WIT--the battlefield commander's force multiplier in the CIED fight.
Weapons Intelligence Teams (WITs) have been a critical asset in the War on Terrorism and the counter improvised explosive device (CIED) fight since 2004. WITs are consistently proving their worth as the battlefield commander's resident technical intelligence expert and force multiplier. These teams are filling a critical gap and providing timely and actionable intelligence to the Warfighter. Their unique skill sets, training, experience, and equipment provide commander's with the capability to reach out and influence insurgent networks before they strike against U.S. and Coalition forces.
We are training these young men and women to go into harm's way, to willfully and purposefully expose themselves to the most dangerous weapon of all-an enemy with no regard for human life, an undying desire to kill us, and the technical means to succeed at his mission. WITs are helping battlefield commander's get at their enemies with unprecedented success rates. Prosecutions in tribunals and criminal courts are enjoying much higher conviction rates thanks in part to evidence and material collected and exploited by these teams. We are training and equipping these teams with the singular purpose of defeating this enemy and his weapons "left of the boom," before he can inflict casualties on us or our Coalition partners.
In this article I will discuss the history, training, mission, composition, and future of Weapons Intelligence and the teams that conduct it.
WIT History. A brief look at the history of these teams provides the background necessary to understand how they work and why they are such a critical component in waging a successful counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign. As operations in Iraq transitioned to Phase IV, the tactics employed against Coalition Forces changed dramatically. The IED became the weapon of choice against us and as such "IED" became a common expression. Commanders at every level realized that the IED networks had to be eliminated. The problem was that, at that time, there wasn't an organization particularly well suited to combat this threat. As a result, a decision was made that a CIED capability must be created and fielded as quickly as possible.
Army leadership at the highest levels took the lead in the fight against the IED by creating the Army IED Task Force (TF) in October 2003. It proved its worth over the following months by reducing the success rates of insurgent IED attacks despite an overall increase in the total number of attacks. In 2004, under the direction of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz, the decision was made to transform the entity into a Joint IED TF (JIEDD-TF). In early 2004 JIEDD-TF (now the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO)), the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), and the Department of the Army (DA) G2 began the process of identifying gaps in intelligence support needed to combat the growing number of insurgent IED networks. The next step was to assign responsibilities for the execution of training, equipping, and fielding the resulting teams.
INSCOM tasked the National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) with developing a workable Concept of Operations to implement a CIED program. NGIC's mission analysis led to the recommendation of establishing a Counter IED Targeting Program (CITP). The CITP would consist of three basic cooperating, but separate, sections: WITs; a forward fusion cell, and a CONUS based fusion center. The current CITP mission is to increase the collection of technical intelligence (TECHINT) using WITs and to provide forward and rear fusion cells producing actionable intelligence to support the targeting of bomb-makers and their networks.
The first WITs received sixteen days of training at Fort Gordon, Georgia in 2004 and immediately deployed to Iraq. These initial teams enjoyed limited success, but more importantly, succeeded in validating the concept of the WIT. Additionally, the teams were instrumental in getting the word out to battlefield commanders that they now had a valuable asset in the CIED fight. The second WIT rotation (Phase II) was assigned to the 203rd MI Battalion (TECHINT) which deployed to Iraq to assume responsibility for the WIT mission in 2005. Since 2006, WITs have been made up of a combination of personnel from the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Navy.
In June 2006, the U.S. Army Intelligence Center (USAIC) at Fort Huachuca, Arizona was designated as the proponent for the WIT training mission and assumed responsibility for the training, development, and integration of weapons technical intelligence (WTI) in the CIED fight. The first formal Weapons Intelligence course was taught at Fort Huachuca in September 2008.
WIT Training. WIT training, conducted at the USAIC, consists of fifty-one days of instruction divided between classroom academics, performance-based practical and laboratory exercises, and a comprehensive field training exercise. The course is currently taught three times a year to support deployment requirements. There are two separate tracks within the course. The primary track trains students who will deploy as team members. The secondary track trains students assigned to the analyst cell of the Weapons Intelligence Company (WIC).
All WIT members are trained to the same standard and every prospective team member must demonstrate proficiency in each task before graduating from the course. Individuals are assigned to a team upon arrival at the course and in most cases will train and deploy with that team for the duration of their assignment. Team member training content consists of the following broad categories:
* Battlefield Forensics: Material collection and preservation; fingerprint fundamentals and techniques, and forensic photography.
* Media Exploitation/TECHINT Kit: Exploitation of captured media and instruction on the use of team equipment.
* Weapons Intelligence: Scene exploitation; IED fundamentals; electronics theory; investigation and questioning, and report writing.
* Operational Support Functions: Land navigation; explosive systems recognition; combat tracker operations; cultural awareness, and foreign weapons identification.
Training for the analysis cell consists of various intelligence software applications; IED fundamentals; report writing; targeting, and WTI analysis techniques.
The Weapons Intelligence Mission
WITs are small tactical teams that provide WTI support to Army brigade combat teams (BCTs) and U.S. Marine Corps regimental combat teams or other similar elements as required. They are an intelligence asset that provides both a collection and an analysis capability at the BCT level. WITs provide battlefield commanders with a dedicated, IED related, tactical intelligence collection and exploitation capability in support of targeting efforts. Commanders may employ WITs at attack sites (post-blast IED, sniper incidents, etc.) or at locations where weapons are discovered (pre-blast IED detected and rendered safe, cache sites, bomb making facilities, etc.) WITs may also be employed in other operations such as supporting a raid or cordon and search by providing in-depth tactical site exploitation on the objective. As the WIT concept matures, it becomes more valuable to the commander. The Weapons Intelligence program was initially focused primarily on the IED threat but has evolved over the years and is no longer limited solely to the CIED fight.
Essential tasks and functions include:
* Move tactically.
* Conduct technical collection and exploitation missions.
* Conduct media exploitation (including printed and electronic media.)
* Conduct WTI analysis.
* Produce intelligence reports and products.
* Communicate/disseminate intelligence to supported units and higher headquarters.
In addition, WIT provides the following support to division and higher CIED intelligence efforts:
* Provide and inject expert tactical-level reporting on incident sites into the Theater and National TECHINT enterprise.
* Packaging and delivery of evidence/materials collected at incident sites for more detailed, higher-level technical exploitation. All material is collected, tagged, cataloged, transported, and forwarded according to strict guidelines that preserve the intelligence and evidentiary value of the materials.
WIT Composition. The Weapons Intelligence Company (WIC) deploys in support of a Corps or joint task force (JTF) level headquarters, The current WIC Headquarters is placed within TF Troy, supporting the Multi-national Corps-Iraq. It provides planning and coordination support for the Corps or JTF staff and exercises technical control (TECHCON) of WTI capabilities (the WI Detachment and all WITs) supporting the Corps or JTF. The WIC commander advises the Corps/JTF commander on task organization, distribution, and employment of WTI capabilities, supporting him in the area of operations (AO). The WIC also links the Corps/JTF commander and staff to the Theater and National TECHINT enterprise. The company consists of up to fifteen personnel: the WIC commander (0-4); WIC Executive Officer (0-3); WIC NCOIC (E-9); administrative specialist (E-6/7); supply specialist (E-6/7); and eight to ten intelligence analysts (any rank up to E-7). The analysts receive WIT reports and collected materials from the teams. They process the reports, conduct further analysis, and forward intelligence products to higher headquarters for dissemination and targeting as required.
The Weapons Intelligence Detachment (WID) deploys to support a division-level headquarters and normally works directly with the Intelligence staff. The WID advises the commander and staff on task organization, distribution, and employment of WTI capability in the division's AO. It also provides TECHCON of WITs assigned to the division. A critically important function of the WID is to provide a link for the division's Intelligence staff into theTheater and National level TECHIKT enterprise. The WID consists of the Detachment Commander (0-3) and the Detachment NCOIC (E-7).
WITs normally consist of five enlisted personnel. Specific military occupational specialties (MOSs) may vary between teams but in general have consisted of a combination of the following:
* The Team Leader is historically a qualified explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician. In addition to being the Team Leader, he or she functions as the liaison between the BCT commander and staff and the WITs higher headquarters. The Team Leader will also coordinate with EOD units that provide support in their local AO.
* The senior and junior analysts are Military Intelligence personnel from the U.S. Army, Air Force, or Navy. Typically the senior analyst is an E-5 or E-6 and the junior analyst any rank below that of the senior analyst. There is no specific Intelligence discipline required in order to be assigned to a team. However, analysts with strong briefing skills and multi-discipline experience are preferred and traditionally do better within the teams.
* A combat cameraman or photographer's mate brings an in-depth knowledge of shot composition, mid-level photography expertise, and some limited public affairs experience to the team.
* An Army Military Police Investigator, Air Force Office of Special Investigations Agent, or a Navy Master at Arms serves as the team's law enforcement expert. They understand crime scene investigation, evidence preservation, evidentiary rules and procedures to a greater degree, and can coordinate with other investigative agencies when necessary or beneficial to accomplishing the mission.
* The final team member is the combat arms representative. He contributes to the team by providing expert tactical analysis of incident sites. The combat arms advisor determines how the incident was set up and or how the attack was executed from a tactical point of view, records any changes to enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), and makes recommendations on how to counteract any new enemy TTPs.
In order for the team to accomplish its mission, 'ery member is cross trained in each individual position. Because every team member has a basic knowledge and proficiency in each skill, the Team Leader is able to divide the team up when necessary. Team members are expected to train each other on their unique skill set throughout their tour of duty. Much of this training occurs in the forward operating base between missions. Over the last two years, many of the teams in theater have been required to conduct split operations in order to support units within their BCT that are not co-located. Having an individual team member who can conduct each portion of a successful WIT operation is a definite advantage to the supported unit.
The Future of Weapons Intelligence
In the summer of 2008, the Department of Defense announced that Weapons Intelligence would become an enduring capability, with DA as the Service proponent. While it's clear that having teams with this unique skill set is critical to winning any COIN fight, there are several issues that still have to be worked out.
First, WITs don't technically exist on any unit's organizational authorization documents. As a result, scheduling Soldiers for training, and tracking utilization of the Soldiers trained and equipped to perform as a WIT is challenging, to say the least. Plans are underway to create a WIT force structure requirement at the BCT level which would authorize units to train Soldiers to fill those positions. Once this requirement is established, USAIC will be prepared to conduct periodic classes throughout the year to meet the requirement for WIT trained Soldiers.
Over the last two years, requests from deploying units to train their Soldiers have been tremendous. The value of an organic WIT capability within the BCT has finally caught on. At present, there are typically a few seats in each class that aren't filled by those deploying to support one of the CIED TFs down-range. Those seats are offered to deploying units, the only cost to units is the TDY for their Soldiers. In the past two years, we have trained teams from the 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division, 25th Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Division, 1st Cavalry Division, and many others.
Secondly, equipment issued to the teams is not currently in the Army supply system. USAIC is diligently working to identify equipment requirements and establish a TECHINT Kit as a program of record so that units can order it as a major end-item through the standard Army supply system. Additionally, each component of the kit will have its own national stock number so that it can be easily replaced. Over the last year we've been working with experts in the fields of forensics, law enforcement, intelligence, and site exploitation (as well as the associated industries) to assemble a better tool kit for the teams. The intent was to make the kits as light and easily transportable as possible while still equipping the teams with the necessary tools for the job. Currently, the price of each kit has dropped by almost fifty percent. Keeping cost low was a huge consideration while designing a kit so that units could afford it without having to sacrifice other needed equipment.
Lastly, the WIT does not have assigned MOSs, and likely will never be assigned them. It does, however, fit the model for an additional skill identifier (ASI). USAIC has begun the process for the creation and award 01 an Abl to Soldiers trained as Wll members. Having a WIT ASI will allow the Army to recognize Soldiers who have graduated from this unique training, and also allow the Army to assign Soldiers against WIT coded positions in the future based on this ASI. With the ASI approved and WIT authorizations determined for the BCT, it should be a simple process to assign the right Soldier to the right job.
We are excited about the future of the Weapons Intelligence program. Recently completed construction of two specially designed weapons ranges allow us to conduct live explosives demonstrations for training purposes. These ranges add realism to the training and expose students to the realities of IEDs on a practical level. Additionally, we will teach the next course in a newly renovated Weapons Intelligence Compound separated from other USAIC instructional facilities. This new compound will allow us to train all WIT students to a higher standard in a consolidated and secure atmosphere. We've spent the last eighteen months updating the training curriculum to ensure it remains relevant to the CIED fight and WTI needs of the Warfighter. The course is ready to train and equip the best WITs in the world. Our staff of instructors are dedicated to this mission and united in providing the most professional, realistic, and relevant training possible.
Major Chris Britt is the Course Manager for the Joint Weapons Intelligence Course. He has served as a Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, Company Commander, Brigade S6, and ISR Operations Officer.
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|Title Annotation:||TRAINING THE CORPS|
|Publication:||Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2009|
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