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Deployable Intelligence Support Element in Support of the Army Service Component Command

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Deployable Intelligence Support Element in Support of the Army Service Component Command

Christopher Synowiez and Kyle Gordy

The purpose of this paper is to layout a methodology for a Deployable Intelligence Support Element (DISE) in support of the Army Service Component Command (ASCC). Beginning with the fundamentals of the ASCC and Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) Military Intelligence Brigade (Theater) (MIB-T) relationship, flowing into the requirements process, organizational structure, training and certification, and finally employment of the DISE. The discussion will begin at a general level, then delve into the specifics of how the 312th MI BN, 470th MIB(T) went about forming, training, and certifying its DISE for US Army South.

Army Service Component Commands have a requirement to be a Joint Task Force (JTF) capable headquarters in support of their respective Combatant Commands. Each of the ASCCs have an associated MIB(T) in order to provide direct intelligence support to the ASCC Commander and his staff. When the ASCC is activated as a JTF, the MIB(T) has the requirement to provide intelligence support and to act as an intelligence anchor point for deploying forces, whether by reach or by positioning a Deployable Intelligence Support Element (DISE) forward with the JTF HQ.     

Requirements Drive the Configuration of the DISE

The DISE has to be tailorable and scalable based on the contingency and requirements of the JTF HQ it is supporting. A Humanitarian Assistance/ Disaster Relief (HA/DR) contingency led by the Interagency, a wartime forcible entry option executed unilaterally by the United States, and a Multinational Joint operation focused on maintaining stability all have very different intelligence requirements. The DISE needs to be trained and capable of supporting any Contingency Operation for the COCOM and ASCC commanders. This all starts with communication and planning. The DISE planning team needs to sit down with the G2 and G5 planners to understand the Contingency Plans (CONPLANS) for the ASCC. The CONPLAN intelligence requirements and the Joint Planning documents set the baseline requirements for intelligence support to each contingency operation. The anticipated intelligence requirements for each of the CONPLANs, then in turn, drive the organization of the DISE.

The 312th MI Battalion is tasked with fielding a DISE in support of SOUTHCOM and Army South contingency operations. The mission of the DISE is as follows “312th MI BN deploys the DISE to support ARSOUTH and SOUTHCOM expeditionary requirements and RAF integration into the theater IOT provide the Commanding General and subordinate units with accurate, timely, and predictive intelligence to protect the force, promote regional stability, and build trust and cooperation throughout the AOR. Primary mission sets include, but are not limited to, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and mass migration response; the duration of mission sets varies depending on METT-TC.”[i] This mission set requires a flexible capability that is tailorable and scalable based on the contingency and requirements of the JTF HQ. However, no matter the scale of the DISE there are certain baseline requirements.

DISE Baseline

The 312th MI BN DISE's capabilities and functions vary depending on the mission set and requirements determined by SOUTHCOM and ARSOUTH; therefore, the BN has several tailorable DISE packages built around ARSOUTH Contingency Plans. At a minimum, All DISE packages conduct the following tasks:

  1. Conduct crisis action development.
  1. Maintain a deployable crisis assessment team.
  1. Monitor AOR strategic/operational information.
  1. Support ARSOUTH engagement activities throughout the AOR.
  1. Be capable coordinating with major commands, the joint force, the interagency, and multinational throughout the AOR.
  1. Provide initial communications infrastructure to forward deployed elements to enable reach-back support through ACE.

In order to perform these various tasks, each package’s equipment is tailorable to the mission but includes a baseline centered on the deployment of a Global Broadcasting System (GBS) with Geographic Workstation (GWS) for forward GEOINT support and either the Trojan V1/V3, providing SIPR/JWICS/NSA, SIPR to JWICS Cross Domain Solution, JWICS VTC, SIPR/JWICS/NSA VOIP, and DCGS-A IFS connectivity/replication from the ACE brain.

As an example, the 312th MI BN had several DISE packages built ranging from an ultra-lite package working off of GRIPS to a full-fledged DISE with soldiers using a Trojan backbone. Each of the different packages are tied to different Army South contingency plans, as well as, Army South and 470th MI BDE Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP). Each DISE package has particular capabilities, advantages, and disadvantages. These packages all are scalable depending on the requirements that flow from Crisis Action Planning. Continuous planning coordination with the ASCC HQ is essential to make sure the correct capabilities are packaged and ready to deploy with the ASCC Contingency Command Post.   

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Training and Certification Lead to Execution

Creating training and certification plan for a DISE is a difficult task. Commanders must create training plans that lead to the certification of the multiple intelligence disciplines and as well as numerous logistical and leadership elements to create a functional as well as deployable DISE. Certain questions come to mind when contemplating a training and certification path. How to train the external and internal elements of the DISE? How to link internal evaluations and external evaluations with Mission Essential Tasks and Key Collective Tasks to allow the Commander to certify the DISE? What is the logical flow for exercises that lead to culmination plateaus from which to build the next stage of development?

There are two main elements of the DISE that need to be trained and certified:

  1. The Base Elements include those items which enable intelligence operations of the DISE but are not necessarily intelligence functions. Items such as; Troop Leading Procedures, Prepare personnel and equipment for deployment, Validate ground and air load plans, Setting up a perimeter, Setting up and establishing communications via Trojan, Run LOGPAC, etc. The expertise for these disciplines will most likely be across multiple companies as well as different echelons of Staff requiring training and coordination.
  1. Internal Intelligence teams is the Second element of the DISE that needs to be trained and certified is the. Items such as; All Source Production, SIGINT, GEONT, HUMINT, OSINT production, Assess the Operational Situation, etc.
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Taming the complexity of the training and certification problem is the cornerstone of having a trained and certified DISE. The 312th built a multi-echelon plan based around operational considerations (see picture 2) that created capacity gradually and certified elements separately until disparate elements could be brought together. The Battalion is currently halfway through a 12-18 month training, certification, and evaluation cycle that will lead to DISE that is capable to deploy anywhere in the SOUTHCOM AOR in support of the Commander’s requirements. Consequently, Army South has two annual JCS level exercises, PANAMAX and INTEGRADED ADVANCE, which the 312th uses as major planning mile stones.

Executing DISE Training and Certification

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As mentioned above, the training plan for the 312th MI BN DISE is centered on two JCS level exercises: PANAMAX (4th quarter) and INTEGRATED ADVANCE (2nd quarter). With the DISE initially formed in April 2017, the unit understood that PANAMAX 17 would provide the initial opportunity to integrate and test the capabilities and functionality of the DISE and also serve as a vital assessment tool for the unit to modify the mission set and/or re-shape the DISE packages to better meet expeditionary requirements of ARSOUTH.

Beginning at the PANAMAX 17 Mission Analysis Brief (JUN 17): This was the very first planning effort for the DISE in preparation for PANAMAX 17. This was the initial planning effort utilizing the whole of the BN staff to begin considering all planning factors (proper manning, maintenance, personnel requirements [SRP], security requirements, etc). With inputs from all staff elements, the unit was able to determine the critical limitations and constraints, primarily equipment, maintenance, and personnel integration with Army South, and develop plans of action to address these shortfalls moving forward.

PANAMAX OPORD Brief (JUL 17): This was the final product from the staff outlining how the BN/DISE would be employed during PANAMAX 17, to include deployment and redeployment. This product initially codified all staff, section, and company requirements necessary to successfully deploy the DISE.

PANAMAX 17 (AUG 17) – First deployment of the DISE in support of Army South, which then led to the determination of finalized DISE packages (SEP 17). Upon conclusion of PANAMAX, an After Action Review was conducted. Battalion and Company leadership, working directly with the ARSOUTH G2, restructured the DISE packages to better support AROSUTH Contingency Plans. PANAMAX 17 served as the perfect baseline to internally evaluate the structure of the standard DISE package as well as all applicable intelligence tasks. Additionally, the unit was able to integrate numerous intelligence systems (TROJAN, PMFWS, GBS, GWS) into the Army South G2 architecture and identify areas of improvement with regards to integration and implementation of the aforementioned systems. Conversely, PANAMAX 17 did not provide the unit the opportunity to fully exercise all pre-deployment and re-deployment tasks; due to this, and the fact that INTEGRATED ADVANCE 18 would be a table-top exercise, the unit began planning a deployment of the DISE to Fort Hood, TX for 2nd quarter FY 18.

DISEX 18: FT Hood (FEB 18): In October 2017, the battalion began planning a deployment of the DISE to FT Hood, TX for 2nd quarter FY 18. When developing the exercise, we had three primary objectives: first, the ground deployment of the DISE would allow the unit to fully exercise all pre-deployment and re-deployment tasks (personnel and equipment, alert notifications, etc). Second, independently deploying the DISE would require the element to depend solely on internal power distribution, communications capabilities, and security considerations. Third, the event would provide the opportunity for the unit to be externally evaluated by the 504th MI BDE on intelligence discipline KCTs.

In preparation for the certification of the DISE at FT Hood, TX, the element conducted two preliminary exercises to ensure readiness for both internal and external elements. First, in December 2017, the DISE conducted a local COMMEX in order to validate power distribution models, functionality/connectivity of all intelligence systems, user accounts, and user proficiency on necessary software. Upon conclusion of the event, the DISE team identified specific user and system shortfalls and developed a tailored training plan to address these shortages. Second, the unit conducted a local DISEX at Camp Bullis, TX in January 2018 to internally evaluate external elements (load plans, convoy operations, set-up, T-SCIF requirements, etc) of the DISE prior to deployment to FT Hood in February.

In its totality, the FT Hood DISEX will allow the unit to fully execute all internal and external elements of the DISE, minus integration into a supported unit, which is accomplished during ARSOUTH JCS level exercises. Upon conclusion of the exercise, the unit will further refine SOPs, equipment load plans, power distribution models, and package configuration to form a fully deployable DISE to support Army South contingency operations.

PANAMAX 18: (AUG 18): The next plateau on the horizon for the DISE is PANAMAX 18. Currently the DISE and BDE/BN leadership are fully integrated into the planning process with the ARSOUTH G2 and G5 planners to determine how to best integrate the DISE in order to answer the Commanding General’s intelligence requirements. PANAMAX 18 will allow the BN to locally deploy the DISE and fully integrate the team and its intelligence and communication’s capabilities into the ARSOUTH intelligence architecture. Additionally, the event will provide the opportunity for internal elements (intelligence disciplines) to be externally evaluated by the JCS and ARSOUTH G2 and external elements (SRP, Set-up, Maintenance, etc) to be evaluated by the BN.

INTEGRATED ADVANCE 19 (FEB 19): IA 19 will serve as a culminating event for the DISE, with the element conducting an air deployment to NSGB, Cuba in support of the ARSOUTH Contingency Command Post. Like other JCS level events, IA 19 will provide the unit the opportunity to externally evaluate the performance of internal elements (intelligence disciplines) and external elements (air load plans, set-up, integration, maintenance, etc.) while operating in a scenario based off one of ARSOUTH’s real-word contingency plans. This exercise will truly test the integration and implementation of the DISE with the CCP and determine if current configuration(s) meets the needs of the ASCC.

Execution of Real World DISE Operations

While in the midst of the train up and certification cycle for the 312th DISE, a real world contingency operation was activated in the SOUTHCOM Area of Operations. Joint Task Force – Leeward Islands (JTF-LI) was activated by SOUTHCOM to conduct Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations in support of Dominica, Saint Martin, Sint Maarten, and the British Virgin Islands from 16 SEP- 08 OCT 17. SOUTHCOM and Army South requested that the 312th deploy a small DISE to support JTF-LI in order to provide intelligence support and intelligence reach back capabilities to the Army South ACE. This was an interagency led mission, where the Intelligence package supported the Special Purpose Marine Air and Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) HA / DR operations in areas impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The requirement to push out a DISE so early in the formation of the 312th, posed unique challenges including lack of integral equipment, lack of official passports by the team, and it served as a forcing function to have the pre-deployment checks and instillation level relationships in place for SRPs. In the end, having the DISE forward provided reach to the Army South Theater Analysis and Control Element (ACE) supported the mission with the capabilities and analysis that enhanced situational awareness to the JTF Commander. Of particular note, the open source intelligence (OSINT) products provided a unique feature that was vital for the forward deployed J-2 to provide analysis for the JTF Commander. The lessons learned from JTF-LI were rolled into the next planning plateau and provided some real world experience to the DISE team.            

Final Thoughts

INSCOM and the MIB(T)s have been conducting DISE operations for years. Anytime an ASCC deployed as a JTF, soldiers from INSCOM deployed with them to create an ACE forward with the Commander. Before the 312th was activated, the 401st MICO deployed with Army South in support of numerous humanitarian and disaster relief operations including Haiti, as well as, supporting all the JCS level exercises executed by the ASCC. In fact, INSCOM DISE elements enable the analytic and collection functions of the ASCC G2 that allow it, in turn, to be certified to be a Joint Task Force Capable Headquarters.

Planning, certifying, and executing DISE operations is a difficult but necessary evolution of the Intelligence Support dynamic. The requirement to annually certify a DISE is part of the INSCOM Command Training Guidance – Calendar Year 2017[ii]. At the same time, the ASCCs have a requirement to certify as a JTF capable HQ annually. By synching the two requirements with a dedicated staffing and planning effort, it is possible for the two requirements to be mutually supportive in certifying and validating the MIB(T) DISE. Using this model, in the end, the ASCC will have habitual relationship with a DISE that has been part of their JTF Certification cycle that they know that they can depend on to deploy with them in support of any contingency operation.

End Notes

[i] 312th MI BN PANAMAX Operations Order Dated 13 July 2017

[ii] INSCOM Command Training Guidance - CY 2017 Dated 2 DEC 2016


About the Author(s)

CPT Kyle Gordy is currently serving as the Commander of Bravo Company, 312th MI BN. CPT Gordy previously served as the Plans and Operations Officer for the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade, BN S2 for the 319th MI BN, and overthree years as a  Company Executive Officer and Multifunction Team (MFT) Platoon Leader. CPT Gordy has deployed in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel as a BN S2 and in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as an MFT Platoon Leader. CPT Gordy holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Foreign Area Studies of Latin America from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

LTC Christopher Synowiez is currently serving as the 312th Military Intelligence Battalion Commander. LTC Synowiez previously served as the XO for the Commander Army South, ACE Chief and G2 Plans and Operations Officer for US Army South. He has deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, first as the Squadron S2 for 1st Squadron 4th Cavalry 1ID, then as an intelligence advisor to an Iraqi Army brigade as a part of a Military Transition Team. He has also deployed to in support of KFOR, Intrinsic Action (Kuwait), and to Saudi Arabia as an advisor. LTC Synowiez holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master’s of Science degree in Strategic Intelligence from the National Defense Intelligence College.