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Training to Win: 4th Infantry Division Experience with Warfighter Exercise 18-04.


For a division or corps to achieve maximum success against the agile and lethal Mission Command Training Program (MCTP) opposing force (OPFOR), it must start with an effectve intelligence team. The 4th Infantry Division (4th ID) G-2 had a significant impact on the division's success during Warfighter Exercise (WFX) 18-04 in April 2018 in large part because it had an effective intelligence training plan. The team built a sound and redundant intelligence architecture, conducted mulitple repettions on our warfighting tasks, and successfully reached across the U.S. Army's intelligence community to leverage the necessary support. This article describes how the 4th ID G-2 section trained for WFX 18-04 so that Army leaders, especially other G-2s and S-2s, can build upon this success and learn from the challenges. The WFXs can be incredibly effective and rewarding events; and if the division G-2 arrives prepared, the positve effects multply exponentally.

Creating a Climate to Excel

WFX 18-04 was a multnational corps- and division-focused exercise based on Korean terrain; the exercise incorporated a blend of Korean threat equipment augmented by near-peer capabilities. The live training audiences included the 18th Airborne Corps, the 3rd (United Kingdom) Division, and the 4th ID. Within the 4th ID, the division artllery and 4th Combat Aviation Brigade were also live training audiences. WFX 18-04 was the first WFX that incorporated an international training audience and a mission-partnered environment network, which presented additional challenges for the communications architecture and intelligence sharing.

The 4th ID commander created a climate that enabled the intelligence team to excel. He approached this exercise with the mantra of "winning maters" and aforded the staff the tme, focus, and resources to learn what it would take to win. The G-2 team was able to study the enemy and MCTP operational environment, and share with the division staff what they learned in leadership professional development (LPD) sessions. The division leadership created a simplified batle rhythm and minimized production requirements to allow time to think and collaborate. The division staff determined early on in its study of the problem that targeting was key to success, and thus the G-2 focused on the targeting process. The result was that the division succeeded in eliminating a large number of enemy forces and seizing its operational objectves.

4th Infantry Division Intelligence Training Glide Path

Key to the G-2's success was the development of clear training guidance early on that emphasized intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB), the targeting process, and building profciency through repettion. The IPB included a detailed study of the terrain, threat, and understanding the MCTP operational environment--and then sharing that knowledge across the division staf. About 10 months out from WFX 18-04, the G-2 team conducted the first of several video teleconferences with the G-2 from another division that had just completed a WFX. In all, the team gathered lessons from fve different divisions through video teleconferences, teleconferences, and visits.

Next, the intelligence team took full advantage of the MCTP OPFOR ride-along, sending eight personnel spread over the four rotations before WFX 18-04. The OPFOR ridealong is a program during which MCTP allows personnel preparing for a WFX to visit and see how the OPFOR is organized and operates during another unit's WFX. This event offers the opportunity to truly understand how the OPFOR fights and the limitations of the simulation. We applaud the MCTP team for accepting our leaders and their openness during these visits. The OPFOR ride-along helped the 4th ID to understand the operational environment. (1)

The 4th ID chain of command supported the G-2 massing personnel on the MCTP academics event. By taking seven G-2 leaders to this conference, the intelligence team gained an expanded understanding of the exercise, conducted important repettion on the military decision-making process, and had a good team-builder with the division staf, including a new division commander. Having the leaders of the different intelligence functions present to hear the new commander's guidance was important to practicing disciplined initatve throughout the WFX.

Next, the intelligence team worked closely with the Fort Carson, Colorado, Foundry Platorm and mission training complex to design training. In the months before the intensive WFX train-up, the staff conducted mulitple division-led brigade field training exercises. During these events, the G-2 forged a strong relationship with the Foundry and mission training complex leaders and gained an expanded understanding of how simulations work.

Intelligence architecture was a priority, especially with the addition of the mission-partnered environment network. Early in the training progression, the G-2 set a goal of having fve Digital Intelligence Systems Master Gunner (DISMG) graduates in the division headquarters. While the G-2 team only achieved four DISMGs, these leaders, representing different intelligence disciplines, proved important to achieving success with our digital systems. While DISMGs alone could not maintain the complex intelligence architecture that was required for WFX 18-04, they proved critical in establishing roles and responsibilites for architecture design within the G-2, and they established an architecture glide path with adequate touchpoints to ensure the 4th ID G-2 was ready for the WFX. In addition, the 4th ID G-2 DISMGs developed a network of personnel throughout the Army intelligence community that they regularly contacted for support.

Finally, the division embedded several analysts into other divisions during WFX 18-03, conducted in February 2018, to learn through experience. Specifcally, the G-2 embedded two ground moving target indicator (GMTI) operators, one signals intelligence (SIGINT) analyst, and the division intelligence targeting officer (a military intelligence captain) into the 101st Airborne Division and 1st Infantry Division during WFX 18-03.

During these visits and exercises, the 4th ID learned several key lessons that shaped future preparation. The division artllery commander and the division G-2 established early on that efficiency in the targeting process--linking the sensor to shooter--would be essential to achieving success. The team lived with the ideal that every analyst supported the targeting planners and focused energy on building an efcient processing, exploitation, and dissemination cell (that we referred to as the strike cell), locating it next to the Joint Air Ground Integration Center (JAGIC). Proximity led to cooperation, and the strike cell and JAGIC rapidly developed targets and tracked batle damage assessments together. The team learned that manned-unmanned teaming was extremely effective in the simulation, which infuenced the decision to allocate two of four Gray Eagles to manned-unmanned teaming, working directly for the combat aviation brigade for a large portion of the fight. Having a combat aviation brigade that was a live training audience also made manned-unmanned teaming significantly more lethal. Other divisions shared that the GMTI was very efectve in the simulation, and with practice, an analyst could detect clear paterns and indicators.

Figure 1. Kill Tent and Strike Cell

The 4th ID team also observed that other divisions were struggling with their intelligence architecture, specifically when using their Distributed Common Ground SystemArmy (DCGS--A) Analysis and Control Element (ACE) Block II for data correlation to manage large volumes of message trafc. The division SIGINT teams in partcular struggled to make sense of the thousands of SIGINT tactical reports that were important to both targeting and predictve analysis. These correlation challenges contributed to the G-2's decision to push for an early fielding of DCGS--A Version 3.2.5 Service Pack 1 instead of receiving Version 3.2.4. Version 3.2.5 came with a Fusion Exploitation Framework correlation system that replaced the ACE Block II, and Generic Area Limitation Environment (GALE) sofware that facilitated SIGINT targeting based on the geospatal location of reports. Service Pack 1 also provided additional geospatal intelligence (GEOINT) tools that proved important during IPB steps 1 and 2 (terrain-focused). This was a calculated risk because the 4th ID was due to upgrade in December, just 5 months before WFX 18-04. With significant assistance from Project Manager DCGS--A, and tremendous help from the 4th ID DCGS--A field sofware engineer, the team successfully completed the upgrade. Fort Carson was fortunate to have resident a DCGS-A field sofware engineer who was an expert on Version 3.2.5 Service Pack 1, and requested and received support during WFX 18-04 from field sofware engineers stationed at other posts who shared this expertse.

Experience Matters

By day 6 of WFX 18-04, the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th ID, had penetrated the enemy flank and was about to launch an attack in the OPFOR rear area. The OPFOR still maintained in reserve a battalion (-) of M1985 240mm rocket launchers that were concealed in an underground facility. The G-2 team's IPB and study of historic GMTIs identifed several likely locations of the M1985 battalion and helped focus our deep named areas of interest for our GMTI processing, exploitation, and dissemination team. At 0330, the OPFOR rocket battalion emerged and moved into position to fire on the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team. The private first class who had been embedded with the 1st Infantry Division during WFX 18-03, and was the subject matter expert on GMTI, identifed the M1985 battalion immediately by its signature as it moved into firing position. He alerted the intelligence strike cell chief and the JAGIC chief who immediately vectored close air support on the location and destroyed the entire battalion of M1985s before they could fire.

To disseminate the growing knowledge of the threat throughout the G-2 and the rest of the staf, the intelligence team published mulitple iterations of a smart book and conducted LPD sessions. The most valuable portions of the smart book included charts with the key weapons systems and their ranges and vulnerabilites. The division commander led the staff LPD program and placed a heavy emphasis on intelligence. These training sessions included a lessons learned presentation that the G-2 led based on visits to other divisions and OPFOR ride-alongs, and a terrain-specific LPD session featuring fy-throughs of the key locations. The division's fire support coordination cell and the division engineer also led LPD sessions on enemy fires and engineer capabilities. The G-2's internal LPD program focused on the intelligence architecture and lessons from other divisions' rotations--whenever members of the G-2 visited another division or conducted an OPFOR ride-along, they were required to lead a working lunch discussion to disseminate what they had learned. Finally, as the team expanded its knowledge of the environment, it became necessary to review the intelligence architecture during the weekly G-2 training meeting to identify friction points and ensure shared understanding.

The G-2 and G-3 teams also invested early in understanding the terrain and experimenting with how best to visualize the battlefield. The 4th ID GEOINT team led one of the first division LPD sessions, which focused on the Korean topography. The GEOINT Soldiers leveraged the new tools that came with their upgraded DCGS-A to display fy-through perspectives of the main routes and key terrain in the scenario. This LPD session served as a forcing function for the GEOINT analysts to become proficient with new capabilities that came with DCGS--A Service Pack 1 and helped the staff realize the terrain challenges present in this scenario. This LPD session enabled the division leadership to weigh in on how they liked to visualize the terrain and ultmately infuenced many of the division commander's decisions throughout WFX 18-04.

Five months before the exercise, the G-2 and G-3 established what the standard division map would look like and built a map that made the dominant land features easy to see. Utlizing the Situational Awareness Geospatally Enabled tool on our DCGS--A GEOINT workstation, the 4th ID GEOINT analysts leveraged hill shade and a color-tnted shaded relief layer to make the higher elevations stand out. The analysts used a transparent yellow (restricted) and red (severely restricted) cross hash to annotate restricted terrain. Next, the GEOINT team ensured the standard map was displayed in analog throughout the tactical operations center and in all of our mission command systems. They worked with the division G-6 and the field support representatves for the major systems--notably Command Post of the Future--and learned how to push the digital map from the GEOINT server to each staff member's computer. The efforts of the GEOINT analysts made the terrain easy to visualize; and by using the same map in both our analog and digital systems through the fnal field training exercise, military decision-making process, and WFX, the staff became very confident with their knowledge of and could easily visualize the battlefield.

Building Muscle Memory through Repetition

In addition to emphasizing IPB and the intelligence architecture, the 4th ID G-2 programmed repettion on the intelligence systems into the training schedule. The intelligence architecture was complicated by the incorporation of the mission-partnered environment network and the new DCGS--A Version 3.2.5 Service Pack 1. It was evident that the team needed a few practice runs. The 4th ID was able to conduct only two command post exercises in preparation for WFX 18-04, but the division took full advantage of two brigade field training exercises by standing up the division main operations center in a field environment and training on targeting and batle tracking. The 4th ID also benefted from other divisions' training events.

In early January 2018, the G-2 section conducted an intelligence communications exercise using data from the 1st Infantry Division's command post exercise-3 to practice with the newly issued DCGS--A Service Pack 1. The Global Simulation Center, which supports division command post exercises with simulation data from its location on Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, enabled the 4th ID to receive the same data feed as the 1st Infantry Division so that the analysts could practice manipulating messages with their new systems. Project Manager DCGS--A sent an intelligence process and analysis team to Fort Carson to help train during this communications exercise. The intelligence communications exercise flled critical gaps in training for data correlation and database management using the Fusion Exploitation Framework. The ACE was also able to establish the intelligence architecture to pass data between the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System and SECRET Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET), and between SIPRNET and the mission-partnered environment using the Cross Domain Solution Suite Tactical Communications Support Processor Version 9.1. Finally, the SIGINT team practiced processing tactical reports using the DCGS--A Enabled Single Source Version 6.6 and GALE on SIPRNET. The communications exercise set the team up for success as it began division collective training.

The division G-2 section gained another valuable repettion during the intelligence collective exercise, Avalanche '18, conducted in late January. Avalanche '18 was an exercise supported by the Foundry Intelligence Training program, Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Tactical Profciency Trainer, and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) G-27. The exercise served as the Tier 2 testing for the division's Military Intelligence Training Strategy and gave the intelligence team time to work on its systems, at its own pace, in isolation from the division staf. The exercise incorporated the division G-2 section and portions of the 4th ID division artllery S-2, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade S-2, and the division's fire support coordination cell. Project Manager DCGS--A again sent mentors to work closely with the analysts on DCGS--A Version 3.2.5 Service Pack 1. The TRADOC G-27 built the scenario based upon guidance from the G-2 and the Foundry program director, as well as conversations with TRADOC counterparts at MCTP. The goal was to mirror what the 4th ID would experience during WFX 18-04. The Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Tactical Profciency Trainer constructed the simulated message trafc based on the scenario the TRADOC G-27 designed. Finally, Foundry instructors and other units located on Fort Carson and in Colorado Springs (10th Special Forces Group and U.S. Northern Command) acted as observer controllers.

During Avalanche '18, the G-2 section focused heavily on mastering and presenting the IPB and on conducting the intelligence portion of the daily targeting brief. The exercise began with the G-2 section deploying its portion of the division main command post to the back pad at the Fort Carson mission training complex, which worked well because it forced the team to operate in tents and use power generators as they would during WFX 18-04. At the same time, the G-2 leadership simplified the communications architecture

by plugging into the mission training complex's hard-wire SIPRNET to avoid delays sometmes caused by the division's tactical communications systems, thus allowing the intelligence analysts to focus on mastering their tools on DCGS--A. Perhaps the most benefcial part of this exercise was isolating the G-2 team from daily garrison activites so that they could practice on their systems.

When the time arrived for the division's second and fnal command post exercises in March, the G-2 team had already conducted mulitple repettions, which enabled them to move beyond the science of the WFX and into the art necessary to win. During the first few days of this exercise, the G-2 and JAGIC leaders regularly walked into the mission training complex and talked in person with the subordinate support cells, the pucksters (a.k.a. virtual soldiers), and the unmanned aircraf system pilots. By witnessing firsthand how manned-unmanned teaming works versus flying unmanned aerial vehicles on Mulitple Unifed Simulation Environment boxes, the collection management team was able to make better decisions on how to allocate the division's Gray Eagles for different missions. Command post exercise-2 was a slightly longer exercise (8 days) than a typical command post exercise, which provided an effective repettion for the strike cell and JAGIC to continue to build the synergy between these two elements that proved so important for dynamic targeting during WFX 18-04.

Throughout each of these exercises, the G-2 team worked hard to build redundancy into the network. The division invested heavily in building a support area command post that had all the functions of the division main command post plus a more robust SIGINT and human intelligence element. The G-2 ensured that both Trojan SPIRITs and Cross Domain Solution Suites were fully functional and running at the division main and support area command posts, which provided reliable top secret communications and a backup to the G-6 SIPRNET connection.

The intelligence team also invested early in learning to access and manipulate the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command Cloud Initatve (ICI) as a backup to the Fusion Exploitation Framework for data correlation. The ICI team on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, partcipated in the intelligence communications exercise, Avalanche '18, and during both division command post exercises. Approximately 4 months before WFX 18-04, the ICI lead visited Fort Carson and conducted an LPD session for all the intelligence leaders on post. ICI served as the redundant method to correlate the massive volume of U.S. message text formated message trafc and the primary method during division main command post jump operations. The ICI functioned independently from the 4th ID architecture, and all the correlation happened at the ICI location on Fort Bragg. The 4th ID received the correlated data with a lag time of under 1 second via the ICI portal on SIPRNET Since our division tactcal command post was intended to be light, mobile, and only a temporary command and control node while the division main command post jumped, the G-2 relied exclusively on the ICI at that location.


WFX 18-04 was a challenging yet rewarding exercise for the 4th ID team, and we are grateful to all the intelligence professionals across the Army who supported this event. The division G-2 was able to adequately inform the division commander's decision cycle by defning the problem early on, implementing redundant solutions, and then practicing our trade in mulitple collective exercises. By providing accurate and timely intelligence, the 4th ID intelligence team was a significant contributor to the division's success.


(1.) For a more detailed description of the opposing force (OPFOR) ride-along, see Jennifer Chapman and Patrick Madden, "A Division G-2's Impressions During an OPFOR Ride Along," Red Diamond Threats Newsleter 8, no. 4 (April 2017): 17-22, htps://


4th Infantry Division G-2 memorandum to Program Management Distributed Common Ground System-Army and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Capabilities Manager. "4th Infantry Division's Integration of DCGS-A SP1 for Warfighter 18-04." 6 June 2018.

by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas W. Spahr and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Angelina Oliva

LTC Thomas W. Spahr served as the division G-2 for the 4th Infantry Division (4th ID) from June 2016 to June 2018. His prior assignments include speechwriter for the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army; brigade combat team S-2, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division; and S-3 of the Army Geospatial Intelligence Battalion. He has a Ph.D. in history from Ohio State University and taught history at West Point and the U.S. Air Force Academy. LTC Spahr is currently a student at the Army War College.

CW3 Angelina Oliva served as the deputy collection manager and senior Digital Intelligence Systems Master Gunner for the 4th ID G-2 from July 2017 to July 2018. She served within the 4th ID as the targeting technician and senior all source intelligence technician from August 2015 to June 2017. Her prior assignments include deputy branch chief, Counterterrorism Branch-Southeast Asia Division, Joint Intelligence and Operations Center, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; and senior all source intelligence technician G-2 Analysis and Control Element, III Corps. CW3 Oliva is currently a degree completion program student at the University of Colorado.
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Author:Spahr, Thomas W.; Oliva, Angelina
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Geographic Code:1U8CO
Date:Jan 1, 2019
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