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The SRI Group; Some Reappraisals
AUTHOR Major Larry K. Hamilton, USMC
CSC 1991
SUBJECT AREA - Operations
                EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
    The SRIG was created to bring direction and
cohesiveness to what had heretofore been a fragmented
Marine Corps intelligence capability.  Essentially, most of
intelligence units in the FMF were placed under one
    Although the idea of the SRIG is fundamentally sound,
increased experience indicates that further conceptual and
organizational modifications are required.  Since its
inception, the SRIG has been plagued by confusion about its
concept of operations.  Is the SRIG commander a "type"
commander responsible for training, equipping, etc., of his
subordinates, but deferring in their operational employment
to the supported MAGTF commander via doctrinal staff
relationships?  Or is he an operational commander,
exercising control of the MAGTF's intelligence and some
operational efforts with direct responsibility to the MAGTF
commander for their performance?  In the FMF, the SRIG
commander is in practice essentially a "type" commander.
     MAGTF intelligence officers tend to use SRIG personnel
to reconstruct a pre-SRIG intelligence structure.  They are
also skeptical of SRIG capabilities and have advised
against giving it operational authority.  This reluctance
to grant operational authority may be frustrating the full
potential of the SRIG.
Thesis:  Although the idea of the SRIG is fundamentally
sound, increased experience indicates that further
conceptual and organizational modifications are required.
I.  Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Intelligence Group
    A.   Mission
    B.   Organization
II. Concept of Operations
    A.   Type vs operational command
    B.   Task-Organized detachments
    C.   Historical Examples
         1.  Panama
         2.  Persian Gulf War
III. The Case for greater operational responsibilities
    A.   Allows full use of intelligence capabilities
    B.   Potential to ease burdens on S-2/G-2
    C.   Reluctance of S-2/G-2 to allow SRIG operational
         1.  Loss of assets and personnel to SRIG
         2.  Skepticism about SRIG capabilities
         3.  Valid concerns about dissemination and
         4.  Source for additional intelligence personnel
     The Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Intelligence
Group (SRIG), one of the newest organizations in the Marine
Corps, is in its third year of existence.  Enough
real-world experience has now been obtained to test some of
the initial assumptions and propose some changes.
    The SRIG was a creation of the CMC convened Force
Structure Study, conducted in January of 1988.  2d SRIG,
the first of three SRIGs, was activated on 1 October 1988.
The intent behind the SRIG was to rationalize the Marine
Corps intelligence structure by consolidating most of the
specialized intelligence units (and some others) resident
in the MEFs under one commander.
    Although the idea of the SRIG is fundamentally sound,
increased experience indicates that further conceptual and
organizational modifications are required.  Such
modifications may allow it to more tightly focus on its
basic intelligence missions and restore some lost
intelligence capabilities to MAGTF CEs.
    The SRIG has the following mission and tasks:
             . . .provide surveillance, reconnais-
             sance, intelligence, counterintelligence,
             electronic warfare, air/naval gunfire
             liaison, tactical deception, and
             communications support to the MEF,
             subordinate MAGTF's, and other commands as
             directed.  Its tasks are to --
            a.  Provide trained and equipped task
            organized detachments to MAGTFs or other
            designated commands to execute integrated
            surveillance, reconnaissance, intelli-
            gence, counterintelligence, electronic
            warfare, direct action, air/naval gunfire
            liaison, communications, tactical
            deception, and other directed operations.
            b.  Provide elements of the Maritime
            Special Purpose Force (MSPF) for
            deploying MAGTFs or other commands as
            directed.  (1:2)
     The SRIG consists of an H&S Company, Radio Battalion,
Communications Battalion, Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company
(ANGLICO), Force Reconnaissance Company, Remotely Piloted
Vehicle Company, and Intelligence Company.  Further,
Intelligence Company consists of several specialized
intelligence units such as Counterintelligence Teams,
Interrogator-Translator Unit, Force Imagery Interpretation
Unit, Topographic Platoon, etc.  (15: 2-3 and 2-4)
     Unfortunately, from its inception, the SRIG has been
plagued by confusion about its concept of operations and
the role of the SRIG commander.  Regrettably, this
confusion appears to have hampered the intelligence effort
in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm; this will be
discussed later.
     Essentially, is the SRIG commander an operational
commander, exercising control of the MAGTF's intelligence
effort through the operational command of his
subordinates?  Or is the SRIG commander a "type" commander,
responsible for training, equipping, etc., of his
subordinates, but deferring in their operational employment
to the supported MAGTF commander via doctrinal staff
cognizance relationships (e.g., G-2 directs Radio Battalion
as part of its collection effort)?
     In the FMF, the SRIG commander is in practice
essentially a "type" commander, contributing resources to
MAGTF operational and intelligence efforts that function
within doctrinal staff relationships established by FMFM
3-1. Command and Staff Action.  Yet, the concept that the
SRIG is an operational command, directing the MAGTF
intelligence effort (and some operational efforts) is
increasingly being seen in recent doctrinal publications.
     This split between the theory and reality of SRIG can
be traced back to the Force Structure Study that envisioned
a SRIG that:
          . . . provides the MAGTF commander with an
          organization for coordinating and directing
          MAGTF assets that conduct intelligence
          functions . . .
          The SRI Group is the MAGTF commander's focal
          point for all information gathering,
          intelligence and special operations
          functions.  It is the point of contact in
          this area for all agencies external to the
          MAGTF. (9:2)
     This operational view of the SRIG was subsequently
used as the baseline by MCCDC for the development of
doctrinal guidance.  Recently published guidance concerning
the SRIG notes:
            (The SRIG) exercises command and control
            over organic assets conducting
            reconnaissance, surveillance and
            intelligence operations . . .
            Prepares and executes detailed intelligence
            collections plans . . .
            Conducts all source collection
            . . . develops general and tailored
            intelligence products . . . (14:2-4)
     This dichotomy between SRIG theory and reality is
applicable to other operational areas such as
communications, special operations, fire support
coordination, etc.
     Shortly following the Force Structure Study, Fleet
Marine Force, Atlantic (FMFLANT) was directed to standup
the 2d SRIG, the first of eventually three SRIGs.
     During the staff planning for this standup, it quickly
became apparent that problems existed with the operational
concept envisioned by the Force Structure Study.  If the
SRIG commander was to be operational, then long established
doctrinal roles, contained in publications such as FMFM
2-1, Intelligence, and FMFM 3-1, Command and Staff Action,
etc., could be overturned.  Doctrine can, of course, be
changed as circumstances change.  But in this case, it
appeared to planners at FMFLANT, and subsequently FMFPAC,
MCCDC, and HQMC, that the problems with this operational
SRIG concept threatened to negate many of the advantages of
the SRIG creation.  For example, the SRIG headquarters could
become another layer in the chain of command, one that had not
previously existed.
     Accordingly, FMFLANT, in its "Plan of Action and
Milestones for the 2d SRI Group," changed the operational
concept from one of an operational command to a type or
administrative command:
          The commanding officer of 2d SRI Group
          will be directly responsible to CG, II
          MEF for the training, equipping and
          performance of the SRI Group . . .
          Intelligence collection, analysis
          dissemination and EW missions will be
          conducted under the staff cognizance of
          the MAGTF G-2/S-2.  (Communications is
          under the staff cognizance of the MAGTF
          G-6/CEO; special ops, fire support, etc.,
          is under the cognizance of the G-3/S-3.)
          It is not a tactical unit to be fought as
          a regiment or battalion.  Rather, it is a
          source of specialized capabilities,
          specifically structured to provide
          detachments in support of MAGTF's . .
     The concept of operations employed within FMFLANT has
become the model for 1st and 3rd SRIGs.  MCCDC
subsequently drafted a new SRIG Concept of Operations
bringing it in line with FMF practice:
          (SRIG mission) is to provide trained and
          equipped task organized detachments . .
          (The SRIG commander) commands the SRIG in
          garrison (less detachments).  If the
          entire MEF deploys, the SRIG commander
          still commands the SRIG, but operational
          control of the SRIG units is exercised by
          the MEF commander.  (1: 2 and 7)
    From the perspective of planners, and probably MAGTF
commanders and their staffs, the real virtue of the SRIG
is its capability to provide task organized detachments
tailored to the MAGTFs and their missions.
     In April of 1988, this virtue received its first test
with the deployment of Marines to Panama and the
establishment of Commander, Marine Forces Panama
(COMMMARFORPM).  The initial deployment of forces
pre-dated the standup of 2d SRIG.  But by early 1989
establishment of rotating SRIG detachments was underway.
     These detachments would become increasingly more
refined and "customized" to the particular requirements of
COMMARFORPM.  Early missions focused around defense of
fixed facilities such as the Arraijon tank farm, placing
emphasis on use of sensors and night vision devices,
including video cameras with night vision capabilities.
This asset proved the occurrence of night-time incursions
by the Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF), refuting General
Noriega's propaganda about trigger-happy Marines.
     A low intensity conflict, the Panamanian crisis
placed a special emphasis on human intelligence (HUMINT)
methods.  Accordingly, COMMARFORPM received intelligence
support from Interrogator-Translator detachments and
Counterintelligence subteams.
     As the mission of area defense vice defense of fixed
facilities emerged, increasing emphasis was placed on area
security and countering of the PDF and the para-military
Dignity Battalions.  This resulted in increased emphasis
on the SIGINT capabilities of the Radio Battalion
     The end result was a generally superb intelligence
effort.  It is, of course, not clear if the SRIG was
significantly responsible, or if such an evolution of
intelligence support would have occurred anyway.
Nonetheless, Panama appears to have validated many of the
SRIG planning decisions and doctrinal concepts.
     However, initial impressions from the Persian Gulf
War, discussed in the Marine Corps Lessons Learned System
(MCLLS), indicate that such a "type" command was a source
of confusion that had to be worked around.  (6:1)
     Apparently, the I MEF G-3 and G-6 established normal
staff-command relationships with SRIG in regards to the
employment of Communications Battalion, ANGLICO, Force
Reconnaissance Company, and the Remotely Piloted Vehicle
Company.  However, the MEF G-2 attempted to obtain
operational control of other SRIG intelligence assets (in
accordance with previously discussed planning decisions
and operational concepts).  This had a particularly
adverse impact on the Intelligence Company, home of the
MAGTF All-Source Fusion Center (MAFC) and numerous other
intelligence units.  The recommended MCLLS Report solution
is to designate the SRIG commander as a commander in the
same sense as the commanders of the wing, division, and
FSSG (i.e., operational vice type).  In addition,
"dual-hatting" of the Intelligence Company commander as
the MEF G-2 Operations Officer has also been recommended.
     Interestingly, the MCCDC response noted that the SRIG
was indeed an operational vice type command and that such
responsibilities were already doctrine as specified in a
new FMFM 3-21.  This would appear to contradict MCCDC's
SRIG Concept of Operations published 10 October 1989.
     There is certainly no contradiction between a Marine
Corps unit providing trained and equipped task-organized
forces for service with MAGTFs and commanding them when
the entire unit goes to war.  This is exactly how our
divisions, wings, and FSSGs function.  Yet, it is not how
the SRIG functions.
     The case for the Intelligence Company commander
appears particularly strong.  This unit is composed of a
Tactical Deception Platoon, Sensor Control and Management
Platoon, Topographic Platoon, Interrogator-Translator
Team, Force Imagery Interpretation Unit, Some
Counterintelligence Teams (the number varies between the
SRIGs), a Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center (SARC),
and the heart of the SRIG, the intelligence analysis
capability of the MAGTF All-Source Fusion Centeer (MAFC).
    It is at the MAFC that information from all sources
is received and then processed into intelligence products
for use by the tactical commanders.  Many of the
organizations that provide this information are in the
Intelligence Company.  It seems to make sense that the
officer who saw to their training and equipping would be
ideally situated to ensure that these disparate units
focused their efforts to satisfy MAFC requirements, and
that the MAFC itself was making proper use of the
     This could ease burdens on the MEF G-2 and his
staff.  MAFC products and Intelligence Company collection
and analysis efforts would still be under his staff
cognizance and proceed in the direction he establishes.
But the MEF G-2 may also be freer to concentrate on
ensuring external collection from national, theater, and
other assets are fully utilized.  More importantly, it may
allow him more freedom to monitor the weak link in
intelligence, dissemination to operational commanders who
need the information.
     Understandably, much of the reluctance on the part of
the G-2's to give such operational responsibilities to the
SRIG and Intelligence Company can be attributed to the
manpower and organizational losses they suffered by the
creation of the SRIG.  Most intelligence units in the SRIG
had previously been under their direct control.  For
example, the MEF possessed a Force Imagery Interruption
Unit and greater control over Radio Battalion and Force
Reconnaissance Company.  The division had an Interrogator-
Translator Team, Counterintelligence Team, Remotely
Piloted Vehicle Company, and Sensor Platoon.  All were
lost to the SRIG.
     But the losses most bitterly resented were those
directly from the G-2 staffs.  Manpower sourcing for the
MAFC required compensatory Table of Organization
reductions from somewhere.  Because virtually all of the
MOSs involved were intelligence, this burden fell on the
G-2  staffs.
     The MAFC is composed of 9 officers and 41 enlisted.
MEF and some MEB G-2s were hit hardest to provide
personnel sourcing; division, wing, FSSG and FMF
headquarters also provided some.  MEUs, regiments, groups
and below were spared. (4)
     Skepticism greeted (and continues to do so) the idea
that this enhanced intelligence structure was capable of
providing support commensurate with that which had been
lost.  Consequently, MAGTF G-2s, when employing SRIG
assets, tend to use Intelligence Company detachments to
replicate their pre-SIRG structure, then to worry about
enhanced intelligence support.  This is a concern
particularly applicable to the MAFC.
     Early experience with the MAFC tended to reinforce
this view.  Perversities in the manpower system tended to
apply the lost structure to units before the new MAFC
structure was properly manned.  In addition, when units
lost people they tended to have been experienced
personnel, trained to the particular requirements of their
units.  Unfortunately, such losses rarely went directly to
the MAFC. Instead, new personnel were frequently assigned
via PCS.  In some cases they were new to the MOS and even
lacked appropriate clearances!  (10:63)
     Further, to avoid providing experienced personnel,
some G-2s engaged in manipulation of T/O line numbers.
For example, they left line numbers slated for the MAFC
unfilled or moved personnel who happened to be in such a
line number to a different one.  (10:63)  However, MAGTF
G-2s then expected the MAFC to fulfill their intelligence
requirements for garrison and training, such as providing
briefings on topics of interest and participating in field
exercises, frequently in support of non-MAGTF units or
training.  (10:63)  Skepticism about the MAFC became a
self-fulfilling prophecy when the reality was unable to
match the promise.
     It should be understood, however, the skepticism of
MAGTF G-2s does reflect legitimate and valid concerns.  It
is the nature of units to be more responsive to their own
commanding officers than to the units they ostensibly
support.  To use an analogy, a battalion commander
receives more timely responsiveness from his own 81mm
Mortar Platoon than he can depend on from the more capable
division artillery.  This same principle applies to
intelligence support.  For example, a MAGTF G-2 will
receive more responsive HUMINT from his own counter-
intelligence team than from some other organizations such
as DIA.
     Hence, the tendency of MAGTF G-2s is to replicate
their pre-SRIG organizations when they receive a SRIG
detachment.  It also accounts for their reluctance to give
the SRIG and Intelligence Company commanders greater
operational roles.
     Two other problems also lend credence to the concerns
of MAGTF G-2s.  One is the issue of intelligence
dissemination, the weak link in the intelligence cycle.
The other is the size of the MAFC; it appears to be too
small for all of the tasks expected of it.
     One of the major subordinate units of the SRIG is the
Communications Battalion.  Its mission is to:  "Provide
communications support to the MAGTF." (1:6)  A simply
stated mission, but one with a significant number of
tasks, of which servicing intelligence communications is
one of many, and not necessarily the most important.
    The dilemma for many S-2/G-2s has been how do I
communicate my needs to a higher HQ, how do I get feedback
on my requests, how are taskings communicated to
collectors, how do collectors get this information back to
analytical cells, and how do such cells get the
intelligence back to the requestor, and can this be done
in a timely manner?  Yet, taking away assets and
responsibilities and moving them to another unit only
exacerbates current intelligence communications
shortfalls.  MAGTF G-2s can no longer do it themselves,
someone else now has to do it for them, with all the
communications that implies.
     As previously noted, Communications Battalion is not
designed to exclusively support intelligence
communications requirements.  This accounts for much of
the resistance to and puzzlement associated with the
inclusion of this battalion within the SRIG.  To many, it
appears to be a distraction from the basic intelligence
missions of the SRIG.
     Defenders, however, maintain that Communications
Battalion can be used to improve intelligence
dissemination and other intelligence communications
requirements.  (5:52)  This certainly seems to make a
superficial amount of sense.  In theory, it sounds nice,
but this writer is not aware of any formal program or
tests or studies being conducted by any SRIG via its
Communications Battalion to forward such an agenda.  Nor
do such "warm and fuzzy" theories provide any discussion
of possible adverse consequences of such a restructuring
of Communications Battalion on other functional areas such
as operations or logistics.  After all, given current
manpower constraints, Communications Battalion is unlikely
to grow any bigger.  To enhance one area may mean taking
away from another.  The case for inclusion of
Communications Battalion in the SRIG is problematic at
best.  This dissemination dilemma remains and the SRIG has
probably increased the difficulties.
     At 9 officers and 41 enlisted, the MAFC also appears
to be too small to handle all of the requirements that
will be levied on it, particularly from units that expect
the MAFC to adequately compensate for the personnel they
provided to it.  Units are rarely at full T/O.  A certain
percentage is always gone, e.g., range, mess duty, sick
call, schools, leave, etc.
     Yet, units still require briefing support, MAFC
participation in field exercises and deployments, etc.  At
the same time the MAFC is trying to satisfy the
intelligence requirements of the MEF, a corps level
authority.  Even in peacetime, it can be quickly
overwhelmed.  Such a size and the inevitable absences of
personnel also means that MAGTFs, particularly ones that
deploy, will have to work with a MAFC detachment composed
of different individuals for each major exercise.  This
exacerbates training, teamwork, and leadership problems.
Consequently, it becomes easier for a MAGTF G-2 to
assimilate these individuals into a pre-SRIG structure
rather then try something new with a MAFC detachment.
     One potential solution is to increase the size of the
MAFC or return some personnel to the G-2 staffs that had
to provide the initial compensatory reductions.  This is a
difficult call in a time of shrinking manpower and equally
compelling claims from other areas.
     A partial solution may be to offer the Communications
Platoon, resident in H&S Company of the SRIG, as
compensatory reduction to achieve some of the above.  In
June of 1990, FMFLANT conducted a detailed study of the
SRIG's internal communications requirements and
subsequently recommended to MCCDC that this Communica-
tions Platoon was not required.  Collocation with MAGTF
CEs and Communications Battalion assets could satisfy
their internal communications needs.  (3:1)  In each SRIG
this could provide a compensatory reduction billet
structure of one officer and 14 enlisted.  This could
restore intelligence personnel to at least the MEBs, or
increase the MAFC size.
     Clearly, the SRIG is an evolving unit with a need for
more clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
Possibly, as units become used to it and learn more about
its capabilities, greater sophistication will emerge in
the employment of this organization with, at the MEF
level, operational control being exercised by at least the
Intelligence Company commander, and possibly by the SRIG
     But using the SRIG to replicate pre-SRIG intelligence
structures and to "penny-package" many of its assets to
subordinate units is to deny the SRIG an opportunity to
improve Marine Corps intelligence.
1.  CG, MCCDC.  "Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and
      Intelligence Group Concept."  Quantico, Virginia.
      Ltr 3900 over WF 10B of 10 Oct 90.
2.  CG, MCCDC.  "Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and
      Intelligence Group Operational Concept."  Quantico,
      Virginia.  Ltr 3800 over WF10 of 22 Feb 90.
3.  CG, FMFLANT.  "SRIG Internal Communications
      Requirements."  Norfolk, Virginia.  Ltr 2000 over
      G-6/90254 of 22 Jun 90.
4.  CG, II MEF.  "Sourcing of MAGTF All-Source Fusion
      Center (MAFC), Intel Co, Second SRI Group, FMF."
      Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  CG, II MEF 301107Z
      Jan 89.
5.  Ennis, Lt Col Michael E.  "The SRI Group--Another
      Look."  Marine Corps Gazette, February 1991:  52-55.
6.  Hendrickson, Col.  "Surveillance, Reconnaissance,
      Intelligence Group."  Marine Corps Lessons Learned
      System Report, Number 21049-33665 (00123).  MCRDAC,
      Quantico, Virginia.  19 Mar 91.
7.  Leonhardt, Maj K. A.  "Improving the MAFC."  Marine
      Corps Gazette, February 1991: 55.
8.  Morrison, Cpat R. Bruce.  "Completing the SRI Group
      Organization."  Marine Corps Gazette, August 1990.
9.  Odell, Robert R.  "Analysis of 2d SRI Group Concept of
      Operations."  Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
      Memorandum to Commanding Officer, 2d Surveillance,
      Reconnaissance, and Intelligence Group of 15 March
10. Ryan, Maj Brendan P.  "MAGTF All-Source Fusion Center.
      Marine Corps Gazette, August 1990: 60-63.
11. Ryan, Maj Brendan P.  "Updating the MAFC Report."
      Marine Corps Gazette, Feburary 1991: 51.
12. U. S. Marine Corps.  FMFM 3-1, Command and Staff
      Action.  Washington, DC.  21 May 1979.
13. U. S. Marine Corps.  FMFM 2-I, Intelligence.
      Washington, DC.  30 Sep 1980.
14. U. S. Marine Corps.  OH 3-20. Commander's Guide to
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      Command, Quantico, Virginia.  10 July 1989.

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