Vantage Point

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By Major General Charles W. Thomas

Intelligence Support to the Combat Commander:

Situational Awareness and Battle-Field Visualization

This issue of the Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin focuses on battlefield visualization and situational awareness. Additionally, it highlights intelligence support to the 1st Cavalry Division. Increasingly, our branch relies on diverse and technical systems and soldiers trained to operate them. These systems and their operators are expected not only to collect and analyze information but also to move the right information to combat commanders in a time and manner which enhances operational success.

With powerful intelligence processors and collectors at our disposal, we have the ability to create a clear picture of the battlespace for combat leaders. This visualization capability allows commanders to know the battlefield and to make timely, informed decisions leading to victory and saving American lives.

As our Army gets leaner, we are moving more toward the concept of power projection. No matter where our Army travels, the need for intelligence is great. With the incredible power of emerging information systems, it is imperative that we give combat commanders the right intelligence and establish information dominance over any adversary.

The need for new, improved intelligence collectors and processors is growing. These systems must offer the intelligence professional a channel for receiving data and the means to pare it down to that which is necessary for supported commanders. For the past three years, including the Task Force XXI Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE) held in March, the Army has been testing the validity of this new technology and has been learning ways to make it work through better tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP). This series of experiments will culminate in November with the Division AWE to be held at Fort Hood, Texas.

While this future building takes place, our Army continues to fulfill missions all over the world. The 1st Cavalry Division continues to deploy its soldiers to places like Kuwait where the need for intelligence systems and professionals is critical to mission success. As you read these articles, note the use of proven intelligence systems like TROJAN Special Purpose Integrated Remote Intelligence Terminal (TROJAN SPIRIT) and the All-Source Analysis System (ASAS), the flagship system of MI.

As we continue to shape the Army of the 21st century, MI's structure will continue to change. Our divisional MI battalions are emerging with a new and better-balanced Modified Table of Organization and Equipment to support the combat commander better than before. Some of our collection and processing systems--like the Ground-Based Common Sensor (GBCS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS), and especially ASAS--continue to mature and have proven to be extremely effective in exercises and deployments around the world.

MI is, and will continue to be, a combat multiplier on future battlefields. Though we are always looking for new and better technology, and though we continue to improve the powerful systems we currently have, we will always require quality soldiers to operate these systems. Properly-trained intelligence professionals who can collect information and produce intelligence for combat commanders will be the difference on the battlefield of the 21st century.

Read this issue carefully and see what we are doing in the tactical intelligence community. Our future continues to be exciting and diverse.