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CRITICAL TASKS:      301-336-1600





















In this lesson, you will learn the techniques of intelligence analysis, the two Principles of War in Intelligence Analysis and the four steps of the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) process.


TASKS:    Identify the techniques of intelligence analysis, the Principles of War in Intelligence Analysis, and the steps of the IPB process.

CONDITIONS:    You will be given narrative information from FM 34-1, FM 34-3, FM 34-130, and FM 100-5.

STANDARDS:    You will describe the techniques of intelligence analysis, the Principles of War in Intelligence Analysis, and the steps of the IPB process IAW FM 34-1, FM 34-3, FM 34-130, FM 100-5, and FM 34-130.

REFERENCES:    The material contained in this lesson is derived from the following publications:

    FM 34-1

    FM 34-3

    FM 34-130

    FM 100-5


In recent years, the intelligence community has devoted considerable effort and resources to improve the mechanical and organizational aspects of intelligence production. The development of sophisticated, technologically advanced collection systems, has given us a vast capability to collect information. Additional efforts are in progress to speed the flow of information from the collector to the processor and computerize the recording, organizing, and manipulating information.

Unfortunately, there have been few developments to improve our ability to evaluate and interpret information to produce intelligence. The purpose of evaluation and interpretation is to analyze available information to determine the enemy's capabilities and probable courses of action.

This is a human function. The analyst must add the elements of judgment, a function that cannot be programmed into a machine.

The purpose of this lesson is to familiarize the OB analyst with various tools and thought processes which will help him make more valid judgments concerning enemy capabilities and probable course(s) of action.


Principles of War (Mass and Economy of Force). The tactical doctrine of most armies recognizes nine principles of war. They are:

  • Mass.

  • Economy of force.

  • Objective.

  • Offense.

  • Security.

  • Unity of command.

  • Maneuver.

  • Simplicity.

  • Surprise.

Tactical intelligence analysis must focus on identifying the enemy's application of these principles. Mass and economy of force are the most critical. Normally the combat resources available to the enemy commander to accomplish his mission will be limited. Therefore he must allocate sufficient resources at the critical places on the battlefield while economizing elsewhere. He will normally concentrate troops, firepower, mobility, and support where he intends to make his main effort.

The problem of identifying the enemy’s capabilities and determining his most probable course of action is largely one of determining where he is massing his combat power and where he is economizing his forces. The principle of massing may be somewhat limited when there is a threat that nuclear weapons may be used to deliver the main attack. Massing would also be minimized to prevent creation of a nuclear target. Even in this situation, some concentration of effort will be required to allow timely exploitation of successful nuclear strikes.

Composition. Identify the composition of the enemy force at least one echelon above your own. For example, if you are working at the brigade level, attempt to identify the composition of the opposing division. The enemy operates as a part of a target command and control structure. The mass and economy of force problem must be resolved at each echelon. The higher echelon commander's scheme of maneuver and his allocation of combat power and support will impact directly on enemy capabilities in your own zone/sector. Identifying enemy composition facilitates construction of a composite picture of the total enemy force structure. This includes information on identified and unidentified, located and unlocated units, total reinforcements, types and amounts of combat support/combat service support, and the identification of special capabilities (river-crossing, EW, nuclear delivery, etc.).

Detailed analysis of enemy composition assists in quantifying the degree of uncertainty that still exists in critical areas; a judgment that impacts on the degree of confidence we can place in our estimate. Most intelligence judgments are made on the basis of fragmentary evidence. By comparing available information with information on the total force composition, the analyst can determine the percentage of the total picture on which his judgment is based. For example, agencies may report that four enemy artillery batteries have displaced forward. We might then generalize that enemy artillery is displacing them forward, which is an indicator of attack. If the total enemy composition indicates 40 artillery batteries are available, we recognize our judgment is based on only 10 percent of the total picture. Ninety percent is still uncertain. It is vital the analyst be conscious of the degree of uncertainty remaining in any situation.

Enemy Activity Outside Your Zone. Analyze the significance of enemy activity outside your zone/sector. Consider the "big picture" when assessing the meaning and significance of enemy activity within your area of operation. Enemy boundaries are not identical to our own. Events outside our boundaries may be part of the enemy's overall scheme of maneuver. Analysis of outside events may provide indicators or areas of focus within our area. Events within our area may require correlation with outside events if they are to be correctly interpreted. This is closely related to and facilitated by determining the composition of the enemy forces.

Enemy Tactical Doctrine. Become familiar with the enemy's tactical doctrine. Enemy commanders are trained in their country's tactical doctrine and given frequent opportunities to apply that doctrine during field exercises and maneuvers. Though some commanders will be more or less innovative, most will consciously or unconsciously apply a learned doctrine when confronted with a specific situation. The analyst should be familiar with:

  • Unit frontages/depths for attack and defense, frontages for the main attack(s) and secondary attacks.

  • Characteristic dispositions associated with various courses of action.

  • Indicators.

  • Allocation of combat/combat service support.

  • Expected sequence of events.

  • Information on the conduct of specialized military operations (river-crossings, air assault operations, etc.).

These specifics relate directly to the determination of mass and economy of force. Doctrinal information facilitates analysis by serving as a basis for comparison and for interpreting actual events.

Effects of Weather and Terrain. Incorporate judgments on the effects of weather and terrain. Weather and terrain are physical constraints which impact on enemy capabilities and either favor or limit his adoption of a particular course of action. Analysis and discussion of enemy capabilities frequently neglect the effects of weather and terrain. Many military disasters can be directly attributed to a failure to correctly assess environmental factors.

Enemy Force Structure and Terrain Constraints. Relate the enemy force structure to the physical constraints imposed by the terrain, particularly avenues of approach. There are four techniques for determining the enemy's application of mass and economy of force by relating enemy dispositions and the terrain.

  • Determine unit boundaries and relate them to avenues of approach. Boundaries may be identified by locating enemy reconnaissance and cavalry units (which often have distinctive equipment), terrain and doctrinal analysis of EPW capture locations, and other techniques. Identification of boundary locations will assist in mass and economy of forces determinations and in deciding the enemy's perception of avenues of approach.

  • Compute enemy strength in terms of committed forces, reinforcements, and supporting weapons for the entire front, then recompute for each avenue of approach. Determine whether enemy combat power and support are evenly distributed or one option is weighted.

  • Analyze enemy allocation of available lines of communication. Available roads for the movement of tactical units and logistical support are usually limited. The enemy allocates these lines of communication according to their priority of effort. Analysis of enemy boundaries and traffic patterns can be an important indicator of identifying his support priorities and his most probable course of action.

  • Identify potential enemy objectives and relate them to enemy dispositions and avenues of approach. Weighting may be determined through unit boundaries, strength computation, and route allocation.

Pattern Analysis. Use pattern analysis to identify the presence of indicators or enemy activity. This concept is based on the premise that the adoption of a particular course of action will result in characteristic dispositions and patterns of activity that can be identified and correctly interpreted. The analyst must organize and record incoming information to ensure meaningful relationships can be established. IPB, which is discussed later in this lesson, provides the analyst with patterns that may be used as a basis for comparison. The IPB process integrates the enemy's tactical doctrine and the effects of weather and terrain.

Weight Indicators. In combat, the analyst is usually confronted with conflicting indicators. An enemy force will go to great efforts to deceive us by portraying indications which point to the adoption of a course of action which he does not intend to adopt. Enemy forces may use patterns associated with attack, defense and delay simultaneously. These conflicting patterns may result from intentional deception, imprecise execution, temporary indecision, random activity, or incomplete/inaccurate information. The analyst requires a thorough knowledge of the enemy and of the characteristics of the BA which can effect military operations. Particularly valuable is detailed knowledge of enemy organization, equipment, tactical doctrine, and logistical methods; the probable enemy knowledge of the area under friendly control; the personalities of the enemy commanders and the past performance of the opposing enemy units. This action may not be the most numerous. The analyst must develop a way to identify those indicators that are most indicative of a course of action. There are several techniques which may be used individually or in combination.

One technique of determining the enemy's intent is to consider the origin or source of the indicator, or why the enemy presents a certain pattern. Indicators stem from military logic, doctrinal training, organizational constraints, bureaucratic constraints, or the personality of the enemy commander.

Military logic implies there is an obvious solution for every military problem. For example, military logic dictates artillery be used well forward for attack and echeloned in depth for defense. Violation of this logic implies a loss in combat power or support at some critical point during the operation.

A nation's Tactical Doctrine includes military logic and much more. Tactical doctrine begins where military logic ends. This is where military experts disagree. For example, both US and Commonwealth of Independent States doctrines dictate that artillery be used well forward to support an attack. Yet the respective doctrines disagree on artillery use in an assault gun role.

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) former Soviet Union's emphasis on detailed, repetitious training, designed to inbreed a sort of reflex action enhances the value of doctrinal indicators. Though some commanders may display some imagination and creativity, indicators based on tactical doctrine are generally reliable.

Organizational structure represents a special case of doctrine. The composition of a division (size, organization, weapons, and organic support) is a matter which the military establishments of different countries have resolved in radically different ways. The fact a US division has three subordinate maneuver headquarters as opposed to four in a the former Soviet division, and differences in the composition and structure of the division base, will result in distinctively different patterns associated with US and former Soviet operations.

The Enemy Commander is the final source of indicators. Each commander has a personal history of training, experience, success, failure, and personal idiosyncrasies. Many are creatures of habit, prone to repeat what has worked in the past; others are creative and innovative. All are somewhat captives of their experiences. The enemy commander's personality may be a major source of deviation from established enemy patterns of activity. The relative weight given the enemy commander's personality is variable. In case of a strong, innovative, or idiosyncratic commander (Patton, Rommel, etc.), his influence may be more important than doctrine or training, but in the case of a methodical, traditional commander, his personality may rank last.

Weigh heavily those indicators which:

  • Reflect or are based on the principle of mass. The enemy can be expected to conduct deception operations. However, deception operations are normally conducted "on the cheap," attempting to deceive us with the least expenditure of resources. Indicators based on a major confirmed commitment of forces are most likely to reflect the true situation.

  • Are most difficult to fake. This includes not only those which require mass, but also those in which the complexity of execution would negate their use for deceptive purposes.

Time Sequence of Events. Analyze the time sequence of events. While the analyst must exercise care in attributing significance to the time sequence of events, it is advisable to consider time and space relationships as an additional safeguard. Time and space relationships can serve as a major tool for exposing deception. Deception is frequently conducted with minimum expenditure of scarce resources. Careful analysis of information from different sources may reveal significant discrepancies, such as the same unit at different locations on the battlefield at the same time.

Enemy Combat Effectiveness. Integrate a judgment on the enemy's combat effectiveness. This judgment is based on an analysis of tangible factors (percent of tables of organization and equipment, strength of personnel and equipment, available supply rates, and so on) and intangible factors (morale, training, political reliability, etc.). Unfortunately, there is no scientific method of arriving at combat effectiveness judgments. It does, however, have a definite bearing on a unit's capabilities and most probable course of action.

Enemy G2s Perception. Consider the enemy G2s perception of the friendly force. Though enemy capabilities exist independently of the enemy's assessment of friendly forces, his choice of alternative courses of action does not. Attempt to determine the enemy's perception of friendly capabilities through analysis of his collection capabilities, known collection activities, and inadvertent security violations by friendly forces which might have been monitored by enemy intelligence. Detailed analysis of potential disclosures will enable you to partially reconstruct the enemy G2s SITMAP.

Mentally Wargame the Advantages/Disadvantages. Think about each of the identified enemy capabilities from the enemy commander's point of view. The analyst must remember he can never obtain a complete picture of all the factors that impact on the enemy commander's decision process. The enemy commander's perspective (training, background, ideology, etc.) is different from his own, and the analyst is working with incomplete and/or inaccurate information.

Avoid Preconceptions. The objective of the intelligence analysis is not to prove a judgment, but to improve it. Experience suggests preconceptions are the analyst's principal obstacle. There is always the danger the analyst will reach a preliminary judgment, then seek and weigh evidence to confirm his initial estimate, while he dismisses or passes over any inconsistent or conflicting information. Mental neutrality is critical. He must reserve judgment, maintain objectivity, be aware of the degree of uncertainty that exists, and constantly test his hypothesis against the available evidence.


IPB is the detailed analysis of the enemy, terrain, and weather within a specific geographical area. It is initiated during peacetime or before the next operation and continues throughout combat operations.

IPB is the "homework" that must be done to prepare for the next war or the next battle. Its purpose is to focus attention on specific threat forces and specific operational areas.

IPB integrates and analyzes the enemy tactical doctrine and the effect of terrain and weather relative to the commander's mission and specific battlefield conditions. It provides a valuable data base for the commander through the four types of templates.

The IPB Team. This team is comprised of the ASIS, the supporting engineer terrain team, and the United States Air Force (USAF) weather team. Its responsibility lies with the OB analysts of the intelligence production section at corps and division CPs. The team must assist the engineer topographic team and USAF weather team. Together, these teams form the IPB team. The OB analyst is the expert on the enemy; the engineer topographic team is the expert on terrain, and the USAF weather team is the expert on the weather.

IPB Analysis Procedures. IPB emphasizes the use of graphics, such as overlays, annotated maps, photographs, and templates. The graphics can be constructed from various physical media, such as acetate overlays, or through computer assisted display. This helps the analyst visualize the enemy's tactical formations, the effect of terrain and weather, and how the enemy might alter his formations to adapt to specific terrain and weather. There are four steps in IPB analysis.

  • Define the battlefield environment.

  • Describe the battlfield effect

  • Evaluate the Threat.

  • Determine threat course(s) of action.

Step 1:    Define the Battlefield Environment. It is during this step that the G2 or S2 establishes the limits of the battlefield by identifying the area of operations (BA) and the area of interest (AI). This also helps identify gaps in current intelligence holdings and specific intelligence required to fill them.

Step 2:     Evaluate the Battlefield's Effects upon Courses of Action. In this step, the G2 or S2 fully explores what the environment encourages and discourages in the way of friendly and threat courses of action by analyzing all the characteristics at the battlefield environment that may effect operations. It is during this step that weather and terrain are analyzed.

Step 3:     Evaluate the Threat. In this step, the G2 or S2 and his or her staff analyze the command's intelligence holdings to determine how the threat normally organizes for combat and conducts operations under similar conditions. The G2 or S2 are able to accomplish this by studying historical databases and creating threat models.

Step 4:     Determine Threat Courses of Action. In this step, the G2 or S2 combines what the threat normally prefers to do, and the specific environment in which he is operating now and determines courses of action available to him. During this step the G2 or S2 develops situation templates, event templates, and event matrices to show commanders possible threat courses of action.

Figure 4-1. Areas of Operations.



Approx Time

Approx Distance


Beyond FLOT*

Beyond FLOT*


0-3 Hrs

5 Km


0-12 Hrs

15 Km


0-24 Hrs

70 Km


0-72 Hrs

150 Km


72+ Hrs

250 Km




0-12 Hrs

15 Km


0-24 Hrs

70 Km


0-72 Hrs

150 Km


0-96 Hrs

200 Km


96+ Hrs

1,000 Km

* Forward Line of Own Troops (FLOT)

** Echelons Above Corps (EAC)

Figure 4-2. Doctrinal template: MRD (primary attack) with RAGS and DAGS.

A series of doctrinal templates are developed to a standard map scale 1:50,000/1:250,000 to depict the enemy's doctrinal formations for various type and size units and for various types of operations such as attack, defend, retrograde, and so on. These templates depict the frontages, depths, echelon, and spacing of combat, combat support, and combat service support systems. These doctrinal templates depict how the enemy would like to fight were it not for physical constraints of the terrain and the effect of weather. Figure 4-2 is an example of a doctrinal template. Doctrinal templates serve as a basis for pattern analysis.

The appropriate doctrinal template, developed in step 4, is placed over the combined obstacle overlay (Figure 4-5) and shifted until likely avenues of approach take place (Figure 4-8). Avenues of approach begin at enemy assembly areas and end at the enemy objective. Having identified the most likely avenues of approach and mobility corridors, the analyst can evaluate the military aspect of each avenue of approach.

Figure 4-3 is an overlay depicting built up areas, lines of communication, and wet areas. This will aid the analyst in developing main supply routes which in turn will indicate likely avenues of approach.

The vegetation impeding movement as shown in Figure 4-4 assists in determining areas of trafficability. This should not imply movement through these areas would be totally impossible, but rather minimum doctrinal rates of speed could not be met if movement were attempted through these areas.

Figure 4-5 is particularly important because it integrates all obstacles into one display. This greatly simplifies further analysis of avenues of approach and mobility corridors. All obstacles are cross-hatched and the blank areas are those where the enemy forces can move.

Figure 4-3. Built-up areas, and hydrology overlay.

Figure 4-4. Trafficability Overlay.

Figure 4-5. Combined Obstacles Overlay.

Table 3

Weather Factor Analysis Matrix.

Effects of precipitation can also be graphically illustrated. Figure 4-6 shows riverbanks and swamps that have swollen, rendered fording and unassisted river-crossings more difficult.

Figure 4-6. Weather Effects Overlay.

The illustration in Figure 4-7 shows the effects of precipitation on a slope. Based on the type of soil, drainage, and amount of rainfall, conditions are degraded to mainly restricted and severly restricted.

Figure 4-7. Terrain and weather factor combined overlay: SLOPE.

Figure 4-8. Likely Avenues of Approach.


  • Doctrinal templates are first used in the development of the Situation Templates (Figure 4-9). These templates relate enemy tactical doctrine to the constraints of terrain. Terrain constraints and weather effects will cause the enemy to deviate from classic frontages, depths, and echelon spacing. Situation templates are prepared for each critical point/area called Named Areas of Interest (NAI), along each avenue of approach and mobility corridor. The NAI are geographical areas where the analyst can expect significant events or activities to occur (see Figure 4-10).

  • Event Template is a prediction of events and activities at each NAI. (See events analysis matrix Figure 4-11.) An event matrix is completed for each mobility corridor within each avenue of approach. This matrix enables the analyst to correlate what is expected (activity) and where and when (location and time) at each NAI. The situation template and the event analysis matrix aid in directing collection agents where to look, when to look, and what to look for.

  • Decision Support Template (DST) is essentially an intelligence estimate in graphic format. It helps to identify critical events relative to time, location, and the current situation, which will require tactical decisions. For example, when the mission is to defend, the commander must have intelligence in time to make and execute a decision to mass combat power at the critical time and place. The decision support template alerts him not only where to mass, but when he must make his decision. Figure 4-12 is an example of a decision support template.


Targets on the battlefield will normally exceed the number of available sensors and weapons that can be used against them. Thus it is important to find and attack those targets of highest payoff to the friendly commander. Collection resources and weapon systems are directed against these enemy forces, systems, and activities that will yield the highest payoff in terms of disrupting his operations, reducing his combat effectiveness, and facilitating the accomplishment of the friendly mission. The process of identifying high value targets (HVT) and establishing priorities for their attack is called target value analysis (TVA).

Critical nodes are situation dependent because of the changing tactical situation. They are echelon/service dependent because of the different capabilities of collection, target acquisition, and weapon systems at different echelons.

Establishment of priorities for attacking HVT is essential. Before each operation, the commander designates the targets whose destruction or neutralization are most critical to his mission and establishes priorities for attacking these targets. These targets are called high payoff targets (HPTs). He then directs his intelligence resources to locate these targets. Target priorities will change as the tactical situation evolves.

IPB is the key to effective TVA. The IPB data base assists the analyst to determine the relative value of targets. It also cues him as to where these targets might be located, and when and where they can be attacked to achieve decisive results.

Figure 4-9. Situation template.

Figure 4-10. Named areas of interest.

Figure 4-11. Events analysis matrix.

Figure 4-12. Decision support template.