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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



When the US Army entered Iraq in May 2003, its intelligence operations were the domain of a relatively small group of well-trained officers and Soldiers who employed a system based on sophisticated signals and imagery technology to locate and analyze a conventional enemy. With the shift to full spectrum operations in May 2003, all American Soldiers entered a new world, complete with a different language and an incomprehensible set of rules and expectations. Unprepared for this new situation, they had limited means to help them make sense of what they faced, especially when it came to the elusive insurgent enemy. Out of the need to understand their environments, most of the Army’s tactical units in Iraq began to conduct sophisticated intelligence missions on a scale that was unprecedented. While the MI Corps may not have been amenable to this development at the outset of the new campaign, MI Soldiers quickly realized they were too few to make a significant impact in understanding the environment and the emerging enemy. Once this became clear, the MI community began developing policy and training to help tactical units sharpen their abilities to collect and analyze intelligence. The Army’s introduction of the “Every Soldier is a Sensor” program, a 2004 training initiative designed to instill basic MI skills in all Soldiers, was perhaps the most direct result of recognition of these critical changes.

This discussion has shown how, from the commander of CJTF-7 down to the tactical-level, Soldiers began to collect and use HUMINT as the primary means of making sense of Iraq. This shift to a dependency on HUMINT was almost as dramatic and surprising as the transition from a top-down intelligence system to one that gathered intelligence at the tactical level and slowly pushed it up to higher echelons. No one expected the Army’s relatively small set of HUMINT assets to become so important when Coalition forces crossed into Iraq in March 2003. Additionally, no infantryman, tanker, or artilleryman expected to be involved with complex intelligence networks when they deployed to Iraq.

These transitions were difficult, and as the demand for more and better information increased in mid-2003, the pressure led a few to put their values aside and mistreat Iraqis. Most Soldiers took on the role of intelligence collector and analyst with great success however. Their experiences in 2003 and 2004 serve to highlight the enduring importance of low-level HUMINT in full spectrum operations, especially those that face complex insurgencies. In campaigns like OIF, intelligence serves as much more than an enabler of military operations. It often becomes the objective for those operations.


Chapter 5. Intelligence and High-Value Target Operations

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