The Military Intelligence Vision for the XXI Century
by Major General Charles W. Thomas with Captain Cary C.
The 21st century brings with it new challenges and changes in
the nature of warfare that precipitate a shift in how we do
business in military intelligence (MI). It is our charter as the MI
proponent of the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) to prepare
for the future and develop systems, train personnel, and define the
direction that MI must take to answer future battle requirements.
In the field, the Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM)
units, corps MI brigades, divisional MI battalions, and others
provide input to the process. The result is the MI vision. The
vision becomes the focus for the future, and though it is the
product of a thorough process, it is dynamic and therefore
ever-changing. As with any process in the Army, we developed a
mission (vision) statement to grasp the Army leadership's intent
and from that blossomed the concepts behind it. The vision
statement for Intelligence XXI reads:
To provide the Ground Component Commander, in a Joint
environment, with a knowledge based, prediction oriented
Intelligence system, supporting the commander driven requirements
of an information age Power Projection Army (Force XXI) capable of
land force dominance across the continuum of 21st Century military
operations. At the center of this vision are quality soldiers,
leaders, and civilians soldiers, leaders, and civilians whose
potential is more closely realized by Information Technology
assisting in the collection, production and the presentation of
Intelligence, providing the Commander with an understanding of the
battlefield, or environment of military operations, and the ability
to dominate information.
We should look at this statement from a pyramid perspective.
Figure 1 displays this pyramid graphically.
We have come a long way in how we present intelligence. Today,
with greater access to efficient automation tools, we are capable
of putting together clear, easily digested presentations that
capture what the commander needs to know. This has not always been
true. For years, S2s and G2s briefed the intelligence estimate in
long form while standing in front of a series of acetate overlays
with pointer in hand. The method was cumbersome and often left
commanders without real understanding. It is key to success on the
21st century battlefield that our presentations be something that
commanders can rapidly assimilate, and that influences the
decisions they make.
- On the base is the axiom that commanders drive intelligence.
That is, they define requirements. This has almost become a clich‚,
but it is an essential tenet of our business. Commanders must be
responsible for making clear what they need to know about the enemy
to defeat him. It is the commander's plan that intelligence rallies
around to get key information at the right time for the commander
to make the decisions necessary to win battles.
- Collection, the next tier in the pyramid, is the process where-
by we try to get information to answer questions. This is where we
bring to bear systems that provide required timely information.
Systems ranging from national to tactical focus on places, units,
communications, and people to gather information based on the
queries we provide.
- The next level of the pyramid is production of intelligence.
Here we process collected information and turn it into intelligence
- This leads to the next step which is understanding.
Intelligence must be provided in the context of the commander's
requirements to be fully understood and usable or to decrease
- However, the manner in which we present intelligence frequently
contributes the most to efficient understanding. Presentation thus
sits at the pyramid pinnacle.
Genesis of the Vision
The guiding doctrine behind the Intel XXI vision is TRADOC
Pamphlet 525-5, Force XXI Operations. This document is the
doctrinal articulation of the Chief of Staff of the Army's vision
for the 21st century force. This guidance, coupled with the Army's
Modernization Objectives, served as the basis for a series of MI
conferences that included members of academia, industry, and senior
intelligence experts. Their input was forwarded to the Army's MI
commanders in last year's Worldwide Intelligence Conference. The
results of this effort, combined with major command and field
input, produced an Experimentation Plan that the Army is using as
the test bed for new concepts and systems. Also, the Army Deputy
Chief of Staff for Intelligence (DCSINT), INSCOM, and the
Intelligence Center published a combined publication (Intel XXI) to
promote the vision and provide the needed focus to the Army
Intelligence Master Plan (AIMP). The AIMP along with experiments,
demonstrations and exercises serves as the implementation vehicle
for the intelligence vision.
Force XXI Requirements
TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5 identifies five fundamental requirements
for Force XXI: battle command, extended battlespace dominance,
information dominance, force projection, and operational
flexibility. Let me address the MI vision through the lens of these
Battle Command. Operational requirements for effective
battle command are focused on the need to visualize the
battlefield. Combatant commanders want to closely track forces,
both enemy and friendly, and understand the environment. Further,
they are looking for a way to assimilate information, especially
with the extreme amounts received, in efficient ways that
contribute to anticipating enemy actions. The tools the
intelligence community provides help here. We can produce
estimates, be predictive, and develop usable courses of action
(COAs) with greater efficiency than ever before.
The intelligence part of battle command has several key
elements. The first is the need for real-time access to collected
information and collection systems. The speed of the 21st century
battlefield demands that our analysis be faster. That can only
happen with timely passing of collected information to the analyst
or analysis system followed by near-simultaneous forwarding of
processed intelligence to the battlefield commander. The second
element is a need for predictive analysis. This requires a
combination of smart human experts (accomplished by well-trained
intelligence officers, noncommissioned officers, and soldiers) and
the use of automated analytical tools. Finally, shared situational
awareness is critical to solid battle command. Seeing the
battlespace in a holistic sense a common picture horizontally and
vertically presented with expert interpretation of this picture is
Our ultimate goal is the production of a wargaming, mission
planning, and rehearsal tool. Through this tool the commander
could run COAs available to him against known enemy dispositions
and order of battle that is dynamically updated as he works.
Intelligence sensors would continue to feed this system, updating
the intelligence picture and concurrently, the rehearsal tool.
Commanders, staff, and subordinate leaders could rehearse each
phase of an operation so that it becomes battle drill. The results
of this comparative COA process allow leaders to select the best
possible course the one with the greatest opportunity for success.
Extended Battlespace Dominance. The next requirement of
Force XXI relates to the need to dominate more of the battlespace.
The complexity and speed of future combat calls for looking deeper
and broader. As well, the synchronization of forces in operations
that are often joint, multinational, or interagency, and the
orchestration of that effort demands the extension of our knowledge
of the battlespace. This effort will provide support to command
and control (C2), targeting, maneuver control, and information
operations systems. But the challenge will be the ability to pass
the information necessary to meet the demand. It will literally
require bandwidth on demand to pass often immense amounts of
information. The broadcast of information must be focused at
tactical force levels for it to be of real use in warfighting. A
wireless local area network (LAN) is expected to provide the
connectivity that will make this work. To fully sense the
battlefield environment, an automated collection management tool
will direct and integrate sensors to continuously update and
maintain clear situational awareness.
Information Dominance. Information, and its control, is
essential to success in future military operations. Access to
information has not only been enhanced for us by the amazing
automation we have today, but for potential enemies as well.
Information dominance is a condition where we know more about the
battlespace than the enemy does. It is not a permanent condition,
and can be lost easily. Therefore, to be successful we must
regulate the information we require and deny the enemy the
information he needs. We must be able to horizontally and
vertically integrate information we acquire to put it to the best
use. The correlation of information will produce a clearer
visualization of the battlefield and put more science and less art
Information dominance will likely be of brief duration against
a foe who has access to modern technology. The global information
environment is accessible to all and presents unique challenges
previously unseen in warfare. Battlefield intelligence is one piece
of that environment but is the vital element in successful C2
warfare (C2W). C2W has three primary parts:
Force Projection. It is apparent, at least if you have
been in the Army for the last five years, that our army has become
more based in the continental United States (CONUS-based) than ever
before. With that comes the challenge of having to project large
numbers of forces into a given environment in rapid fashion. The
need for intelligence is greater in these instances and the
projection of intelligence forces is as important as the need for
combat forces. Communications must be better integrated to allow
for efficient processing and planning. Databases will have to be
rapidly constructed and will rely on updating via long-haul
communications from the CONUS-based support. A variety of
intelligence systems accessing various databases from national to
tactical level, will focus on requirements from predeployment
through redeployment. Consequently, we designed an intelligence
force structure to promote tactical tailoring of intelligence units
and functions. This allows commanders to package the intelligence
architecture they require in theater, and rely on the remainder of
the structure to provide support from sanctuary in CONUS.
Operational Flexibility. The nature of operations that
the Army plays a part in today mandates a flexible doctrine for use
of forces. Units deploy to situations that cross the spectrum of
conflict. Command relationships in joint, multinational, and
interagency operations are complex and demand an intelligence
architecture that can provide necessary support in the face of
ambiguous threats. A more nontraditional environment
correspondingly brings a greater demand for intelligence. We in MI
can be ready to meet these challenges head-on. Our soldiers must be
trained for the whole spectrum of conflict and know how to work
closely with their joint counterparts. The land component
operational focus and in-depth understanding of enemy order of
battle are Army-specific contributions to any joint intelligence
process. The overall joint force picture is enhanced by our ability
to leverage information age technology and access the capabilities
of counterparts and national-level resources.
- The first, C2 Exploit or intelligence, requires a thorough
intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) of information
systems available to the enemy. High-value C2 targets are
identified to focus our effort. Using our understanding of the
threat's information systems and our own knowledge-based tools, we
prepare plans to either manipulate or attack the enemy's
- The second element of C2W, C2 Attack, brings to bear the arsenal
of fires (lethal and nonlethal) aimed at crippling the enemy's
ability to exercise C2 of his forces. The focus of the attack is
typically the critical nodes that we identified during C2 Exploit.
Attacks must be carefully coordinated so that they are synchronized
with the operational plan to mass desired effects at the
appropriate time and place to maximize the impact on the enemy's
ability to fight. The goal is to create a condition where our
information dominance is as long as possible, and certainly as long
- C2 Protect, the last element of information dominance, is
related to identifying the threat to our own C2. We want to
understand our vulnerabilities, the enemy's capabilities, and when
he plans to attack, in order to develop the best countermeasures to
ensure our C2 stays intact. The ability to achieve, maintain, or
regain information dominance is contingent on our capability to
protect the systems and networks that provide our C2.
Links to the Battlefield Commander
Our next step in completing the vision, after working through
the components for intelligence in Force XXI, was to take the
lessons learned from recent military operations (Panama, Operation
DESERT STORM, Haiti, Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia) and current doctrine
(FM 34-1, Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Operations and more)
and do a correlation with fundamental operational requirements.
This produced the objectives for Task Force (TF) XXI which will be
the test bed for evaluating Force XXI concepts. TF XXI's first
major test will be early next year at the National Training Center.
This experiment will be the azimuth check for further development
and experimentation growing in echelon until Corps XXI is
ultimately tested in fiscal year 1998. The four principle
objectives we have identified for TF XXI are
Common relevant picture (a subset of the Force XXI required
components battle command and extended battlespace dominance).
Horizontal integration (a subset of information dominance).
Pull intelligence (a subset of force projection).
Top down and bottom up access to intelligence (a subset of
These capabilities or competencies are essential to the future
of TF XXI. The common relevant picture provides the clarity,
situational awareness, and grasp of the battlespace to allow the
commander to shape it as he needs. Horizontal integration of
information from intelligence systems provides necessary
information management for C2W and our own C2. Pull intelligence
reflects the Task Force's ability to access available databases
(national to tactical level) from predeployment on, allowing for
proper mission planning and rehearsal. Finally, top down and bottom
up access to intelligence, also related to force projection,
demonstrates the breadth of the intelligence architecture and its
accessibility to all echelons. Properly filtered this provides an
The MI Corps' future requires a shift in our core competencies
to correspond to new technology and systems, doctrine, and tactics,
techniques, and procedures that result from the development of
Force XXI. These core competencies are
The MI vision is a vehicle of change. By becoming a part of it,
you can help build an MI Corps that provides a viable intelligence
force capable of answering the needs of the army of the future.
- The presentation of intelligence: striving toward increased
understanding and decreased uncertainty.
- Honing predictive analytical skills by using modern technology
to put more science into what was once art.
- Developing professional expertise on the intelligence system
(Army, interagency, joint, and multinational) because independent
Army operations are a thing of the past.
- A professional understanding of the impact of information at
the operational and tactical levels of war and peace operations.
The information age is upon us, it has embraced us and the rest of
the world. We must come to terms with it and learn how to
- Related to that, and the fifth competency, is a technical
understanding of the capabilities of intelligence systems,
disciplines, information systems, and automation an absolute must
for the intelligence professional of the future.
- We must learn how to effectively manage information or we will
drown in it. The capabilities reflected in new and emerging
technologies are enormous and each system has the capacity to
deluge a commander and staff with more information than anyone is
capable of assimilating. It is those that have the know-how to
manage the process that will be regarded as premium players.
Major General Thomas is currently Commander, U.S. Army
Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca (USAIC&FH). He has previously
served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, USAREUR, and
as the Deputy Director for Current Intelligence, Joint Staff and
Command Support/J2 at the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Captain Cary C. Harbaugh is the Aide-de-Camp to the
Commanding General, USAIC&FH. He has been the Chief, Human
Intelligence Branch, and Commander, Company A, 326th MI Battalion
at Fort Huachuca, and the S2, 18th Aviation Brigade (Airborne),
XVIII Airborne Corps.
Readers can reach MG Thomas and CPT Harbaugh via E-mail at
harbaugc%hua1 @huachuca-emh11. army.mil.