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The IPB process is that portion of the intelligence cycle that integrates enemy doctrine with the weather and terrain and relates these factors to the mission and specific battlefield situation. It provides a basis for determining and evaluating enemy capabilities, vulnerabilities, and probable courses of action. It also serves as the planning basis for the formulation of the unit's concept of the operation and for the allocation of combat power as reflected in the unit's organization for combat. The process is especially critical to the commander, the intelligence officer, the operations officer, the battlefield deception element, and the field artillery intelligence officer. The brigade or battalion S2 relies on the higher staff headquarters to provide detailed information to conduct the informal IPB at their level. The formal IPB process is performed at division, corps, and higher levels.


As with the intelligence cycle, the IPB process is cyclic in nature. All IPB functions are performed continuously and concurrently. (Figure F-1.) The IPB provides situation and target information with which to compare friendly and enemy courses of action. This information is used to predict target activity and to produce event-related forecasts of battlefield operations.

a. Information required to develop the IPB is received from all available sources. These include current intelligence holdings, information from higher headquarters, and information from national intelligence agencies.

b. Airborne IPB must combine both ground IPB and air IPB. Airborne operations are offensive in nature and require certain aspects of terrain to be analyzed for success. Landing, drop, and extraction zones are crucial for delivery of the airborne force to the objective area. Requirements for airfields for follow-on forces compel consideration of the MOUT aspects of terrain since airfields are usually located near built-up areas.


Battlefield area evaluation involves assessing the battle area with regard to the overall nature of the friendly and enemy forces and the operating environment. The terrain and weather are evaluated to determine how they affect operations. Enemy forces (including, ground, air, and when appropriate, naval forces), which are expected to operate within the battle area, are evaluated to determine their capabilities in relation to the weather, terrain, and friendly mission. Battlefield evaluation should call attention to significant areas and features that must be considered during the IPB effort. (Figure F-2.)

a. The battlefield consists of the following:

(1) The area of operations is the geographical area where the commander has been assigned the responsibility and authority to conduct military operations. The assigned AO is based on METT-T factors and planning considerations beyond the FLOT.

(2) The air area of operation is similar to the ground AO in that air bases, refueling points, LZs, DZs, and air defense weapons and radars operate within the commander's boundaries. The major difference between air and ground operations is the height or operating ceiling within which fixed-and rotary-wing aircraft operate and air defense weapons can fire.

(3) The area of interest is based on METT-T and the commander's concept of the operation. It includes all enemy activities which might affect the friendly force during the operation. The G2 or S2 recommends the AI to the commander based on IPB. The commander approves the AI, and it is forwarded to the next higher echelon by the intelligence officer where it serves as a base for supporting intelligence requirements.

(4) The air AI is normally much larger than the ground AI because of the vast distances they can cover and the speed with which they can influence operations. The air AI extends upward to the maximum ceiling of enemy aircraft and to the maximum effective altitudes of friendly and enemy air defense systems. (Figure F-2 shows the relationship between these elements.)

b. The intelligence officer must fully understand these relationships to assist the commander in planning a successful airborne operation. (See FM 34-130 for a complete and detailed discussion of all aspects of the preparation and use of the IPB.)

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