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analysis of intelligence suport to the gulf war:  enduring lessons

“A proper understanding of the conduct of the Gulf War military operations – the achievements and the shortcomings – is an important and continuing task of the Department of Defense as we look toward the future.”

Department of Defense Report to Congress, April 1992

When examining intelligence support to military operations, one cannot truly appreciate where the United States Army is today, or, sense where it must go in the future unless we fully understand and embrace the critical lessons of the past.  The 1991 Gulf War presented a number of critical intelligence support lessons which are highly relevant to future U.S. Army operations.  The intent of this paper is to analyze the 1991 Gulf War intelligence collection and analysis efforts, primarily at echelons division through theater, in order to distill the enduring lessons learned.  The paper is an unclassified, executive level presentation of the rich, timeless and meaningful intelligence lessons learned during OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM.

While it is widely agreed that the allied coalition’s defeat of Iraq was truly an outstanding display of military prowess, most military professionals acknowledge that the execution of this complex combat operation was far from perfect.  It is imperative that we closely study the intelligence achievements and shortcomings of this combat operation in order to bring back more of Americas’ sons and daughters in subsequent combat operations.

Based on professional experience as a Military Intelligence Officer, the author feels adequately qualified to comment on selected Gulf War intelligence issues.  First introduced to the complexities associated with intelligence support in the Central Command (CENTCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR) while serving as the Intelligence Officer of a Joint Special Operations Task Force during OPERATION EARNEST WILL,i  the author then served as a Military Intelligence Company Commander during OPERATION DESERT SHIELD/STORM.ii

ANALYSIS OF COALITION INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTIONS – THE UNITED STATES DOES NOT GO IT ALONE

A portion of the OPERATION DESERT SHIELD/STORM intelligence success can be directly attributed to the fact that U.S. intelligence, at all operational echelons, worked well with the allied coalition.  The U.S. recognized early on that the Gulf War would be a true coalition effort and that the U.S. would simply not go it alone.  Generally, there was an open exchange of intelligence between the U.S. and its 39 coalition partners from the early days of OPERATION

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