Information Warfare: Royal Marines Fight Smarter

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April 27, 2009: Britain’s Royal Marines won the information war in Afghanistan during their recent deployment, by employing a new methodology. This was carried out by a combination combat and intelligence outfit, the Information Exploitation (IE) Group. This unit made outstanding progress in defeating the Taliban in Helmand province, largely due to accurate and timely information.   Instead of operating alone, the Royal Marines, in an effort to enhance their information advantage, amalgamated their troops with elements from other allied nations and local Afghan security forces and formed an entirely new command called the Information Exploitation Group (IE). The results have been impressive

 Instead of concentrating on just human intelligence or electronic information gathering, the IE Group gathered, processed, and acted on information gathered through any available means in order to trick and defeat Taliban fighters. The formation combined unmanned UAVs, reconnaissance patrols, local security forces, and electronic warfare specialists to collect and develop a large picture of enemy dispositions in the province. 

The IE group was broken down into four major elements. The first was the Brigade Reconnaissance Force, a British Army combat unit that conducted aggressive offensives and patrolling against terrorist havens. The Afghan Territorial Force (ATF) was the Afghan National Army element working alongside the Marines, helping to better engage the local population and to gather intelligence. Any intelligence gathered was then sent to the Intelligence Section and Y Squadron, a group of electronic warfare experts and intelligence officers who then processed the information and told the Brigade Reconnaissance Force which tips to act on, based on credibility. 

The counterinsurgency groups’ success can be seen in the nine major operations conducted against the Taliban in Helmand during the current deployment, preventing weapons and fighters from moving in or out of the region and strangling the safe areas the militants have established. The group’s activities were not merely restricted to engaging the Taliban, but to countering narcotics cultivation and any other criminal threats in the region. On the counter-drug front, at least 10 tons of opium were seized along with 8 tons of cannabis. 

The unit just recently returned from its current deployment and there are plans to conduct more operations using Information Exploitation units in the future. The British realize that combat is only half the battle in Afghanistan. The other half is information, without which the enemy cannot be found or fixed. By establishing a compact unit that can gather intelligence, process intelligence, work with the local security forces, jam the Taliban’s communications, and engage in proactive and continuing offensives, the briagde's effectiveness is enhanced. The Royal Marines have made headlines with their successes in offensives during their latest deployments. The IE Group and the information it gathered from every source imaginable was a major contributor to their victories.  

 


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