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ISE - McPherson: Intelligence for Third U.S. Army/ARCENT

by Sergeant First Class Mark A. Warner

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The mission of the Intelligence Support Element (ISE)--McPherson is to provide all-source intelligence analysis and production in direct support of Third U.S. Army and U.S. Army Forces Central Command (ARCENT) at Fort McPherson, Georgia. ISE--McPherson is an intelligence detachment from the 297th Military Intelligence Battalion of the 513th Military Intelligence Brigade, an echelons-above-corps (EAC) unit located at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

The ISE’s strength derives from a dual chain of command that provides for its operational and support needs. On a day-to-day basis, the ISE works for the ARCENT G2 to meet the ARCENT Commander’s intelligence needs. However, the detachment's chain of command extends from the ISE Commander at Fort McPherson to the 297th MI Battalion Commander at Fort Gordon.



Each corps in the U.S. Army has an organic MI brigade that supports its command. For example, the 525th MI Brigade supports the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and the 504th MI Brigade supports III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas. Headquarters above the corps level also have organic MI brigades (like the 501st MI Brigade at Eighth U.S. Army in the Republic of Korea and the 513th MI Brigade at Third U.S. Army). These Army headquarters rely upon their EAC intelligence assets to satisfy intelligence requirements from the national level and below.

The assets of the 513th MI Brigade have been called upon by more than one major command and commander in chief. Currently, they officially receive taskings from U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), U.S. European Command (EUCOM), U.S. Atlantic Command (ACOM), and Third U.S. Army.

The 297th MI Battalion has intelligence assets that are deployed around the world. Some of these are the III Corps' Corps Military Intelligence Support Element (CMISE) at Fort Hood, Texas; XVIII Airborne Corps' CMISE at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; B Company, 297th MI Battalion at U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), MacDill Air Force Base, Florida; ISE--McPherson at Third U.S. Army; and additional personnel assigned to augment the ARCENT forward headquarters in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. Figure 1 shows the intelligence systems communications architecture that exists between the ARCENT G2 components in these countries and the ISE at Fort McPherson.

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Figure 1.   ARCENT G2 and ISE McPherson Communications Architecture

When the Third U.S. Army/ARCENT Commander has an intelligence question, the ISE is his first stop. The mission of the ISE--McPherson is to keep the Commander and his staff informed of the events that take place in the 20 countries that make up the ARCENT area of responsibility (AOR), as well as other world events that could influence the AOR. This is accomplished through briefings, intelligence summaries (INTSUMs), and other special products. The ISE also produces and analyzes all of the current intelligence available at ARCENT headquarters. The ISE analysts stay in close contact with the 513th MI Brigade's Analysis and Control Element (ACE) at Fort Gordon and the analysts at CENTCOM, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and other major commands and national agencies


ISE Connectivity

The ISE is connected to the U.S. intelligence community through several automated systems, primarily the Joint Deployable Intelligence Support System (JDISS). Through JDISS, the ISE has access to INTELINK (Intelligence Link), a classified intelligence network similar to the Internet. National agencies and major commands have their own websites, which give the ISE access to many of their vast resources. These include current intelligence and historical data such as message traffic, unevaluated and finished data, summaries, and briefings. Figure 2 shows the ISE's communications links to other continental United States (CONUS)-based organizations.

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Figure 2.  ISE Communications Links

JDISS also provides the ISE with the ability to transfer data and imagery files, send and receive E-mail, and reroute needed information to and from other intelligence sections around the world. This ability is especially critical for supporting ARCENT’s forward-deployed elements in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. When real-world situations arise in the AOR that may affect U.S. operations, the ISE cannot wait for the publication of the information in conventional formats. JDISS connectivity allows the intelligence community to react at a faster rate than those in the operations world. Analysts can contact the appropriate organizations to get the latest information and then disseminate it through the JDISS.

The ISE also uses the Army Message Handling System (AMHS) and the Defense Automated Warning System (DAWS). These systems enable analysts to search for and retrieve messages from organizations that may not have an INTELINK website. They also give ready access to information that is not posted on the INTELINK sites.

The Defense Intelligence Threat Data System (DITDS) is another system used by the ISE to retrieve needed information. DITDS, in conjunction with DAWS and AMHS, is primarily used to provide current information for use in briefing the Commander every morning and for inclusion in the daily "read files." The information is usually available in these systems before it appears on INTELINK.

The ISE also uses the Warlord system, which adds many capabilities to the ISE's analysis efforts. Some of Warlord's functions are the ability to monitor multiple moving target indicators (MTIs) on the battlefield, provide graphic intelligence summaries, and maintain an order of battle database which can be plotted at various map scales. This system is linked directly to the 513th MI Brigade's ACE so it can be updated quickly with the most current information.

In addition to these systems, the ISE’s imagery analysts use the Demand-Driven Direct Digital Dissemination (5D) server to provide the headquarters with up-to-date imagery. The imagery is used for command briefings, intelligence updates, verification of enemy ground movements, and ad hoc requirements from the Commander and his staff.


Supporting Operations

During a crisis or during periods of heightened tension in the AOR, the ISE implements 24-hour operations in support of the forward-deployed units. When it is determined that an ARCENT headquarters presence is required in the AOR, the ISE deploys personnel to assist in the stand-up of the forward command post. The personnel that remain at ARCENT back in Atlanta provide the continuity of support that is needed to ensure uninterrupted intelligence flow to the Commander.

ISE personnel also deploy to the AOR in support of exercises and to familiarize themselves with the AOR. They frequently meet with allied nations’ counterparts for analyst-to-analyst discussions. These trips allow ISE analysts to meet with the forward-based staffs, embassy personnel, and any 297th MI Battalion intelligence personnel deployed throughout the AOR at any given time. This gives them insight into how the ISE can better support the forward-deployed units with our coalition partners.


RC Integration

The ISE has the mission of integrating Reserve Component (RC) personnel into its day-to-day operations. When the ISE deploys personnel during crisis periods or major exercises, RC soldiers are brought on active duty to backfill the vacated positions. These RC soldiers must quickly be brought up to speed on the current situation so there is no lapse in coverage of the assigned areas. Even during exercises, the real-world mission must continually be covered. At times, RC soldiers are brought in for other reasons, allowing them to become familiar with the operation under less-stressful conditions. Regardless of when or why RC soldiers are brought in, it is the ISE’s responsibility to train them.


Standard Unit Requirements

In addition to its daily intelligence mission, the ISE is responsible for the same administrative and training requirements as all other Army units. With a table of organization and equipment (TO&E) strength of 13 personnel, the ISE is not a full-size company. All assigned soldiers, from the commander down, conduct common task training, weapons training, weapons qualification, physical fitness training, and other training events that the Army requires. Unit personnel status reports must be submitted, as well as all other routine administrative actions. Most companies have a training noncommissioned officer, personnel services NCO, and clerks to assist with these tasks. The ISE has only one or two personnel to take care of all the functions normally handled by a company staff.



Duty at ISE---McPherson is unusual, challenging, and exciting. Its mission focuses on one of the most strategically important areas of the world, the Middle East. The ISE remains vigilant to keep ARCENT ready------from an intelligence standpoint------to deploy to any hot spot early enough to project U.S. military power and to protect the United States’ interests.

Sergeant First Class Warner is currently the Detachment Sergeant, ISE--McPherson, 297th MI Battalion. His previous assignments include Staff Platoon Sergeant and NCO in Charge (NCOIC) of the S2 Section, 2d Brigade, 2d Infantry Division; S2 NCOIC for the 75th Ranger Regiment (with deployments to Somalia and Haiti); and the 1st Battalion, 3d Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg (with deployments to Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM). His military schooling includes Airborne, Jump Master, Ranger, LRSU, SERE, and Canadian and Thai Jump Schools. Readers can contact him via E-mail at [email protected] and telephonically at (404) 464-4013/4 or DSN 367-4013/4.