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Archive for May, 2011

A Small Unit Intel and Operations Success Story: Marine Corps Intelligence Operations

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

One of you sent me the following story from the Marine Corps Gazette in response to last week’s note.  It is a wonderful example of small unit organization, leadership, gathering information among the people, processes, embedding of experts, learning the local sociocultural behavioral network, and other components that enable “the humans in the loop” to understand, plan and operate effectively.
Marine Corps Intelligence Operations in Anbar: A Blueprint for Success
Author:: LtCol Timothy Oliver

The Marine Corps is beginning its second year as a major force provider and Regional Command holder in Afghanistan. While there may be refinements to intelligence manning and equipping to adapt to this particular environment, the original architecture and capabilities have been established based upon the operational similarly to the Iraq problem set. The Marine Corps experience in Western Iraq from 2004 to early 2010 provides a good framework for how we approach the current counterinsurgency (COIN) fight. The Marine Corps waged an arguably successful campaign in the Anbar Province (See Figure 1), of which, intelligence played a significant role. The discussion that follows outlines the nature of the intelligence organization and processes in that campaign, and our intelligence organization to operate effectively, and should be the basis for orientation to the intelligence effort in Helmand.
In Anbar much of the initial focus of the intelligence effort was directed at the insurgency and kinetic efforts. While development and engagement efforts were important and were tracked, the effectiveness of the insurgency’s murder and intimidation campaign completely overwhelmed these other lines of operation. Establishing security was the prerequisite to building a civil society. This necessitated a “red” focus for the initial intelligence effort.
As the security environment improved the intelligence focus shifted to support engagement and governance and improved the opportunities for collecting information from organic non-intelligence sources such as engagement activities, civil affairs units, patrol reports, census operations, etc., but there was always a need to vet and integrate that information with traditional intelligence means, primarily SIGINT and HUMINT. In Iraq, accepting any information at face value was ill-advised. For a variety of reasons, locals often did not share the US agenda and deep seated resentment of being occupied by infidels, murder, and intimidation campaigns, greed, shame etc., all played a part in determining the accuracy of open source information.
So what then did Marine Corps intelligence do in Iraq that was so effective? On the face of it nothing so very different from what others did there. In general terms what it was successful in doing was getting the intelligence support to whom and where it was needed, and sufficiently integrating the intelligence effort across the force to produce actionable intelligence and something close to a net assessment. Net assessment is defined by DoD Directive 5111.11 as, “the comparative analysis of military, technological, political, economic, and other factors governing the relative military capability of nations. Its purpose is to identify problems and opportunities that deserve the attention of senior defense officials.”
The key here is intelligence support. MNF-W was not able to hand every echelon of the force a neat, orderly, all encompassing assessment. What they did was provide them the tools to do their job, supporting them as best they could, and archiving their efforts. What was delivered were the geospatial products, the HUMINT and SIGINT support, the overhead coverage and the construction of and access to a database that allowed the force to learn, remember, make associations and do what was necessary in order to be successful. This was greatly facilitated by dealing with Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) functions as an “Enterprise”, working together holistically across the force rather than a series of unrelated actions and activities.
There were many discrete incidences of astounding tactical successes, combining precision technical means, excellent all-source analysis and “detective” work to achieve high profile successes. These events saved lives and forwarded the agenda, but COIN is about draining the swamp not swatting mosquitoes. The most important intelligence work is the never-ending grind of collecting, processing ever larger amounts of data, and building an accurate picture that, little by little, strips away the anonymity and freedom of movement from adversaries.
In broad terms the great degree of success achieved by the Marine Corps in MNF-W was most attributable to continuity of experienced personnel, the synthesized intelligence from the Tactical Fusion Center (TFC), focus on the tactical fight, good information management, and effective leadership.
The duration and intensity of the Marine Corps intelligence community experience in MNF-W required the same two Intelligence and Radio Battalions, (who provided nearly all Service intelligence capabilities beyond all-source analysts at tactical units) alternate rotations in Iraq beginning 2003.5 Seven years of seven months in and five months out to the same place and the same problem set developed an area expertise among the MNF-W all-source analysts, HUMINT and SIGINT collectors, collection managers and the organizations themselves.
An analyst or collector with this sort of experience can and did provide useful analysis, perspective, and support to decision makers at all levels. Practice may not have made perfect, but it made pretty good.
There is little substitute for this kind of experience both in an individual sense and in a corporate sense. An analyst working on a problem for a year may gain this level of understanding toward the end of his deployment, but takes this knowledge with him upon rotation. Additionally, the synergy gained from maintaining unit integrity should not be undervalued. Teamwork, corporate knowledge, and individual commitment matters.
Fusion centers and other organizations made up of an endless rotation of individual augments can never achieve this same effectiveness. All organizations are more than the sum of their parts. Building a net assessment is a team effort: all the disciplines understand their piece of the elephant. Putting that elephant together requires sustained team work. The Marines in Anbar
benefited from deploying their intelligence capabilities as a unit, rather than a collection of capabilities to be subdivided and farmed out.
Tactical Fusion Center
The concept of Intel Operations Centers, Fusion Centers, Joint Intelligence Centers or Stability Operations Information Centers (see Civil Military Operations Centers) are not new nor unique to the Marine Corps nor the Intelligence Community. The rationale for consolidating and coordinating research, collections, information processing, or the analytical functions of any complex corporate activity for the sake of efficiency and synergy is well understood.
The first Marine Corps Intelligence Operations Center in Iraq in 2003 had an “Air” and “Ground” order of battle section and was geared toward supporting the march on Baghdad. When the Marine Corps took over much of the South after the regime fell, it started initial efforts to track individuals, political affiliations, infrastructure, and those vaguely defined “atmospherics.” This was, at best, an ad hoc effort.
As the nature of the fight changed, the focus of the TFC evolved, adding teams to work economic and political intelligence, focus on particular insurgent groups, train and mentor Iraqi police intelligence units, conduct forensic work and coordinate detainee exploitation and prosecution. In the spring of 2006 for example, very little effort was placed on tracking government and political intelligence. By 2008, governance was a primary focus.
In execution the TFC6 was not so much a building as an operating principle, ensuring the optimal employment of enablers, fostering integration, producing assessments and most importantly, maintaining the databases and institutional memory. Often associated solely with the intelligence summary or “INTSUM,” the real TFC success in Anbar was its ability to unite and integrate the intelligence effort across the force.
The TFC further served to integrate the Anbar intelligence effort through virtual collaborative intelligence forums. A TFC analyst was able to maintain chat links with analysts at the Regimental Combat Teams (RCTs), battalions, many Company Level Intelligence Cells (CLIC), adjacent units, as well as other agencies. This on-going, unconstrained collaboration was exceedingly useful. As ideas were exchanged, techniques and advice passed, and situational awareness greatly increased. Often this interaction is transparent to leadership, but is increasingly effective in maintaining intelligence connectivity with a generation more tech savvy than the one currently in charge.
The MNF-W TFC analysts seldom told an infantry battalion or RCT what was happening in their AO, but they facilitated this process by collaborating, assisting, integrating and maintaining the database.
Tactical Focus
As previously noted, in a war among the people, intelligence needs to be collected (and usually acted upon) among the people. Since the infantry battalions and other tactical and advisor
elements are living among the people, they are the logical focus of the intelligence effort. MNF-W was successful in enabling these tactical elements to read their environment and maneuver in the complex human terrain through a combination of deliberate organizational decisions and the ability to capitalize on service unique capabilities.
After establishing a force level TFC to ensure adequate integration and support to the tactical efforts, the MEF G-2 pushed the necessary enablers down to the lowest tactical level. The small organic intelligence sections in each infantry battalion (initially 1 x officer & 3 x enlisted) were reinforced with a HUMINT Exploitation Team (HET), a Ground Sensor Employment Team, additional TFC analysts and generally a SIGINT element. These enablers more than doubled the size of those sections and exponentially increased their capabilities. These organic Marine Corps enablers, most of which participated in the battalion’s workup, gave them the tools they needed to better understand their battle space and ensured that they remained integrated with the larger MNF-W intelligence effort.
Putting Analysts up Front. While virtual connectivity is good, there is no substitute for first hand experience. MNF-W TFC analysts began a rotational program in 2005 on an ad hoc basis and formalized it in 2006. The tactical fight was not an abstraction for those analysts. They walked the ground and knew personally the Marines on the other end of the radio. In 2007, more than 38 percent of Intelligence Battalion personnel were assigned to the battalion and an additional 25 percent were directly supporting those same battalion operations from the TFC. The remainder was spread out between the RCT’s and other elements operating in Anbar. These numbers included 16 TFC analysts attached to infantry battalion S-2 sections on any given day.
CLICs. The CLIC concept, which is now being codified in doctrine, is an outgrowth of the early experiences in Anbar. As Marines dispersed ever more widely over the Western Euphrates River Valley in order to get out among the people, distributed operations became the norm. Companies, and sometimes platoons, became widely separated in time and space and responsible for waging their own campaign among the people at the street level.
As this became common practice and reinforced with additional personnel, equipment, training and other support; the benefits were undeniable: more astute and informed collections deeper into the human terrain, more first-hand understanding, and most importantly, the ability to provide intelligence at the point where it was most needed. This practice benefited not just the Marines supported directly by the CLIC, but the entire MAGTF through the two-way flow of information.
While these organizational decisions to push the enablers down were a key to success, they would have been of limited utility if the Marine Corps had not already built a solid tactical intelligence capability across the force.
Since the early 90s, the Marine Corps has been creating Intelligence Officers directly out of the Basic School, and having them cut their teeth as reconnaissance platoon commanders, HUMINT and SIGINT Officers, or Aviation Intelligence Officers before becoming Marine Air-Ground Task Force Intelligence Officers. Further, efforts to rotate them through both leadership and staff jobs as they progress has greatly improved the operational focus of the community. It is an
imperfect system, but it has created over the last 15 years a cadre of high quality company, field grade and general officers who are not just competent “analysts” but experienced leaders and operators.
HETs. The first and probably most important intelligence capability deployed in Anbar were the HUMINT Exploitation Teams (HETs). One of these teams usually supported each infantry battalion with trained collectors to ensure that there was a HUMINT collector present with each rifle company in the field and a team leader available to advise and assist the battalion commanders. These teams established habitual relationships with their supported battalions early in the “work up” cycle and were fully integrated into their pre-deployment training. The organic HUMINT effort provided the lion’s share of actionable intelligence in Anbar and was the primary factor in understanding the area of operations (AO).
The HUMINT effort, like the rest of the intelligence effort, also derived a significant benefit from the continuity factor. Rotating to the same AO for two and three years allowed them to maintain a familiarity with the people and the environment.
Organic Tactical SIGINT. The capability to employ organic SIGINT teams, trained and equipped, to support MAGTF operations, was a tremendous force multiplier. Like the HETs, these capabilities were fully integrated into the larger effort and pushed down to the absolute lowest tactical level. This focus, combined with the continuity gained by the unique deployment cycle and habitual integration with the other disciplines in the TFC, provided the Marines in Anbar with a responsive capability that could not be replicated by theater or general support assets that lacked familiarity with the supported units mission, requirements and Area of Operations.
Information Management
Few things in a COIN environment are as important as keeping good, intelligence information records, and centrally managing and integrating these record-keeping efforts across the force. For years in Anbar, every unit on the battlefield maintained their intelligence information in a different format, if they kept records at all. In most cases this practice rendered that unit’s hard won information unusable to adjacent units, higher headquarters, or the unit that relieved them.8
In many cases the most useful function a TFC analyst could perform for a tactical unit was not tell them was happening or going to happen, but what had happened two years before their rotation. In the COIN environment, the past matters. Knowing that the new favorite local notable had previously been detained, had a brother in Bucca, absconded with a government payroll, or was the cousin or mortal enemy of some other local notable was useful to know. Making this happen was a function of information management.
Being able to process and correlate all the information produced on the battlefield is not just the key to “net assessment,” but to a thousand other discrete actions needed to drain the swamp. The ability to connect biometric databases to SIGINT reporting to census data to everything else and further provide that ability to a Marine or soldier manning a check point, or that civil affairs unit digging a well is critical. This data archiving and retrieval, or information management function,
enables analysis and assessment at all levels, but is a distinct function from analysis. No matter how experienced or proficient the analyst, effective analysis is constrained by the quality of information management.
The Marine Corps fielded a software and server program in Anbar that provided a common environment to do this. Establishing common formats, data repositories, common naming conventions etc., became a mission essential task for intelligence. The effort to build relevant information management systems was supported by the Marine Corps Systems Command and Marine Corps Combat Development Command, but much of the databases, tools, and software programs were built onsite in the TFC. In one example, lacking any reliable means for tracking the records of the many thousands of detainees or correlating records and intelligent reports relating to them (other than extremely labor intensive and cumbersome key word searches), Systems Marines in the TFC built an interactive database that correlated and tracked thousands of detainees and their associated reporting, hearing and release dates. By mid 2007, The Joint Prosecution and Exploitation Center (JPEC) within the TFC was tracking 3600 detainees while adding 50 new entries a day.5 This system eventually became a theater standard.
More than just a labor saving device, this system led to vastly improved exploitation of detainees for intelligence value, and directly led to an exponential increase in the numbers of detainees who were transferred into long-term detention. This greatly improved the 14 day revolving door that was the detention system in Anbar. Without question, more insurgents were kept off the streets through the integrated mining of the detainee tracker database, biometrics and census data than by kinetic actions alone.
Much progress has been made toward better information management, but much more needs to be done. Theater specific data formats, contractor controlled proprietary information management systems, and in some cases, unwillingness to adhere to reporting standards continues to plague this process. It did so in Anbar and is apparently doing so in Afghanistan. This is both a policy and education problem, as well as a technical one.
Finally, Leadership
Any success or failure of intelligence stems from the same source as other types of military failures, from the leadership. Intelligence must be an “all hands” effort and commanders, consumers, and producers all must drive this process and insist on its success. Complaining is not enough; leaders must make it their business to understand the whole process and make it work. For this there is no substitute for leaders understanding, monitoring, and directing the intelligence process.
Experience has begun to teach the force and its leadership what intelligence can and can not do for them, how to collect and use intelligence, and how to employ its enablers. A large number of commanders in 2003 were exceedingly resistant to the idea of “wasting lift” on any intelligence enabler; that has changed. The leadership in the Marine Corps saw the need and gave improving and supporting the process the attention it needed to succeed.
The Way Ahead
While the Marine Corps experience in Anbar provides a sound point of departure for the ongoing efforts in Helmand, the Marine Corps must not rest on its laurels or assume that “we know how to do this.” The Marine Corps must continue to be both a learning and adapting organization. What the Service supporting establishment must do is work the doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities (DOTMLPF) processes to institutionalize those lessons that have been learned and provide the necessary enablers to the Marines forward. To this end, Marine Corps intelligence is focusing on several initiatives to better support efforts in the current fight and ensure it is better prepared for the next one. As outlined in the Intelligence Annex of the Marine Corps Service Campaign Plan, the focus going forward will be building a Marine Corps Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Enterprise (MCISR-E). MCISR-E is an operating concept that will achieve the “synergistic and holistic integration of all ISR elements, to include the Supporting Establishment, into a single capability or system:10 Centrally organized, integrated, and networked across all echelons.”
This operating concept will institutionalize the CLICs and those operating principals, open architecture, non-hierarchical intelligence architecture, synergistic integration of intelligence across disciplines and echelons, etc., that have proven successful.
Analysis Training. In addition to optimizing the operating concept, the Service Campaign Plan “Intelligence Annex” lays out a plan for a new emphasis on developing better analysts. This will begin with more rigorous entry level screening for aptitude and provide the long term career development to ensure that written and analytical skills are world class and equal to highest government/academic standards.
Developing Non-traditional Skills. The Service is, through a variety of initiatives, enhancing the Marine Corps Intelligence Community and the MAGTF’s capabilities to maneuver in the “complex human terrain.” Beyond the aforementioned initiatives, language and cultural training centers are being put in place, Cultural Intelligence Teams are providing those anthropology and social science skills sets fused with current intelligence to the Enterprise, and a variety of initiatives are bringing law enforcement and forensic skills and capabilities to the force. Though blurring the line with more traditional military intelligence functions, the current operating environments requires these capabilities and they are being integrated into, and enhancing the larger intelligence enterprise.
The current environment requires an Intelligence Marine who is part police officer, social worker, amateur anthropologist, and linguist. It also demands the production of actionable intelligence on an ever larger and more complex problem set. It’s a challenge for the MAGTF to be sure, but the Marine Corps believes that it has a proven template for doing this and is pursuing the initiatives necessary to improve upon past success and field an Intelligence Enterprise equal to the challenges in Helmand and beyond.
Please let us know your reactions and thought relative to this article and approach.  You can post your comments on the Roundtable at, or send me an e-mail at, and we’ll share your views with our 4,000+ readers.


A Bit Of My Views On Small Unit Intelligence And Operations

Monday, May 16th, 2011

From many discussions with many of you over many years I’ve developed a perspective on the state of small conflict and catastrophe units that’s on one hand a lot like pieces of what I’ve heard and learned, and yet a slightly different combination than I’ve seen.  Those of you who contributed to my thinking and point-of-view know who you are, there are too many of you to name, and I am in your debt for sharing your thinking with me.  Here is my view for what it’s worth, and for your critiques, comments and improvements.

*At the big national security and incident end of the people, process and information funnel, we have the resources, expertise, systems, etc. to examine the data, develop context and knowledge, and make judgments about global threats.

*At the other end of the funnel, the extremely small end that is the small military or police or disaster-response unit, I don’t believe we have enough of the appropriate-for-the-mission people, process and information resources to ensure that the unseasoned commanders and intelligence specialists have the ability to come upon a situation, assess it, determine the additional information they need to have sufficient knowledge of their circumstances, plan for situational superiority, and tactically take control of their situation.

* I honestly don’t know if there is sufficient knowledge at the national security end of the funnel of the actual state of small unit intelligence and operations, if there is an assumption that the small units must have the same capabilities as does the national security end, if the belief is that sufficient change is taking place that will improve the capabilities of the small units, if the belief is that this is war and the current small unit capabilities are “good enough” to win the day, or if it is viewed as just too big and too hard to take on the changes that may be necessary to enable these small units to prevail.

*From a data and information and systems standpoint, certainly at the national security, law enforcement, and incident end of the funnel, we have plenty of data to examine, exploit and correlate to get on top of situations.  At the small unit level, I perceive that they can be overwhelmed with data and systems that do not align with their abilities to understand and internalize, with the speed at which events unfold at the local level, and that this overwhelming, combined with lack of expertise, causes them to suffer from not knowing enough to prevail or not knowing what they need to know to know enough to prevail….with harsh consequences.

I do believe technology has an important role to play, but it’s power must be harnessed in ways that align with the abilities of the small unit to absorb and process the small incremental bits of information that add to their (better than anyone else not with them in the AO or at the scene of the disaster) understanding of their situations.
*There is no one answer, quick and easy or wrenching, to mending these differences at the small unit end of the conflict and disaster end of the funnel.

“Big ships don’t turn fast.”  Recognition of the need for change occurs first at the periphery of a market, in this case the small, least-seasoned, units that are the first on the scene. They are the ones face-to-face with the bad people with generations of expertise, or first on the scene of rapidly-unfolding catastrophes.  Learning and incorporating the ability to constantly sense and make changes into people, processes and organizations is very hard.

*There are many components that must change to properly enable these small units that are our first line of understanding the world around us.  Many piece-parts are necessary, each with its own contribution to improving the capabilities and narrowing the gaps and disconnects.  They all have to work together to coordinate the creation of an over-all plan to get these small units where they need to be to be able to fulfill the expectations we have of their role.

*For me, from my experiences, this means all of the components of the national security, law enforcement, and disaster-response space have to combine their planning and efforts if we are improve our abilities at the pointy-end.  And, what I’ve observed is that all of us are so heads-down focused that we don’t communicate, collaborate, combine, share perspectives and ideas like we need to if we are to close the gaps.  There is a need for a big conversation, exchange of ideas and perspectives, a debate that brings together visionaries, leaders and operators to work together on “the human in the loop”……the organizational, learning, leadership, skills. processes and other components necessary to get these small units where they need to be.  That’s been one of my objectives over the past five years….how to cause the big conversation to happen in a way that will produce value for the community, the participants and the small units.

*I have chosen to be a “bee” doing the idea exchange via many one-on-one conversations with many of you.  Others have taken other approaches to making a contribution to improving the circumstances, and there is room for all of us.  But one of the things I have learned is that by operating separate from each other, our efforts to help simply add more complexity to the situation.  I’d like to see all of us doing a better job of working together to enable our small military and catastrophe units to do their part more effectively and successfully.

I’ll keep you posted on my efforts to contribute to and cause this big conversation.  And,  I ‘d like to hear about your efforts and ideas along these lines, and to share them with our 4,000+ readers.

You can comment on this note at the Roundtable at, or by sending me a note at


UK Military Experts on Asymmetric Conflicts: Another Point of View

Monday, May 9th, 2011

“In late December 2007 a troop from 40 Commando Royal Marines were patrolling in the unpopulated area south of the Kajaki Dam when they came across a lone farmer sowing seeds in a field. In the pattern of life prevailing in an area where the local population had long fled because of continual fighting, this was an event worthy of investigation. The planting season was at the very end of its cycle yet here was an individual apparently risking much to plant seed. The initial assumption was that he was planting poppy seed but nothing could have been further from the truth. He was in fact planting wheat seed, and was well aware of how late in the planting cycle he was undertaking this task. His answer to the obvious question ‘why?’ surprised the patrol commander. The farmer informed him that as a result of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto two or three days earlier he had calculated that the price of wheat was going to soar and he wanted to take advantage of it. So here we have an individual who probably ranked as one of the poorest in the world making a strategic – in his terms – decision based on his knowledge of world events reverberating far away. This paper seeks to examine how we will influence individuals such as this and how we can impact upon his behaviour within the areas of conflict we find ourselves in now and will undoubtedly find ourselves in the future.”
British Army Major General Andrew Mackay and Royal Navy Commander Steve Tatham, writing for the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom in December, 2009, penned a wonderful paper that discusses their view that future conflict “campaigns will need to focus on altering the behaviour of others, either in advance – and therefore deterring conflict – or as a coupled component in the process of combat and post-combat operations.  It takes the deployment of 52 Brigade to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as its principal case study and examines the thought processes – falling outside more conventional military wisdom and training – that lay behind the Commander’s decisions to mount an influence-led deployment, one that specifically sought to reduce hard kinetic engagement and place the consent of the population at the centre of the operational design.”
Behavioural Conflict: From General to Strategic Corporal: Complexity, Adaptation & Influence
‘If the forces have to be adapted to their new missions it is just as important that the minds of the leaders and men – and this includes the civilian as well as the military – be adapted also to the special demands of counter-insurgency warfare.’

David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare, Theory & Practice, Prager, 2006, p 66.
In late December 2007 a troop from 40 Commando Royal Marines were patrolling in the unpopulated area south of the Kajaki Dam when they came across a lone farmer sowing seeds in a field. In the pattern of life prevailing in an area where the local population had long fled because of continual fighting, this was an event worthy of investigation. The planting season was at the very end of its cycle yet here was an individual apparently risking much to plant seed. The initial assumption was that he was planting poppy seed but nothing could have been further from the truth. He was in fact planting wheat seed, and was well aware of how late in the planting cycle he was undertaking this task. His answer to the obvious question ‘why?’ surprised the patrol commander. The farmer informed him that as a result of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto two or three days earlier he had calculated that the price of wheat was going to soar and he wanted to take advantage of it. So here we have an individual who probably ranked as one of the poorest in the world making a strategic – in his terms – decision based on his knowledge of world events reverberating far away. This paper seeks to examine how we will influence individuals such as this and how we can impact upon his behaviour within the areas of conflict we find ourselves in now and will undoubtedly find ourselves in the future.”

Andrew Mackay
In a 29-year career, Major General Andrew Mackay has seen operational service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan. In 2008 he was awarded the CBE for his command of 52 Brigade in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Promoted Major General in 2009 his last appointment in the British Army was as General Officer Commanding Scotland and Northern England.
Steve Tatham
Steve Tatham is a Commander in the Royal Navy and has experience from operations in Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan. He holds an M Phil from Cambridge University, and is the author of ‘Losing Arab Hearts & Minds: The Coalition, Al-Jazeera and Muslim Public Opinion’ and ‘Strategic Communication: A Primer’. He is just completing his PhD in Strategic Communication in Future Conflict.

You can see the entire paper at:

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A Good Story and Example: Marine translates experience into action, earns prestigious award for intelligence work in Afghanistan

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Dr. Forrest Frank of IDA sent me this short article about a young Marine Intelligence Specialist who did a great job of learning, collaborating, and producing good knowledge for his commanders, and is being rewarded for his efforts.
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII April 29, 2011 – On his deployment to Afghanistan last year, Cpl. Raymond P. Weeks found little sleep but plenty of purpose.
As an intelligence cell team leader with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd
Marine Regiment, Weeks worked tirelessly to train his Marines, gather
information from patrols and produce company-level intelligence products in
Helmand province’s Nawa District.
In recognition of his work during the deployment, the 21-year-old
intelligence specialist from Miami was selected as the National Military
Intelligence Association’s Col. Donald G. Cook Award recipient, April 20,
2011. He will be presented the award at the 2011 National Military Intelligence Association and Foundation Awards Banquet, being held May 15th at the McLean Hilton in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.  Information about the banquet can be found at
According to the award, his “outstanding leadership and tactical intelligence
proficiency significantly contributed to India Company’s reduction of Taliban
capabilities” in their area of operation during the 2010 deployment.

After joining the battalion in 2008, Weeks said he was forced to learn his job quickly. Three months into 3/3’s deployment to Iraq later in the year, he was thrust into a sergeant’s billet despite being a newly-promoted lance corporal.  “Being thrown into the mix without training up to it put me in a learning environment,” Weeks said. “There wasn’t too much going on in Iraq, so I spent time learning the ropes and building confidence in briefing higher-ranking individuals from squad leaders to company commanders to two-star generals.”  Weeks remained with India Company after returning from Iraq, and carried this confidence into his second deployment two years later.
While in Afghanistan, he led India’s company-level intelligence cell or CLIC — comprised of six infantry Marines without formal training — to provide intelligence coverage for the company’s seven positions in Helmand province.  “Working on the company level allows you to view your intelligence in the works, because you’re passing it right to the ground elements and they’re putting it into action,” Weeks said. “It’s pretty enjoyable when you get to see your work unfold on the battlefield.”
As part of India Company’s headquarters element, Weeks participated in patrols three times a week, and frequently joined his Marines on their patrols and operations.  Since the company’s small patrol bases were spread out and lacked email access, the CLIC Marines would patrol to them on foot and obtain debriefs in person. Weeks often used these patrols to teach them how to view the area like intelligence specialists.  “Cpl. Weeks could’ve just gotten the info from other people and figured out how to talk about it, but he went on patrol and experienced it himself,” Lance Cpl. Aaronn Richter, one of Weeks’ CLIC Marines, said. “This 3/3 Marine translated experience into action, earned a prestigious award for his intelligence work in Afghanistan, his approach helped him have a better situational awareness, and he painted a clearer picture in his head of what was happening.”  Though spread out in different areas over Helmand province, Weeks maintained constant contact with 3/3’s other CLIC leaders to share intelligence and pass on his learning experiences.
First Sgt. William J. Pinkerton, India Company’s first sergeant during the deployment, said Weeks’ intellect and ability to work independently enabled him to understand what the commander was looking for, and then teach to his team how to deliver with the intelligence product.  “Weeks took basic riflemen and mentored them into CLIC Marines,” Pinkerton from Marion, N.Y., said. “He wasn’t given any particular standard on how to train them, but he went the extra mile in giving them all the knowledge he had. By putting a lot of time in with them, he brought so much to their table, and brought a lot to the table for each of their platoons.”
In return for his guidance, Weeks said his CLIC Marines taught him the infantry side of the spectrum, which he said helped adjust his perspective on the intelligence he was gathering.  “My experiences at the platoon, company and battalion levels have given me a lot larger outlook on how to conduct intelligence products,” Weeks said. “They have helped me learn what the commanders are looking for, and if what they’re pushing down to the battalions is realistic and feasible. Now that I have these skills, I’ll be able to narrow my focus when moving up to a higher command.”
Over the past four years, Weeks has lived and breathed intelligence from within an infantry company, and now he’s looking for the opportunity to apply his knowledge at a higher-echelon unit like U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command.  Though 3/3 is slated to deploy to Afghanistan later this year, he will soon move to 3rd Marine Regiment’s headquarters in preparation for changing duty stations.  “Now, my concern is to mentor the junior Marines with my knowledge and what I’ve seen,” Weeks said.

If you have comments on this story, other military intelligence good new stories you think will be of value to our 4,000+ subscribers, or topics you’d like to see discussed here, you can go to the Roundtable at and post your comments and ideas, or send me an e-mail at

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