Intelligence: Infantry Company Intelligence Center

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June 29, 2006: In Iraq and Afghanistan, army and marine infantry companies are setting up their own intelligence operations. Normally, a battalion, which contains three infantry companies, is the smallest unit with an intel section. But infantry companies in Iraq and Afghanistan are often given specific areas to patrol. Sort of like a police precinct, and, like cops, found it worthwhile to have some people dedicated to keeping tabs on what's going on out there. While the battalion, brigade, division and higher intelligence troops are all gathering information and crunching it, their conclusions are usually not frequent, or detailed, enough to be of a lot of use to most infantry companies. So the more resourceful company commanders find three or four troops who have an aptitude for intel work, and set up a company intelligence center (CIC). Sometimes this is at company headquarters, although it usually works better if it is at a separate location. This is because one of the principal functions of the CIC is to talk to (debrief) all the troops when they return from a patrol. This is (usually) always done even without a CIC, but with a CIC you make sure everyone who went out, gets to report. The smallest detail can be meaningful. The CIC crew specialize in knowing who to press, and who will usually say all that has to be said right away.
Those patrol reports are taken, along with reports from on high (battalion, and higher, intel sections) and put into a computer database. There are some specialized databases for this, but most any database software will do, and most any laptop can handle the workload. The database enables the CIC to keep the map of the company's area of operations (AO) constantly updated. CIC is looking for little changes, and indications that the enemy may be up to something. The CIC also has the personnel to make a 3-D depiction of the AO, or a very detailed map. Both are updated daily, and used to brief the company commander, and especially patrols before they go out.
Another vital function of the CIC is making sure the patrols don't fall into a pattern. The enemy uses that sort of thing to plan ambushes. The CIC also reports to the company commander any good, or bad, habits of the troops on patrol. That's another reason for putting the CIC in its own room or tent. The company commander will often want to discuss personnel matters with the company intel sergeant. The CIC will often be the first to notice exceptional, or below par, performance. The company commander will use this information to decide who gets promoted, and who gets a talking to.
A CIC will prove a big asset for their battalion headquarters, and the battalion intel section. A CIC provides the company intel people with a lot more data, and high quality stuff, than do companies lacking a CIC. Indeed, it's the success of CICs that is leading to so many more of them to be formed. What limits the creation of a CIC is lack of personnel, especially the three or four guys who really have a knack for this sort of thing. An infantry company only has 150-200 people to choose from to begin with. However, company commanders are beginning to discuss changing the organization of the infantry company to include a CIC. The Internet provides the means for company commanders to discuss this sort of thing, and helped spread the CIC concept in the first place.

 


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