Alternative Changes in the Force XXI GS MI Company

by Captain Jules P. Cabeen, Jr. and First Lieutenant Brian R. Dunmire
Editor's Note: The 104th Military Intelligence Battalion supports the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) (4th ID (M)), Force XXI's experimental force (EXFOR).

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

Force XXI is a vision at the end of a long and winding road. Changes in technology, manpower, and force structure are necessary to realize that vision. Even more critical is how we, as an Army and a branch, manage those changes. Much of the discussion about the future general support (GS) military intelligence (MI) company focuses on new doctrine and technology. Relatively little attention has been given to organization. This narrow focus will cause us to forget just how much we still need to change structurally.

Current and Proposed Organization

Today's organization must provide the starting point for any discussion of future structure. The current Modified Table of Organization and Equipment (MTOE) for the GS MI company looks more like the old Army than the new one being fought in our Warfighter exercises. Old structures like the collection and jamming (C&J) platoons, transcription and analysis (T&A) teams, and frequency-modulation radio retransmission (RETRANS) section remain, but new paragraph and line numbers appear in the document for the future Ground-Based Common Sensor (GBCS) and tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
As currently organized, the GS company deploys its assets along multiple direction-finding (DF) baselines to provide electronic warfare support (ES) and electronic attack (EA) to the division. A T&A team from one of the three C&J platoons forms the nucleus of a platoon operations center (POC). The POC plays a critical role in command and control (C2) of GS assets. In addition, the RETRANS section gives the company a radio-relay capability (see Figure 1). Figure 1.
In contrast, the proposed Force XXI GS MI company looks very different from today's organization. Communications collection and jamming merge in a common platform with the fielding of the GBCS; it also adds an electronic intelligence (ELINT) collection capability against noncommunications emitters like radars. The GBCS platoon replaces both the C&J platoons (with the AN/TRQ-32 TEAMMATE and AN/TLQ-17 TRAFFICJAM) and the SIGINT platoon (AN/TSQ-138 TRAILBLAZER). The MTOE no longer authorizes T&A teams and the RETRANS section. The company gains a UAV platoon providing an imagery intelligence (IMINT) capability (see Figure 2).
Like today, the future GS MI company will provide the division with ES and EA. The big difference will be in how it performs that mission. The design of the new structure provides not only the communications intelligence (COMINT) baseline with GBCS and Advanced QUICKFIX, but also an aerial reconnaissance capability with the UAV-Short Range. Sensors will send information directly to both the Analysis and Control Element (ACE) (sensitive compartmented information level) and direct support (DS) companies (collateral level). GS company assets will be capable of performing a number of tasks including battle damage assessment (BDA), force protection, ES and EA. Figure 2.
Through trial and error, the 104th MI Battalion is providing solutions to reshape the Army's intelligence concept for the 21st century. As part of this effort, Delta Company, the battalion's GS company, reorganized last September from elements of the old Alpha and Charlie companies. Since that time, the unit has tested future concepts in a number of settings including a field connectivity exercise, battle simulations, and deployments to the National Training Center (NTC). The lessons learned from these experiences provide a starting point for changing tactics, techniques, and procedures and should form the basis of any consideration of force structure.

Lessons Learned

A fundamental problem with the proposed Force XXI structure is loss of the collection and jamming platoon's POC. In the future, GS company assets must work exclusively under the centralized control of the ACE and a new organization, the Intelligence Operations Cell. The Intelligence Operations Cell was formed by merging the operations sections of the 104th MI Battalion and the 4th ID(M) G2 at the division main command post (DMAIN).
But does centralized control from the DMAIN really eliminate the need for a POC? As the ACE assumes greater responsibility over deployed GS assets, competing demands placed on it by both the G2 and the GS company will stretch its ability to perform either job effectively.
The ACE can provide technical data to deployed assets, but not C2. Operating in a DS role to the G2, its focus is on intelligence production for commanders. The Intelligence Operations Cell, like the ACE, performs a number of tasks in the DMAIN which affect its ability to command and control the GS company. During the 4th ID(M) Warfighter exercise in January 1996, the division zone stretched more than 100 kilometers in an attack. The Intelligence Operations Cell and ACE, located at the DMAIN, were 40 to 50 kilometers behind deployed DF baselines. These distances, combined with delays in the battlefield picture presented by the All-Source Analysis System (ASAS), created problems in situational awareness in both the ACE and Intelligence Operations Cell. This problem will be even greater if the ACE is in sanctuary 250 kilometers behind the forward-line-of-own-troops (FLOT) or line of contact. Distances of this magnitude make intelligence and electronic warfare (IEW) architecture vulnerable to data degradation, enemy jamming, and terrain effects.
Lack of situational awareness clearly causes problems in controlling individual GS assets. Some organization must direct and monitor EA; order baseline adjustments or jumps; direct survivability moves based on a timely, accurate battlefield picture; and supervise casualty evacuation, resupply, and other activities. These actions are difficult to execute in close proximity to baselines, let alone from the rear. Elimination of the POC puts all our eggs into one basket at the DMAIN.
The 104th MI Battalion has taken steps to maintain a POC in its GS company. In a transitional move, Delta Company merged three T&A teams from the C&J platoons. This new element will serve multiple roles as
The Warfighter experience demonstrated that a GS company POC, working closely with the ACE and Intelligence Operations Cell, provides versatility, situational awareness, and responsive C2 for ground SIGINT teams. As the mission and roles of this new element develop, manning requirements should change. Recognizing the importance of this element, the battalion attached a warrant officer from the ACE to the GS company to assist with technical SIGINT control. With time, this structure will look more and more like an ACE (forward) as it fills the need for ELINT specialists and order of battle technicians.
C2 of UAV assets is emerging as a complex challenge. The aircraft, ground control stations, and launch and recovery teams range far beyond the GS company commander's span of control. The UAV platoon, as currently proposed, contains between 8 and 12 aerial sensors, operates far from deployed ground SIGINT assets, and requires much different support in terms of security, terrain and airspace management, engineers, fuel, and repair parts. In the 4th ID(M) Warfighter exercise, launch and recovery sites operated up to 100 kilometers behind the FLOT. These sites are more supportable from the MI Battalion's administration and logistics center than through the area support concept.
The solution to the UAV C2 problem is to make a separate UAV company within the MI battalion. A GS UAV company, which would be larger than the three direct support companies, ensures proper sustainment and C2.
A RETRANS element in the GS company was useful under the old company-team concept. However, the need to serve both the GS company and other battalion assets is greater today. A battalion connectivity exercise in September 1995 revealed that the RETRANS capability works best under centralized control. This arrangement improved the link between the ACE and deployed ground SIGINT assets.

A Transitional Model

One fact is certain: we will not jump overnight from today's structure to the Force XXI structure. D Company has established a transitional structure to both perform its ES and EA mission and prepare for the fielding of new equipment like the GBCS. Consolidation of similar systems from the three separate C&J platoons yields three interim platoons and a company POC with the T&A teams. The interim platoons are an ES platoon consisting of three TRQ-32 collection systems, an EA platoon of three TLQ-17 systems, and an electronic warfare (EW) platoon which contains the TSQ-138 TRAILBLAZER formerly assigned to the old C Company. The EW platoon is the fielding base for the GBCS, received initially in March 1996 for the February 1997 Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE) at the NTC. This restructuring facilitates training, maintenance, accountability, and task organization into DF baselines as we operate today (see Figure 3). Figure 3.

Alternative Structure and End-State

In looking forward to the proposed Force XXI GS company, several alternatives require consideration. Without this consideration, a generation of MI leaders will be forced to find tactical work-arounds for shortcomings in force structure which could have been avoided today.
First, consideration should be given to building two GBCS platoons of four systems each rather than one platoon of six. Experience suggests that more GBCS systems than the currently proposed number of six are necessary for full coverage of a division zone on the dispersed Force XXI battlefield.
With assets stretched across the areas of two forward brigades, distances are too great for one platoon leader to support the baselines adequately. A two-platoon structure facilitates deployment along multiple baselines, is more supportable, and offers DF capability with one reinforcing system in each platoon (see Figure 4).
Second, the Force XXI GS company must retain some organization to provide forward control of SIGINT assets. The model for this element is today's POC. However, its mission, role, and operating personnel will be different from today's T&A teams. The DMAIN and POC will share mission management and asset management responsibilities. Figure 4.
The MI battalion commander, through the Intelligence Operations Cell and ACE, will exercise mission management. The MI Battalion and G2 operations sections prepare mission orders and coordinate support for the GS company. Prior to deployment, the POC receives an EW execution matrix and technical data from the ACE and orders from the MI Battalion Commander or S3 located at the DMAIN.
The GS company commander, through the POC, exercises asset management. The POC deploys in the vicinity of an active DF baseline and tracks the current battle from spot reports and tactical reports, directs the movement of assets, coordinates casualty evacuation, integrates logistics with maneuver, controls and monitors jamming, and communicates directly with DS company commanders.
The Force XXI POC will cue the Intelligence Operations Cell and ACE to facilitate the movement of DF baselines. In addition, it will provide critical combat information to the DS companies located at brigade command posts. Operational staffing must be more robust in terms of SIGINT and ELINT expertise to effectively exploit the technologies of the GBCS.
The 21st century unit would gain advantages in deployability by retaining a POC in the GS company. A POC facilitates tactical tailoring at division level in cases where GS MI assets are attached to brigades, deploying division ready force one (DRF 1) units, or possibly covering-force elements. Under these conditions, GS EW assets require some type of technical control beyond that currently envisioned in the Force XXI MTOE.
One solution is to build a DISE around the GS company POC. A POC would alleviate the need to train and assemble a DISE from the ACE. Similar to the technique developed at echelons above corps in which a DISE deploys when IEW assets are inserted before the ACE deploys a GS company POC provides the ACE a critical forward element which trains and deploys with the teams it controls.
MI units are currently without executive officers (XOs). This is a problem now and will be a greater problem in the future when reliance on the area support concept increases the coordination workload. As currently envisioned, the future GS company is a blueprint for sustainment failure without an XO. Lack of a dedicated officer to manage maintenance and sustainment programs for the GBCS and several UAV systems will place these responsibilities on platoon leaders and sergeants. The future MTOE should include an XO in the HQ sections of both the SIGINT and UAV companies.


The Army has charted an aggressive path to the future with Force XXI. That path is both long and filled with uncertainty. Rapid change is occurring already in equipment, doctrine, and organization. At this point, these changes raise more questions than answers.
Reducing the level of uncertainty requires a deliberate, measured approach to emergent technology and its effects on future capabilities and force structure. The real problem is not modernization, but getting the right mix between technology, doctrine, and structure. The best way to achieve this is through a realistic dialogue between Force XXI planners and the soldiers who are actually testing new technology and force structures.
Captain Cabeen is currently the Assistant S3 of the 104th MI Battalion; through May 1996 he served as the Commander, D Company, 104th MI Battalion. He has also been S2 of the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry. Captain Cabeen has a bachelor's degree (BS) in Psychology from the University of Maryland, and a master's in Strategic Intelligence from the Defense Intelligence College and another in Counseling from Boston University. Readers can reach him at (817) 287-4762, DSN 737-4762/0836, or E-mail
First Lieutenant Dunmire is currently Executive Officer of D Company, 104th MI Battalion; he has also served as a C&J platoon leader and an assistant S2 in the 1st Brigade of the former 2d Armored Division (now 4th ID (M)). Lieutenant Dunmire has a BA in History from Pennsylvania State University. Readers may contact him at (817) 287-5048 or DSN 737-5048.