Intelligence: The Essential Element
September 13, 2016 at 2:59 pm #78178MaxKeymaster
Information & Intelligence is an essential element that may make the difference between life and death for you and your family. You may think that I don’t post much in this forum, but that is simply because I have experts here who are running some excellent analysis and training. If you think I am just interested in being a ‘tactical guy’ then you could not be further from the truth.
Now, while you have resources, including the Internet and Google earth, at your fingertips, you should be educating yourself and conducting IPB analysis of your AO. Why? Because when the hammer drops, the only sources of information and intelligence may well be 1) local patrolling / visiting and 2) whatever you can receive on radio communications (see the radio & communication section for that).
When I post videos in the Combat Media section, or write a post on tactics, leadership and planning, I am often referencing ‘the situation’ and the need to conduct planning and making decisions. There is no making decisions without information & intelligence. Tactical decision making follows on from Intel. I cannot tell you how vital I find Intel, and how essential it has been to me in the past in assisting me to make good judgement calls in an operational environment. I value very highly a skilled Intel guy.
Good Intel either that you work up yourself, or you have a guy who specializes, is the lifeblood of making the most informed, and effective decisions that you can in difficult circumstances. Good Intel gives you the knowledge upon which to base good Judgment calls. Lack of information can cause paralysis because you simply do now know what is going on. Poor use of Information, or inexperience with how to focus, can cause analysis paralysis. At a basic level, good reading comprehension skills will help you sift through the mountain of crazy that is out there on the internet, and you can come to this Forum in order to run your assessment past other rational folks.
In order to put this into a tactical context, lets look at a post I did on the bog, called ‘Making Decisions:’
It can be argued that the primary issue faced by those who suddenly face a need to make a decision, is understanding that they have reached that decision point, that point at which a decision must be made. If that decision point is not recognized, and a relevant decision is not made, then we are in big trouble, and we have certainly handed the initiative over to the enemy. Denial of a developing situation is often to blame for this. In our everyday lives, nothing happens that fast, and there is often little consequence to decisions that must be made. When things of significance, perhaps life threatening, happen, then you will most likely find yourself in a time crunch, with the situation having ‘turned left.’ This is where denial comes in: you cannot do it over again, once it has happened, as much as you may perhaps want to. This denial, and wish for an alternative course of events, is what contributes to the freeze response to a situation, as you wish that it just goes away and you can return to your normal pattern of life. Without even relating this to combat, we can easily relate this to a sudden life threatening situation, which you may see develop very rapidly, such as a threatening approach by some muggers. But, you are just leaving the movie theater and you have a plan for a relaxing romantic evening! No. That wish will not make the threat go away, and you have to be able to recognize that the situation just took a left turn, and that you have reached a critical decision point, and you must react to it. If they are psychopaths, then you cannot rely on appealing to their better nature to resolve the situation, because your lives are nothing more than the wrapper on the way to the candy that they want, to be torn open and discarded. Make a decision, and execute.
Many people spend a lot of time worrying about, and preparing for, the ‘collapse.’ OK, so, you are sitting here reading this post, and suddenly
*SCREEN GOES BLACK*
Power cut. You go to the breaker panel and try and turn the power back on. It’s not happening. You try calling the power company on your cell, but you can’t get through. The situation does not resolve itself after an hour. You cannot communicate with anyone. Your kids are at school and your wife is at work. No one is going to tell you what is happening. You have imperfect information. This is not a movie when you roughly know how this will pan out. You are alone. What is your decision on your next move?
I use that as an example to show you that you will not have perfect information on what is happening. Perfect information is a movie thing. In ‘Mission Impossible’ they have perfect knowledge on all of the sophisticated enemy protective security systems before they go in and do their really cool abseiling-underwater-computer-hacking-whatever-thingy. In reality, you will not have perfect information, or perhaps any information. If you are sitting in your house in the dark right now, what information do you have on potential hostile forces coming through the woods?
There are a number of ways to deal with the denial and the lack of perfect information that do not in themselves require minute to minute decisions, but rather take that initial decision to take action. For example, let’s look at how we may take care of lack of information, through a combination of the following:
Training: Effective training is going to help with denial through effective operant conditioning, and also with the need to make decisions through a series of ‘canned’ responses. A perfect example of this is ‘Action on Enemy Contact Drills’ otherwise known as break contact drills. As part of such a drill, you will have your individual react to contact drill (RTR) which is a form of operant conditioning to allow you to react aggressively towards the threat. Following that, the break contact drill will get your team moving and thus taking action, as an alternative to being frozen in the enemy kill zone. Thus, your reaction and decision were already trained and rehearsed beforehand. As the drill continues and the situation develops, the leader can then take the opportunity to step in and direct further action depending on what he perceives, such as you having taken a casualty, or the enemy is following up, etc.
Patrolling / Community Outreach: However this is done, depending on the situation and how ‘tactical’ it is, the option of conducting local area patrolling, or at the very least low key visiting of your neighbors, will build information on the local situation and hopefully prevent any hostile forces moving through the area undetected, and surprising you or your neighbors. This will build up a local intelligence picture of your area. To support that now, you need maps and imagery; your local county property boundary mapping site will let you see who owns what in your neighborhood and what the boundaries are.
Communications: How is information coming to you from outside your immediate footprint? What information sources do you have access to? This may require the ability to plug into HAM networks, at the very least to be able to listen. Of course, the availability of media will depend on the situation / collapse as it happens. If you do gather information through these means, then it will led to potential decisions.
I provide the examples above to show how you can better prepare, through training and operational planning, for situations occurring to you and your group. This sets the base level which will place you in a better position to address those decision points that arise.
Experience is something that will help you make decisions on an intuitive basis in response to an arising decision point. Experience gives you an understanding of capability and in effect ‘what right looks like’ in terms of tactical decisions. You may not be a combat veteran but you can embed the right instincts through effective training. Experience will help you with visualization of courses of action and thus the ability to reach a quick decision. Among all the talk about OODA loops is the fact that you are usually having to make decisions against a living and breathing enemy who seeks to outwit you, and thus speed of decision making is important.
If you seek more, or perfect information, in a bid to conduct best analysis of a developing situation, you may fail to act in a timely manner and thus lose the decision window, thus allowing the enemy to seize the initiative. You must understand that in a crisis situation you will not have perfect information and that seeking to wait for that unicorn may be a huge mistake. The flip side is that if you can avoid it, you don’t want to rush into things in order to allow time for planning, but that should form part of your intuitive decision making process – if you wait, that should follow a decision to do so, not the result of a freeze.
In ‘Contact!’ I provide you with a version of the ‘Combat Estimate” which is similar to the MDMP (Military Decision Making Process). This is designed as a leader / staff planning tool when time is available to consider all the factors and courses of action. If time is short, you need to be more intuitive when considering the situation and the correct decision to make. I do not expect you to get the Combat Estimate out under fire. This is something that you may decide to do as part of a TEWT (Tactical Exercise without Troops), which is similar to actually being forced to write QBO’s (Quick Battle Orders) physically down on paper as part of something like a training platoon attack. This is not because you actually expect to conduct your decision making and implementation in this way on game day, but it is a method of mental training that prepares your mind to consider the factors in a logical way. Thus, with a better tactically trained mind, you will be better equipped to make those intuitive decisions when time is short. This is related to developing an infantryman’s feel or view of the terrain, where you can assess the battlefield and relative location of enemy and friendly troops and it simply becomes a game of angles, cover and the sequencing of fire and movement.
In a situation of imperfect knowledge, or even any knowledge, you may need to be proactive in order to develop the situation. If you know or suspect that there is any enemy out there that is a threat to you, then you may make a decision to seek greater knowledge. This could be in the form of reconnaissance patrolling, or even an advance to contact in order to make contact and thus gather information from that. If your team is well trained in battle procedure, TTP’s and SOP’s then you will be in a better situation to develop the situation based on the first pieces of information that you gather. Because, remember that as you make contact there is an enemy commander reacting on the other side to the information he is gathering, and you seek to gain and retain the initiative. Waiting for perfect information is a mistake. Given that most reports will initially be inaccurate, waiting for better information is a judgement call. If, through a combination of violence of action and a maneuver, you can throw the enemy off balance, then that puts you in a position to develop the situation to your advantage, as you make further decisions to reinforce success, or perhaps to break contact if you further ascertain that you have launched into a far stronger enemy force.
On the Combat Patrol class, as part of the theory at the beginning, we talk about the principles of battle procedure, otherwise known as CAKE:
Anticipation at all levels
Knowledge of the grouping system
If you can master that, along with effective rehearsals and team SOPs, then it will go a long way towards giving you a team that can be utilized by an effective commander. The team becomes an effective tool, but will not be used well unless the commander is able to make timely decisions. Remember, it is often inaction that is the problem, not necessarily going off with an imperfect plan, because the situation can be developed. Better to go off with an imperfect plan that can be changed or finessed, than be inactive waiting for the perfect information unicorn: “Go left, go right, but make a decision!”
In order for the commander to be effective, he must understand when he has reached decision points, and he must be unafraid to make decisions. He must, in fact, relish responsibility, which is one of the fundamentals of the German Auftragstaktik, which evolved into the modern day Mission Command. Here, subordinates are given a mission with a unifying purpose, or reason why, in order for them to understand the higher commander’s intent, and thus be able to take action as the situation changes to develop the situation to what the commander actually wants. Not just blindly following orders. It must also be recognized on the flip side of this that the philosophy does not simply authorize loose cannon, but rather subordinates operating within the intent of the commander and within the mutual support of fires and control / phase lines: otherwise, you go off on your own and find yourself being lit up by your own supporting fires, because you didn’t listen to the coordinating instructions…..
On the modern battlefield, with so many ISR sensors, commanders can be deluged with TOO MUCH information, along with meddling superiors who have a view of the action simply due to modern technology, and are perhaps acting in line with restrictive politically-motivated ROE and also ‘CYA’ ass covering due to career fears of subordinates committing some sort of atrocity, or making the wrong call. Such an atmosphere is professional death for an army. You, as a survivor, will not have access to too much information and will not have to worry about any of that, simply try to keep your people alive. One of the vital facets of mission command is trust at all levels, which means that the commander must trust his subordinates and must trust their call on the ground. A better modus operandi is for remote commanders to simply act to support the call of call-signs on the ground, through providing assets / QRF as and when called for. More of a ‘top cover’ role than meddling with an extremely long screwdriver. Trust the man on the ground. Of course, that level of trust and competence can only be gained by training together in ways that allow it to develop.
At MVT, we are running the Force on Force Team Tactics classes. These are woodland based but we already have one hut site out in the woods under construction, soon to become two, which add an additional dimension to the classes. In the classes you will find yourself fighting against an actual adversary who will be using team tactics against you. This is an excellent training vehicle to develop to ability to make decisions when they need to be made. This applies whether you volunteer to step up to a team leadership position, or if you are simply having to maneuver with your team against the enemy. You will learn whether they were right or wrong!
February 12, 2018 at 12:08 pm #78179
Another Thread by Max hidden in plain sight.
February 17, 2018 at 9:11 pm #78180zeerfParticipant
Thank you Joe…and yes I totally missed this one somehow
March 22, 2019 at 12:06 pm #78181
You may think that I don’t post much in this forum, but that is simply because I have experts here who are running some excellent analysis and training. If you think I am just interested in being a ‘tactical guy’ then you could not be further from the truth.
Giving Pixelman’s recent Thread I figured it maybe a good opportunity to bump this frequently overlooked Thread by Max.
March 27, 2019 at 11:03 pm #78182LittleBigBillParticipant
Your response to my post and Max’s suggestion has enlightened me to look more thoroughly into this forum heading.
I admit that the intelligence angle of “battlefield” prep seems to be over my head. I certainly understand the relevance and importance of analyzing data into intelligence, but it gets mind boggling figuring where to start.
I suspect that there is a portion I can learn (and must learn), but I am sure it’s not something in my realm of mastering.
Who knows, with some studying in earnest, maybe I’ll surprise myself.
March 28, 2019 at 3:14 pm #78183
December 26, 2019 at 6:20 pm #133849
Seems like a timely bump is in order!
Giving possible events in Virginia consider the following…
Ultimately there are two points of consideration that cover deaths in combat.
Lives that were spent on the battlefield and lives that were wasted on the battlefield!
The spending of lives is a costly but necessary part of armed conflict.
The wasting of lives due to incompetence, lack of planning, and arrogance to name a few. This is an unnecessary part of armed conflict that unfortunately happens far too often.
Ignoring the role of Intelligence, the concepts behind it, and the products it provides will directly lead to Lives Wasted!
Do not learn this lesson the hard way.
December 26, 2019 at 10:14 pm #133875MaxKeymaster
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