Alternative Changes in the Force XXI GS MI Company
by Captain Jules P. Cabeen, Jr. and First Lieutenant Brian R.
Editor's Note: The 104th Military Intelligence
Battalion supports the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) (4th ID
(M)), Force XXI's experimental force (EXFOR).
The views expressed in this article are those of the
authors and do not reflect official policy or position of the
Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S.
Force XXI is a vision at the end of a long and
winding road. Changes in technology, manpower, and force structure
are necessary to realize that vision. Even more critical is how we,
as an Army and a branch, manage those changes.
Much of the discussion about the future general support (GS)
military intelligence (MI) company focuses on new doctrine and
technology. Relatively little attention has been given to
organization. This narrow focus will cause us to forget just how
much we still need to change structurally.
Current and Proposed Organization
Today's organization must provide the starting point for any
discussion of future structure. The current Modified Table of
Organization and Equipment (MTOE) for the GS MI company looks more
like the old Army than the new one being fought in our Warfighter
exercises. Old structures like the collection and jamming (C&J)
platoons, transcription and analysis (T&A) teams, and
frequency-modulation radio retransmission (RETRANS) section remain,
but new paragraph and line numbers appear in the document for the
future Ground-Based Common Sensor (GBCS) and tactical unmanned
aerial vehicle (UAV).
As currently organized, the GS company deploys its assets along
multiple direction-finding (DF) baselines to provide electronic
warfare support (ES) and electronic attack (EA) to the division. A
T&A team from one of the three C&J platoons forms the nucleus of a
platoon operations center (POC). The POC plays a critical role in
command and control (C2) of GS assets. In addition, the RETRANS
section gives the company a radio-relay capability (see Figure 1).
In contrast, the proposed Force XXI GS MI company looks very
different from today's organization. Communications collection and
jamming merge in a common platform with the fielding of the GBCS;
it also adds an electronic intelligence (ELINT) collection
capability against noncommunications emitters like radars. The GBCS
platoon replaces both the C&J platoons (with the AN/TRQ-32 TEAMMATE
and AN/TLQ-17 TRAFFICJAM) and the SIGINT platoon (AN/TSQ-138
TRAILBLAZER). The MTOE no longer authorizes T&A teams and the
RETRANS section. The company gains a UAV platoon providing an
imagery intelligence (IMINT) capability (see Figure 2).
Like today, the future GS MI company will provide the division with
ES and EA. The big difference will be in how it performs that
mission. The design of the new structure provides not only the
communications intelligence (COMINT) baseline with GBCS and
Advanced QUICKFIX, but also an aerial reconnaissance capability
with the UAV-Short Range. Sensors will send information directly to
both the Analysis and Control Element (ACE) (sensitive
compartmented information level) and direct support (DS) companies
(collateral level). GS company assets will be capable of performing
a number of tasks including battle damage assessment (BDA), force
protection, ES and EA.
Through trial and error, the 104th MI Battalion is providing
solutions to reshape the Army's intelligence concept for the 21st
century. As part of this effort, Delta Company, the battalion's GS
company, reorganized last September from elements of the old Alpha
and Charlie companies. Since that time, the unit has tested future
concepts in a number of settings including a field connectivity
exercise, battle simulations, and deployments to the National
Training Center (NTC). The lessons learned from these experiences
provide a starting point for changing tactics, techniques, and
procedures and should form the basis of any consideration of force
A fundamental problem with the proposed Force XXI structure is loss
of the collection and jamming platoon's POC. In the future, GS
company assets must work exclusively under the centralized control
of the ACE and a new organization, the Intelligence Operations
Cell. The Intelligence Operations Cell was formed by merging the
operations sections of the 104th MI Battalion and the 4th ID(M) G2
at the division main command post (DMAIN).
But does centralized control from the DMAIN really eliminate the
need for a POC? As the ACE assumes greater responsibility over
deployed GS assets, competing demands placed on it by both the G2
and the GS company will stretch its ability to perform either job
The ACE can provide technical data to deployed assets, but not C2.
Operating in a DS role to the G2, its focus is on intelligence
production for commanders. The Intelligence Operations Cell, like
the ACE, performs a number of tasks in the DMAIN which affect its
ability to command and control the GS company.
During the 4th ID(M) Warfighter exercise in January 1996, the
division zone stretched more than 100 kilometers in an attack. The
Intelligence Operations Cell and ACE, located at the DMAIN, were 40
to 50 kilometers behind deployed DF baselines. These distances,
combined with delays in the battlefield picture presented by the
All-Source Analysis System (ASAS), created problems in situational
awareness in both the ACE and Intelligence Operations Cell.
This problem will be even greater if the ACE is in sanctuary 250
kilometers behind the forward-line-of-own-troops (FLOT) or line of
contact. Distances of this magnitude make intelligence and
electronic warfare (IEW) architecture vulnerable to data
degradation, enemy jamming, and terrain effects.
Lack of situational awareness clearly causes problems in
controlling individual GS assets. Some organization must direct and
monitor EA; order baseline adjustments or jumps; direct
survivability moves based on a timely, accurate battlefield
picture; and supervise casualty evacuation, resupply, and other
activities. These actions are difficult to execute in close
proximity to baselines, let alone from the rear. Elimination of the
POC puts all our eggs into one basket at the DMAIN.
The 104th MI Battalion has taken steps to maintain a POC in its GS
company. In a transitional move, Delta Company merged three T&A
teams from the C&J platoons. This new element will serve multiple
The Warfighter experience demonstrated that a GS company POC,
working closely with the ACE and Intelligence Operations Cell,
provides versatility, situational awareness, and responsive C2 for
ground SIGINT teams. As the mission and roles of this new element
develop, manning requirements should change. Recognizing the
importance of this element, the battalion attached a warrant
officer from the ACE to the GS company to assist with technical
SIGINT control. With time, this structure will look more and more
like an ACE (forward) as it fills the need for ELINT specialists
and order of battle technicians.
C2 of UAV assets is emerging as a complex challenge. The aircraft,
ground control stations, and launch and recovery teams range far
beyond the GS company commander's span of control. The UAV platoon,
as currently proposed, contains between 8 and 12 aerial sensors,
operates far from deployed ground SIGINT assets, and requires much
different support in terms of security, terrain and airspace
management, engineers, fuel, and repair parts. In the 4th ID(M)
Warfighter exercise, launch and recovery sites operated up to 100
kilometers behind the FLOT. These sites are more supportable from
the MI Battalion's administration and logistics center than through
the area support concept.
The solution to the UAV C2 problem is to make a separate UAV
company within the MI battalion. A GS UAV company, which would be
larger than the three direct support companies, ensures proper
sustainment and C2.
A RETRANS element in the GS company was useful under the old
company-team concept. However, the need to serve both the GS
company and other battalion assets is greater today. A battalion
connectivity exercise in September 1995 revealed that the RETRANS
capability works best under centralized control. This arrangement
improved the link between the ACE and deployed ground SIGINT
- A surrogate for the ACE.
- A division-level Deployable Intelligence Support Element
- An MI battalion tactical command post.
- A forward logistical base when augmented with maintenance
A Transitional Model
One fact is certain: we will not jump overnight from today's
structure to the Force XXI structure. D Company has established a
transitional structure to both perform its ES and EA mission and
prepare for the fielding of new equipment like the GBCS.
Consolidation of similar systems from the three separate C&J
platoons yields three interim platoons and a company POC with the
T&A teams. The interim platoons are an ES platoon consisting of
three TRQ-32 collection systems, an EA platoon of three TLQ-17
systems, and an electronic warfare (EW) platoon which contains the
TSQ-138 TRAILBLAZER formerly assigned to the old C Company. The EW
platoon is the fielding base for the GBCS, received initially in
March 1996 for the February 1997 Advanced Warfighting Experiment
(AWE) at the NTC. This restructuring facilitates training,
maintenance, accountability, and task organization into DF
baselines as we operate today (see Figure 3).
Alternative Structure and End-State
In looking forward to the proposed Force XXI GS company, several
alternatives require consideration. Without this consideration, a
generation of MI leaders will be forced to find tactical
work-arounds for shortcomings in force structure which could have
been avoided today.
First, consideration should be given to building two GBCS platoons
of four systems each rather than one platoon of six. Experience
suggests that more GBCS systems than the currently proposed number
of six are necessary for full coverage of a division zone on the
dispersed Force XXI battlefield.
With assets stretched across the areas of two forward brigades,
distances are too great for one platoon leader to support the
baselines adequately. A two-platoon structure facilitates
deployment along multiple baselines, is more supportable, and
offers DF capability with one reinforcing system in each platoon
(see Figure 4).
Second, the Force XXI GS company must retain some organization to
provide forward control of SIGINT assets. The model for this
element is today's POC. However, its mission, role, and operating
personnel will be different from today's T&A teams. The DMAIN and
POC will share mission management and asset management
The MI battalion commander, through the Intelligence Operations
Cell and ACE, will exercise mission management. The MI Battalion
and G2 operations sections prepare mission orders and coordinate
support for the GS company. Prior to deployment, the POC receives
an EW execution matrix and technical data from the ACE and orders
from the MI Battalion Commander or S3 located at the DMAIN.
The GS company commander, through the POC, exercises asset
management. The POC deploys in the vicinity of an active DF
baseline and tracks the current battle from spot reports and
tactical reports, directs the movement of assets, coordinates
casualty evacuation, integrates logistics with maneuver, controls
and monitors jamming, and communicates directly with DS company
The Force XXI POC will cue the Intelligence Operations Cell and ACE
to facilitate the movement of DF baselines. In addition, it will
provide critical combat information to the DS companies located at
brigade command posts. Operational staffing must be more robust in
terms of SIGINT and ELINT expertise to effectively exploit the
technologies of the GBCS.
The 21st century unit would gain advantages in deployability by
retaining a POC in the GS company. A POC facilitates tactical
tailoring at division level in cases where GS MI assets are
attached to brigades, deploying division ready force one (DRF 1)
units, or possibly covering-force elements. Under these conditions,
GS EW assets require some type of technical control beyond that
currently envisioned in the Force XXI MTOE.
One solution is to build a DISE around the GS company POC. A POC
would alleviate the need to train and assemble a DISE from the ACE.
Similar to the technique developed at echelons above corps in which
a DISE deploys when IEW assets are inserted before the ACE
deploys a GS company POC provides the ACE a critical forward
element which trains and deploys with the teams it controls.
MI units are currently without executive officers (XOs). This is
a problem now and will be a greater problem in the future when
reliance on the area support concept increases the coordination
workload. As currently envisioned, the future GS company is a
blueprint for sustainment failure without an XO. Lack of a
dedicated officer to manage maintenance and sustainment programs
for the GBCS and several UAV systems will place these
responsibilities on platoon leaders and sergeants. The future MTOE
should include an XO in the HQ sections of both the SIGINT and UAV
The Army has charted an aggressive path to the future with Force
XXI. That path is both long and filled with uncertainty. Rapid
change is occurring already in equipment, doctrine, and
organization. At this point, these changes raise more questions
Reducing the level of uncertainty requires a deliberate, measured
approach to emergent technology and its effects on future
capabilities and force structure. The real problem is not
modernization, but getting the right mix between technology,
doctrine, and structure. The best way to achieve this is through a
realistic dialogue between Force XXI planners and the soldiers who
are actually testing new technology and force structures.
Captain Cabeen is currently the Assistant S3 of the
104th MI Battalion; through May 1996 he served as the Commander, D
Company, 104th MI Battalion. He has also been S2 of the 1st
Battalion, 8th Cavalry. Captain Cabeen has a bachelor's degree (BS)
in Psychology from the University of Maryland, and a master's in
Strategic Intelligence from the Defense Intelligence College and
another in Counseling from Boston University. Readers can reach him
at (817) 287-4762, DSN 737-4762/0836, or E-mail
First Lieutenant Dunmire is currently Executive
Officer of D Company, 104th MI Battalion; he has also served as a
C&J platoon leader and an assistant S2 in the 1st Brigade of the
former 2d Armored Division (now 4th ID (M)). Lieutenant Dunmire has
a BA in History from Pennsylvania State University. Readers may
contact him at (817) 287-5048 or DSN 737-5048.