Training the Intelligence Task Force
by Captain John T. Chenery
An ignorant officer is a murderer. -Sir Charles Napier
Nowhere in the profession of arms is this statement more true than in the intelligence field. As professionals we must take this critical role very seriously, and ensure our task force intelligence teams are highly trained and mission-ready.
This article will present a basic structure for an effective task force (TF) intelligence training program (ITP) beginning with the concept of how to focus and conduct the training, with recommendations of what to train, and follow with some politics and procedures involved in coordinating and executing the ITP. I will use as an example a program effectively used by the 187th Infantry Regiment ("Rakkasans"), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), following Operation DESERT STORM. The basic principles and tips were used in a divisional combat brigade intelligence TF. However, the following can and should be tailored to your specific situation and needs. Whatever you choose to do, do something and do it aggressively!
Central to any training program are our basic skills as intelligence soldiers, and our foundation doctrine. As General Carl Vuono, the Army Chief of Staff, related in FM 25-101, Battle Focused Training:
Training is the Army's top priority; it prepares us to fight. As leaders, our sacred responsibility is to ensure that no soldier ever dies in combat because that soldier was not properly trained.
I took this a step further to say that no soldier in "my" TF would ever fall to enemy action due to my own, or my intelligence section's failure to perform our mission. Each of you must internalize this as your solemn duty, and we must work together to ensure we live up to the mission.
The ITP established with the Rakkasans was designed with this duty in mind. The goal was to provide personnel assigned to the intelligence sections with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively support the TF in any foreseeable contingency. Thus, we operated with a requisite sense of urgency.
Concept Of Training Operations
The ITP consisted primarily of two major elements. First, there were bi-monthly three-hour technical proficiency sessions, for example, threat weapons, intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB), order of battle, etc. The brigade S2 conducted the initial training, with the battalion S2s conducting subsequent training sessions on a rotational basis. Second, the quarterly intelligence workshops drew on preceding sessions and focused on S2 collective tasks. These significant training events lasted six or more hours and incorporated a team building lunch.
The TF intelligence team is comprised of all personnel assigned to the brigade intelligence sections and the habitually attached support units. Assigned soldiers had to attend, and attached personnel were invited. I recommend inviting all separate divisional battalions, internal brigade officers and non-commissioned officers, and selected tenant units on the installation. Include your branch detail officers, as they are part of the team and can offer a great deal to your ITP. Additionally, send your schedule with a personal note to fellow brigade S2s. This will further enhance a positive training relationship within the division. You are also responsible for training the TF battle staff on intelligence, so consider options to incorporate them into ITP sessions.
The usual training location was the central brigade classroom; however, instructors had the flexibility to choose the best training location. Sessions were conducted wherever the most training value could be obtained. This could mean the local training area for a threat weapons or a terrain oriented block of instruction, or the motor pool for equipment orientations. Instructors were required to coordinate the location and to informally present the training plan to the brigade S2 several weeks before. (I recommend the brigade S2 keep a couple of classes in his "hip-pocket" as back-ups.)
Using the brigade long-range calendar and input from the commanders and S3s, the brigade and battalion S2s formulated the intelligence long-range training plan and reviewed it monthly. I recommend focusing on those significant activities (SIGACTS) like the "ramping-up" for NTC rotations or brigade and division simulation exercises. Also, draw on G2 training conferences or other units' programs. Your focus, however, must be on your mission and your commander's intent for intelligence training.
The ITP should be both structured and formal in accordance with FM 25-101, but light-hearted enough to encourage free flow of information. This fosters a nonthreatening environment where soldiers can feel free to discuss issues and raise questions.
An example of a ramp-up would focus the ITP at least six months in advance, incorporating two or three workshops. This would build to a TF intelligence rehearsal two to four weeks prior to deployment. Final adjustments are then based on the exercise after action review (AAR). The full resources of the division can be working with you on this event, so take advantage of it. The perfect dress rehearsal incorporates the Division Simulation Center, filled with G2 opposing forces, support from other division intelligence soldiers, and your brigade operators. Bring in a battle captain or S3 in each simulated command post to stress the S2 from the operations side. Ask the executive officers or commanders to visit periodically for updates and to provide the S2s' guidance.
Mechanics Of Training
Training is submitted to the S3 according to unit guidelines and is projected on the brigades training schedule. Do not forget the headquarters commandant when coordinating your ITP since you must be available for all of his events as well. Then publish an intelligence SIGACTs list to help guide the program. Consider who will be the point on training; ideally, this would be an assistant brigade S2 or the NCOIC who would sort-out the details. Never forget, this is your program you are the program's coordinator, executor and evaluator.
Focus. Since the purpose of an ITP is expansion of our knowledge base and elimination of the weak link in our intelligence teams, the heart and focus of the program must be skill development. This is the traditional military occupational standards (MOS) and officer military qualification standards. Other foundation documents are:
Key Topics. Training sessions must also incorporate the AARs of previous training events, or briefings from those just returning from a military school or training session. You must make information-sharing a habit in the TF. For instance, in the ramp-up scenario, have the most recently deployed S2 from within the TF and the division come brief their rotation from the intelligence perspective early in the ramp-up process. If preparing for an actual deployment, consider bringing in the TF S2 from the last unit to perform the mission. If the brigade can not fund the temporary duty, look to the G2 or at other training funds. Remember we are all part of the team do not limit yourself.
Every program should incorporate training and capabilities demonstrations on divisional assets, or assets that can support the intelligence effort. Exploit TF support units for the unique knowledge they can impart to the team, and plan the appropriate unit to host the sessions. If aviation plays a large role in an upcoming rotation, have the aviation S2 present a workshop covering all aspects of their operations, support capabilities, and limitations. The training could be conducted "off-site" at the airfield where crew chiefs and pilots could offer their outside expertise.
Training should engage subject matter experts whenever possible to teach specific subjects. This adds a level of professionalism and a depth of knowledge not otherwise possible. An example is the challenge we encountered during early rumblings in Bosnia. We sought someone who could speak intelligently to the team (and later to all officers in the brigade) on the brewing situation. I certainly could have pointed at the map and spilled out the sparse summaries which came down through the division. But instead, we found a lieutenant in a sister TF with personal experience and advanced education on the region. I was not threatened by my lack of depth in the area, and was up-front on this when introducing him to "my team." The result was that we had a healthy exchange of important information and our stock as a collective intelligence team rose greatly.
Field Training Exercises (FTXs) and Deployments. When the task force deploys, or is involved in any multi-echelon training event, intelligence training accelerates. Each FTX offers a unique opportunity for intelligence-related training or development of the intelligence team. During your ITP planning, cover every moment and aspect of an FTX. Consider what you have planned for or with the scouts and what MI assets are deployed. An intelligence officer or soldier must be assertive, and never idle during an exercise.
- Unit mission statements.
- Mission essential task lists.
- Unit standard operating procedures.
- Unit specific field manuals.
- Army doctrine.
- Ensure the training adheres to the Army's task, condition, standard outline.
Start by discussing your TF training evaluations and AARs with the battalion S2s and their senior NCOs to assess where you are as a team. Use soldier common skill test results, and any available evaluations as your points of reference. This can be further enhanced with a variety of low-threat methods and tools Consider the following example: The Rakkasan commander, now Lieutenant General Joseph Kinzer, distributed a blank world map to his assembled officers and had them do something seemingly simple: filling in the corresponding country names. This gave everyone a quick reality check, and the commander an assessment of his officers' basic knowledge of world geography and situations. Use your imagination, but quickly find the common ground and begin to build from there.
There are a number of personnel who are essential in your planning considerations regarding training:
Do not forget to include the Sergeant Major in your planning process. Ask for input or insight into what you plan to accomplish. Often you will benefit from his many years of experience in the training arena.
After adjusting fire based on the guidance of the brigade and battalion commanders, formulate your desk-side pitch to the brigade commander. The S3 should be there in your corner and as the commander's trainer. This is show time. If you fail to sell the boss, do not get discouraged. Regroup and try again.
A formal brief at the brigade command and staff or training meetings officially begins the program. By now nothing you present will be new to the primary staff and commanders. The purpose here is for the brigade commander to tell his battalion commanders to execute.
Initiating the ITP with your first workshop is critical. Ask the brigade commander and G2 to attend and address the intelligence team. This emphasizes the importance of the training to your soldiers and ensures a successful initiation of your program. Other invitees should be: the Brigade XO and S3; battalion commanders and S3s; G2 trainer; MI Battalion S3; sister Brigade S2s; and separate battalion S2s.
- The G2 and G2 training officer. The G2 can provide you with truly invaluable assistance, guidance, and support for your program. If you are fortunate, his training officer has a program to support and coordinate TF ITPs within the division.
- The S3. As the brigade training officer, the S3 is absolutely key in the training of the intelligence TF. I am sure you are painfully aware of your lack of tasking authority Do not fight it, cultivate it. The sooner you make the S3 your ally, the sooner you can get down to business.
- The Executive Officer (XO). Your boss and his proxy, the XO, should always be kept in the loop with your endeavors; this is the stage where you can discuss the details.
- Battalion Commanders. Your office calls with battalion commanders are important to secure their input and concurrence. Allow their S2s to broach the subject with them first, however: do not infringe on that relationship.
After hearing appropriate comments and focus from the brigade S2, the typical session is turned over to the hosting S2 for the agenda and introductions of his team. They then conduct a 15- to 30-minute world-situation briefing by geographical and contingency area. Discussion includes current political, economic, and military events which may impact on commitment of U.S. forces. Ideally, each soldier assigned to the S2 briefs a portion of the threat update or a block of instruction. The benefits are that soldiers hone their briefing skills and techniques in a low-threat environment, and it keeps everyone current on the threat and contingency areas. The session may also include:
- A basic skills session. Follow the threat update with topics ranging from IPB and situation templates to preparation of the intelligence estimate, and so forth. For this portion, draw on the strengths of the soldiers and NCOs. Have them assist with the technical training, and build them up to giving command post updates during workshops or FTXs. Challenge them but do not push them too quickly beyond their skill level.
- The brigade S2 wrap-up. Following the training session, this is your time to wrap things up. Review where the TF is in the long-range training plan and remind everyone who will host the next session. Discuss the briefing techniques of trainers with input from the audience if appropriate. Afterward, provide each briefer with a one-on-one evaluation culminating with a written critique for him or her for later review. Likewise, have your senior NCO and S2 critique your presentations.
- A social or team building event. A great way to foster teamwork is through less formal activities. Try moving the team to a dining facility or installation club for lunch, or periodically go off post. Occasionally, it may be appropriate to split the team up, such as when NCOs may want "sergeants time" with the soldiers, or you may need the officers for critiques not appropriate in front of your soldiers. Remember, although the TF S2s do not work for you per se, you are the intelligence leader in the task force. Use this time to provide some mentorship.
Document each training event with a memo to the TF commanders and S2s detailing who and what was trained. List all soldiers in a matrix and the specific tasks they were trained in, as well as those not present and the reason. Also, send this to each participating commander and S2 outside the TF. You will find that this list will grow very quickly. Brief the memo and hand it out at the command and staff, again with a reminder of which battalion will host the next session. Take time to highlight noteworthy trainers and send a personal note from you and the brigade commander, if appropriate. This public recognition is invaluable to the development of the soldier, your training program, and to the prestige of the MI Corps.
This program is not easy, but as many of our leaders echo today, "this is not an amateur sport! We must possess and inspire the will and the skill to motivate our intelligence team. We must guide and excite, push and pull our soldiers to, and beyond, their limits. Your goal for intelligence training is to develop your soldiers into competent and assertive MI professionals. Do this and you and your intelligence team will be "Always Out Front!"
Captain Chenery is currently a student at the FBI National Academy at Quantico, Virginia. During seven years with the 187th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Fort Campbell, Kentucky, he served as a brigade and battalion S2, and HHOC Company Team Commander. Captain Chenery has a degree in Criminal Justice from Murray State University, Kentucky. Readers can contact the author at email@example.com.