Vantage Point

by Major General John D. Thomas, Jr.

The U.S. Army—and the Military Intelligence Corps—is a total force, one composed of the Active Component (AC) Army, the U.S. Army Reserve (USAR), and the U.S. Army National Guard (ARNG). Together with Army civilians and contractors, we are the best ground intelligence organization in the world. A great strength of our Corps is the unique capabilities of our Reserve Component—the RC is critical to performing our mission. Today’s global environment and the mission of the U.S. Army make it even more important that we ensure the MI Corps is a seamless force capitalizing on the talents and capabilities of our components. Thirty percent of our Corps is in the RC. We must develop a much closer relationship between the components.

Recent events are encouraging. The 49th Armored Division (Texas ARNG) is preparing to assume the Stabilization Force (SFOR) mission in Bosnia. This mission has allowed us to focus on what is necessary for an ARNG division headquarters to provide intelligence support to a deployed division-level organization. The integration of the 49th Division, 629th MI Battalion (Maryland ARNG), and the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment’s 66th MI Company has provided a great opportunity to demonstrate the value of multi-component organizations. With the substantial support of III Corps, Fifth U.S. Army, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), and the Intelligence Center, a Total Force approach is providing focused training and increasing our the effectiveness in multi-component intelligence operations.

The participation of the 28th Infantry Division (Pennsylvania ARNG) in the V Corps Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) Warfighter Exercise is another example of proactive efforts to develop the Total Force team. This exercise gave us an opportunity to work the issues of organizations with different intelligence automation architectures working together. This kind of opportunity allows development of a more flexible and agile intelligence capability within the Army.

Training the RC remains a challenge, but we are making significant progress. The Total Army School System (TASS) Reserve MI battalions are doing superb work. They are first-class professional training organizations that are continually improving their capabilities to deliver quality training in a format tailored to RC requirements. Here at Fort Huachuca, we have just begun a significant effort to prepare a distance learning version of the MI Officer Advanced Course (MIOAC). Tailored to the RC, this course will use the latest distance learning technology to provide the MIOAC to unit locations and individual homes around the world. This is our first effort to design a complete course in the distance learning mode; it demonstrates the priority we place on training RC soldiers.

We have made substantial progress toward a seamless force but there is still much to do. Most importantly, we must all strive to understand the contributions and capabilities of our total force and then focus on how best to integrate the components. The total force of the 21st century will be a hybrid force of various organizations—some entirely staffed by one component and many consisting of two or three components. INSCOM has taken the lead by converting the 203d MI Battalion at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, to a multi-component unit with Active and USAR soldiers working together to accomplish the Army’s technical intelligence mission. Establishing multi-component units requires the breaking of many paradigms in both the AC and RC but it will create a much more capable and flexible force.

I know I can count on you to improve the integration of the Active and Reserve Components. This integration will result in a Military Intelligence Corps ready to face the challenges of the 21st century and to continue our tradition of selfless service to the Army and the nation.