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Wargaming at NTC: Decision Point-PIR Linkage

by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas M. Smith

A problem often seen here at the National Training Center (NTC) is that of S2s and commanders struggling with the development of priority intelligence requirements (PIR). We determine PIR early, which usually provides inadequate focus for our reconnaissance effort. In addition, we require the S2 to respond to new requirements for intelligence and analysis from the commander, often during the heat of battle. Why? Because S2s often fail to---

For example, assume that the S2 did a good job of laying out the full set of ECOAs during mission analysis. The S2 also estimates what he thinks the commander's PIR ought to be, usually receiving the commander's stamp of approval. Often, that is as far as we go. During the wargame, the staff determines in significant detail how to synchronize the fight against the S2's most probable ECOA--but little else.

During the fight, the S2 will, of course, be focused on answering the commander's PIR. The enemy may not "cooperate" (not attack using the S2's most probable ECOA) and therefore may be attacking away from where our main defensive effort is concentrated. The commander may have to make decisions that change the brigade's task organization or perhaps even move an entire task force during the course of the fight. He often ends up asking the S2 questions not related to our PIR - questions that the S2 may not be prepared to answer.

In our example, the S2 did the first thing that S2s often fail to do: understand the full set of feasible ECOAs available to the enemy. S2s, you are primary staff officers, just like the S3. Speak up! Do not allow your S3 to wargame only the most probable ECOA. Your S3 may think that you do not have time to wargame all possible ECOAs. The fact is that you do not need to wargame them all. Based on our choice of a friendly COA (and/or the receipt of additional intelligence), the likelihood of the enemy's adopting a given ECOA may be reduced.

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Figure 1.  ECOA Feasibility, Probability, and Assessment Process.

To illustrate the effect of the friendly COA on the ECOAs we briefed during mission analysis, refer to Figure 1. In this example, the S2 laid out seven feasible ECOAs during mission analysis (left side of the figure). As a friendly COA (center) is developed, we can assess the feasibility and probability of each ECOA (right side). Because of our chosen COA, we might deduce that some ECOAs are no longer feasible and that we should adjust their relative probability and thus, our priority in planning against them.

The S2 should take these remaining ECOAs to the wargame, so that the staff can ensure that they identify the key friendly decision points (and the associated enemy and friendly criteria) for the commander to successfully deal with all of the remaining feasible ECOAs. The wargame results give us the basis for refining our PIR. With clear enemy criteria for each decision, we can and should adjust our PIR. Both the new PIR and the overall decisions that the staff has identified should be briefed to the commander if he was not present for the wargame. With the commander's concurrence on the adjusted PIR and the decisions associated with them, the S2 and the rest of the staff have a means to focus the reconnaissance effort and their predictive analysis during the fight. The S2 will be prepared to provide the commander with the intelligence he needs to make the essential decisions necessary to win the fight.

Lieutenant Colonel Smith is the NTC Brigade S2 trainer and Senior Intelligence Trainer. He has a bachelor of science degree in Geography from the University of Oregon. Readers can reach him via E-mail at [email protected] and telephonically at (790) 380-6739 and DSN 470-6739.

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Keys to S2 Success at JRTC

by Captain Wayne Barefoot

The Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) challenges intelligence teams with a formidable array of threats. A tough physical environment, an aggressive and competent opposing force (OPFOR), and observer/controllers (O/Cs) who hone in on mistakes are only a few of the challenges intelligence professionals face here. These factors give units that train at the JRTC one of the best, and toughest, learning environments short of actual conflict. Units that arrive at the JRTC prepared for these challenges depart better trained, and with a clear vision of how they can continue to improve at their home stations. For those that arrive unprepared, however, the training experience here can prove to be frustrating and not as productive.

This article lays out a framework for the train-up of intelligence sections preparing for future JRTC rotations. It is based on seven areas the intelligence O/Cs have identified as the keys to success. These areas are:

These recommendations have proven successful and can focus the training efforts for S2 sections or military intelligence companies as they prepare for their next JRTC rotations or actual operational deployment.


Section Operations

Solid section operations form the basis for everything the S2 section, brigade Analysis and Control Team (ACT), or MI company headquarters does. In turn, a detailed standing operating procedure (SOP) forms the basis for these operations. Good SOPs contain a number of items; this article identifies only a few crucial ones. First, SOPs should identify those tasks the section performs, then break those tasks down into discrete subtasks. It should describe these subtasks in detail and assign each one to an individual within the section. The SOPs should then specify when these subtasks must be completed.

This portion of the SOP clearly identifies who is responsible for accomplishing what, and when it must be accomplished. This level of detail provides a great tool for supervisors to keep the section effort on track. It helps integrate new soldiers into the section by identifying their responsibilities, and identifies for leaders the subtasks others must cover when soldiers become casualties or are otherwise unavailable.

Next, a series of checklists in the SOP should drive the section's precombat inspections (PCIs). Repeatedly, we find that poor PCIs lead to mission failure. PCI checklists should identify important pre-mission coordination actions, and contain an inventory checklist for mission-essential equipment and other items. The exhortation, "Don't forget nothin'," is as applicable for an ACT as it is for a rifle squad. If something is important enough that its loss might jeopardize mission accomplishment, then a leader should personally inspect it.


Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield

IPB analyzes the possibilities and limitations imposed by the area of operations (AO) and the enemy's capabilities. It culminates, ultimately, in descriptions of the enemy's possible COAs, and the probabilities of each COA occurring. Several IPB products play a big role in the S2's ability to arrive at this accurate projection of the enemy's most probable activities.

One important IPB product is the modified combined obstacles overlay (MCOO). The terrain analysis products comprising the MCOO come from many sources. S2 sections prepare some, while others come from supporting topographic teams and national agencies. Successful S2s combine all of these pieces before deployment to come up with an analysis of the opportunities and limitations the terrain poses for friendly and enemy forces. Similarly, enemy order of battle (OB) is generally available before deployment. (Even forced insertion units usually undergo a protracted X-Hour sequence, with an intelligence build-up, before deploying.) This OB data should also be analyzed before deployment to determine the capabilities the enemy will bring to the fight. Typically, a combination of OB charts and descriptions of enemy capabilities, broken down by functional areas, expresses this analysis.

For the most part, S2 sections are good at this initial analysis. However, many fail to update these products as they gather new information. The O/Cs often find excellent terrain analysis and OB products stashed away in corners of tactical operations centers and vehicles. With minimal refinement, these terrain products can serve S2s and other staff members well, as they assess the effects of the battlefield area on subsequent operations. Enemy OB is also dynamic, and S2s and ACTs must constantly account for enemy attrition and reinforcements if they intend to accurately identify the enemy's future capabilities.

The result of this analysis should be complete and clearly depicted ECOAs. Most S2s express these through their situation templates. The situation template should graphically portray as much as it can about the ECOAs. As a minimum, it should identify the likely locations of maneuver units, probable unit boundaries, fire support (FS) and combat service support locations, command and control nodes, land and air routes, infiltration lanes, and objectives.

In short, the perfect situation template should closely resemble the enemy S3's operational graphics. In practice, the quality of these templates varies widely, but even the best situation template never, by itself, portrays the full enemy picture. S2s must also identify the enemy's high-value targets (HVTs), and should give a narrative describing the full enemy battlefield framework. We recommend that S2s present this narrative in four sections: enemy task, purpose, method of accomplishing the task, and desired end-state. An example of this is shown in Figure 2.

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Figure 2.  Enemy COA Narrative.

Finally, successful S2s take the necessary extra step to create an event template. The event template forms the basis of all R&S efforts, and incorporates the all-important element of time-distance analysis into the process. This allows commanders and staffs to focus limited assets at the critical place and time on the battlefield.

Additionally, a quality event template gives the S2 a graphical product that describes in detail the coherent ECOA he has developed. With this template--and the enemy HVTs and COA narrative described above?S2s arrive at wargaming sessions and rehearsals better prepared to play the "thinking, uncooperative enemy."

Remember that your products must be disseminated in time to be of use to the subordinate staffs and commanders, and in a format they can use. Send out a tentative template when you have it, and then follow up with a more refined product. Do not make subordinate units wait for the final product. Also, keep in mind that commanders normally execute from 1:50,000 scale maps, so make your products to that scale. COA sketches and graphic portrayals of enemy intentions have their uses. However, nothing beats an overlay scaled to the maps used by the supported unit for unequivocally laying out the S2's "read" of the enemy.


Staff Integration

It is important to base the entire staff's efforts on the S2-developed ECOAs. Staffs and subordinate commanders planning against a common view of the enemy are more likely to produce a coordinated plan to counter the enemy's probable actions than staffs planning without regard to enemy intentions. Actually, this is the reason that staffs even have intelligence officers. What we often fail to appreciate, however, is the invaluable input that staff members can provide to the S2 as he attempts to integrate the enemy's funtional areas into the overall ECOA. For example, the Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Officer is the best source of advice on enemy ADA system emplacement. Similarly, the fire support officer (FSO) and mortar platoon leader can give good advice on how the enemy will employ indirect FS assets. Staff integration is the melding of other staff members' expertise into ECOA development.

One subject matter expert (SME) often overlooked is the battalion S2 noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC). Infantry noncommissioned officers (NCOs), serving as battalion S2 NCOICs, have prepared some of the best templates we have seen from rotating teams and squads. For an infantry battalion fighting an enemy operating in teams, squads, and platoons, the senior NCO in this position is usually the best source of advice on how these small units will maneuver and fight. Most have 12 to 18 years of experience fighting in those types of units, and their analysis of possible enemy actions is usually correct. Similarly, the armor battalion S2 NCOICs can advise S2s about probable tank maneuver, and S2 NCOs from the field artillery battalion can often tell from a map or ground reconnaissance if a site is a viable position for enemy FS assets.

To get the best returns on the time invested by the other staff members, and to help them focus, S2s should provide each with an initial situation template, a set of HVTs, and a clear description of the enemy's task, purpose, method, and end-state. For example, the S2 might give fellow staff members a rough situation template or COA sketch showing a dispersed enemy, along with the ECOA narrative.

With this initial description of a likely ECOA, the other staff members can better advise the S2 on how the enemy commander would likely employ his functional assets. The S2 can then incorporate their advice into his final situation template.


Asset Useage

Many S2s and MI company commanders do not maximize the use of the available collection or electronic warfare delivery assets. To some extent, this stems from a simple failure to consider all possible collectors. Everyone, from MI company assets to truck drivers traveling along main supply routes, is a potential collector. S2s should consider all of them for possible collection taskings.

More importantly, often S2s and MI company commanders do not understand the capabilities and limitations of the collection systems in their brigades and those available from a higher headquarters. This can lead to negative results such as:

SMEs for each of these systems are only a telephone call away. The supporting MI battalions and companies have experienced NCOs and warrant officers who can educate S2s, MI company commanders, and maneuver battalion commanders and their staffs on the assets' capabilities and their limitations. These units and division G2 staffs have experts who can train S2s to tap into corps and national agency collection assets.


Reconnaissance and Surveillance

Rather than squander limited collection assets by covering a "measles sheet" of NAIs, S2s should focus on identifying those places on the battlefield that contain ECOA indicators, or which will likely yield information needed to answer the commander's PIR. Too often, S2s do not do this preliminary analysis. Instead, they assign NAIs to every templated enemy position and task subordinate units with monitoring these many NAIs. Consequently, collection assets are often over-tasked and subordinate units are hamstrung by requirements to cover a slew of higher headquarters' NAIs, when many of these NAIs serve no vital purpose.

To paraphrase doctrine, R&S plans exist to confirm or deny an ECOA, or to collect important information about the condition of the battlefield. This does not mean that every suspected enemy location must be covered by an NAI. Nor does it mean that R&S assets should be committed to answer questions about the battlefield that are not critical. For example, if a suspected forward observer location at grid WQ254678 is not an indicator of an ECOA, and if the commander does not intend to target it, then it is not a good candidate for an NAI. Similarly, if travel along a particular route is not critical to the unit's success, it would be a poor decision to use limited collection assets to determine that route's trafficability.

Another common shortcoming in R&S plans is that S2s fail to address the "who, what, where, when, and why" of each NAI. "Who" is the tasked unit. "What" is the unique number assigned to that NAI. "Where" is the single grid for point NAIs, a series of grids, or a center grid and radius for area NAIs. "When" incorporates the times the NAI should be observed, and the latest time the information is of value (LTIOV). "Why" equates to the tasked SOR for each NAI.

Doctrine does not specify how to express these bits of information. In fact, we see many successful methods used here at JRTC. However, the unmistakable trend is that without some sort of matrix laying out this information, units do not understand what they are expected to do at the assigned NAIs. Additionally, this matrix should be paired with an R&S overlay showing the location of all NAIs falling within the unit's AO. While these two products duplicate some information, experience shows that without both a matrix and an overlay, taskings are not as clearly understood.

Most units' biggest failure during execution of R&S plans is that they do not report on the NAIs tasked to them. In part, this happens when R&S taskings are not emphasized in either the written or verbal operations order (OPORD). If R&S taskings are not included in Paragraph 3 of the OPORD, they are not likely to come to the attention of attached units. The sad truth is that if R&S taskings are just included in Annex B, then only the S2 section will likely see them. Placing R&S taskings in the "meat" of the OPORD highlights them for commanders and S3s, as well as S2s.

Successful execution of R&S plans will ultimately rely on the level of the commander's involvement in the R&S effort. Commanders who demand that R&S plans contain the same detail as all other combat missions receive better R&S plans from their staffs. Likewise, commanders who demand compliance with R&S taskings usually obtain better results. When commanders are not involved, subordinate units generally do not execute R&S taskings as well, and the commander does not get the enemy information he needs.


Pattern Analysis

Pattern analysis is the key to getting inside the enemy's decision cycle, especially when fighting a foe for whom the S2 has a limited database. Good collection of combat information drives pattern analysis. The basic pattern analysis tool, the incident overlay, records where activities have occurred on the battlefield. A successful technique used by many S2 sections and ACTs is to employ color-coded symbols, stickers, or flags to indicate the types of activity occurring at a given location. For instance, all ambushes might be colored blue, while all sniper attacks might be colored red. This simple technique graphically depicts what types of activities have occurred and where they took place. By saving multiple event overlays, analysts can place these over one another to do long-term analysis of trends in areas of intense enemy activity.

FM 34-130 Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, and FM 34-7, Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Support to Low-Intensity Conflict Operations, both explain in detail how to use a number of tools which supplement the simple technique described above by tying in the element of time. These techniques add valuable depth to intelligence analysis by allowing S2s to tell commanders and staffs the time the enemy is likely to strike, as well as where they are likely to act. Again, the combination of these pattern analysis techniques helps to give a more complete picture of likely enemy actions. This, in turn, helps S2s to focus future operations based on detailed projections of probable ECOAs.


Intelligence Support to Targeting

Intelligence drives successful targeting efforts. A detailed discussion of targeting would require a separate article, but a crucial point for S2s, and ACTs in particular, to keep in mind is that targeting focuses on the future. To that end, we recommend that S2s bring a series of products to targeting meetings which highlight significant recent events, and lay out how the enemy will appear during the period of the fight that the targeting meeting addresses. These products include the--

Targeting meetings should result in a fragmentary order (FRAGO) to subordinate units. That FRAGO should include the S2's updated situation and event templates, any changes to the commander's PIR, and the updated R&S plan. These products must be disseminated with the FRAGO. If not, they may arrive too late to be of use to subordinate commanders as they plan their future operations.



This article laid out a series of focus items to help intelligence teams prepare for the JRTC, as well as for real-world deployments. While these recommendations are not all-inclusive, they incorporate the most prominent shortcomings that the JRTC intelligence O/Cs frequently see. I hope that these comments will guide S2s and MI company commanders as they put together future intelligence training plans.

Captain Barefoot is the Task Force S2 O/C at JRTC. His previous assignments include service as a Counterintelligence Officer at the 25th Infantry Division (Light); Commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2d Brigade, 25th ID; S2, 1-21 Infantry, 25th ID; Executive Officer and Fire Direction Officer, C Battery, 2-320th Field Artillery, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); and Fire Support Officer in the 3-327th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division (AASLT). CPT Barefoot has a bachelor of arts degree in English from Lawrence University and earned a Master of Science in Strategic Intelligence through the Post-Graduate Intelligence Program at the National Military Defense Intelligence College. Readers can contact the author via E-mail at [email protected] and telephonically at (318) 531-0163 or DSN 863-0163.