Army Intelligence and Training

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By Sgt. Robert G. Cooper III, Camp Atterbury Public Affairs

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. – Intelligence gathering has played a significant role in military operations for centuries. From the hot air surveillance balloons of the Union Army’s Balloon Corps to the American Revolutionary War’s Roger’s Rangers, the concept of covertly gathering information from the enemy still plays a crucial role on today’s battlefield. With today’s ever-changing battlefield, the U.S. Army must adapt quickly to enemy tactics as well.

To ensure that each Soldier preparing to deploy is ready for the missions ahead, Soldiers and civilians at Camp Atterbury, Ind., are there to inject the latest intel from the battlefield directly into current training. “We use intel on a daily basis to keep our Soldiers up to date on how the enemy fights,” said Lt. Col. Philip Koenig, the officer in charge of planning and operations with the 205th Infantry Brigade at Camp Atterbury.

Pvt. Marco Carrillo of Task Force Sabre, Kosovo Forces 11, searches a civilian at a traffic control point during a training exercise held at Camp Atterbury, Ind., in January to prepare him for an upcoming deployment to Kosovo.
Pvt. Marco Carrillo of Task Force Sabre, Kosovo Forces 11, searches a civilian at a traffic control point during a training exercise held at Camp Atterbury, Ind., in January to prepare him for an upcoming deployment to Kosovo. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Tegan Kucera

“The more we stay updated on the latest intel, the more relevant training is here.” The brigade, which trains and validates Army units preparing to deploy to places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, uses the latest intelligence from the battlefield and tailors the training around it. As a result, the training is not only appropriate, it’s credible, Koenig said.

“When a unit comes in we take a look at their mission,” he said. “Then we look at the latest intelligence reports on where they will be deploying to and refine our training techniques based on that.” While current techniques involving intel gathering is a highly classified procedure, most information comes from a combination of aerial reconnaissance, ground surveillance from scouting units, and cooperation from the local population, Koenig said.

Intel that’s applied to current training doesn’t come exclusively from the enemy, however. At the Center for Army Lessons Learned Office at Camp Atterbury, Military Analyst John Summers assists in turning the latest experiences from previously deployed Soldiers into effective tactics, techniques and procedures. “Let’s say you see something downrange that worked out to your advantage during a deployment,” Summers said. “Maybe it dealt with how you approached the locals or how you got in good with a local sheik. We take that intel, identify any trends and then push that information out as guidelines.”

Handbooks like these, created and published through the Center for Army Lessons Learned, are just a few of the ways the U.S. Army gathers intelligence from overseas operations and applies them directly into training.
Handbooks like these, created and published through the Center for Army Lessons Learned, are just a few of the ways the U.S. Army gathers intelligence from overseas operations and applies them directly into training. While the handbooks, smart cards and guidebooks are not considered Army doctrine, they are published frequently enough to provide recommendations based on current intelligence abroad. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert G. Cooper III)

The techniques collected are then published as CALL handbooks as well as implemented into training conducted by units such as the 205th, Summers said. Since the techniques assessed all come from a credible source (i.e. the Soldiers themselves), there aren’t any conflicting procedures being taught. “Our references are all the same, so that prevents misinformation,” Summers said. “We also make sure our trainers stick to these guidelines we put forth.”

While the intel-turned-techniques taught through CALL aren’t doctrine, they do offer an immediate glimpse into current conditions on the battlefield. “Doctrine needs comprehensive studying and takes time,” Summers said. “With CALL, we take good intel and immediately apply it, not as regulation, but as recommendation.

Having that quick, fast information goes back to the Army’s ability to move effectively at a moment’s notice. So far, the guidelines offered through CALL have been very successful. Summers related the program’s success to one instance where Soldiers in Iraq were able to effectively gain compliance from enemy insurgents; not by yelling or brandishing their weapons, but by simply shining green laser pointers at their chests. The laser dots froze the Iraqis in place, which allowed for safer, less lethal operations. “This was just one way of how one Soldier’s recommendation went from intel to an Army-wide tactic in Iraq,” Summers said.

Although intel gathering isn’t the newest concept for the Army, having the ability to gather intelligence from both the enemy and veteran Soldiers is a fresh and effective measure for saving lives and reducing injuries, Summers said. “In the past, the problem wasn’t with how fast the intel was coming, but how fast it was being pushed out,” he said. “Now, trends and current tactics are available immediately because of the current intel process.”

By Sgt. Robert G. Cooper III, Camp Atterbury Public Affairs