While there is a widely held perception that BDA was a serious shortcoming during the Gulf War, some disagree. Granted, BDA was not always completely accurate or timely, but, given the long litany of mitigating circumstances, some may argue that the individuals involved with BDA can be justly proud of their mission accomplishment while simultaneously paving a way ahead based on their lessons learned.
During the early stages of planning for OPERATION DESERT SHIELD/STORM, the Department of Defense (DoD) intelligence community agreed that there would be a division of BDA responsibilities; however, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) refused to participate in the DoD managed BDA system.xxxiii This led to a duplication of some efforts and a more competitive analytical environment (between DoD and CIA). One might argue that this is not a bad news story. In fact, many intelligence professionals would agree that competitive intelligence analysis can be quite healthy.
A number of BDA problems were caused by events which were simply not in the hands of BDA technicians. For example, fighter/bomber aircraft sorties greatly outpaced imagery collection in support of BDA. That is to say, IMINT platforms dedicated to BDA collection could not keep up with the fast-paced operational tempo of the air campaign. Furthermore, many of the BDA imagery collection platforms were ineffective due to inclement weather.xxxiv
Within the intelligence community, there was a great deal of bureaucratic in-fighting regarding whether BDA imagery overflights had a higher priority than area coverage imagery overflights. This competition led to dedicated BDA imagery coverage to ensure this critical collection focus was not pushed aside in favor of constantly emerging requirements.
There was also a tremendous amount of confusion created by the outdated and constantly changing BDA criterion. This was compounded by the very limited BDA analytical expertise, across the intelligence community, in dealing with new munitions, e.g., “smart bombs.” This analytical shortcoming precipitated a call for more formalized BDA training for imagery analysts across the Department of Defense.xxxv
ANALYSIS OF U.S. THEATER AND TACTICAL INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS CONTRIBUTIONS – KNOW THE ENEMY
OPERATION DESERT SHIELD/STORM presented U.S. intelligence analysts, at all operational echelons, with great challenges. Subsequent to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, most Intelligence analysts were first introduced to an Iraqi threat they had little previous experience with. From the onset of OPERATION DESERT SHIELD, Intelligence analysts labored arduously to develop the enemy situation and make sense of the complex Iraqi problem set