The Gulf War served to validate the rigor of U.S. military intelligence analyst training as well as to push our training system to train the intelligence analyst of tomorrow. Unit after action reviews are replete with examples of young intelligence analysts rising to the occasion to perform unprecedented levels of support to maneuver commanders and planning staffs at all levels.xlii OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD/STORM confirmed that the U.S. military is in fact recruiting and retaining some remarkably bright and capable young soldiers into our intelligence formations. The Gulf War additionally underscored a challenge to examine fundamentally different ways to train intelligence analysts so they could be more effective in a future era of modern warfare characterized by vast amounts of data flowing throughout the battlefield at a cadence the world could never predict. Paul B. Stares, a defense specialist at the Brookings Institution, succinctly captured this notion when he stated, “for years the technology for collecting data has outpaced the technology for processing and distributing this data… this goal is to strike a better balance.”xliii The imbalance Mr. Stares refers to became known as the intelligence collection versus Tasking/Processing/Exploitation/Dissemination (TPED) debate in which the intelligence community recognized its investment shortfalls, primarily in the area of intelligence analysis.xliv In the wake of the Gulf War, strategies emerged to correct the collection versus TPED imbalance. These strategies delivered powerful automated exploitation capabilities and robust communications networks.xlv
Intelligence professionals cannot truly appreciate where we stand today, or, sense where we must go in the future unless we fully understand and embrace the important lessons of the past. The 1991 Gulf War presented a number of critical and timeless intelligence support lessons which are highly relevant to future military operations. It is imperative that we closely study both the achievements and shortcomings of this combat operation in order to bring back more of Americas’ sons and daughters in subsequent combat operations. The intent of this paper was to analyze the Gulf War intelligence collection and analysis efforts, primarily at echelons division through theater, to harvest the fertile and enduring intelligence lessons manifest in this complex combat operation. I hope the many meaningful lessons contained in this short paper will pave the way for improved intelligence support to future U.S. military combat operations.