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Training and employing: every soldier a sensor.


The purpose of this article is to provide the intelligence community (IC) with a better understanding of "Every Soldier a Sensor (ES2)" and to enhance our ability to leverage the Soldier Sensor. ES2 is an initiative of the Department of the Army G2. Its premise is that Soldiers are the most capable and sophisticated system of sensors on the battlefield. (1) Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated the need and importance of understanding a complex environment. The enemy continues to follow Henry Kissinger's premise that "the conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerilla wins if he does not lose." The limited quantity of traditional intelligence sensor assets, combined with an ever-increasing demand for better intelligence, makes the Soldier Sensor the only system capable of interacting with a multifaceted problem in a timely manner to defeat an insurgency.

A rudimentary version of ES2 already occurs in the U.S. Army and has been since its inception. Leaders and Soldiers at every level are interacting with their surroundings to ensure mission success and provide force protection. They are listening to sheiks and pilgrims, warlords and henchmen, the affluent and the poor. The Soldier is collecting information that leaders need every day while on patrol. The difficulty is not convincing commanders of the merits of ES2, but determining how to employ it. (2) The enemy has its own version of ES2. Insurgencies thrive because they work from the bottom up. (3) The insurgent knows the neighborhoods and social networks and knows how to influence them. The insurgent uses simple but effective weapons to overcome technological and logistical shortfalls and sees the immediate effects of policy at the lowest level and adapts to remain viable. The U.S. Army is learning how to harness the knowledge of its Soldiers too. Compounded with first-rate information networks, ES2 has the potential to bring information dominance to a completely new level of effect.

The ES2 concept challenges the U.S. Army to find ways to collect, compile, and leverage the knowledge already in its organization. The bottom line is that it is not a unique intelligence process, but rather an untapped source of information to be analyzed and exploited. Four aspects for the implementation of ES2 are discussed below: Soldier Sensor training, Soldier Sensor system employment, Soldier Sensor data collection, and Soldier Sensor data exploitation.


The Soldier Sensor must undergo continuous training in order to be an effective collector. An example of how poor Soldiers are at everyday observation can be seen from an exercise conducted at a basic officer leader's course. During a release run, the majority of the class ran a counterclockwise route. Three other students picked up two AK-47 rifles and a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) from a cache site and then ran the route clockwise against the main body. After the run, less than 25 percent of the officers had noticed that someone ran by them carrying an AK-47 or RPG launcher with round. In addition, at the end of the run another Soldier wore a suicide vest consisting of two canisters each roughly the size of a one liter bottle and a hand detonator over his PTs. Less than one tenth of the class noticed as they were stretching in a circular formation afterward. One Soldier even walked and talked with the "suicide bomber" for roughly 200 meters without ever noticing that something was amiss.

The 2-54th Infantry Battalion, 192d Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia, has realized its role in the ES2 training process and integrated it into its Initial Entry Training. The battalion broke ES2 into five basic concepts: situational awareness, actionable intelligence, threat/cultural awareness, human intelligence (HUMINT)/combat patrolling, and improvised explosive device (IED) detect and defeat training. Each concept is its own separate entity, but linked in the holistic systems based view of information/intelligence collection and dissemination during counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. The aspects of ES2 have been defined, debated, approved, disapproved, and executed with varying degrees of success and failure depending on the individual commander's/instructor's familiarity with the training content and methodology. Accepted by all, however, is the holistic nature of ES2 training and implementation.

The battalion developed the entire 14 week One Station Unit Training Course Map and completely integrated ES2 training concepts into nearly every program of instruction event. In order to equip Soldiers with the tools they will need to collect actionable intelligence; display cultural awareness; conduct tactical questioning (not source operations), and conduct normal traffic control point/entry control point operations, the Checkpoint Operations training includes:

* Basic Iraqi Arabic Language.

* Escalation of Force (EOF).

* Graduated Response.

* Area specific hand and arm signals.

* Personnel search procedures.

* SCRIM and A-H reporting procedures. (4)

* Vehicle search techniques.

Urban Operations training includes:

* Employment of a fire team.

* Enter and clear a room.

* Shoot/don't shoot scenarios.

* Basic information gathering in language.

* Keep in memory (KIM) testing. (5)

* Target detection/target discrimination.

* Room search techniques.

* Civilians on the battlefield in both precision and high intensity clearing techniques.

IED Detect and Defeat training includes:

* Iraqi mine identification.

* The Multinational Force 5 Cs (Confirm/Clear/Call/Cordon/Control).

* 5/25 meter checks.

* Nine Line Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)/IED reporting.


The field training exercise integrates the full spectrum of Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills with ES2 training scenarios centered on a forward operating base training environment with a culminating event that forces the individual Soldier to think and make decisions on events that he will encounter in the Current Operating Environment (COE).

The purpose of this ES2 training program is to enhance each Soldier's overall perceptual skills and improve his ability to act/react/respond in the COE. The endstate is that all Soldiers are trained in the fundamentals of intelligence and information gathering and response in the attempt to craft the next generation of U. S. Army Infantryman/Soldier. The essential element in this training is that leaders cannot train ES2 in one block of instruction, or even in a week. Leaders must integrate ES2 into everything if they are to develop an effective sensor.


ES2 requires the IC to produce intelligence analysts who can interface with the Soldier Sensors and vice versa. Analysts require expanded skill sets in order to employ them effectively. The analyst must first understand the Effects Based Approach (EBA) and System of Systems Analysis (SoSA) in order to understand the operations side of the house. Second, analysts must understand the Soldier Sensors in order to identify intellectual strengths, unique skill sets, and maturity. Third, analysts must recognize common, innate human biases. Finally, analysts must be able to communicate with the Soldier Sensors before and after patrols in a collaborative way.

Before analysts can employ ES2, they must first have at least a basic understanding of SoSA and EBA. With SoSA, they will receive information that relates to more than the enemy location and activity. SoSA is a collaborative process of multiple Sensors that requires analysts to tie a broad range of information together, not just find the information that identifies an insurgent cell or an insurgent plan. Analysts must know more than the enemy location and associated activity if recommendations are to be made that matter. They must understand the political, military, economic, social, informational and infrastructure (PMESII) issues of the area of operations (AO).6 The concept of winning the population through civil affairs, information operations, and economic reform cannot be separated from finding and killing the insurgents. They are two sides of the same coin. For example, a failure to find a job may be a reason to join an insurgency or become an extremist in order to undermine the government. A social obligation may require an attack on U.S. forces in order to settle a debt of honor. The Soldier Sensor will gather this information because in the mind of the populace all these events are related. Therefore, if the locals' daily reality is influenced by a complex interaction of factors then the analyst must be able to discern these factors and their interaction in order to provide worthwhile recommendations. The analyst must understand the PMESII factors in order to analyze and explain in military terms the competing factors of the local civilian's life. Analysts must understand EBA well enough to identify, analyze, and relate elements of the adversary's system in order to assess and exploit vulnerabilities.

ES2 challenges the young intelligence analyst to be somewhat empathic; to understand what the Soldier Sensor thinks happened and find the facts. As an example, consider a platoon conducting its right seat rides with the Marines. An IED explodes as they are establishing a traffic control point. The Marines open fire on the neighboring area after believing they came under direct fire. During the debrief, instead of taking the initial report, the analyst stops, takes a breath and asks if the Marines saw anyone fire? What made them believe they were under direct fire? After a series of questions, it turns out the gravel blown up by the IED landed on their HMMWV causing them to think they were under direct fire. Situations like this illustrate that unlike other intelligence systems, built to design specifications and more or less the same from unit to unit, the Soldier Sensor is unique. The analyst will have to work to come to know the Soldier Sensors and training must be planned to present opportunities for analysts to develop these skills.

A wide range of people choose to serve in the military and a battalion's complement might have a wide range of skill sets; anyone from a fluent Arabic speaker, a nuclear scientist, or a football hero to a person who first set foot outside of the back woods eight months ago to join the U.S. Army. All are great Americans; the analyst will have to get to know each of them to be able to recognize things like special skills, maturity, and worldliness. Unfortunately, the S2 and All-Source Analyst can not know every person in the battalion; however, they can overcome this problem with a three-pronged approach. Groups have personalities just like people. Analysts must know the platoons, their personalities, and their unique skill sets.

The platoon leadership will know its people. The S2 must coach and help these leaders to leverage their platoon's unique skills to provide the best information based on the intelligence requirements. The S2 can identify those people who might have unique skills that can provide critical information such as the Soldier who speaks Arabic, the Soldier who the locals just seem to trust, or the Soldier who always knows when something is not right. Then, the analyst can create custom intelligence requirements for these select few in cooperation with the chain of command. If an analyst cannot interact with the platoons and Soldiers, then the analyst will never be able to leverage the Soldier Sensor.

Analysts will have to understand how to evaluate the available (and potentially biased) information in order to make good recommendations to the commander. Our analysts must train to know and recognize sources of bias. The Military Intelligence (MI) Basic Officers Leader's Course has recently adopted Richards J. Heuer's Psychology of Intelligence Analysis to train junior leaders to recognize bias. He covers the most common biases in the following passage.

"Judgments about cause and effect are necessary to explain the past, understand the present, and estimate the future. These judgments are often biased by factors over which people exercise little conscious control, and this can influence many types of judgments made by intelligence analysts. Because of a need to impose order on our environment, we seek and often believe we find causes for what are actually accidental or random phenomena. People overestimate the extent to which other countries are pursuing a coherent, coordinated, rational plan, and thus also overestimate their own ability to predict future events in those nations. People also tend to assume that causes are similar to their effects, in the sense that important or large effects must have large causes. When inferring the causes of behavior, too much weight is accorded to personal qualities and dispositions of the actor and not enough to situational determinants of the actor's behavior. People also overestimate their own importance as both a cause and a target of the behavior of others. Finally, people often perceive relationships that do not in fact exist, because they do not have an intuitive understanding of the kinds and amount of information needed to prove a relationship." (7)

The last skill set is the ability to communicate. To interface with the Soldier Sensor the analyst will have to be a collaborative communicator, comfortable talking with groups of Soldiers of all ranks. The analyst must be able to conduct both pre-briefs and debriefs and must learn how to sensitize the Soldiers to the unit's information requirements. The requirements should be communicated in plain language that the patrol can understand and relate to easily.


The analyst must add the Soldier Sensor to the Collection Plan. In this section we cover briefing formats, information types, and some techniques to analyze and exploit the information from the briefs. The Soldier Sensor, with time and experience in theater, will develop knowledge and insight into the situation that no other sensor can obtain. Consider an example from World War II where allied forces intercepted Nazi telegraph communications. Over time, the individuals listening to this traffic could tell, based on the "tone" of the dots and dashes, who was transmitting. They were able to track operators across Europe as well as determine the urgency of the message based on how the operator was transmitting. They went beyond the signals that produced a dot or dash to hear the person on the other side and even distinguish his mood. (8) The Soldier Sensors conducting patrols of the area will also gain knowledge like this over the weeks and months that they patrol their sector, providing the intelligence analyst with a source of information that no other sensor on the battlefield can collect.

The Soldier Sensor can provide three types of information:

1. Technical expertise--"I smelled fluorine near that facility, it may have been a chemical facility."

2. Factual information--"I saw a pickup truck with a rocket launcher in the bed moving south on Route Black."

3. Intangible information--"A local told me that he and his neighbors are tired of being bossed around by foreign fighters."

The analyst must be able to gather the information in all its forms. Ways to gather the information already exist: SALUTE Reports, debriefs, after action reviews, and sensing sessions, whether in person or electronically. It is worth mentioning nontraditional methods of retrieving information from the Soldier Sensor to include threaded discussion forums, sensing sessions, emails, and forums. Young Soldiers are used to and feel comfortable sharing ideas over the Internet. Electronic avenues may provide the analysts and commanders a key resource for flattening information sharing. Additionally, sensing sessions may provide the opportunity for the analyst to sit with the group and gather opinions about everything from the local populace to the insurgency, providing knowledge about the intangible aspects of the AO. These open forum discussions also provide the analyst with the added benefit of getting answers to the intelligence requirements no one thought to create.

Whatever the mechanism, these analyst-to-sensor exchanges should be a part of the unit standard operating procedures, and the unit's senior intelligence officer should ensure their quality. At a minimum (as offered by Brigadier General James C. Yarbrough at the 2006 Intelligence Warfighting Seminar) two prebrief/ debrief questions Soldier Sensors should consider are:

* What was different today?

* Did anything make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end?

The Soldier Sensor can elaborate on either question if he has more to offer. However, the analysts should not try to draw more information than the Soldier Sensor has to offer or attempt to ask leading questions to fill in the blanks. As explained by Gladwell in Blink, people can see and understand things in a split second, which they might not be able to verbalize. The power of our adaptive unconscious is not something to dismiss just because it defies our ability to explain. Soldiers who are on the street everyday will undoubtedly develop an understanding that is critical to their survival and may not be able to verbalize it in any coherent manner. To draw more information than is there to offer can cause people to try to fill in the gaps with supposition or false memories. More information is not always better information. Analysts have to take the information offered and use it.


The information offered by the Soldier Sensor, like any other information source, has to be analyzed to become intelligence. So what methods are available to analyze and exploit the information the analyst can expect to collect? Several common techniques are discussed here, including trend analysis, event matrices, cellular analysis, and a technique called "dotology".


Dotology, or ink spotting, is the first and most immediate way to take qualitative information and analyze it to retrieve quantitative data. The other techniques are based upon and rely on this method to varying degrees. Dotology uses dots in different contexts to look for trends and find meaning in apparently random data. The contexts may be a time wheel, a timeline, or a map. The data may then be used to tip-off more refined collectors. Take the second question that General Yarbrough offered above, the reports could be plotted on a map and a time wheel. If too many Soldiers report a specific area gives them the creeps, it might be time to task a HUMINT team to visit the location or conduct a cordon and search or cordon and knock.

Trend analysis is a common and well employed technique. Patterns in events and incidents may become more evident in a bar or pie chart to show and compare trends over time. Timelines with events are also a good way to notice trends in apparently random data. Trends, while not predictive intelligence, can influence operations in less dramatic ways such as modifying force protection posture.

Event matrices take timeline trends to a new level of analysis. This approach creates enemy lines of operations (LOO) needed to accomplish attacks. Soldier Sensors can offer insight into what activities are or are not present in patrolled areas. By plugging reports of potential indicators of events such as IED construction into LOO templates, operational funding activity, or bomber reconnoitering of the site, the analyst can help predict when the next attack is possible and potential indicators of attack. By predicting events in time, the command has an increased range of options for operations.


Cellular analysis expands the event matrix to the map. By placing known locations of attacks, suspected insurgent supporters, and link-up points on a map and constructing radii based on assumed capabilities (walking, driving, etc.), it is possible to gain insight on where future attacks may come from. The Soldier Sensor has intimate knowledge of what the ground truth of the terrain is and how or where insurgents could operate. The cellular analysis technique can predict events in time and space and has the greatest impact on operations as it empowers commanders with a form of predictive analysis. The key point for exploitation is that the information provided by the Soldier Sensor is worth analyzing and using to guide operations.



This article by no means addresses all the challenges associated with ES2. The major obstacle to overcome is the sheer amount and diversity of information the Soldier Sensor is able to provide. This discussion outlines immediate steps units in the field may use to begin to leverage what information the Soldier Sensors are already collecting. Perhaps the ideas presented here will allow analysts and commanders to determine which tactics, techniques, and procedures are relevant for ES2. Regardless of which methods move into doctrine, the U.S. Army's ability to train and employ the Soldier Sensor and then collect and exploit the information the Soldier Sensor is critical in overcoming insurgencies.

While the information provided by ES2 is extremely valuable at the strategic and operational level, operational and strategic assets are not capable of providing the information. Only the tactical units with the unique Soldier Sensors can gather the intangible information from the battlefield. The operational and strategic level organizations are counting on the tactical level units to provide the intelligence collected from the Soldier Sensors.


(1.) ES2: Every Soldier is a Sensor, Association of the U.S. Army, online at August 2004, 1.

(2.) From an interview conducted on 5 January 2007 with Lieutenant Colonel (P) James Norwood, Central Director, Theatre Ground Intelligence Center by Captain Eddie J. Brown

(3.) David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (London: Praeger Security International, 1964), 19.

(4.) SCRIM and A-H are reporting formats similar to SALUTE. SCRIM is specific to vehicles and stands for Size, Color, Registration, Identifying marks, Make/model. A-H stands for Age, Build, Clothing, Distinguishing marks, Elevation (height), Face (i.e. thin, round), Gait and Hair. These reports were developed and used originally by the British Army in Northern Ireland.

(5.) An example of a KIM game: Showing Soldiers a tray of objects and then having them write down everything they saw or then taking objects away and having the Soldiers identify which objects the facilitator removed. Prior to their deployment to Ar-Ramadi, the scout platoon of 1-16th IN would have their Scouts enter a room look around for ninety seconds then leave. A section leader would then manipulate the room and the Scouts would return and have forty-five seconds to identify what elements had changed.

During the MI Captains' Career Course Major (Ret.) Keith Miller (British Army) would show a PowerPoint picture for two minutes and then ask the students a series of approximately 10 questions. These questions would focus on the details of the pictures auch as "Who had weapons? What were the license plate numbers? Who was wearing combat boots under their dishdashas?"

(6.) Joint Warfighting Center, Joint Doctrine Series Pamphlet 4, 24 February 2004.

(7.) Richards J. Heuer, Jr., Psychology of Intelligence Analysis (Center of the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 1999), 127. Heuer covers in practical detail the biases that analysts must recognize and work to overcome and offers techniques for overcoming bias, such as analysis of competing hypotheses. A great training aid for analysts. Available online at index.html

(8.) Malcolm Gladwell, Blink (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005), 25-29.

Captain Tom Pike was commissioned in the Infantry. He served as a rifle platoon leader; rifle company executive officer; Bradley platoon leader, and scout platoon leader. He deployed to Ar-Ramadi, Iraq with 1-16 Infantry Battalion as Scout Platoon Leader and also served as Assistant S2. He commanded Delta Company, 309th/305th MI Battalion at Fort Huachuca, Arizona and is currently a TAC officer for MI BOLC in the 304th MI Battalion.

Captain Eddie Brown was commissioned in the Signal Corps and branch-detailed to the Airborne Infantry. He has served as a rifle platoon leader; support and transportation platoon leader; civil military affairs officer; division radio and telephone control officer, and division assistant intelligence plans officer after transferring to MI Corps. He is currently deployed as a company commander in the 513th MI Brigade.

Captain Jesse Beaudin was commissioned in the Chemical Corps at Cornell University and served as battalion chemical officer, medical platoon leader and scout platoon leader for 1-16th Infantry Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. He deployed to Ar Ramadi, Iraq with 1-16 Infantry Battalion as Executive Officer, HHC and as Motorized Rifle Platoon Leader, 3rd Platoon, Bravo 1-9 Cavalry. He commanded HHC/A CO, 2-54 Infantry Battalion and served as the S3 Operations Officer in the same unit. CPT Beaudin transferred to MI in 2007 and is currently assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia in G3 Systems as the Virtual Interactive Combat Environment (V.I.C.E.) Action Officer. He holds a degree in Nursing from Elmira College.
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Author:Pike, Tom; Brown, Eddie; Beaudin, Jesse
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Date:Apr 1, 2007
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