USAR MI Force Reality

by Colonel William P. Murray, USAR AGR

The Army revised its response processes over the past ten years to deal with changes in the national military strategy. Threats are less predictable and more diverse resulting from regional instabilities, transnational challenges, and aggressive behavior by rogue states. These rogue states seek power and resources and use the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as a primary means for accomplishing these ends.

The U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) continues its historic emergency support role and is more responsive than ever in supporting the “one Army, one fight” concept. Knowledge of the current planning process and historic trends is critical in understanding the significant reduction in the USAR MI force.

How We Plan

In 1783, when President George Washington recommended the United States base its military primarily on a national militia under Federal supervision, the concept of America’s Army Reserve was born. From the beginning, our nation’s senior military leadership has continually planned and reacted militarily by turning to its citizen soldiers to reinforce the “regulars” of the active components (AC). In today’s environment, the citizen soldier continues to respond.

Over time, the military has defined and refined the process into a distinctively joint planning process. We now divide our planning into two major categories, deliberate and crisis-action planning. Deliberate planning, or peacetime planning, builds complete and detailed contingency plans on anticipated or predicted conditions. These plans respond to specific resources identified in joint strategic planning documents. Crisis- action planning occurs during unanticipated time-sensitive actions in response to an imminent crisis.

Executing Crisis Plans

Deployment trends over this century reveal a three-fold increase in the past ten years. The Reserves served in repeated crisis-action operations requiring unprecedented deployments. From 1950 to 1989, the Army required fewer than 10 deployments; however, the Army responded to 36 deployments from 1989 to the present. The U.S. Army had 122,000 soldiers assigned to overseas bases during 1998; despite that fact, on an average day last year approximately 28,000 AC and RC soldiers served on temporary duty in more than 70 countries. For example, the USAR has provided more than 70 percent of the U.S. force deployed to Bosnia since 1995. Threat analysis indicates that this trend in crisis-action planning response will continue into the next century.

Congressional Support to the USAR MI Force

Congressional support of the Reserve MI force has been substantial. Through appropriations provided to the Department of Defense (DOD) and executed through the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Joint Reserve Intelligence Connectivity Program (JRICP) initiative equipped 28 sites throughout the United States with state-of-the-art communications.

Each site provides an incredible opportunity for the RC MI forces to contribute worldwide intelligence support to their Services, the theater commanders, and to the combat support agencies (CSAs). The USAR MI soldier now has the resources to permit access to the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS) and other communications capabilities. Connectivity coupled with new and additional Reserve intelligence funding programs provide both the AC commands and CSAs with extensive yet remote USAR MI soldiers supporting from distant operating locations in the Continental United States.

Intelligence Contributory                             Support

The DOD has provided additional and significant funding for intelligence contributory support (ICS). ICS provides a well-funded capability for soldiers to deploy on active duty for varying periods in support of validated intelligence requirements. The value-added nature of ICS in training, readiness, and retention is well documented and growing significantly. A review of USAR MI support in fiscal year 1997 (FY97) indicated that the USAR MI force provided more than the equivalent of three AC battalions to support Army intelligence requirements.


With the 28 new connectivity sites located throughout the country, significant changes quickly occurred in the capability of the MI Reservist to provide intelligence support. Army MI soldiers can provide assistance from multiple operational locations in the continental United States across the operational continuum to support—

The Army Reserve Intelligence Support Centers (ARISCs) quickly evolved to premier connectivity and production sites. Success in engaging the ARISCs in peacetime contributions through the JRICP has been overwhelming. The five existing ARISC facilities were already firmly established secure compartmented information facilities (SCIFs) with an assigned and experienced training cadre, administrators, and a capability for seven-days-a-week operation. They smoothly expanded their capabilities to simultaneously engage in peacetime training and intelligence support while still providing the doctrinal capability for virtual linking of sanctuary and split- based operations. In two years, the ARISCs quickly became the focus of multi-Service RC intelligence use. Currently, USAR MI soldiers’ usage represents only about one-third of the facilities’ use.

In 1998, the USAR MI soldiers provided intelligence support (split-based or on-site) to seven theater commander in chief (CINC) joint intelligence operations, four U.S. Army Component commands, three CSAs, three U.S. Army Corps, and twelve INSCOM subordinate commands. This additive “real world” intelligence mission support provides significant value- added to each of the organizations. In some cases, RC support includes assuming theater production responsibilities for a CINC’s joint intelligence operations when the in-theater intelligence center has to focus on a crisis situation for an extended period of time. This dramatic expansion in both crisis-action and peacetime contributory support demonstrates the geometric increase of the USAR MI support.

The USAR MI Oxymoron

While the USAR MI requests for support increase, the Army counters them with unabated reductions. The Army has reduced its strength by about one-third. The USAR MI strength reductions are in excess of 64 percent (see Figure 1.) By the end of FY99, the USAR MI force will represent less than 1.5 percent of the USAR. We can expect significantly more cuts in the ongoing Total Army Analysis 07 (TAA-07) process.


Why the Incongruity?

Studies including the MI Force Design Update (FDU) initiatives in the early of 1990s resulted in a restructure the USAR MI force. The initiatives were highly innovative and incorporated many of the lessons learned from deployments during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM and earlier DOD Inspector General findings. The focus of the Reserve MI force shifted from equip- ment-heavy battalions supporting RC combat forces at division and brigade level to modular teams focusing on providing MI skills for AC units at the corps and echelons above corps (EAC) levels.

The most significant change was to retool the entire USAR MI force to link a new modular structure (team-level plugs) with anticipated combat commanders’ requirements. Configured with their own unit identification codes (UICs), the modular teams could mobilize individually to support any shortfall or expansion requirement at the corps or force projection brigade. In theory, the commanders’ could plug USAR MI teams into their intelligence structures without having to mobilize companies or parent battalions. Theoretically, the corps or EAC unit has great flexibility to tailor its intelligence force.

MI Force Reality

In reality, the 1995 restructuring has proven disastrous for the MI community and in particular for the USAR MI soldiers. Simply yet painfully stated, identification of the operational plan (OPLAN) requirements for the 1995 restructure has been slow; there is no solid published doctrine for the restructured MI table of organization and equipment (TOE) force. From an OPLAN perspec- tive and a force programming perspective, without a documented Army-supported WARTRACE1 and solidly approved doctrine, there is little justification for MI in the Reserve force. Anticipated deliberate planning requirements to support both OPLAN provisions and WARTRACE program development for modular teams have not wound their way through the multi- year OPLAN review sequences required by the Joint Operations Planning and Execution System. Neither has anyone published doctrine that codifies the modular structure. Four years after the formal Vice Chief of Staff of the Army decision to build a modular USAR MI force, only four modularized structures (two battalions and two companies) have a formal planning association or WARTRACE alignment.

A Victim of Success Looking for Doctrine

In many ways, USAR MI is a victim of its own success. Connectivity and technology (provided by the JRICP coupled with substantial funding for intelligence contributory support) provide AC organizations with a nearly cost-free emergency MI capability. An older axiom seems to apply—why buy the cow if the milk is free? Continual contributory and crisis-action intelligence support neither documents nor validates OPLAN (WARTRACE) requirements nor do they count for substantiating Army MI doctrine. For whatever reason, no one has invested the time and effort required to document the doctrine using the modular structure, or to build and staff OPLANs using this structure.

The Bottom Line

The reality is that the USAR MI structure has proven to be a reliable and effective emergency force. However, the force can only continue to exist if it earns validation to support deliberate planning requirements generated by the combat commanders. In tandem, approved doctrine provides the framework and principles of how intelligence supports the commander in his planning process. Unless we establish doctrine and properly document the USAR MI force in the deliberate planning process, the continued viability of USAR MI is at risk and its structure will assuredly receive additional and significant cuts. Failure to respond to these issues will have two results: additional USAR reductions will be at the expense of Reserve MI spaces and faces, and  there will soon be no answer to the ever increasing emergency calls.Y


1. “WARTRACE” in simple terms is a planning association of an RC unit with the organization with which it would go to war or to which it would be subordinate. It is somewhat dated but still used to describe associations ranging from training to actual war plans.

Colonel Bill Murray is currently serving in an Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) assignment as the U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (DCSINT). His previous AGR assignments include Reserve Affairs Provost Marshall for U.S. Forces Command (FORSCOM) and on a detail to a multinational force; Chief, Military Police (MP) Desk, U.S. Army Reserve Personnel Center; Unit and Personnel Readiness Officer, DCSINT, USARC; and Intelligence Staff Officer, J2, Headquarters FORSCOM. Prior to his AGR selection, he commanded the 386th MP Detachment and the 323d MI Detachment. He is a graduate of the MP and MI Officer Advanced Courses, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Reserve Officers Course at the NATO Defense College, and the Army War College. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Alabama where he earned his Reserve Officer Training Corps commission; he also has a Master of Arts degree in Administration from Central Michigan University. Readers may contact the author via E-mail at [email protected] and telephonically at (404) 464-8422 or DSN 367-8422.