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The S2: Not Just an Intelligence Officer.

The purpose of this paper is to explain the critical tasks an S2 must understand to be a crucial member of a maneuver brigade or battalion staff. It grew from my experiences during numerous field training exercises and the Army's Task Force XXI Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE) at the National Training Center (NTC) in 1997.

Thinking Like an Operations Officer

The S2s of maneuver brigade or battalion staffs are critical officers to their units. Not only should they be the masters of their craft but also they must clearly understand battlefield communications and operations. In short, they must think and act as operations officers.

Intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) defines what intelligence is all about. IPB is a continuous cycle that requires updating as situations on the battlefield develop. It drives the commanders' decisionmaking process and is the tool by which they identify critical battlefield effects and decide how they will accomplish their missions.

I served as the battalion S2 for 1st Battalion, 22d Infantry Brigade. I spent as much time defining the battlefield and describing its effects as I did in understanding the maneuver plan and the Task Force's (TF) task, purpose, and method of execution. I had to think as an operations officer.

The S2's Collection Tasks

Collection is a critical process in supporting the maneuver commander. The S2 must collect information within the commander's battlespace. This includes weather and terrain data and information regarding the enemy. On today's digitized battlefield, this process can become overwhelming if an S2 does not know where to obtain that information.

The S2 must understand the unit's information requirements and how that knowledge will affect the TF scheme of maneuver. This, is where thinking as an operations officer is critical for the S2. The effective S2 must determine the information needed by the TF commander to achieve the objectives. If not, the S2 will fail and, more importantly, soldiers will die on the battlefield.

The reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S) plan is critical during the collection process. The most important step for an S2 is to discuss the collection plan with the battalion S3 and TF commander. They ultimately decide where the intelligence collection focus will be, not the S2. While the S2 develops the R&S plan during the planning process, the S3 or commander must approve it before execution. This is the first step toward synchronizing intelligence with operations.

It is important for an S2 to clearly understand fire support tasks, engineer tasks, the logistics support plan, the communications plan, etc. This will ensure that priority of collection is at the right time and place on the battlefield. For example, if the TF commander wants to employ smoke during an important phase (e.g., before a deliberate breach), he must have eyes forward to observe the smoke and assess its battlespace effects. This is why the S2's collection plan must have an operations focus.

Facilitating Operations

Fire support tasks are critical to the TF commander's success. Effective fires directed against enemy forces will disrupt enemy plans and schemes of maneuver. The S2 must clearly understand these tasks and provide the fire support officer with the tailored information he needs to support the combat commander's scheme of fires.

Logistics operations are sometimes the most challenging and important to the success of a maneuver TF. The S2 must understand where refueling operations will occur, what routes resupply units will travel, and where the logistics team plans to locate drop-off sites (e.g., Class V). As the situation on the battlefield evolves, lone enemy vehicles that the advancing force had bypassed can decimate TF logistics operations.

Knowing the TF's scheme of maneuver is crucial since company teams have different tasks and purposes during the conduct of a fight. Information not critical to the TF commander may be critical to a company or team commander or a platoon leader. Additionally, what is important for one company team commander may not be as consequential to another. However, thorough understanding of the TF scheme of maneuver will make reporting less difficult. It will also prevent reporting of unnecessary information, therefore reducing the amount of information the company or team commanders and the platoon leaders must process during the fight.

Communications architectures are also critical to the S2. The successful S2 would know precisely how the systems work (for example, the All-Source Analysis System-Remote Workstation (ASAS-RWS), Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS), Applique, etc.) and the "pipelines" over which dissemination of battlefield information flows. The S2 is a critical link in the achievement of information dominance.

Understanding how information passes is almost as important as analyzing the information processed. When links go down, the S2 must know why the unit is not receiving critical data to support TF operations. Knowledge of the communications configuration will also help identify the information that intelligence teams cannot collect and the resulting impact on TF operations. The S2 who understands breakdowns in information flow can focus the trained experts more quickly to solve the problems. These experts include the 3lUs (Signal Support Systems Specialists), the battalion's communications officer, and civilian contractors.

Final Thoughts

Although life as an S2 can be difficult, it is a very important job. Intelligence operations are critical for the TF commander's accomplishment of the scheme of maneuver. A clear understanding of this maneuver plan and intelligence support to it will make the S2 a valuable and trusted officer in the unit. Ultimately, the S2's understanding of maneuver operations will determine whether the Task Force succeeds and saves or loses lives.

Captain Mike Brady assumed command of the Potomac Recruiting Company in December 1998 and will leave this August to serve in the White House at the Presidential Emergency Operations Center. He commanded Headquarters and Headquarters Support Company, 303d MI Battalion; served as the Assistant Brigade S3 for the 504th MI Brigade; was the Battalion S2 for the 1st Battalion, 22d Infantry Brigade; and Commander, B Company 163d MI Battalion (Tactical Exploitation). CPT Brady graduated (Cum Laude) from the Citadel with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. Readers can reach him via E-mail at
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Article Details
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Author:Brady, Michael D.
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2000
Previous Article:Emerging Doctrine on Brigade Intelligence Operations.
Next Article:THE S2 WARRIOR?

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