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IPB with a Purpose.

Editors' Note: The Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) published a condensed version of this article in 1998. We have edited this article from the original 8,600 words to 3,660 and the graphics from 22 to 10. We plan to put the entire article with all the graphics on our website when we load this issue.

Intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) is a complex process. Simply creating the listed products from our doctrine is not enough. This does not mean more products and more work but better products to help the commander see the enemy. This article provides S2s with some tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) for the IPB needed to help their commanders achieve success on the battlefield.

The doctrinal tenets of IPB are sound; however, we often have a hard time explaining why we do IPB. FM 34-130, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, states that we do IPB to...

support staff estimates and military decision making. Applying the IPB process helps the commander selectively apply and maximize his combat power at critical points in time and space on the battlefield.

While this is all true, there are very simple but critical pieces that are missing, both in doctrine and in the conduct of the IPB process at the National Training Center (NTC). They are visualization and communication.

We do IPB because it is the primary mechanism a commander uses to develop his mental vision of how an operation will unfold. S2s must do two things to make this happen. First, they must help create the vision, and second, they must communicate it to the commander (and staff) so that he can do the same for his soldiers. Familiar experts in the vision business are television announcers at National Football League games who use very effective visual aids to create and communicate a clear vision or concept. Look at what slow motion, instant replay, zoom in/out, reverse angle, and John Madden's "Chalkboard" have done to help the viewer really see and understand a critical play. S2s must do the same for their commanders by using simple, clear techniques (many not found in any field manual), tailored to the specific eccentricities, strengths, and weaknesses of their commanders to create and communicate the IPB vision (see Figure 1).

IPB Process. The four steps of the IPB process are--

* Define the battlefield environment.

* Describe the battlefield effects.

* Evaluate the threat.

* Determine enemy courses of action (ECOAs).

IPB Products. The standard products of the IPB process include--

* Modified combined obstacle overlay (MCOO).

* Situation template.

* Event template.

Will these products alone create and communicate a simple, clear vision of the battlefield for a commander? Most will answer with a resounding no! These products typically do not come close to portraying the dynamic nature of the way an enemy fights, nor do they effectively illustrate the significance of terrain. That is why we have written this article: to add TTP to the menu. TTP originate from good ideas on the job and from the pure necessity to take doctrine one step further. Our intimacy with IPB normally occurs during the military decision-making process, and involves requirements and products for each piece of the MDMP.

IPB and The Military Decision-Making Process

IPB products and requirements surface during the following five phases of the MDMP:

* Mission analysis.

* Course of action (COA) development.

* Wargaming.

* Operations order (OPORD) issue and refinement.

* Rehearsals.

Each phase is different, so the products, requirements, and presentations for each phase should also vary. S2s are not effective when they stand up for a mission analysis or OPORD brief in front of a 1:50,000 map with a sheet of paper in hand and ramble on superficially.

An S2 will never paint a good picture of a future battle with a narrative, an MCOO, and a busy, dusty (or muddy) acetate situation template. How do you paint a picture that the commander remembers, and at the same time keep the rest of your audience informed? Let us start with the mission analysis brief.

Mission Analysis Brief

The S2 can present a successful mission analysis brief by considering the following nine points, each of which deserves some discussion. They comprise:

* Terrain.

* Enemy force structure.

* Enemy commander's intent.


* ECOA sketches.

* What we know.

* Recommended priority intelligence requirements (PIR).

* What we do not know.

* Tentative reconnaissance concept.

Terrain: Line of Departure to Objective. Do not brief a MCOO. S2s should take their commanders on a "terrain tour" from the line of departure (LD) all the way to the objective. Highlight the effects of critical terrain, intervisability (IV) lines, covered and concealed avenues of approach, and the significance of key and decisive terrain.

The Enemy Force Structure: From Big to Small. Once the S2 briefs the critical terrain, he should introduce the enemy, from major elements to subordinate units. This part does not need a lot of explanation. A neat line-and-block chart as shown in Figure 2 will do the job. Producing a graphic timeline (see Figure 3) will assist the commander in developing his own COAs and associated decisions.

The Enemy Commander's Intent and Purpose. What does the enemy commander want to do? What is the scope and purpose of his operation? How will he accomplish his mission? How does he think we will fight? S2s must do a little homework for this one, because it requires some thought. If you immediately dive into templating the enemy on a 1:50,000 map overlay without first considering his intent or purpose, you may incorrectly assess his intended actions. We are good at fitting the enemy doctrinal templates onto terrain, but sometimes miss the critical step in assessing the enemy's mission and purpose.

Before the S2 submerges himself in templating ECOAs, he must first ensure he understands the enemy commander's purpose and how it ties into the plans of his higher headquarters. We recommend considering intent at three distinct levels--same level, one up, and two up. Another tool to assist S2s in developing ECOAs is to step mentally into the enemy commander's shoes and determine how the enemy sees our fight. S2s normally do not consider this and fail to consider the threat's perception of the Blue Forces (BLUFOR) when they are trying to determine their COAs. S2s currently do not perform this process (called "reverse IPB") very well.

Enemy Course of Action Development. S2s often depict one or two ECOAs depending on time constraints, standing operating procedures (SOPs), or the belief that the enemy can fight only one way. The enemy (opposing forces [OPFOR]) at NTC, however, will use decision points (DPs) and quickly change his mind at different junctures in a battle, before or even after the LD. S2s must help the commander and staff plan for these changes by considering all feasible enemy options, because this is when we begin building flexibility into the commander's plan. It is not okay to wait until after the commander gives his guidance or after we have developed the friendly COAs to finish ECOA development. If the staff develops friendly COAs without a complete set of ECOAs, the friendly COAs will be invalid as soon as the 52 catches up and presents additional ECOAs. Remember that all the ECOAs produced at mission analysis are an initial assessment because we have not developed our friendly COAs, which should eliminate or reduce the likelihood of some ECOAs.

It is best to develop ECOAs from large units to small. Use cartoon sketches to show a broad picture of all feasible ECOAs. Although the S2 can realistically develop more than three ECOA sketches, he may not have the time to develop as many detailed ECOAs. He can provide his commander with two or three well-developed ECOAs and, possibly, two or three additional ECOAs that give him options on how those fights might unfold to help build more flexibility into his plan.

This is not to say that S2s should not produce acetate situation templates for the mission analysis brief. They should be available if the commander wants to see the details of the terrain and its relation to the enemy. Additionally, situation templates are necessary tools that the staff will use during COA development and wargaming.

Figure 4 shows a tool called a "storyboard" that portrays broad multiple ECOAs in terms of critical events during a motorized rifle regiment (MRR) attack. A benefit of this tool is that when the S2 presents this simple, clear picture of all enemy options to the commander during the mission analysis brief, he has assisted in developing flexible friendly COAs. Another benefit of this tool is that it drives the initial reconnaissance planning. This method also provides an opportunity to see all enemy options at once, without swapping acetate situation templates back and forth on a 1:50,000 map.

The storyboard effectively depicts an ECQA, but only in broad terms. It does not do a very good job in showing how the enemy will look, for example, in the close fight as he attempts to suppress, breach, and penetrate our defense. The storyboard may not show all the combat multipliers the enemy will employ during the fight. We do a good job at showing how the enemy will move in formation, for example in a meeting engagement, but not in showing how the enemy will fight us. S2s need to be well versed in maneuver.

Snapshot ECOA Sketches. S2s must provide the commander "the method by which the threat will employ his assets, such as dispositions, location of main effort, the scheme of maneuver, and how it will be supported" (FM 34-130). An effective way to do this is to create "snapshots" of how the commander expects the enemy to look at critical places and times on the battlefield. Figures 5 through 7 show a technique to display snapshots of critical events of an MRR in the close fight.

What We Know (Targeting Implications). So far, we have discussed critical terrain and its significance and introduced a dynamic, thinking enemy, a full range of ECOAs, and how we think the fight may unfold. As we are approaching the end of the mission analysis brief, it is critical that the S2 tells the commander what he knows so far. Figure 8 shows a tool the S2 can use to illuminate what we know and how it fits the template. For example, the division G2 provided a satellite photo, clearly showing a small piece of a motorized rifle company (MRC) defense. The black outline represents the photo. The picture shows tanks and BMPs (Soviet-developed armored personnel carriers) dug in, a wire obstacle, and a minefield. The photo does not show the entire defense, but the S2 can tell the commander, "Sir, this is what we know [photo], and this is what we don't know [templated sketch]. We can target these vehicles now" That information immediately goes into the Fire Support Officer's plan. However, what are we missing ?

What We Do Not Know (Reconnaissance Implications). We do not know anything about the southern piece of the defense. That is the job for our reconnaissance. "Sir, let's focus our recon plan in the south. We could go a bit lighter in the north since we know something is up there, and maybe send a combat observation lasing team (COLT) north to call and adjust fires onto the known targets. Based on what we do not know, here are the recommended PIR."

Recommended PIR. PIR are often vague and unfocused. For example, "Will the enemy use chemical munitions to support his attack?" This is not a very difficult question to answer. The answer is most probably yes! If we can answer the PIR without conducting reconnaissance or requesting information from higher, are the PIR adequate? Consider the following "PIR equation" as a guide to assist you in formulating PIR that meet the commander's needs: PIR = DPs + HPTs + Special Munitions [high-payoff targets]. If we look closely at these three areas and determine what it is that the commander must know, we can write more effective PIR that are truly the priority intelligence requirements.

Perhaps the most common mistake S2s make in recommending PIR is that they do not link them to their commanders' DPs. Of course, when the S2 recommends initial PIR at the end of the mission analysis brief, no one yet knows the DPs. The S2 must be able to anticipate a few DPs and come up with some meaningful PIR. The S3 can be very helpful in developing a list of recurring DPs for each type of mission.

If we have done a good job of analyzing the terrain and enemy, especially what we do not know, we will have an adequate set of initial PIR. Additionally, if the PIR do not drive the reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S) plan, they are useless.

Remember the PIR equation (PIR = DPs + HPTs + Special Munitions)? As we progress through the MDMP and build a friendly COA that deals with all of our ECOAs, our PIR may, and probably should, change. As we develop friendly DPs and HPTs, we need to examine whether our PIR address the commander's need for the intelligence required to make each decision, kill the HPTs, and protect the force. If not, adjust the PIR.

Tentative Reconnaissance Concept. Now, armed with what he knows, does not know, and the initial PIR, the S2 can present a tentative reconnaissance concept. This should consist of at least a reconnaissance mission statement, task organization, timeline, necessary movement, time of reconnaissance OPORD, and a draft event template.

A Consideration in Focusing Reconnaissance

S2s often over-focus their intelligence collection assets by assigning too many small named areas of interest (NAIs) that do not use our collectors' greatest asset (their ability to think). For example, in Figure 9, the S2 has over-focused the collectors by creating numerous small NAI locations. In the open and unvegetated terrain depicted, one properly sited observer can see most of the NAIs in the larger enclosed area. If the S2 really needs to know where the enemy goes as he moves between the large hill masses to the north and south, then he should task the collectors properly and assign an NAI encompassing the larger area.

Further MDMP Preparation

COA Development. The S2, or his planner, must be involved in COA development. He must help in two distinct areas. First, the S2 can ensure that the initial array of forces in the friendly COAs makes sense against the ECOAs developed in the mission analysis. He should also assist with the calculations involved in force-ratio analysis, specifically ensuring that both operations and intelligence use the same system of calculation.

The Wargame. The wargame is a very different event and requires a novel type of participation by the S2. The wargame audience is the brigade staff, which has recently heard the S2's pitch at the mission analysis brief. What they have not seen is this dynamic enemy in action and played against the friendly COA just developed. The S2 must take some tools with him to the wargame. We recommend the following items:

* Replication of the enemy's assets using small stickers, pushpins, and mini-models.

* 1:24,000 map.

* Situation templates.

* Snapshot ECOA sketches.

* Initial reconnaissance plan and event template.

* MicroDEM (1) products at critical points.

* Critical events list and timeline.

Note that any new enemy information gained since conducting the mission analysis will require introduction into the wargame. The staff must be prepared to reevaluate the COAs for feasibility. Moreover, as in COA development, the wargame may refine our PIR.

The OPORD. The OPORD brief has a different audience than the mission analysis brief, and therefore requires a distinct presentation. Subordinate commanders have not yet seen any of the information the S2 briefed during mission analysis, and they are looking for information tailored to their levels.

Task force (TF) S2s cannot generate all the products that a brigade S2 shop can. The brigade S2 can supply some of the close fight sketches (mentioned above under ECOA development) to the TF commanders. Any other products such as satellite or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) photos, Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) products, or any new information gained from reconnaissance may assist the TF commander.

Finally, take the opportunity to sell the reconnaissance plan at the OPORD brief. The TF assets are pertinent to answering your PIR.

The Rehearsal. The S2 must ensure he takes the following actions at the rehearsal:

* Discuss any new information gained since the brigade issued the OPORD that may affect our maneuver and reconnaissance plan, and update associated products.

* Propose changes to the reconnaissance plan that require us to redirect our effort to find the remaining pieces of the puzzle. Discuss new reconnaissance objectives and show the location of new NAIs.

* As in the wargame, play a dynamic, uncooperative, thinking enemy.

IPB and Mission Execution

Thus far, we have stepped through IPB, discussed how we weave it into the MDMP, and provided TTP to help S2s visualize and communicate the vision to the commander and staff of how the enemy will fight. We will now take a look at some intelligence issues that occur during the execution phase of an operation and some TTP to help resolve them, specifically:

* Monitoring and executing the R&S fight.

* What to do with the intelligence once we get it.

* Situation development.

Monitoring and Executing the R&S Fight. Someone must be in charge of the R&S effort to ensure proper execution. Simply waiting for the intelligence to flow in will not satisfy the commander's PIR. We must understand the R&S plan, and the plans of our subordinates that work to fulfill tasking we assign. We must constantly track the execution of the R&S plan. We must also be ready to adjust our plan at any time. The person in charge of the R&S effort must do more than actively monitor the R&S fight, he must be empowered to make changes to the plan at any time. Finally, we need to keep track of what intelligence we are collecting and, specifically, whether or not we have answered any of the PIR.

What to Do with the Intelligence. Once S2s have information, they must analyze it to make it intelligence. They must decide if it answers PIR or if it involves HPTs or critical enemy events. Figure 10 offers some examples in an enemy defense.

Situation Development. This is the third category of TTP to help resolve intelligence issues that occur during the execution phase of an operation. These TTP include the areas of tracking and correctly labeling the enemy and of predictive analysis.

Tracking the Enemy. Enemy combat strength tracked as an aggregate total does not do a great deal for the commander. It does not allow him to see where the enemy is weak or strong so he can make informed decisions on the battlefield. The following rules will help. If the enemy force attacks track it by major formation, (for example the forward security element [FSE], advance guard main body [AGM B], motorized rifle battalion [MRB] #1, MRB #2, MRB #3, etc.). If the enemy force defends, track it "geographically" so the S2 can see enemy weaknesses developing as they occur. For example, set up battle damage assessment (BOA) charts to mirror the situation template. If the situation template shows the enemy defending with three MRCs abreast with a 3:8 ratio (tanks to BMPs) in each MRC, we should set up our BDA charts showing three MRCs abreast, with starting strengths of 3:8 in each MRC. Draw and number every vehicle in each battle position. As the fight progresses and you find that the situation template requires a djusting, make the same adjustment to the BOA chart. This is critical because it allows us to assess where our enemy may be weak or strong, and provides the commander with an opportunity to make important decisions that may trigger critical events.

Labeling the Enemy. S2s should carefully label the enemy element when tracking it, because as the fight develops, certain labels may become confusing. For example, during an enemy attack, a trail MRB may be the first element to break through our defense, and is no longer a trail MRB. A better technique is to label it MRB #4. In an enemy MRB defense, what we labeled the center MRC may become a meaningless term after an hour of repositioning resulting in the MRC now being the northern MRC. A better technique is to label it MRC #2. When the enemy is defending, our situation template will change during the battle. To communicate these changes effectively, we recommend passing the grids for the end points of enemy defensive positions, their orientation, and current strength; for example, "MRC #1 from NK 123456 to NK 128473, oriented west-orthwest, at 20-percent strength."

Predictive Analysis. First, do not simply disseminate the spot reports received. All too often, we see S2s who get a great piece of information, hastily make sure that the commander and other S2s have the information, and consider the job done. Things that may seem obvious to us may not be to our commander who is bouncing over the battlefield in his M113 or, even worse, running from an enemy tank. He counts on his S2 to do the analysis for him, so go beyond reporting history. We are good at telling him what has happened, and reasonably good at telling him what is happening, but need to work on telling him what will happen. This seems simplistic, and you may be saying to yourself, "Of course! Who wouldn't do that?" The answer is that most of us do not. It is not that we cannot, but we simply do not. We need to discipline ourselves to ask the question "What will happen?" based on every piece of new information we receive. Fifteen seconds of analysis on the command net on a regular basis will keep us focused on what our commanders need to fight and win. If we keep asking ourselves that question, and informing the command of what we think will happen in the future, we will have gone a long way toward providing our commanders and staffs what they need to succeed.


IPB has come a long way since its adoption. FM 34-130 does a great job of laying out a lot of the "what to do's" that we have needed for a long time. Although it states why we do IPB, we think that we are missing the larger point. IPB does not just support decision-making--it also contributes to creating the vision of the terrain, weather, and how the enemy can fight and the ability to communicate that information effectively. We believe the TTP discussed will help S2s establish what is necessary to create the IPB vision, and communicate it quickly and effectively to commanders and staffs. (*)

Lieutenant Colonel Tom Smith (U.S. Army Retired) was the Senior Intelligence Trainer at NTC and his final assignment was Deputy Commander, 704th MI Brigade.

Major Dave Puppolo is currently MI Lieutenant Colonel Assignments Officer, U.S. Total Army Personnel Command. He served as the Executive Officer, 103d MI Battalion, 3d Infantry Division (ID) and the G2 Planner for the 3d ID. His previous assignments include S2 Brigade Trainer, NTC; MI Company Commander, 1st Armor Division (AD); and Battalion S2, 4-8 Infantry 1st AD. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from the University of Miami and a Master of Science degree in Geology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

End note

(1.) MicroDEM, formerly known as Terrabase II, is terrain evaluation and Visualization software.

[Figure 2 omitted]

[Figure 3 omitted]

[Figure 4 omitted]

[Figure 5 omitted]

[Figure 6 omitted]

[Figure 7 omitted]

[Figure 8 omitted]

[Figure 9 omitted]


* Assist the commander's visualization process

* Help drive course of action (COA) development

* Help refine friendly COAs

* Help in analysis and synchronization of COA (wargame)

* Help program flexibility into our plan

* Drive reconnaissance planning

* Assist decision-making during execution

* Assist subordinate units in their visualization process

To Do This, IPB Products Should--

* Address enemy commander's expected mission and intent

* Describe how the enemy sees us

* Offer the commander an array of capabilities

* Portray an uncooperative, adaptive, and thinking enemy

* Describe the way the enemy Will fight and maneuver--including all of his combat multipliers, not just how and where he will move

* Analyze the enemy to the appropriate level of detail (changes with the audience)

* Be as user friendly as possible
Figure 10.

Actions to Take with
 Receipt of Intelligence Items.

 If We Find This: We Should Do This:

* Direct fire weapons * Refine the close air support
 locations/holes (CAS) target box, artillery
 targets, and groups
 * Refine situation template
 * Begin maneuver
 * Begin bounding overwatch
 * Acquire and kill enemy

* Composition, location, * Define possible zone of
 orientation of obstacles, penetration, points of breach
 gaps,and bypasses

* Forces repositioning * Kill, suppress, avoid
 * Block, fix

* Counterattack * Adjust, redirect reconnaissance
 * Activate triggers and destroy
 or suppress with artillery or CAS
COPYRIGHT 2001 U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:intelligence preparation of the battlefield
Author:Smith, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas M.; Puppolo, Major David G.
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2001
Previous Article:CSM Forum.
Next Article:Named Areas of Interest (NAIs): Knowing When Too Many Is Too Much.

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