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ON POINT II: Transition to the New Campaign

The United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM May 2003-January 2005

Part II

Transition to a New Campaign

Chapter 5
Intelligence and High-Value Target Operations


Intelligence and the Transition to Full Spectrum Operations

When the Saddam regime fell in early April 2003, the US Army had a large number of MI assets in Iraq. In addition to the robust intelligence capabilities in each US Army and Marine division involved, the Coalition enjoyed the support of national intelligence resources, the strategic assets at US Central Command (CENTCOM) and V Corps, to include the latter command’s 205th MI Brigade. In addition, Combined Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) brought the resources of the 513th MI Brigade, the US Army Intelligence and Security Command’s contingency force, to bear on the mission in Iraq. Magnifying the strength of the 513th and the 205th were the US Army Reserve and National Guard MI battalions—several of which were dedicated to the collection of HUMINT—added to their structure in the weeks before the invasion. In addition to these forces, a Utah Army National Guard HUMINT unit, the 142d MI Battalion, reinforced the 75th Exploitation Task Force, which began the official search for Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in April 2003. CENTCOM had also gained the support of US European Command’s J2 section, which greatly assisted Coalition commanders in understanding the situation in northern Iraq. Thus, between January and April 2003, Coalition forces enjoyed the support of 17 MI battalions and a variety of other MI assets.

The large majority of these units were part of an MI structure designed to win a campaign against a conventional enemy like Saddam Hussein’s army. The majority of the Soldiers and systems in these battalions collected signals intelligence (SIGINT) and imagery intelligence (IMINT). Only about 25 percent of the assets in these units collected HUMINT. Once the Coalition pushed Saddam out of power and the transition to full spectrum operations began, the importance of SIGINT and IMINT diminished in relation to HUMINT in their capacity to impact the campaign. To be sure, the systems that provided SIGINT and IMINT continued to play a role in 2003 and 2004. Their capabilities, in any event, could not meet the demand for the most important type of information required to support full spectrum operations, especially those focused on an insurgent enemy: HUMINT.

Before anyone in the Coalition had a chance to understand the situation they faced in Iraq, a series of important decisions about the Coalition’s military command structure radically altered the number and type of MI assets available for operations. As chapter 4 of this study has shown, the Department of Defense (DOD) decided in May 2003 to designate the United States (US) V Corps headquarters as the core staff of the follow-on joint task force, known as Combined Joint Task Force–7 (CJTF-7). For those who assumed CFLCC would form CJTF-7, this decision was a surprise. When CFLCC and CENTCOM pulled many of their assets back to Kuwait, Qatar, and Florida in June, Coalition intelligence capabilities in Iraq suddenly decreased. Major General Barbara Fast, who became the senior intelligence officer (CJ2) in CJTF-7 in late July 2003 noted, “When CFLCC departed, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) HUMINT and US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) assets departed, as well.”5 Fast added that there were some national and strategic assets that remained in Iraq that first summer, but they were assigned to missions other than assisting CJTF-7 understand the situation in post-Saddam Iraq: “The remaining DIA assets were part of the Iraqi Survey Group (ISG) and designated to find WMD. These were the designated, experienced assets on which we rely for some of our more sophisticated HUMINT operations. This left only CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] assets, also limited initially in number.”6

Within CJTF-7 these departures left the staff with very limited capacity to work with operational- or strategic-level intelligence. The V Corps G2 section, which now served as the foundation of CJTF-7’s CJ2, was designed and manned to conduct collection and analysis of tactical-level intelligence. For Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the V Corps commander who became the CJTF-7 commander in June 2003, CFLCC’s exit left the Corps’ Intelligence staff without the experience or expertise to work at the higher levels required in Iraq. Sanchez stated:

What was missing was the capacity to be able to think through those problems, to be able to address the problems with a structure that was much more robust than in a corps G2. The seniority of experience, the ability to tap into some sort of operational level and theater and strategic level experience, which is what [CFLCC] had been doing for almost 8 months at that point, all of that went away and you were now left with . . . young captains and lieutenants and warrant [officers] and sergeants that had no idea what it is all about to be talking strategic intelligence and operational level intelligence and counterinsurgencies.7

Sanchez emphasized that these MI Soldiers were exceptionally competent at conducting intelligence operations in support of a conventional campaign at the tactical level. “Their instinct, their forte, of course by training, what we had trained these kids for,” Sanchez noted, “was to go out and fight a conventional fight and they were pretty damn good at it.”8 However, the CJTF-7 commander remarked that after May 2003, the US Army and the Coalition were no longer concerned with the conventional fight, “Now we were completely lost in a totally different operational environment and we were really struggling.”9

Chapter 5. Intelligence and High-Value Target Operations

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