Intelligence: The Book of Police Intelligence Operations


July 21, 2006: In recognition of a trend that began in Iraq three years ago, the U.S. Army has just released "Police Intelligence Operations," Field Manual 3-19.5. Back in 2003, the army began changing it's intelligence collecting methods, and behaving more like a police precinct. In the old days, troops collected useful intelligence information and passed it back to analysts, who studied it, and, if they found anything useful, passed that analyses back to the troops, who took action. Increasingly, army combat troops function more like a police operation. That is, the intelligence analysts get out in the field with the troops and act more like detectives, collecting their own evidence. Of course, detectives also depend on street police to provide information as well. Indeed, it's the street cop that usually gets to the scene of a crime before the detectives. Police are trained to carefully examine a crime scene, preserving it for the detectives, while recording key information that is perishable. Military intelligence troops have found that the "detective" model is much more effective. It's also more dangerous, putting intel people into combat situations. But the payoff has been enormous. Not only is more information collected, and analyzed, more quickly, but the troops have more confidence in the intel people, and are more willing to pass on what they see. The intel units have also been recruiting, and training, troops in the combat units to look for information, and get it back to the intel people as quickly as possible. To help this along, new intel "appliances" (software for laptops, or special PDAs) are being provided to make it easier for the leaders of infantry patrols to instantly record useful information, and get it transmitted to an intelligence unit. Special intelligence units have also been set up that operate pretty much like a detective squad, living with the troops, and collecting and analyzing battlefield information in order to provide the combat guys with more useful, and immediate, information on what the enemy is up to, and where they are hanging out. Using these mobile teams, and better communications, military intelligence operations are changing more than they have for several generations.

The new FM 2-15.5 is intended to help commanders in future pacification operations, and for any "force protection" (defending your own bases) situations. There were many changes to army and marine intel operations because of the Iraq and Afghanistan experience, and this Field Manual is just one of the many results.