by Brigadier General John W. Smith

Trends Reversal in Tactical Intelligence

This issue of MIPB focuses on intelligence operations at the tactical level. One might wonder what is left to say since the vast majority of our schoolhouse training as well as the focus of training in our Battle Command Training Programs and at the dirt Combat Training Centers (National Training Center, Joint Readiness Training Center, and the Combat Maneuver Training Center) is really about evaluating performance at that level. Unfortunately, the lessons learned from those events repeatedly indicate either poor understanding or execution of the basics, sometimes both and not just by the intelligence professional. Frequently, there is also cause to question whether the combined arms commander and the rest of his warfighting staff have an adequate appreciation of intelligence to leverage the capability at their disposal.
Last summer, in concert with NTC, other Training and Doctrine Command schools, and a number of field units, we looked at how to reverse some of the negative trends that have been observed at the CTCs negative trends that presumably would also show up in a real operation. Interestingly, the chorus of comments from the field indicated that the doctrine is fine and that both unit commanders and their S2s know what to do.
So what is the problem? Overwhelmingly, time was cited as the main culprit not just time to train, but a need to train in more time-constrained settings. Also, there is a great need for tools that can help the S2s and commanders gain and sustain experience in a more realistic (from an intelligence point of view) training environment.

Unit Intelligence Training

What is the answer? Mostly, hard work! The challenge will always be to structure training that replicates as closely as possible that which you think you will find in an operation. This training should include
Developing training that meets these standards is tough, but not impossible. However, it means that the trainer must conspire to overcome all obstacles and be determined to practice collecting and moving information over all of the internal and external linkages that will come into play in a real operation. Thus, at the battalion level, S2s must champion not just planning but actually practicing reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S) operations in the same context they would experience in a contingency operation. With the S3 and commander, they must not just work out unit tasking and reporting procedures, they must lead the way to practice them. If this is not done, the fit with the unit's battle rhythm will be accidental at best and R&S effectiveness spotty. The need to practice these lash-ups is important at every echelon. At corps, the vital importance of structuring training that forces practice in moving information from sources outside the corps can be seen in training for an AH-64 Apache deep strike. Knowledge of the presence of enemy air defense along the attack route will be essential to mission success. The electronic intelligence that will provide the vital near-real-time answer to the aviator will come from sources outside that unit, probably even outside the corps. Yet if this scenario is anticipated in war, assurance that the threat information will flow in time and over the desired path can only come from tough training: training that comes from practice and does not fake the hard parts. In training, it is easy to describe how things should be; it is quite another to do it. The delta can only be reduced through an unswerving devotion to see it done the right way. Many of the lessons that are repeatedly learned over the years are, I am certain, a result of not practicing the hard stuff.

Realistic Threat Simulation

While practice can help to reduce uncertainty and synchronize the players on the friendly side, it cannot adequately provide a realistic threat information environment. The MI Corps is working on that. In an era where the combined arms commander has scores of long-range, precision weapons at his disposal, he really needs to train to perform target tracking, engagement, and battle damage assessment at the entity level. Yet, the tools are not yet available. The Battlefield Intelligence Collection Model and the Tactical Simulation Software programs have served us well, but they are not up to the current challenge. The information environment needed to train the Force XXI tactical force is one that can realistically simulate the battlefield at the entity level and portray entities as visual outputs to the exercise commander in a way that replicates the feeds he will get from actual reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance, and target acquisition systems in his tactical operations center (TOC). The objective solution to this challenge is WARSIM 2000 and its intelligence feeder, the WARSIM Intelligence Module (WIM). Unfortunately, this simulation will not begin to reach initial operational capability until the year 2000.
As a bridging strategy, we have pursued a simulation prototyping initiative that has been approved by Headerquarters, Department of Army as the experimental information environment for the Division Advanced Warfighter Experiment (AWE) later this year. We call this effort FIRESTORM (Federation of Intelligence, Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Targeting, Operations and Research Models). In essence, FIRESTORM provides high fidelity, unclassified, visual and textual outputs. It deaggregates icon-level information from legacy simulations like Corps Battle Simulation, JANUS interactive computer simulation model, or the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Tactical Warfare Simulation into entity-level information. That information can be viewed in the TOC by the commander and his staff on the same output devices that will carry the input of the real collectors unmanned aerial vehicles, signals intelligence, the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar System, etc. The resulting information environment will enable not only vertical integration of information obtained from scout level to national level, but will facilitate realistic intelligence play in exercises. It will also permit the horizontal synchronization of operations within the information environment, enabling the precise exercise of battle command.
MI used this technology to extend the battlespace beyond the live box four times in 1996 at the NTC with great results. As this is written, we also will use the FIRESTORM technology to establish the battlespace outside the NTC live box for the brigade task force AWE in March and the division AWE later this year.


So far, the results have been positive. Commanders and S2s can expect to be rewarded or punished as a function of their ability to cope with a robust, realistic information environment just as they will in war or a contingency operation. While the jury will not be in on this initiative until the conclusion of the Division AWE, stay tuned. The intent is to revolutionize intelligence and battle command training by providing an information environment that constitutes a big part of that enemy puzzle to be solved.