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PIR Development in a COIN Environment
by Ms. Z. Tenay Guvendiren and Lieutenant Colonel Scott Downey
Small Wars Journal
Developing successful Priority Intelligence Requirements is the first, most important, and most difficult step of the ISR Synchronization Process. It is in this step that an Intelligence Section either establishes themselves as proactive, predictive, and relevant to the Commander's Decision Making Cycle or as passive news reporters, giving history lessons, and playing "Monday Night Quarterback" to the Commander and his staff.
PIR development is also what most units get wrong. The generally accepted tenets of PIR development, which most intelligence officers learned in the schoolhouse and most commanders grew up expecting, are not applicable within a counterinsurgency environment. In this article, we will explain how to write COIN PIR that are linked to Brigade or Regimental level decision points within a long-term counterinsurgency campaign plan. In addition, we will discuss how to write PIR Running Estimates, which will track your progress in answering your Commander's PIR.
The recommendations in this article are based on "A Way" that was successful for the authors' unit, as intelligence officers in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. In 2007, 2-1CAV was involved in the planning and execution of the Baghdad Security Plan (BSP) in the Karkh Security District, which was a crucial part of the larger "surge". The BSP gave Coalition Forces the much needed opportunity to establish security in heart of Iraq's capital and the subsequent momentum to conduct wide-scale, full-spectrum operations necessary to stabilize the country. While every BCT's sector is unique, and those sectors change over time, we argue that there are certain new tenets of PIR Development in a COIN environment that will never change.