The Roles of MI NCOs in the 75th Ranger Regiment

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by Sergeant First Class James A. Blaess

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Providing tactical intelligence to the combat commander should be the goal of military intelligence units and organizations at both the tactical and strategic levels. The MI noncommissioned officer (NCO) can accomplish this through technical and tactical proficiency, understanding the needs of the user, accessing the right information from the best possible sources and disseminating that information as quickly and as accurately as possible. In this article, I will discuss how the MI NCOs and intelligence soldiers of the 75th Ranger Regiment accomplish the mission of providing tactical intelligence to the combat commander.

 

Intelligence NCOs' Mission and Organization

At the 75th Ranger Regiment, our mission is to plan and conduct special military operations in support of U.S. policy and objectives. The 75th Ranger Regiment’s intelligence section is an integral element in determining the regiment's success. Our mission is to provide timely and quality intelligence support to the regimental commander, staff, and ranger battalions during the conduct of all Ranger operations while maintaining an 18-hour worldwide deployment capability.

The Rangers' unique mission and capabilities require the section to function with efficiency and tactical and technical proficiency without hesitation. The 32 intelligence NCOs and intelligence specialists assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment and its three battalions play an essential role in this mission.

To fully understand the ranger intelligence NCOs' roles in the accomplishment of our mission, it helps to understand the organizational structure. The 75th Ranger Regiment consists of the Regimental Headquarters and 3d Battalion collocated at Fort Benning, Georgia; 2d Battalion located at Fort Lewis, Washington; and 1st Battalion located at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia. To best support three separated battalions, the majority of the intelligence personnel are located at the headquarters with the Regiment’s S2 and MI Detachment (MID), which consists of the analysis, communications, counterintelligence, and weather sections. The regimental S2 maintains oversight of both the Regimental Reconnaissance Detachment (RRD) and the MID.

 

Phased Support for the MID

The MID supports ranger operations in three distinct phases: pre-deployment, deployment, and employment. The functions of the detachment NCOs during these phases are addressed below.

Pre-deployment Phase. The most important task of our NCOs during this phase is ensuring the detachment’s ability to deploy, with all available personnel, anywhere in the world within 18 hours of notification. This requires constant supervision to ensure that everyone is deployable, has personal matters in order, is weapons-qualified, and that all equipment is always ready and packed. It is the Ranger view that "you must first get to the war, before you can fight it." While accomplishing this task, the NCOs must also complete the equally important mission of providing intelligence support to the tactical military decisionmaking process that occurs in conjunction with every ranger deployment. Other day-to-day functions during this phase include developing the following products-----

Deployment Phase. During this phase, the MID coordinates the intelligence-gathering effort and produces its intelligence products in preparation for combat operations. The focus for the Ranger MI NCO during this phase is on intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB).

The detachment has very specific standard operating procedures (SOPs) that are employed during this process. The primary one is the Regimental Intelligence SOP, which draws heavily on low-intensity stability and support operations and special operations doctrine. It is the responsibility of the MID NCOs to produce the products and to supervise the IPB process. The Ranger intelligence NCOs are directly responsible for coordinating the activities of the analysis and collection management sections of the MID.

The Analysis Section conducts the initial intelligence preparation of the battlefield. It focuses on target-specific areas, using the intelligence processes of battlefield area evaluation, terrain and weather analysis, threat evaluation, and threat integration. The section uses FM 34-130, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, as a guideline, but specifically tailors analysis to ranger operations. The Analysis Section produces paragraphs 3, 4, and 5 of the intelligence estimate1 and provides all available intelligence to selected ranger battalions and regimental reconnaissance detachments in the most timely and efficient manner possible.

The Collection Management Section locates all available imagery products and maps, and establishes a dissemination plan. They compile a list of all needed and available imagery and map resources and analyze imagery in support of the IPB process.

Employment Phase. During the third phase, the MID provides the necessary and available intelligence to the commander, staff, and subordinate ranger battalions and to the Army Special Operations Task Force (ARSOTF). They perform the four critical tasks described below.

While conducting Regimental Main Command Post (R-MAIN) operations, the intelligence NCOs assist in orchestrating the intelligence effort as directed by the regimental commander. They must interface with the staff, battlefield operating system (BOS) representatives, subordinate ranger battalions, units, and attached elements to ensure proper information flow and coordination. Several products used in support of this task are the primary responsibility of the intelligence NCOs working in the R-MAIN and include the following------

The second major task is liaison and support to command and control (C2) operations. Other NCOs provide Intelligence BOS representation to C2 nodes or liaison teams as dictated by the mission. The MID has sent NCOs on the C2 teams supporting every conflict since the activation of the regimental headquarters.

Intelligence production, the next task, is conducted by the Analysis Section during employment. The focus of this element is on monitoring the current battle, while preparing for the future battle. The Analysis Section is responsible for conducting the following actions:

The Air Force Weather Section assists by providing accurate weather intelligence and forecasts for current operations as well as future operations.

The fourth task is collection management. Some of the responsibilities of these intelligence NCOs include ensuring the message flow is handled according to our SOP and submitting requests for support and requests for intelligence information to higher headquarters and echelons. In addition, they maintain the intelligence journal, Requests for Information (RFI) log, collection plan, and collection asset status board. Finally, they maintain an accurate inventory of all on-hand imagery and photographs, analyze imagery in support of the target development process, produce sketches of specific areas of importance, and order, maintain, and distribute maps to mission planners.

Conclusion

To provide the combat commander with the greatest opportunity for success, we must ensure that our subordinates are prepared to deploy at very short notice, understand our SOPs, and are trained both physically and mentally to assume this responsibility. The intelligence NCO must provide the best available intelligence to the user and it must be in a format that is clear, concise, and to the point. Most importantly, it must fit the needs of the combat commander’s mission. Good ground tactical intelligence will win our future battles. It is our job as MI NCOs at the tactical level to ensure that we never fail.

 

Endnote

1. Paragraphs 3, 4, and 5 of the Intelligence Estimate are "Enemy Situation," "Enemy Capabilities," and "Conclusions," respectively.

Sergeant First Class Blaess is currently assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment as the MID Senior Intelligence Sergeant. His previous assignments include S2 NCO in Charge for the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii; Intelligence Analyst, 2d Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Lewis, Washington; and two separate assignments as an Intelligence Analyst, 2d Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Lewis, Washington. Readers can contact him via E-mail at blaessj@abenningb.soc.mil.