The Gulf War was truly an historic and ground-breaking event from a “strategic” versus “tactical” intelligence perspective. The distinction between the two levels of intelligence was blurred. In fact, they often overlapped. Battalion Task Force Intelligence Officers collected combat information and sent intelligence reports up the chain of command to be incorporated into Echelons Above Corps (EAC) Theater level intelligence products.ix Conversely, there were instances where national intelligence agencies directly supported battalions with high quality, detailed intelligence reporting tailored for operational planning at the lowest levels.
U.S intelligence collection at the operational and tactical level of war was truly a multi-disciplined approach, leveraging the strengths of Human Intelligence (HUMINT), Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) disciplines to provide timely, accurate and relevant intelligence for the commander.
COUNTERINTELLIGENCE (CI)/HUMAN INTELLIGENCE (HUMINT)
HUMINT and CI played a vital role in the conduct of the Gulf War. A number of HUMINT/CI intelligence collection platforms were highly productive. Before we enter into a discussion of the various HUMINT/CI collection means, it is instructive to note that language proficiency and area expertise were two of the clearest challenges confronting the HUMINT/CI intelligence collection discipline during the Gulf War.x Intelligence professionals cannot begin to underscore the serious language challenge which confronted the intelligence community; particularly with regard to low density language dialects such as Arabic Egyptian and Persian Farsi. The Gulf War was a combat scenario where the U.S. military was forced to rely heavily on human intelligence.xi The intelligence community was hard-pressed to produce competent linguists to serve as counterintelligence agents, interrogators, translators, voice intercept operators and liaison officers. It takes a great deal of time and training to produce these linguists and area experts. Senator David Boren (Democrat, Oklahoma) put it best when he stated, “during the Cold War, we focused our resources on the Soviet Union. Now, clearly we need to shift many of these resources to the Middle East in an effort to improve HUMINT.”xii The Gulf War served to reinforce the importance of HUMINT/CI on the battlefield as well as the belief that there is no “quick fix” solution to this seemingly timeless challenge that confronts the intelligence community.
A great many HUMINT/CI lessons were harvested from the Gulf War. These high value HUMINT/CI enduring lessons can best be captured in four broad areas: