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

Chapter IV


1. Background

Previous chapters have discussed the reconnaissance products available and the request procedures you must use in order to get those products. This chapter explains how your request is processed by the organizations in the chain of command and how the product you requested is generated and distributed.

2. Planning

Based on the unit's mission, the staff intelligence officer makes an assessment of the kinds of products needed in wartime. Advance knowledge of product requirements helps identify the C4I facilities, timeliness, and equipment necessary to obtain those products. Key operations personnel should work closely with intelligence to determine requirements.

3. Requesting

When a unit lacks the requisite information to satisfy an intelligence requirement, the unit submits an RI to the next higher headquarters. It is critical that the unit commander clearly articulates exactly what he needs to the intelligence staff officer, who in turn must clearly express the intelligence requirement in the text of the request message. You must tell the collection managers your exact needs and how the product will help accomplish the mission. However, do not attempt to task a specific collection system or sensor! This is the responsibility of the collection managers and intelligence planners. The reconnaissance request is reviewed and either filled or forwarded until the information is made available or obtained.

4. Unit Intelligence Staff

The intelligence staff has a number of methods to satisfy combat information or intelligence requirements. They follow basic principles in a series of sequential actions to answer information needs. Figure IV-1 illustrates this process.

a. Database Check. The intelligence staff will check its intelligence database to determine whether the needed information is already available. Urgent requests or physical structures of command posts may not allow for rapid intelligence transfer. The urgency of the request must not cause the intelligence staff to bypass its database in the interest of saving time in processing the request.

b. Request Data from Higher Echelon. The needed information may be available at a higher echelon and can be obtained by submitting an RI. Often, the intelligence staff at another echelon will have the needed information derived from either the intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) or the equivalent service process which identifies indicators and reviews data necessary for the operation. If the information is not available, the intelligence staff will check collection taskings to ensure the needed information is not already being gathered by organic assets.

c. Information Unavailable at Higher Echelon. If the information is unavailable, the intelligence staff will validate the request and assign a priority to your intelligence requirement for collection purposes. Prioritization ensures analysts get the most important data first.

d. Tasking of Organic Collection Assets. The intelligence staff then assigns the intelligence requirement to organic collection assets. This ensures a timely response to the request, allows for issuance of clear tasking instructions, and lightens the burden on higher echelon assets.

e. Data or Collection Assets Unavailable or Unsuitable. If existing data or organic assets cannot satisfy a valid intelligence requirement, the intelligence staff generates a request for collection or data support. This can take advantage of the increased capabilities at higher echelons. It is important to note that the intelligence staff will do this without specifying the platform or sensor that will be used to obtain the information. Requests are made in general terms to allow time and flexibility of the higher echelon to task suitable resources against the requirement. Although unique situations and requirements may necessitate the use of specific assets or platforms because the product or information requirement only defines the need, particular platforms or sensors are NOT specified by the requester.

5. Collection Management (CM)

CM ensures the effective and efficient employment of collection, processing, exploitation, and reporting resources to meet the commander's need for intelligence. It is the entire process beginning with the "translation" of the intelligence requirements into data collection, processing, exploitation, and reporting activities. To meet the collection requirement, the CM either directs the tasking of organic assets or generates tasking requests to organizations at a higher, lower, or lateral echelon. There are established organizational structures within each of the services that facilitate the use of the CM process. These structures permit the flow of information between the echelons and provide a means to validate intelligence requirements.

a. Air Force/Army Theater Air Control System/Army Air Ground System (TACS/AAGS). The TACS/AAGS is the means for requesting reconnaissance within the Air Force and Army. Requests for reconnaissance are categorized as either preplanned or immediate, depending on the amount of time required to conduct the reconnaissance mission. Typically, 36 hours is the minimum planning time for a request to be considered preplanned. Figure IV-2 illustrates the Army/Air Force request process.

    (1) Preplanned Requests - Army Units. Preplanned reconnaissance requests are submitted via Army channels through higher echelons. At each echelon, the intelligence staff (S2/G-2) validates the need for the reconnaissance, searches databases to determine whether the information already exists, and checks the possibility of applying organic assets to the request.

      (a) If the S2/G-2 cannot satisfy reconnaissance requests with organic assets, the request will be forwarded to the next higher echelon. The process is repeated at each level until the information is located, a collection platform tasked, or the request denied for some other reason. If Army echelons cannot satisfy the request, the highest Army echelon forwards the request to the land component commander (LCC).

      (b) If the LCC is unable to satisfy the request, he forwards it through the battlefield coordination element (BCE) to the Joint Intelligence Center (JIC). The JIC will take in all valid preplanned requests that were previously not met and prepares a basic plan for the utilization of aircraft and other collection platforms to fulfill these requests. This basic plan, along with those of the other components, will then be reviewed at the joint force level by the J-2 during the Daily Aerial Reconnaissance and Surveillance (DARS) Conference. At the DARS Conference, the J-2's staff will eliminate duplication among the requests of the component services and will apply assets which are under the J-2's operational control.

      (c) Following the DARS Conference, the Air Operations Center Combat Plans section uses the revised plan to construct the air tasking order (ATO). The ATO is the single-source document tasking missions within a theater. It contains information concerning target coordinates, mission number, number of aircraft required, and other associated information for each mission.

    (2) Preplanned Requests - Air Force Units. The request process for Air Force flying units follows a parallel procedure working up the chain of command, but Air Force wings use separate communication links to up-channel requests, as opposed to the high frequency (HF) air request net. The Air Force component intelligence IN) staff performs the same steps as the Army S2/G-2. Since the next higher echelon above the wing is normally the air component, the IN forwards the request to the AOC intelligence function. The air component intelligence staff repeats the process to see if the information is available at their level. If not, the request joins the flow with the Army requests and makes its way to the joint DARS Conference for resolution.

    (3) Immediate Requests. When commanders require a more rapid response to changing battlefield conditions that make preplanned requests unsuitable, they may submit an immediate reconnaissance request. The unit's TACP submits immediate reconnaissance requests via Air Force channels (normally, the Air Force Air Request Net [AFARN]) to the air support operations center [ASOC]). The immediate request process works as follows:

      (a) Immediate requests for reconnaissance from the Army begin the same way as preplanned requests. The process begins when the S2/G-2 receives a request for information from a subordinate unit. The staff checks the databases to see if the requested information is available. If located, they determine whether it is current enough to meet the requester's need. If the information is not available, the S2/G-2 staff attempts to obtain the information with organic assets.

      (b) If the unit cannot obtain the desired information at their level with organic assets, the S2/G-2 has the TACP enter the AFARN to the ASOC with the immediate request. At every echelon between the requester and the ASOC, the ASOCs and TACPs copy the request. The TACPs at each echelon check with the S2/G-2 for the information. When the request reaches a unit that is capable of providing the information, the TACP for that organization enters the AFARN and advises the requesting TACP the request will be satisfied by that echelon. The TACP will then pass back the details of how the reconnaissance information will be forwarded to the requester.

      (c) A lack of response to the request during the predesignated time translates into approval "silence is consent." Once the allotted time expires with no disapprovals, the mission is valid and the ASOC initiates the action necessary to satisfy the request. The ASOC attempts to satisfy the request with reconnaissance vehicles over which they have operational control (OPCON) by the ATO. If the ASOC has exhausted its resources, it contacts the AOC for tasking an alert aircraft or adding a target to an existing mission. The AOC may, in rare cases, divert existing missions.

b. Marines

Marine Corps Task Organization. Marine air ground task forces (MAGTFs) are composed of a ground combat element (GCE), air combat element (ACE), combat service support element (CSSE), and a command element (CE). An example of a MAGTF is a Marine expeditionary force (MEF) that consists of at least one Marine division, GCE, a Marine air wing, ACE, and a force services support element (CSSE). Each element has some reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities inherent to its organization. When reconnaissance requirements cannot be met within the subordinate element, the request for reconnaissance is forwarded to the CE.

    (1) MAGTF Surveillance and Reconnaissance Coordination (SARC). The SARC is located within the MAGTF CE and is managed by the MAGTF collections manager. The mission of the SARC is to plan and implement the execution of the MAGTF collection plan. It coordinates collection to ensure that the MAGTF commander's intelligence information requirements are met. The SARC control element formulated a detailed collection plan based on the commander's intelligence requirements and available assets to satisfy those requirements. Coordination for tasking of MAGTF reconnaissance and surveillance assets are coordinated with the MAGTF operations officer. Requirements flow from subordinate elements to the SARC. If requests cannot be met by available intelligence or reconnaissance and surveillance assets within the MAGTF (including tasking of reconnaissance assets within each MAGTF element), they are forwarded to the next higher echelon.

MAGTF reconnaissance and surveillance assets are represented within the SARC collection unit. These are--

      (a) Force reconnaissance.

      (b) UAV.

      (c) Sensor control and management platoon (SCAMP).

      (d) Radio battalion (SIGINT).

      (e) HUMINT section.

      (f) Force imagery interpretation unit (FIIU).

      (g) Topographic (TOPO) platoon.

      (h) Representatives of attached reconnaissance elements not normally part of the MAGTF.

    (2) Aerial Reconnaissance. Aerial Reconnaissance assets located within the ACE support the entire MAGTF. Requests for aerial reconnaissance within the MAGTF depend upon the urgency of the request. Preplanned requests for aerial reconnaissance are submitted through the SARC for prioritization, coordination, and tasking. The MAGTF collections officer ensures that coordination is accomplished with the G-3 air officer for air support requirements. Immediate requests can be sent directly to the ACE without going through the MAGTF CE. A direct air support center (DASC) is collocated with the senior level fire support coordination center (FSCC). The role of the DASC is to oversee the execution of air support for the MAGTF GCE and CSSE. Immediate requests are passed to the DASC from TACPs collocated with GCE operations sections for processing and dissemination to the ACE for support.

c. Navy

Organic reconnaissance assets of naval battle groups, carrier air wings, and air squadrons normally fulfill unit requests and taskings. When fleet assets are insufficient or unable to carry out the mission, fleet or battle group commanders forward the request to the joint force J-2 and AOC, through the naval component commander's staff.

    (1) Fleet Commanders. Fleet commanders can draw on a wide variety of shore and ship based reconnaissance-capable platforms deployed with the battle force. These capabilities include imagery, electronic, acoustic, and visual reconnaissance. In addition, battle force/group commanders and staffs can establish near term and long-range intelligence objectives, determine priorities and assign specific tasking to battle group units.

    (2) Chains of Command. Figure IV-3 illustrates the chains of command for requesting reconnaissance and electronic warfare support (ES) missions. The command levels where requesters can "enter the system" to request missions are called "entry levels" and are indicated in Figure IV-3 by the arrows.

    (3) Requests Exceeding Organic Naval Capabilities. Intelligence staffs that cannot fulfill intelligence and reconnaissance requests with organic naval assets forward them to the next higher headquarters. The intelligence collection manager resides with the joint force air component commander (JFACC) where tactical reconnaissance requests are sent. The intelligence collection manager decides which asset, such as a P-3C, Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS)-equipped F-14, submarine, or surface ship, can best support the request. The JFACC will then coordinate the tasking for the RI via the ATO to ensure timely and accurate reconnaissance. The ATO instructs specific units at the "entry levels" to collect reconnaissance.

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