. The User's Responsibility

Your most important duty as the user of reconnaissance products is to clearly articulate your intelligence requirements. You must tell the collection managers: (1) what your mission is, and (2) how the product you seek will help you get the job done. The best way to do this is by expressing your requirements through the request message most appropriate to your situation. Generally, you should start with the RI as a default message text format.

a. Do not try to task a specific collection system or sensor. In joint operations, the Intelligence Directorate of a joint staff (J-2) establishes collection requirements to meet operational objectives, while the Operations Directorate of a joint staff (J-3) selects, assigns, and employs collection assets to fulfill the requirement. They make the big decisions; all you must do is clearly express what you need.

b. Based on the nature of your unit's mission, you should make an assessment of the kinds of products you expect to use in wartime. Knowing your product requirements ahead of time enables you to identify the command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) facilities and equipment you must have in order to obtain these products.

c. Below the joint task force (JTF) level, each service component has individual means for requesting intelligence within the component. However, when you are requesting intelligence from a joint command, the standard default format to use is the United States Message Text Format (USMTF) RI. Other formats may be used for amplification or if your information need is so specific that they would be appropriate (examples of these are provided in Appendix C).

3. General - A Situation Requiring Reconnaissance

Make the determination. After you determine that a battlefield situation or mission calls for reconnaissance, you must turn your requirement into the form of a written or voice reconnaissance request. Request formats let you, as the user/requester, open the door to the appropriate service or joint C4I systems.

a. Format the Request. Although each service component level has individual procedures for requesting intelligence internally (within the component), the standard procedure (directed by Joint Pub 6-04) for transmitting requests to the JTF level is to use the USMTF system. The standard message for transmitting a request for intelligence information is the USMTF RI message (the procedure for preparing an RI message is found later in this chapter).

b. You may use other USMTF formats to forward requests to the JTF level when operational circumstances warrant a more specific requirement or amplification of the request (Appendix C contains some additional USMTF formats which may be useful for making specific reconnaissance information requests).

USMTF is the ONLY SYSTEM YOU WILL USE to format requests and messages when operating in a joint environment.

4. Concepts and Terms

In order to effectively articulate your requests, it is vital to be able to speak recce. The following paragraphs contain definitions of reconnaissance-specific concepts and terms.

a. Reconnaissance Category. This simply refers to the four major types of reconnaissance categories (previously described in Chapter II): visual, imagery, electronic, or weather.

b. Latest Time Information is of Value (LTIOV). LTIOV is the customer's deadline. It is the time after which the reconnaissance product is no longer useful to the customer.

c. Reconnaissance Target Codes (RTCs)/Essential Elements of Information (EEIs). RTCs and EEIs are standard systems to categorize critical information requirements and potential targets for intelligence gathering or attack.

    (1) In accordance with Joint Pub 3-55, JFCs identify and designate their most critical requirements as EEI. Although the responsibility to designate EEIs is delegated to individual JFCs, EEIs by target category are fairly constant and should include a target description and amplifying information on what the information or imagery will be used for. Figure III-1 is a list of category codes used by National Military Joint Intelligence Center (NATO) and it is illustrative of category code listings found in most joint commands.

    (2) When making reconnaissance requests, in addition to including category codes where appropriate, include specific requirements in narrative comments (i.e., specific imagery resolution, spot size, scale, national imagery interpretation rating system (NIIRS) rating, or obliquity requirement). State in clear, plain English exactly what you need. If you are interested in obtaining information about a bridge for targeting purposes, you would request Category 12. If your interest is more specific, such as the number and type of spans of the bridge, request Category 12-5F.

5. RI Voice Template

The following paragraphs contain line-by-line instructions for filling out the RI Voice Template. Figures III-2 and III-3 illustrate the RI Voice Message.

a. Heading

    (1) Addressee and Originator: Use call signs IAW theater mission planning documents, AFKAI, or other published call sign guidance.

    (2) Message Precedence/Security Classification: Use applicable theater guidance regarding precedence and message classification.

b. Line 1 - REQUEST

Use coded request number IAW your theater's numbering system (check operation orders, tactical air control party (TACP) Mission Planning Guides, theater planning documents, etc.).

c. Line 2 - PRIORITY

Use the code for the priority you give the mission.











d. Line 3 - BY

Enter the date or date-time-group for when you wish to receive the requested information.

e. Line 4 -CUTOFF

LTIOV is the customer's deadline. It is the time after which the reconnaissance product is no longer useful to the customer.

f. Line 5 - NARRATIVE

Use this line to state what you are requesting.

BE SPECIFIC! This is the place to emphasize and/or justify your requirements, such as why your "short-fuse" LTIOV is so important to your commander's mission objectives. Use the narrative section to make it clear to your higher headquarters and to collection managers exactly what you want and why you want it!

g. Line 6 - TIME

Enter a Date-Time-Group in ZULU when required to identify the message time of origin.


Enter the proper authentication IAW your theater's communications security COMSEC requirements.

6. RI Message

The following paragraphs contain line-by-line instructions for filling out the RI Message. Figure III-4 is an example of a message using these instructions.

a. Line 1 - EXER

Enter the exercise name and any additional exercise identifier.

b. Line 2 - OPER

Enter the operation name. The headquarters originating the plan, the plan number, and option(s) within the operations plan can also be entered. NOTE: EXER and OPER can not be used in the same message.

c. Line 3 - MSGID

Enter RI and the unit name of the message originator. Other information can be included such as: a message serial number, the first three letters of the month, a qualifier code and a qualifier serial number.

d. Line 4 - REF

Enter a reference (ref) to other messages or documents. You may list as many references as needed. Each reference must have:

    (1) A serial number (A for the first reference, B for the second, etc.).

    (2) A message title or reference type (enter the USMTF message short title or one of the following codes for other types of references: CON (conference/meeting), DOC (document), LTR (letter), TEL (telephone), or MSG (formatted or nonformatted message). NOTE: A free-text amplification (AMPN) or narrative (NARR) set must be used to explain the message if it is not a USMTF message).

    (3) The name of the unit that originated the reference.

    (4) The date-time group of the reference.

You may include other information pertaining to the reference such as the serial number of the referenced message, special notation (NOTAL), or a filing number of the referenced document.

e. Line 5 -REQDAT

Specify the time frame in which you need to receive the requested information.

    (1) DATDES - Enter the field descriptor DATDES: first, followed by one of the following three ways to express time when you wish to receive the requested information:

      (a) A numeric date-time--two digits each for year, month, day, hour, minute, and one letter for time zone.

      (b) A date-time group--two digits each for the day, hour, and minute, one letter for the time zone, three letters for the month, and two digits for the year.

      (c) Date--two digits for day, three letters for month, and one letter for time zone.

    (2) LTIOV - If operationally required, use this field to express the latest time that the information requested will be of value to you. Enter the field descriptor LTIOV: first, followed by two digits each for year, month, day, hour, and minute, and one letter for the time zone.

    (3) PRY - Use this field, if operationally required, to express the priority you give to the mission. Use one of the following codes:











f. Line 6 - TRCPLOT - This field may be used, if operationally required, to identify a location. You can describe either a pinpoint location, a circular or elliptical area, a corridor, or any other area.

    (1) INITIAL POINT - Enter the map coordinates of one of the following using UTM (10m or 100m) or lat/long (min or sec):

      (a) A pinpoint location.

      (b) The center of a circle or ellipse.

      (c) One end of the center line of a corridor.

      (d) Start point of the outline of any other area.

    (2) AREA - If operationally required, use this field to define circular or elliptical area furtheror to give the width of a corridor. For other types of areas, enter a no data sign (-).

      (a) For a circular area, enter the field descriptor RAD: followed by the radius (0-9999 or 1-999 plus K for thousands or M for millions), followed by one of the following units of measurement: IN (inches), FT (feet), HF (hundreds of feet), MM (millimeter), CM (centimeter), KF (kilofeet), HM (hectometers), NM (nautical miles), SM (statute miles), YD (yards), KM (kilometers), or M (meters).

      (b) For an elliptical area, enter the field descriptor ELP: followed by the length of the semimajor axis (0-99999, 0-1 decimal places permitted), followed by one of the following units of measurement: FT (feet), HF (hundreds of feet), KF (kilofeet), HM (hectometers), NM (nautical miles), SM (statute miles), YD (yards), KM (kilometers), or M (meters). Then, enter a hyphen (-). Then, enter the length of the semiminor axis (0-99999, 0-1 decimal places permitted), followed by one of the following units of measurement: FT (feet), HF (hundreds of feet), KF (kilofeet), HM (hectometers), NM (nautical miles), SM (statute miles), YD (yards), KM (kilometers), or M (meters). Then, enter a hyphen (-). Finally, enter the direction that the major axis points, in tenths of degrees relative to true north (000.0-999.9)

      (c) For a corridor, enter the field descriptor WIDTH: followed by the width of the corridor (0-99999.0, 0-4 decimal places permitted), followed by one of the following units of measurement: IN (inches), FT (feet), HF (hundreds of feet), MM (millimeter), CM (centimeter), KF (kilofeet), HM (hectometers), NM (nautical miles), SM (statue miles), YD (yards), KM (kilometers), or M (meters).

    (3) TRACE POINT - Use this field to identify the other point(s) that define the corridor or to outline other areas. (No entry is required for circles, ellipses, or point locations). Use the same type of coordinates that you used in INITIAL POINT.

      (a) For a corridor, enter coordinates of the succeeding points needed to describe the corridor.

      (b) For other areas, enter the coordinates of the other points needed to outline the area. The last point you list must be the same one that you entered in "INITIAL POINT."

g. Line 7 - NARR

This free-text set is used to specify the information you require.

h. Line 8 - GENTEXT

Use this set if you want to identify a desired method of response. Indicate if the total answer is required or if incremented answers (as the information becomes available) are acceptable. Enter "METHOD OF RESPONSE" followed by a free-text explanation of how you want the response.

i. Line 9 - DECL

If the message is classified, use this set to enter declassification or downgrading instructions. Enter the instructions using one of the following methods:




Date or event


DG(C) date or event

Downgrade to SECRET

DG(S) date or event

Originating agency's required

OADR determination

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list