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Improving Marine Corps Intelligence:  A Navy View
CSC 1992
SUBJECT AREA Intelligence
Title:  Improving Marine Corps Intelligence:  A Navy View
Author:  Lieutenant Commander Guy Holliday, United States Navy
Thesis:  Marine Corps intelligence deficiencies during
operation Desert Storm reflect functional and structural
problems that can be improved upon using the Naval
intelligence model.
Background:  The senior Marine operational commander in the
Gulf War found his tactical intelligence to be seriously
deficient.  Weaknesses included a poor operational mindset
on the part of officers, poor analysis, and inadequate
targeting intelligence.  Naval intelligence is structurally
and functionally different from the Marine community.  The
differences suggest ways to improve the performance of
Marine intelligence in an operational environment.  With a
few significant, but inexpensive changes to organizations
and personnel management practices, Marine Corps
intelligence can implement lessons learned over decades of
Navy experience.
Recommendations:  The Navy can share its experience in air
intelligence, including modern tactical reconnaissance
systems.  The Marine's SRIG should be abolished and more
intelligence officers should be assigned to national and
regional intelligence centers.  The Marine Corps needs to
hold operational commanders accountable for their
intelligence training and planning in order to improve the
overall quality of the people and the product.
Improving Marine Corps Intelligence:  A Navy View
Marine Corps intelligence deficiencies during Operation
Desert Storm reflect functional and structural problems that
can be improved upon using the Naval Intelligence model.
I.	Intelligence deficiencies highlighted in Operation
	Desert Storm
	A.	Lack of "operational mindset"
		1.	Inward focus
		2.	Fixation on intelligence cycle
	B.	Poor intelligence analysis
		1.	Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield
		2.	Misdirected analytical process
	C.	Weak targeting intelligence
		1.	Lack of USMC experience in JIC's
		2.	Lack of realistic training
II.	Differences between Navy and Marine intelligence
	A.	Direct accession vs. lateral transfer
	B.	Early operational experience with mentors
III.	Suggestions for improving Marine intelligence
	A.	Take advantage of Navy air intelligence experience
	B.	Invest in tactical air reconnaissance system
	C.	Create Marine intelligence "community"
	D.	Abolish the SRIG
	E.	Operators take responsibility for intelligence
	F.	Intelligence officers earn operator respect
	G.	Improve reality of training
                    by LCDR Guy Holliday, United States Navy
     "The weakest area I observed was tactical
intelligence."1  With these words in the Marine Corps
Gazette, BGen Paul K. Van Riper introduced a three-paragraph
indictment of United States Marine Corps intelligence
support during Desert Storm that has generated a second
storm within the Marine Corps' intelligence community.
Tactical intelligence support to Marine Corps operations
suffers from several deficiencies, a few of which were
dramatically highlighted during the operations in the
Arabian Gulf.  In the Gazette article, General Van Riper
identified poor "operational mindset" on the part of
intelligence officers, weak analysis, a lack of targeting
expertise, and a lack of organic photographic intelligence
capability as specific problems.  He also made general
suggestions (improved selection, training, and education)
regarding how to correct them.  Marine officers and enlisted
men in the intelligence field have responded in print with
many additional insights into the state of Marine Corps
intelligence that should go a long way toward improving the
focus of the argument and the practical implementation of
needed changes.  The purpose of this discussion is to
examine the issues raised, and a few others, from the
perspective of a mid-grade Navy intelligence officer
attending the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and to
offer practical suggestions based on my experience and
current daily exposure to nearly 150 field-grade Marine
Operational Mindset
     When General Van Riper cited a deficiency here he cut
every Marine intelligence professional to the quick, and the
pain felt in the fleet was palpable in the letters published
by the Gazette.  The General developed the topic somewhat,
citing an "inward" focus on the "intelligence cycle" and an
apparent fascination with "systems and procedures rather
than the product being (or more often not being) provided to
the operators."2  This paragraph raises some of the most
important sub-issues of Marine intelligence limitations,
including a misunderstanding of the "intelligence cycle"
itself (and its misapplication in the fleet), the over-
reliance within the Marine Corps on doctrinal approaches to
problem-solving, the use (and misuse) of intelligence-
related systems, and the intelligence/operations interface
     The intelligence cycle, as explained in depth in both
FMFM 3-21 MAGTF Intelligence Operations and FMFM 3-20
Commander's Guide to Intelligence is a four-step process
that proceeds from "direction" (planning to meet
requirements) to "collection" (gathering of information) to
"processing and production" (turning information into
intelligence in a usable form) to "dissemination"
(delivering it in a timely way to the right user) and back
to "direction."  The entire intelligence community uses one
version of this cycle or another as a guideline to the
process of continuous intelligence support.  If the cycle
was apparent to a senior operator such as General Van Riper,
his complaint is legitimate -- he should be on the receiving
end of "dissemination" and the delivery end of operational
"direction" and the rest should be transparent to him.  The
cycle is not an intelligence officer's excuse for failure to
deliver the goods.  If the operator describes a problem in
dissemination, that is direction, and the problems with
collection, processing and production are for the
intelligence officer to fix.  In practice, the cycle is an
abstraction, and the degree to which Marines cite doctrinal
abstractions in the course of their work is disconcerting to
a Navy officer, accustomed to operating in what for better
or worse is the least doctrinally-bound service.  At the
operational level, the cycle is complex, branching to
various levels and types of commands in the collection,
processing, production and dissemination phases and
responding to direction from as many levels.  Rather than
describe the process to the operator, the intelligence
manager should ensure that he is aware of the levels of
activity within the cycle that apply to a given requirement,
and coordinate its application to the operator's need.  If
he thinks he can describe the way the cycle applies to a
given problem, he probably isn't working hard enough.
     To use an example from the Gulf War, operators have
complained that they could not get timely pictures of enemy
positions.  One can easily imagine the division commander
saying to the G-2, "Get me a picture of the enemy positions
in grid squares "A through X."  The failure of tactical
intelligence officers to respond with an hours-old overhead
photograph for the operators to peruse has been laid to the
lack of a method for dissemination of national and theater-
level imagery, and to the Marine Corps' shortsighted
retirement of its tactical reconnaissance aircraft without
an operational replacement.  Both are serious problems, but
not the answer to the tasking quoted above.  Rather than
cite the deficiencies noted above, the right answer for the
intelligence officer is to ask the operator what
intelligence he really wants (or better, to know what he
wants).  A photo is not intelligence, it is a source of
intelligence and a visual aid.  What the division commander
really wanted was intelligence on the disposition,
fortifications, training level, equipment, leadership,
morale, experience, tactics, etc., of the enemy he is
facing.  And a picture would be helpful in visualizing the
battlefield.  The intelligence officer, knowing before he is
asked that the operators want all these things, including a
picture, could have done the following:
     (1) Express the requirements up the chain of command.
They can be called EEI's (essential elements of
information), OIR's (other intelligence requirements), RFI's
(requests for information), or anything else the doctrine
calls them, but they must be communicated in English to
someone who can act on them.  When the general noted that
the focus on the intelligence cycle seemed to be "inward" in
orientation, he hit on a critical point.  FMFM 3-21, the
Marine intelligence "bible," goes into excruciating detail
on Marine collection capabilities, and refers the reader to
boilerplate descriptions of national and component
intelligence agencies, but leaves out the operational chain
of command and the joint intelligence centers that can
actually manage intelligence collection and produce
intelligence for operators.  More on this later.
     (2) Find out what imagery is really coming and how it
will get to the command.  In Desert Shield/Storm, Marine
division-level requirements were not met by the imaging
systems, but much of the intelligence required was
available, or taskable, from other systems in a timely way.
Order of battle data must be pieced together (fused) from
imint, sigint, humint, etc., and transferred to a chart or
existing image by hand.  If the image has been taken and
can't be delivered, it is being analyzed and reported on in
message form in very short order if the requirement has been
stated.  Each of the flat-deck amphibious ships has imagery
aboard, which may be months or years old, but which can be,
and (in the Navy) routinely is, updated with current
overlays of the pertinent intelligence.  Such a
photo/overlay is what you provide the operator (with a
large-scale chart/overlay) when you can't get him an hours-
old picture.
     General Van Riper mentioned "analysis of information to
produce usable intelligence" as a particular weakness of the
Corps, and pointed to increased training in IPB
(intelligence preparation of the battlefield) as the likely
direction to go in correcting it.  IPB is a process
developed to a high state by the Army, and developed
doctrinally in Army FM 34-130 Intelligence Preparation of
the Battlefield.  It provides a systematic approach to
defining intelligence requirements and integrating
information into a comprehensive picture of the battlefield,
at any scale.  What it fails to address is the process of
ensuring that current intelligence is flowing in from all
sources, in the most efficient and useful form, to be
integrated into the picture.  Because of this, IPB has a
static feel to a Navy intelligence officer, however much
sweat and energy is expended on it.
     "Analysis" is an important part of the intelligence
cycle, but operators are generally as capable of analysis,
given the available intelligence inputs, as anyone else, and
are prone to do it themselves anyway.  The cycle does not
belong to the intelligence officer, it is a management
responsibility.  The intelligence officer has to be able to
analyze the intelligence itself, how it was gathered, when
it will be updated, how reliable it is, how perishable it is
over time, etc.  This level of analysis is a product of
experience working with the intelligence system at a level
that extends well beyond the tactical staff and associated
Marine intelligence assets.  Indeed, this kind of experience
is only available in the large joint intelligence commands
that work with these issues and systems on a daily basis.
Schoolhouse training will not serve the purpose.
     Naval intelligence suffers some of the same limitations
in targeting expertise that the Marines suffer.  The Navy
has had intelligence officers involved in carrier-based
targeting for years, but the process aboard ship, despite
the improvements brought about by such computer tools as
TAMPS (tactical air mission planning system), cannot
adequately support retargeting and bomb damage assessment in
a fluid threat environment.  Until top-quality imagery is
fused with other intelligence at the level of command at
which fires are controlled (and this day is not coming as
soon as one would hope) these assessments will continue to
be made at the national level.  Intense training in JIC's,
manned by Marines as well as the other services, will help
improve the likelihood that targeting, BDA and retargeting
will be done with the appropriate operational view.  The Air
Force has an excellent targeting school to meet the needs of
the highly technical weapons systems they employ.  The
Marines and the Navy need to gain these skills, either by
attending the Air Force school or by incorporating an
equivalent course into the existing Navy/Marine Corps
intelligence schools.
     Among the more interesting elements in the series of
responses from FMF intelligence personnel to the general's
criticism was a consistent description of the failure of
Marine Corps operational staffs to man intelligence billets
at the appropriate grade and the more telling failure to
integrate intelligence into training and operations in
peacetime.  Marine intelligence officers (0202 military
occupational specialty, or MOS) decried the large number of
collateral duties assigned to battalion level S-2's and the
impact it has on his skill development.3  They also
deplored the failure to employ tactical intelligence assets
in training,4 and described a more general lack of respect
and confidence from their "operator" counterparts.5 The
Identity crisis suffered here is familiar, but more profound
in the Marine Corps than the Navy.  Although we play a key
role in operations, intelligence officers are not
"operators" in the sense of taking personal responsibility
for the operational decisions.  In the Navy we have a
"restricted line officer" status that defines this well
enough.  The Marines, by bringing officers into the
intelligence specialty solely through lateral moves, then
limiting the career development of intelligence officers by
failing to adequately fill intelligence billets outside the
mother institution, creates a second-class citizenry in the
0202 MOS.
     The contrast with Navy intelligence officers is worth
describing.  In comparing Marine and Navy intelligence
officers, the greatest difference is found at the 0-3 level.
Marines become intelligence officers at around this rank
after transferring from a combat specialty.  Although many
outstanding Navy intelligence officers transfer from the
unrestricted line (surface warfare, aviation, and
submarines), most are commissioned directly Into the
designator and have over half a decade of intelligence
experience at the point in their careers when Marine
intelligence officers are selected.  The Navy officer enjoys
a head start including a sea tour, providing direct
operational intelligence support, and a shore tour, usually
at one of the large analysis and production centers
providing intelligence to fleet and joint forces.
     Naval Intelligence enjoys a further operational
training advantage over the Marine Corps in the fact that
each deploying carrier employs almost two dozen full-time
intelligence officers, and as many enlisted intelligence
specialists.  Assigned to the embarked airwing and staff as
well as the ship, they spend the majority of their time
working on breaking intelligence matters of current interest
to operational forces.  The Carrier Intelligence Center
(CVIC), is the place where Navy Intelligence Officers from
0-1 to 0-5 learn together how to provide direct operational
intelligence support.  Of the two dozen officers, well over
half are normally 0-2 and below, on their initial sea tour.
     Although there is no comparable opportunity for Marine
intelligence officers, there are several specific
improvements that can be made to enhance the ability of
Marine Intelligence to provide timely and appropriate
intelligence support to future combat operations, and
address some of the concerns expressed in the Gazette
     (1) Take advantage of Navy air intelligence expertise.
Each Navy aircraft squadron, including the training
squadrons, has at least one full-time intelligence officer
in the wardroom.  The squadron skippers and fliers are
accustomed to integrating intelligence considerations into
mission planning.  As importantly, over 90% of all first
tours for intelligence officers are with squadrons,
providing a tremendous breadth of aviation intelligence
experience in the community.  The Marine Corps should assign
full-time intelligence officers to aviation units and ensure
that they interact closely with Navy counterparts to share
their experience and learn to tap into the vast data,
expertise, and technical assets of deployed carriers.  A
three or four-week experience tour as the assistant to a
Navy airwing intelligence officer during a carrier
deployment would pay tremendous dividends for the officer
assigned, and the Marine aviators he supports.
     (2) Invest with care.  A tactical reconnaissance
capability for the F/A-18 is a proven necessity, as is
continued investment in the RPV program.  In the meantime,
Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod Systems (TARPS) deploy with
every Navy airwing.  Methods to integrate this capability
Into Marine intelligence planning are underdeveloped and can
be dramatically improved at relatively low cost.  The
Tactical Air Mission Planning System (TAMPS) being
integrated Into Marine air intelligence has been deployed
aboard carriers since the early 1980's.  The Navy can help
make it work for the Marines.
     (3) Create a strong intelligence community within the
Corps.  Although blessed with many hard-working and capable
officers, Marine intelligence does not enjoy the "community"
benefits of mutual support, mentors, and networking that
give every Navy intelligence officer access to reservoirs of
help.  Too many Marine intelligence officers operate alone.
The Marine officer accession policy should be to commission
the future nucleus of the intelligence MOS as 0202 second
lieutenants, and put them into intelligence jobs from day
     (4) Abolish the SRIG.  The recently established
Surveillance/Reconnaissance Intelligence Group (SRIG) should
form a nucleus for the community, but likely does more harm
than good by increasing the real and perceived distance
between operators and intelligence people.  Lumping
intelligence officers into a command which dissolves and
disperses in an operational environment is counterproductive
to the goal of continuity in operational support.  Another
question:  what to do with the SRIG commanding officer when
the assets of his command (personnel and equipment) are
given to an operational commander in wartime.  The doctrinal
answer seems to be to make the SRIG CO a "special staff"
officer.  If I were the G-2 or J-2 I would not want another
intelligence officer (probably of higher rank) floating
around the staff when I was responsible for the people and
capability that was formerly under his command.  It is a
recipe for disaster.
     (5) Take responsibility.  Intelligence support for
Marine units, like any other supporting or combat arm, is as
good as the Commanding Officer demands that it be.
Incredibly, senior Marine commanders have returned from the
Gulf to criticize the intelligence support they received as
though they had no responsibility for the limitations that
were revealed in the desert.  Would the same officers
complain if they were "surprised" to find critical
deficiencies in their artillery?  Probably not, because it
is obvious to any Marine that the Commanding Officer should
know his artillery inside out, and take responsibility for
how well it meets his requirements.  What has yet to be
observed is a series of Marine officers in command positions
taking personal responsibility for their failure to ensure,
through adequate training, education, exercises, staff
interaction, etc., that their intelligence personnel could
support them in combat.  The issue of tactical intelligence
is a combat readiness issue at every level of command, and
third-person responsibility is not adequate if solutions are
to be found.  Until intelligence is recognized as a command
responsibility rather than something to be delivered, the
basic problem will not be solved.
     (6) Earn operational respect.  Intelligence officers
must ensure that they are support oriented and that they are
not hiding behind the "green door."  It isn't as good a
hideout as it used to be, as most of the senior operators
have the appropriate access to get in.  Neither should those
who do not have special intelligence access perceive a
barrier of access to needed intelligence support.  The vast
majority of the information used in the fusion of
intelligence either a) does not originate in the special
intelligence world, or b) can be sanitized quickly to make
it available for open-door fusion.  Intelligence analysis
would be better respected by the operators if it were done
in the open, elbow to elbow with the G-3.  This can be
achieved if the special spaces are seen and used as a
resource rather than a hideout.
     (7) Make it real.  Training begins in the schoolhouse,
but sets in when it is applied.  Navy intelligence officers
provide real intelligence support for operators at sea, and
ashore are assigned to analytical support and production
commands whose job it is to support those same operators.
The Marines can take advantage of carrier deployments by
assigning exchange officers to CVIC, and the Navy
intelligence officers rotating through Marine intelligence
billets would gain as well.  The Marines can build expertise
by filling billets in the shore-based intelligence commands
as well, particularly the Joint Intelligence Centers engaged
in direct operational support on a daily basis.  Until
Marine intelligence officers are required to do real
intelligence full-time, they cannot develop into the command
assets they should be.  Additionally, there is no excuse for
the failure of the Marine Corps to conduct field training
that tests the intelligence officers and men assigned to any
unit.  It is a readiness issue.  It may be harder, it may
take some creativity, it may not be the way things have been
done in the past, but the poor quality of intelligence field
training6 must be corrected.
     The Marine Corps, like the Navy, is accustomed to
independent operations.  The price paid for the security of
self-reliance is the failure to take advantage of critical
capabilities that can be provided by sister services.  Joint
operations in the future will continue to break down the
resistance to interdependence, and the Navy is the natural
choice to help the Marine Corps accelerate the process and
minimize confusion.  Intelligence will play an increasingly
critical role as a force multiplier for the Marine Corps and
the Navy.  When we find ourselves at the ends of the Earth,
forming the nucleus of a Joint Task Force, the Navy-Marine
Corps combat team will demand intelligence support that can
only be delivered by a better organized, trained and
coordinated team of professional Navy and Marine Corps
intelligence officers.
1.	BGen Paul K. Van Riper,  "Observations During DESERT
STORM," Marine Corps Gazette, Jun 91, 55.
2.	Van Riper, p. 58.
3.	Capt. Jason M. Williams, "Does the Marine Corps Need
Infantry Battalion S-2 Officers?," Marine Corps Gazette, Sept
91, 24.
4.	Maj C. E. Colvard, "Unfortunately, We Fought Like We
Trained," Marine Corps Gazette, Sept 91, 20.
5.	Maj Russell A. Keller, "Intelligence Is a Team Sport,"
Marine Corps Gazette, Mar 92, 14.
6.	Colvard, p. 20.
1.	Clayton, CWO2 Steven B. "Intelligence Training and
	Support."  Marine Corps Gazette September 91:  27-28.
2.	Clayton, CWO2 Steven B. "Marine Corps Imagery Support."
	Marine Corps Gazette September 91:  25-26.
3.	Colvard, Maj. C. E. "Unfortunately, We Fought Like We
	Trained."  Marine Corps Gazette September 91:  20-22.
4.	Combat Intelligence Study Guide.  Quantico, VA:  Intelligence
	Instruction Section, Marine Corps University, MCCDC, Quantico,
	VA, Aug 90.
5.	Decker, Michael H.  "Assessing the Intelligence Effort."
	Marine Corps Gazette September 91:  22-23.
6.	FM 34-130 Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield.
	Washington, DC:  Department of the Army, 1989.
7.	FMFM 3-20 Commander's Guide to Intelligence.  Quantico,
	VA:  Combat Development Command, 1991.
8.	FMFM 3-21 MAGTF Intelligence Operations.  Quantico, VA:
	Combat Development Command, 1991.
9.	Keller, Maj. Russell A.  "Intelligence is a Team Sport."  Marine
	Corps Gazette March 92: 14-17.
10.	Leonhardt, Maj. Kent A.  "All the Intelligence in the World Is
	Useless Without the Means To Disseminate It."  Marine Corps
	Gazette March 92:  21-23.
11.	McTernan, LtCol. Walter F. III  "Intelligence:  You Get What
	You Pay For." Marine Corps Gazette March 92:  23-24.
12.	Peterson, Maj. Harries-Clichy, Jr.  "Intelligence:  Fix It or Forget
	It."  Marine Corps Gazette March 92: 18-20.
13.	Williams, Capt. Jason M.  "Does the Marine Corps Need
	Infantry Battalion S-2 Officers?"  Marine Corps Gazette September
	91:  24-35.

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