Battle Damage Assessment:
The Road to Victory
by Chief Warrant Officers Two Tony E. Meade, James A. Hopkins, and Miles M. Fujiwara
"The best BDA reporting in any Battle Command Training Program warfighter exercise ever!" was an often heard comment from the BCTP observer/controllers (O/Cs) during the November 1997 Division XXI Advanced Warfighting Experiment (DAWE). The 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) (4ID(M)) ad hoc BDA cell's reporting was within four percent of the actual numbers for most of the maneuver units and within ten percent on the other elements. This unprecedented reporting accuracy contributed to an understanding of BDA concepts and to the eventual excellent working relationship between the BDA cell and the brigade S2s.
BDA is the timely and accurate reporting of damage resulting from the application of military force against an objective. The purpose of the BDA effort is to provide an accurate enemy strength assessment so that the commander can make informed decisions. Indeed, many priority intelligence requirements (PIR) are based on the BDA. The BDA process is one of the six intelligence tasks.
Operation orders (OPORDs) and contingency plans (CONPLANs) address BDA requirements, responsibilities, and procedures as an integral component of the targeting process. These documents establish the commander's BDA structure and procedures, and they define the information flow. Although BDA is primarily an intelligence responsibility, it requires extensive coordination with operational elements to be effective.
Important Players in BDA
These players in the BDA process are the division commander, G3, G2, fire support officer (FSO), air liaison officer (ALO), and the collection manager (CM). These essential players have certain duties and responsibilities to make BDA a functional, successful process. The commander provides the guidance, priorities, and the concept of the operation that focus the BDA effort, and directs the BDA process through the G2. The G3 integrates the results of BDA into current operations and future planning processes, and ensures that support for the collection of BDA information is incorporated into current orders and future plans.
The G2 and division CM develop and recommend the PIR and information requirements (IRs) including BDA requirements, tasks, and collection support from the appropriate units or agencies. These IRs are needed to satisfy the commander's targeting and BDA objectives in the context of the overall intelligence planning and operational requirements. The G2 oversees BDA for the commander and disseminates the results; the G2 also determines the effects of an executed course of action (COA) on enemy strength and combat effectiveness. Based on this assessment, the G2 then refines enemy COA recommendations to the commander, and (working closely with the G3, FSO, and ALO) recommends specific targeting requirements based on precedence.
There are several principles we feel are essential for effective BDA:
- BDA must measure things that are important to commanders, not make important the things that are easily measured.
- BDA reporting must be objective. When the cell receives BDA-related reports or products, it should verify the conclusions and "weed out" the redundancy and conflicts in the reporting.
- The degree of reliability and credibility of the assessment relies largely on the collection resources.
- Division and brigade commanders and their staffs should conduct a front-end analysis to identify the precise BDA efforts required to accomplish the mission.
What BDA Means at Different Echelons
The size and composition of the intelligence staff element responsible for BDA varies at each Army echelon. At the operational level, BDA provides commanders with detailed estimates of the campaign's effects to determine how well they are doing. Dedicated BDA cells are formed at corps level and above in either the All-Source Intelligence Team (ASIT) or the targeting section.
At the tactical level, commanders use BDA reporting to acquire a timely and accurate picture of the enemy's strength and the damage the friendly forces have inflicted on the enemy units. This helps commanders determine whether their targeting efforts were successful or if they need to re-target specific units. Although personnel are not dedicated to this function at the tactical level, the capability to create an ad hoc BDA cell is more likely to occur at the division's main command post (D-MAIN).
At the division, the tactical SOPs delineate the circumstances under which an ad hoc BDA cell should be formed and when the ASIT should perform BDA within the analysis and control element (ACE) and G2 operations element. The ACE is the focal point for combat information and intelligence information, and the BDA analytical effort should be conducted at this tactical echelon only.
BDA produced at the division focuses on the division commander's requirements and on providing BDA data and reports to the corps for incorporation into their battle damage assessments. BDA must have the following to be effective:
- Commander's requirements and objectives.
- Enemy order of battle (OB) database (down to battalion level).
- Ability to communicate digitally with subordinate and higher echelons.
- Effective means of accessing databases from the ATCCS systems (ASAS, Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS), Maneuver Control System (MCS), etc.).
The brigade and battalion tactical operation centers (TOCs) are not resourced to support BDA as a separate function and do not have BDA cells or dedicated personnel. Efforts at these echelons focus on assessing and reporting the physical and functional damage done to enemy forces they are or will be fighting.
In the brigade, the S2 may assign one of the four analysts in the analysis control team (ACT) to support the commander's BDA requirements. The S2 focuses on performing the limited analysis necessary to answer the commander's BDA-related PIR and on providing support to subordinate units' S2 cells. The time, personnel, and assets available limit the BDA process. Thus, the S2 must concentrate on analyzing enemy combat system losses, reporting the numbers and types of enemy forces, and personnel casualties or equipment damaged or destroyed.
At the battalion, the S2 has a small battlefield intelligence coordination center (BICC). The BICC has three analysts to support all of the commander's intelligence, targeting, and BDA requirements. To maximize available assets, the S2 must integrate the BDA requirements with other targeting and intelligence PIR and answer the BDA during intelligence preparation of the battlefield and situation development. The focus is on analyzing the enemy's combat losses. The S2 concentrates on reporting the numbers and types of enemy casualties and equipment damaged or destroyed, and does only enough BDA analysis to answer the commander's BDA-related PIR.
BDA During the DAWE
In the discussion of our BDA in the November 1997 DAWE, we present some techniques that led to our success. Then we discuss personnel, equipment, database management, and reporting procedures and offer some suggestions.
Some of the techniques that led to our successful BDA include the following six items.
- BDA requirements must be included in the PIR and IRs.
- The CM must task organic assets or request data from higher echelons' collection to satisfy the commander's BDA requirements.
- The unit must establish a procedure (coordinated through the Division ALO and G3 Air section) to ensure that pilot reports and operation reports are made available to the BDA analysts.
- There must be a current enemy order of battle (OB) database--down to battalion level--incorporated into a spreadsheet tied to a graphics program.
- The BDA element must assess incoming reports and develop the situational status, an ongoing task.
- The cell must develop BDA graphics and disseminate them. We used the Division G2 Homepage as a dissemination system.
Personnel. The Division created an ad hoc element by taking signals intelligence personnel (four warrant officers and four enlisted soldiers) to run the cell, develop the TTP, and write an SOP for the AWE. The BDA process (as developed during the 1997 DAWE) was a 3- to 4-soldier operation per shift. All of the soldiers were proficient in both Microsoft Excel, and PowerPoint.
The officer in charge (OIC)--a warrant officer--maintained situational awareness for friendly and enemy forces, specifically tracking the deep strikes, aviation in-flight reports, penetration box (PENBOX) execution, support by fire missions, and artillery counterfire missions. This included coordination with higher headquarters, adjacent units, and subordinate elements. BDA is often an afterthought for units; for them, coordination and pulling information from higher, adjacent, and lower echelons is essential.
The BDA noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) must have a good working knowledge of the automated BDA programs and the connectivity architecture. This soldier ensured that established procedures were followed and that the intelligence information flow continued despite problems associated with equipment, personnel, and reports. The NCOIC coordinated among echelons to facilitate quality BDA reporting from subordinates and receipt of shared analysis from higher echelons. This NCO must be proficient with computer systems and have the in-depth knowledge of enemy doctrine to deconflict reports from subordinate or higher units.
The cell also included the BDA specialists. These soldiers input information into the BDA database and updated the graphics used on the Division G2 homepage and for briefing the commander (see Figure 1). The specialists must also be proficient in the above named programs and architecture and have a basic understanding of enemy doctrine.
Figure 1. Sample Briefing Chart.
We recommend that an experienced first lieutenant or captain (perhaps from G2 operations), familiar with the enemy and friendly OB and doctrine, be assigned as OIC. The enlisted personnel should be intelligence analysts (96B) because of the detailed knowledge required on enemy OB and doctrine.
Equipment. The equipment the BDA cell used was a stand-alone computer with a printer using Microsoft Office 97 software. This allowed the BDA analysts to automatically convert the PowerPoint graphics to HTML (hypertext markup language) files, the language used on the homepage. The operator then downloaded the files to a floppy disk and uploaded them on an RWS to post them on the G2's homepage. Subordinate echelons obtain current enemy assessments and remaining combat strength figures through accessing this homepage.
Use of an ASAS-RWS is required due to the access needed to data from the ASAS, AFATDS, MCS, and other ATCCS systems. Microsoft Office with PowerPoint 97 is our recommended software package because it allows the immediate conversion from PowerPoint graphic to HTML. It is more efficient to post to the division homepage from the workstation one is using rather than having to take a floppy disk to an unoccupied ASAS-RWS terminal. Ideally, the ASAS-RWS would be upgraded so that the BDA process is automated and digital, not analog.
Database Management. The BDA databases encompassed OB down to battalion-level units that can influence the area of operations as defined by the commander and G3. Building the spreadsheets takes approximately one full month of focused effort. Each file represents a corps-size unit. The spreadsheets are divided into two parts: individual unit worksheets that display personnel and equipment casualties and "roll-up" worksheets that summarize the data from the individual sheets (see Figure 2). To reduce possible human errors, data can be entered in the highlighted rows only. We printed all of the individual worksheets for the BDA log before deploying and used the log to track the remaining equipment in each unit. Then we linked these worksheets to the roll-up worksheet.
Figure 2. Sample of BDA Data Sheet.
Each sheet displays a division- or brigade-size unit without artillery assets. The artillery assets are grouped in their respective regiment and division artillery groups (RAGs and DAGs) with any attached artillery units (if known). We made the worksheets for each regiment- and brigade-size unit. We used PowerPoint graphics to brief the commander and on the homepage. Microsoft Office 97 permits us to revise the Excel linked to the graphics software that automatically updates the graphics as the spreadsheets are revised.
Reporting Procedures. The BDA cell and the maneuver unit S2s must coordinate an action plan BDA data reporting. In our case, it was decided that every 90 minutes the BDA cell would contact (via the Mobile Subscriber Equipment) each brigade for its BDA results. This allowed the BDA cell to consolidate all data, remove the redundancy in the reporting, and establish the accuracy of the results. The BDA cell then updated their database, and was able to meet the requirement to post the BDA results on the division homepage every three hours. It was also agreed that the division artillery (DIVARTY) S2 would be responsible for collecting all artillery BDA from the brigades and the Corps (see the article by Captain Harris beginning on page 42). He became the central point for all artillery reports, which helped in removing redundant data and reporting an accurate BDA count to the Division's BDA cell.
When units in contact were not able to give an actual count of equipment destroyed or damaged, they would report that they had just destroyed a regiment or battalion. This could cause some conflict in accurate reporting if not for the flexibility of assessing a unit which is done by the BDA cell. The PowerPoint slides showed the actual numbers received in red, and beside the red was the color yellow which reflected the assessment of the division. This number or percentage was lower than the actual numbers and gave the CG a realistic view of the true combat strength of the opposing forces units. We refer to this as predictive BDA. No adjustment was made to the excel spreadsheets until the actual numbers were consolidated and reported to the BDA cell.
The BDA process was highly successful during DAWE even though it was analog rather than digital. The evolution of effective TTP's and dedication of an ad hoc BDA cell took the process to a new level of accuracy and time lines. Automating and digitizing BDA via ASAS-RWS will potentially increase efficiency to even new heights and decrease the manpower intensiveness of the process.
1. Much of our TTP was based on the Proposed Doctrine and Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Battle Damage Assessment (DRAFT), dated 26 May 1993, by the United States Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca (USAIC&FH). This document provides additional information useful for understanding and applying the principles and methods of BDA. It is available through Mr. Griffin via E-mail [email protected] or telephonically at (520) 538-1010 and DSN 879-1010.
2. Microsoft Office 97 and MS PowerPoint TM are trademarks of the Microsoft Corporation. Several companies have trademarks on portions of Excel.
3. Due to the advanced visual technologies available in the 4ID's main command post (D-MAIN), our commanding general has been very specific about how BDA information should be graphically presented.
Chief Warrant Officer Two Meade is now assigned to the Regional SIGINT Operations Center in Hawaii. He was the SIGINT Technician for the 104th MI Battalion, 4ID(M), Fort Hood, Texas.
CW2 Hopkins is currently assigned to the 500th MI Brigade in Japan. He was assigned to the 4ID(M) ACE's Technical Control and Processing Section. He has a bachelor of science degree in Business Administration from the New York State Regents University.
CW2 Fujiwara is the Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) Officer in Charge in the ACE Detachment, 104th MI Battalion. His previous assignments include Electronic Processing and Dissemination System (EPDS) Systems OIC at the 532d MI Battalion; ELINT Technician, All-Source Production Section, 2ID; and ELINT Technician, 501st MI Battalion, !AD. Readers can reach him via E-mail at [email protected] and telephonically at (254) 618-7534 or DSN 259-7534.