One Echelon Can’t Do It All

Military intelligence must maintain intelligence assets at each echelon... assets which are postured to support the warfighter at that echelon


By Capt. Kristyn Jones

     In an era of downsizing and force reductions, Army leaders have questioned the wisdom of having military intelligence forces at division, corps and echelons above corps. These questions have prompted a number of studies to determine what the Army needs in terms of military intelligence force structure at each echelon to complete its mission. The end result is that no matter how low the Army force structure drops, the Army must maintain the requisite capabilities for preserving peace and defending the nation’s vital interests.

     For military intelligence, this equates to maintaining intelligence assets at each echelon which are postured to support the warfighter at that echelon — whether be it a maneuver brigade commander or a warfighting commander-in-chief.

     To better understand why the Army needs military intelligence forces supporting all levels of force structure, and why no one echelon can do it all, we must look at the principles which guide our overall force structure and determine where our forces will be located.

     The National Military Strategy is a document which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, using input from the commanders-in-chief, submits to the Secretary of Defense. It is based on the President’s National Security Strategy and describes the critical role which the Armed Forces play in advancing our national interests in peacetime while maintaining the readiness to fight and win when called upon. The National Military Strategy has four objectives: (1) To identify U.S. national security values and interests; (2) To assess the threat to these values and interests; (3) To formulate a defense policy and a military strategy for responding to threats and national security interests; and (4) To determine an effective mix of forces, weapons, and manpower to defend our political and military strategy. The National Military Strategy establishes a force structure in accordance with budgetary guidance and contains an appraisal of U.S. defense policies, updated intelligence appraisals, ways to achieve our national security objectives and the principles which guide our strategy.

     Based on the advice from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense issues the Defense Planning Guidance. This guidance develops illustrative planning scenarios which dictate the types of capabilities the United States must have to sustain our military objectives.

     The current Defense Planning Guidance is based on a scenario of two major regional contingencies (one in the Middle East and one in Asia) occurring nearly simultaneously. These scenarios determine how many soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen the services will need to fight and win these wars. The Defense Planning Guidance tells the Army in general terms how to structure the force. For example, the current force will have 10 divisions: one airborne, one air assault, two light, and six heavy. The Defense Planning Guidance is under review at this time, but it will continue to recognize the need for a viable and capable military force to respond to the possible scenarios defined in the pending Defense Planning Guidance.

     The Army Plan determines, among other things, how the Army units designated in the Defense Planning Guidance will be structured. The Army Plan is based on military strategy, threat data, resource priorities, force structure guidance and Army doctrine. For each maneuver unit, the plan allocates the requirement to provide additional key elements of support, including how much military intelligence is needed and where to position it in the overall Army structure.

     As a result of The Army Plan, we know that we will have military intelligence units at division, at corps, and at echelons above corps. For example, The Army Plan dictates every military intelligence division will have a battalion to provide its military intelligence support. Eventually the table of organization & equipment and the table of distribution and allowances will determine the right mix of MOSs and grade structure for each of these units.

     Now that you understand how the force structure was created, let’s focus on what the military intelligence unit at each echelon is designed to do. But first, we must ask a fundamental question: Who is the warfighter intelligence must support? At first read, this seems a rather simplistic question, but further examination indicates the answer is not so clear cut. There are warfighters at every echelon — answering the intelligence requirements of a commander-in-chief does not mean all subordinate commanders’ requirements have also been satisfied. Because the specificity and timeliness of intelligence required by a commander-in-chief and a battalion task force commander differ greatly, the intelligence systems, structure and capabilities which support each commander must also be different. Because of this need for tailored intelligence support, Army intelligence is structured to support warfighters at every echelon in a seamless architecture from national agencies to the soldier at the very leading edge.

     The division’s military intelligence forces provide both direct support to a maneuver brigade and general support to the entire division. A divisional military intelligence battalion (heavy), is composed of interrogators, counterintelligence agents, ground surveillance radar, tactical/aerial signals intelligence, unmanned aerial vehicles and the division analysis control element. These units are focused on the division’s area of interest, are the closest military intelligence assets to the battle and seek mainly to answer tactical level primary intelligence requirements.

     Wars are fought and won at this echelon, so the division’s intelligence soldiers must strive to answer the commander’s requirements and remain synchronized with operations — even when the tactical forces are moving at 40 km/hour. The ongoing Advanced Warfighting Experiments at the National Training Center in California are testing ways to enhance the military intelligence battalion’s ability to collect, process and disseminate intelligence quickly and accurately to ensure it is relevant to their commander.

     Each corps has one military intelligence brigade dedicated to supporting the corps headquarters, separate brigades and the divisions which comprise that corps. The brigade is composed of three battalions: tactical exploitation (counterintelligence and human intelligence and long range surveillance), aerial exploitation (GUARDRAIL and unmanned aerial vehicles) and the operations battalion which controls the analysis control element, All Source Analysis System and tactical exploitation of national capabilities. While the S2s within the division are focused on enemy platoons, companies and battalions, the focus here is on larger units — battalions and regiments and divisions. The corps units provide intelligence support to augment the divisional forces with additional capabilities and provide intelligence beyond the division’s area of responsibility. Corps forces extend from the deep battle (long range surveillance) to the rear battle (the corps analysis control element) and over the battlefield (GUARDRAIL and unmanned aerial vehicles).

     Echelons above corps military intelligence brigades provide the link from tactical to strategic forces. INSCOM’s force projection brigades support the Army components in each of the commanders-in-chief’s area of responsibility. INSCOM’s signal intelligence brigades support the National Security Agency and the unified commanders (Atlantic Command, Central Command, Europe Command, Pacific Command and Southern Command), while the stateside counterintelligence brigade provides counter-intelligence support to these commanders-in-chief as well as the sustaining base in the United States.

     INSCOM provides unique capabilities to the Army. These capabilities include: measurement and signatures intelligence, information operations, offensive and critical departmental counterintelligence, and specialized signal intelligence capabilities such as the TROJAN Air Transportable Electronic Reconnaissance System and the TROJAN Mobile Remote Receiving Set currently supporting Operation Joint Guard. INSCOM soldiers, equipped with new Force XXI technology, have significantly enhanced the intelligence capabilities at the on-going Army Warfighting Exercises.

     INSCOM’s Force Projection Brigades support the operational requirements of the Army components to the unified commands (U.S. Army Pacific, U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Army South and U.S. Army Central) and can deploy tailored intelligence packages world-wide to assist in contingencies. The Force Projection Brigade–East is composed of the 513th MI Brigade in the United States, the 66th MI Group (Provisional) in Europe and the 470th MI Brigade in Panama (the 470th MI Brigade will deactivate in July 1997).

     The Force Projection Brigade– West is composed of the 500th MI Brigade in Japan/Hawaii and the 501st MI Brigade in Korea. These brigades are geographically located to rapidly support Major Regional Contingencies–East and Major Regional Contingencies–West, but can provide additional capabilities to any area of responsibility when required. These units provide multidisciplined intelligence capabilities — signal intelligence, imagery intelligence, measurement and signatures intelligence, counterintelligence/ human intelligence and technical intelligence — using a variety of systems and capabilities not resident at echelons corps and below. Each brigade provides corps military intelligence support elements known as CMISE to bridge any gaps between echelons corps and below and echelons above corps intelligence assets.

     INSCOM’s signal intelligence brigades are part of the national signal intelligence architecture and support both strategic and tactical missions as tasked by the National Security Agency. The 702d, 713th and 718th MI Groups, along with the 703d and 704th MI Brigades make up the Army components to the National Security Agency, the Regional Signal Intelligence Operations Centers and national collection sites outside the United States. Because of their robust communications capabilities and connectivity to the National Security Agency sources and databases, these regionally-focused units can respond from their home station to answer the worldwide intelligence requirements of the commanders-in-chief.

     The 902d MI Group is a single discipline counterintelligence unit. The 902d handles Army counterintelligence investigations within the United States, has specialized capabilities such as polygraph and technical surveillance countermeasures, and is involved in protecting information and emerging technology.

     One of the Group’s elements, the Foreign Counterintelligence Activity, conducts most of the Army’s offensive counterintelligence operations. The Army Counterintelligence Center provides analytical and production support to Army and DoD units worldwide. The 902d MI Group also has the mission of deploying specialized teams around the world to provide unique capabilities to a contingency area of responsibility.

     The National Ground Intelligence Center in Charlottesville, Va., is the Army’s only chartered analytic and production center. The Center provides exploitation, testing and evaluation of foreign weapons and assesses the capabilities of foreign ground forces. The National Ground Intelligence Center performs analysis on critical nations, issues and new technology and produces reports in accordance with the Department of Defense Intelligence Production Program to support both the warfighters and stateside decision makers.

     National assets, located primarily in Washington D.C., have direct access to the national-level decision makers in the stateside sustaining base. Many of these units, such as the Defense Human Intelligence Service and its parent, the Defense Intelligence Agency, answer the requirements of the joint community. They provide long range planning guidance, strategic assessments, and build databases from which the tactical/ operational forces can draw critical information on adversary forces, intentions, and capabilities.

     Although the active component provides the bulk of the intelligence force, the Army relies heavily on reserve units for support. Thousands of signal intelligence, imagery intelligence and counterintelligence/human intelligence soldiers comprise the Army Reserve and National Guard units which will be called upon to augment both echelons above corps and echelons corps and below brigades in the event of a major deployment.

     As the threat and the required capabilities to support our future military strategy change, the size and composition of the force must change also. Although we may have to streamline the force structure in some areas, we cannot consolidate military intelligence at one echelon and continue to effectively support the Army’s warfighters. Because warfighters at each echelon have different intelligence requirements, every echelon of intelligence support is an essential element of the force — no one unit has the capabilities, the manpower, or the equipment to do it all.

     The Army of the 21st century will continue to rely on intelligence support from all echelons. The number of forces required for a contingency and the proper mix of units will depend on mission, enemy, time, terrain and troops, but by having military intelligence assets at all echelons, the Army maintains the operational flexibility to provide intelligence support to any warfighter in any contingency around the world.

     Capt. Kristyn Jones is a CI/human intelligence plans officer at headquarters, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command.

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   Last Updated: July 02, 1997