As the Marine Corps braces for budget and personnel cuts and a transition to peacetime, our training programs will revert to general skills without a particular deployment in mind. With the inevitable lack of funding and the difficulties of conducting intelligence training without an active enemy, how can intelligence shops across the Marine Corps best utilize their limited time and resources? It starts by identifying our core mission requirements and capabilities and focusing our attention towards the mastery of those requirements. These tasks are the equivalent of blocking and tackling for an intelligence section. Nothing fancy, just the basics.
Consider a few of the following questions:
• What are the absolute basic skills that an effective intelligence shop needs to possess?
• What skills are utilized across the range of military conflicts?
• Which have an excellent return on time invested and are not outdated by technological changes?
• How can we use our deep experience to better train a section without that knowledge growing stale?
With these questions in mind, I have identified a few basic tasks that all intelligence shops should be trained to conduct. While in no way exhaustive, it does touch upon some of the timeless requirements of an intelligence section.
Core Intelligence Skills
- Conduct effective patrol and unit debriefs
- Write clear, concise reports
- Effectively brief superiors in a timely manner
- Know and implement operational security techniques
- Threat Analysis- DRAW-D, EMPCOA, etc
Readers will likely note that these skills are incredibly dull and lack any of the “intel ninja” skills that many of our best analysts possess. Absolutely. However, these tasks are, at their core, the true mission of military intelligence: collect information, process, and disseminate clearly.
If our Marines cannot write a good INTSUM, their audience will automatically delete or trash the reports. If they cannot gather pertinent information from a patrol regarding the commander’s intelligence requirements, key information will never rise above the squad level.
Threat analysis is a difficult skill to develop. Luckily, our sections are full of experienced Marines who understand how to turn information into effective intelligence.
We also have gigabytes of real world threat information on the SIPRnet that can be turned into analytical exercises. Whether a rural insurgency, non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO), or armored column, a commander will want a threat brief from the S-2 shop.
Some of these skills require the T/O equipment for an intelligence section and SIPR connectivity. Most only require a computer, a supported unit, and a commander to brief. Any intelligence section can conduct the briefs, debriefs, and unclassified report writing outside of the vault. This reduces the space requirements for training and starts the sometimes painful process of effectively integrating the intelligence and operations sections. The more intelligence Marines are debriefing squads and platoons, the better the unit knows who their intelligence representatives are and what they can bring to the fight.
Remember that military intelligence is a tradecraft that needs to be nurtured and developed. Like anything worthwhile, it takes time and brilliance in the basics. As the nature of a deployment or a threat becomes more obvious, the intelligence section will turn towards excellence in a host of advanced intelligence operations to better answer the commander’s priority intelligence requirements (PIRs). With a mastery of the basic concepts of military intelligence honed in peacetime, our intelligence sections can quickly move on to the latest technological advancements without a lag in basic skills.