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FM 34-54: Battlefield Technical Intelligence




This chapter describes the TECHINT mission. It explains TECHINT's two-part system and discusses TECHINT's historical relevance. This chapter also discusses the mutually dependent relationship between Battlefield TECHINT and the tactical commander; the advantages of TECHINT; and how the TECHINT process supports the levels of war.

The TECHINT mission is to support the tactical commander's effort to fight and win the AirLand Battle. TECHINT aids the commander by providing products that either identify or counter an adversary's momentary technological advantage. It is a vital link in the Intelligence Cycle and in our nation's efforts to preserve peace. TECHINT is also an integral part of all-source intelligence because it involves everyone from the individual soldier at the tactical level to policy makers at the strategic level.

The TECHINT system is made up of two parts: Scientific and Technical Intelligence (S&TI) and Battlefield TECHINT. S&TI supports the strategic level of war intelligence; while Battlefield TECHINT supports the operational and tactical levels of war intelligence.

Often, the TECHINT process begins with one conscientious soldier who finds something new on the battlefield and takes the proper steps to report it. The information or item is then exploited at succeedingly higher levels until a countermeasure is produced to neutralize the enemy's technological advantage. While it is true that a single weapon or technology seldom means the difference between final victory or defeat, it can give one side a decisive battlefield advantage.


In the 1920s, Germany was developing the weapons and systems it would use against the Allies in the1940s. Because Allied nations did not include TECHINT in collection efforts, German scientific and technical advances went largely unnoticed. When information did come to light, Washington and London ignored or ridiculed it. Later, when the Germans fielded their advanced weapons and systems in war, the resulting technological surprise on the battlefield was devastating.


During the Air battle for Europe, the British used TECHINT to counter the German antiaircraft and night fighter defenses. They did this by exploiting captured aircraft radios and a captured radar station. (See below for a series discussion of the Bruneval Raid.)

The Allies captured many German and Italian weapons in North Africa. This collection led to the publishing of new technical material, such as--

    º Technical manual E9 handbooks on enemy weapons.
    º Special series publications on German weapons.
    º Training aids.
    º Updates to handbooks on the German and Italian armies.

TECHINT exploitation of captured German Tiger and Panther Tanks led to several important battlefield countermeasures. Two of these were new armor tactics and more powerful antitank rockets.

The United States started a successful TECHINT program in the fall of 1943 called The Alsos Mission. This unit was made up of Counterintelligence (CI) Corps agents, scientists, and interpreters. Their mission was to capture and exploit personnel and materiel of scientific and technical value.

The successes of this unit include:

    º Exploitation of Italian and German nuclear scientists.
    º Removal of numerous quantities of uranium one from the Albert Canal.
    º Recovery of the international radium standards from what was to be the Soviet Occupied Sector of Germany.

Unfortunately, after the war the Alsos Mission, as well as general TECHINT collection, was abandoned.


It wasn't until the beginning of the Korean War, when North Korean troops in Soviet-designed and Chinese-built armor rolled south, that the United States discovered it had little hard data on enemy weapon systems. We realized that to be able to develop effective countermeasures, TECHINT had to be an ongoing process. As a result, we once again began a concerted TECHINT effort.

In the Korean war, combat commanders found that their 2.36-inch bazooka rounds would literally bounce off T-34 tanks. With this combat deficit in mind, commanders began to support the TECHINT process by evacuating captured T34/85 tanks and other materiel back to TECHINT elements for analysis. TECHINT analysts both in theater and at the Chrysler Corporation examined the captured materiel. They responded by giving combat commanders new tactics and a redesigned M-48 tank.


Following the Korean War, the United States did not disband its TECHINT capability completely, as it had at the conclusion of previous conflicts. But neither did we maintain it at its wartime level. In fact, when the Vietnam conflict began, the US TECHINT capability consisted of only a few experienced personnel. However, as combat forces were committed and increased, so did our TECHINT capability and structure.

During the Vietnam War, an agency called the Combined Materiel Exploitation Center came into being. This wartime center's mission was to manage and coordinate the analysis of captured enemy equipment (CEE) and technical documents. The Combined Materiel Exploitation Center did this on a tactical level by dispatching teams of experts and analysts into the tactical zone of each corps. These teams analyzed captured materiel in the field and recommended countermeasures to tactical commanders.


The lessons learned from World War II, the Korean War, and finally the Vietnam War clearly indicated the need for a fully operational TECHINT system even in peacetime. To do otherwise was to invite a technological surprise that would give the enemy an unacceptable advantage on the next battlefield.

The TECHINT system had two goals: first, to keep a step ahead of Threat battlefield weapon systems; and second, to create TECHINT units that could provide instant Battlefield TECHINT capability in a "come as you are" war.

The TECHINT system we have today does just that. TECHINT elements exploit foreign and Threat materiel. They provide valuable studies which forecast trends in all areas including armor, antitank rockets, and even chemical warfare. For example, the changes in the individual soldier decontamination kit are a direct result of TECHINT.


TECHINT is the end product of a complex process. It is the result of collecting, analyzing, and processing information on foreign technological developments. It is also the result of studying the performance of foreign materiel and its operational capabilities.

Foreign materiel is the all-encompassing term for the weapon systems, equipment, apparatus, documents, and supplies of a foreign military force or nonmilitary organization. TECHINT, in its broadest sense, may or may not have military applications. See Glossary-7 for the JCS Pub 1 definition of TECHINT.

Within the Department of Defense (DOD), two parts of the overall TECHINT system are task organized for military TECHINT collection: the S&TI community and the Battlefield TECHINT assets of the US Army.

The S&TI community focuses on the TECHINT requirements of strategic policy and the decision makers. Battlefield TECHINT serves the commander's intelligence requirements at the operational and tactical levels. S&TI and Battlefield TECHINT products support commanders during the preparation stage as well as the actual waging of war.


A mutually dependent relationship exists between the support the combat commander gets from the TECHINT system and the support the TECHINT system gets from the combat commander. Operational and tactical commanders provide the raw material analysts need by identifying, capturing, protecting, and evacuating enemy equipment, documents, and other items.

Commanders further ensure the success of the process by demanding Battlefield TECHINT support for the tactical effort to defeat the enemy. Analysts take this raw material and produce the countermeasures commanders need to overcome an enemy's technological advantage.


Like other intelligence disciplines, TECHINT guards against surprise in peace and war. It provides several distinct types of vital input to the all-source intelligence product. These include:

    º Assessment of the capabilities and vulnerabilities of enemy weapon systems.
    º Warning of changes in enemy tactics due to new or developing technology.
    º Countermeasures.

Battlefield TECHINT elements are also organized to assist the commander in managing the quick evacuation of captured enemy materiel (CEM).

TECHINT analysts study a broad range of raw materiel. This enables them to provide viable TECHINT to the intelligence and electronic warfare's (IEW) all-source intelligence product. Some of the subject areas are: materiel; installations; and interrogation sources with information on supplies, maintenance, training, and battlefield doctrine.


There are three levels of war: strategic, operational, and tactical. S&TI supports the strategic level while Battlefield TECHINT supports the operational and tactical levels of war. This support is defined in Figure 1-1.

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