Intelligence: April 12, 2005

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The U.S. Army wants to institute 24 hour intelligence operations. Fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the war on terror, had demanded more from the intelligence troops. There are only 51,000 of them now, including reserves. All the intelligence troops in the reserves and National Guard have been called up. So another 15,000  troops will be recruited, or transferred from other jobs, and trained for intelligence work. Of those, 9,000 will be in the active forces, and most will be for human intelligence (3,000 to work with prisoners and local informants) and working with UAVs (running them, and their sensors.) The new UAV troops are much needed as the number of UAVs increase. There are already 700 UAVs in Iraq, most of them the under-ten-pound micro-UAVs employed by combat troops. Currently, many of these hand launched UAVs are operated by combat troops themselves. The smaller UAVs only stay in the air for an hour or so per flight, and are used to direct combat operations. Intelligence troops operate the larger ones, that stay in the air for 6-12 hours, or more, and collect intelligence. The UAVs have begun to blur the differences between intelligence work and command and control (actually directing troops in combat.). 

What the intelligence forces are dealing with is a growing flood of information. While there are more powerful computers, and software, to handle all this information, its still up to intelligence analysts to try and interpret it all, and give intelligence officers a chance to make decisions on what is going on out there, and tell the combat troops. Even the video from micro-UAVs provides useful information for intelligence analysts. Watch enough video from these small aircraft, and an analyst can discover new enemy tactics. This information can then be distributed to all troops, particularly those who have not encountered the new tactics yet. This enables the combat troops to come up with ways to deal with deadlier enemy techniques by changing their own tactics. 

Using 24 hour intelligence operations makes it possible to get new findings out immediately, which can save lives by alerting American troops to new enemy techniques. This has already been done with IEDs (roadside bombs and booby traps) in Iraq. If the IED makers come up with a new idea, all American troops know about it quickly. But warfare is always a contest of ideas, and whoever moves the fastest to come up with new tactics, or reacts quicker to new enemy tactics, has an edge.

Since World War I, new tactics and weapons have been a challenge to intelligence forces, but the speed of new developments increasing has been accelerating during the last sixty years. And now its necessary to have real-time, 24 hour intelligence operations to maintain an edge.

The reserve and National Guard forces will increasingly operate from their home bases, commuting from where they live to their duty stations to do their work. Satellite communications makes this possible. Reserve intelligence operators can, for example, operate a UAV flying over Iraq from a National Guard base in Utah. Reserve intelligence specialists can also collect intelligence information, via satellite, and analyze in on computers in New Jersey, then drive home after their shift is complete. This makes life a lot easier for the reservists, and makes it easier to recruit qualified people for reserve intelligence units.

 


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