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Tactical Intelligence Considerations for Partisans

June 3, 2013

(I’m back, bitches! With a vengeance. Sorry for the spotty performance. I’ve been busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest, and simultaneously suffering from a horrendous case of writer’s block. More regular posting should commence forthwith. –J.M.)

Tactical intelligence is information that provides leaders and planners with an accurate information picture of the operational situation. The possession of ACCURATE information about what is going on in the operational environment allows the planner to draw accurate conclusions about the situation. This results in plans that actually have a chance of success. A lack of accurate information, and the incorrect conclusions that can result, leads to mission failure and dead good guys. That is generally acknowledged as a bad thing, at least in my experience.

Whether you are an active fighter in your community defense group, a member of a combat support echelon, or an auxiliary living and working in the midst of a hostile occupational force, a solid grasp of the type of information needed, as well as active and passive methods for gathering that information is a crucial aspect of contributing to the successful defense of your community.

Basic Ground Rules

Information is not necessarily intelligence. Information can be defined, in our terms, as any tidbit of potentially relevant knowledge of an actual or potential hostile force, the terrain in a given area, a potential target, likely weather conditions, and a host of other considerations. This information may come from direct observation, overheard or intercepted communications, rumors and reports, and/or imagery, amongst numerous other sources.

Any information that is potentially relevant should be recorded and reported. This apparent relevance however, still does not make it intelligence. Intelligence is information that has been collected, evaluated for accuracy and relevance, collated and integrated with other accurate information, and analyzed and interpreted for significance and meaning. This is so critical a point that it bears repeating: until it is evaluated for accuracy and interpreted for meaning, information is not intelligence.

Directly relevant to that point is that ANY information related to the operational situation may be critical. Everyone should be trained to observe and report those observations, and ANY observations should be reported within your network. Stick to that job, You are not an analyst, so don’t try and analyze what you see for relevance. Don’t try and determine what part of the information is useful. Unless you have access to ALL of the incoming information, you have no way to determine the relevance and accuracy of what you are gathering. Be a sponge and absorb all of the information–all of it, then let it be gently squeezed out of you. When you are reporting it, don’t analyze it. Just report it.

Let me repeat that one for emphasis too: UNLESS YOU ARE AN ANALYST AND ARE RECEIVING ALL INCOMING INFORMATION, DO NOT TRY AND ANALYZE…you’ll just fuck it up and create an inaccurate information picture in the end.

It’s all METT-TC dependent!

A lot of people, including many who should genuinely know better, throw the term METT-TC around very loosely, all too often in a fashion that demonstrates am inherent misunderstanding of the depth of meaning intrinsic to this apparently simple tool. The first objective of tactical intelligence is to help planners and leaders make sound decisions. Getting intelligence is the first step in planning an operation. It assists us by giving us an idea of what the enemy can do, where he can do it, when he can do it, and if he is likely to do it. The most important thing for the novice to understand is that none of the elements of METT-TC (Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops, Time, and Civilian Considerations), exists in a vacuum. Each element exists and is relevant only as a synergistic part of the whole information picture, in relation to each and all of the other elements. While we have to, for comprehension issues, discuss each independently, we need to understand how they tie together as well.

Mission: What is the mission you hope to accomplish? On a grand, strategic scale, of course, the mission could simply be stated as “provide security for the community.” On an operational level, we can be more useful and perhaps say, “protect the community from the depredations of mutant-outlaw-zombie-biker-vampire-liberals” (hereafter referred to, in this and future articles as “cannibalistic San Franciscans.“). For most general information gathering activities, we will be gathering information on an operational scale and filtering it through a tactical mission statement to determine its relevance to specific tactical missions. PIR on the other hand may be requested that answers questions specific to a specific mission. That requires a tactical scale mission statement, in order to determine how the information we have, and the information we require, relates to the other information in the METT-TC analysis. A simple “who, what, when, where, why” statement of the mission can directly correlate to the METT-TC outline, allowing the planner to determine what specific information he needs.

“The East Tiddly-Winks Militia of Foot (WHO/TROOPS…..on a side note…why the fuck do “constitutionalist” militia groups insist on using 18th Century British designations for units? They were the enemy, remember? If you want to have a militia and a cool name for it, call it a fucking Infantry unit, or something….calling it a “militia of foot” is gayer than a bag of dicks!), will conduct a security patrol (WHAT/MISSION), from 0300 on 12 JUNE 2013 until 0900 on 15 MAY 2013 (WHEN/TIME), from the town of East Tiddly-Winks, to the Piranha Creek Bridge on Highway 69 (WHERE/TERRAIN), in order to interdict infiltration by the Mutant San Franciscans (WHY/MISSION and ENEMY).”

This more specific mission statement allows the planner to determine what information he has that can be applied to the tactical planning of the mission, as well as determining what further information he needs to request from assets in the field. For general information collection however, any information that might fit the strategic or operational mission statements should be gathered and reported (as an example…when we looked at property to purchase for the SFOB, I did a complete METT-TC work-up, as we’ll discuss below, with what information I had available, based on the strategic scale mission statement of “protect the community from hostile forces.” I considered it from numerous angles, as we’ll see at the end of the article.)

Knowing the “enemy” situation, or how to read terrain doesn’t do you a bit of good, if you don’t have a coherent mission statement.

Enemy: The first step of the troop-leading procedures (TLP) is to analyze the situation. This gives the leader an accurate information picture of what he is facing, in order to determine what other issues he will need to address in planning his mission. Knowing the enemy situation is pretty important to accomplishing that accurate information picture.

The planner needs to understand the type of force he is facing (is it a “professional” military organization, or well-trained/experienced irregulars, or untrained/improperly trained personnel? If it is “professional” is it professional in the western military sense of the word, or is it “professional” in the sense of the Iraqi National Army?), the size of the force he is facing (a couple of rifle squads? A platoon or company-sized element? Or an invading Army?), the type of equipment they are using (individual small arms only? Individual and crew-served small arms? Do they have indirect-fire weapons? How about armor? Air?), as well as the organization and tactics used by the enemy. The doctrinal method for reporting enemy information is the SALUTE report, for Size, Activity, Location, Unit/Uniform, Time, Equipment. It’s a perfect format for recording and reporting enemy information, when its done right. Unfortunately, too often its taught in entirely too brief and general a format.

For example, the Ranger Handbook (1992 edition in this case), illustrates the use of SALUTE with the following example:

Size: Seven Enemy Soldiers

Activity: Traveling SW

Location: Crossed Road Junction GL123456 (a grid coordinate on a map)

Unit/Uniform: OD fatigues with red, six-pointed star on the left shoulder.

Time: 211300 AUG (1300 on 21 August)

Equipment: Carrying one machine gun and one rocket launcher

On a conventional battlefield, that may be adequate. In the unconventional warfare environment however, we may need a lot more information:

Size: How many personnel? How many are of fighting age? How many are armed? How many are fit? How many are wounded/injured? Can you tell what size the sub-units, if any, there are? If there is an identifiable leader, how many bodyguards does he have? Knowing there are 100 personnel is great, and might tell me that my twenty guys don’t stand a chance. On the other hand, if only 30 of them are armed, and of those, half are walking wounded, licking their wounds after the last fight they had, with the rest being camp followers, my odds start looking a lot better.

Activity: So, they’re traveling SW? Cool. How fast were they moving? Were they moving in a tactically proficient manner, or were they just bopping down the block? Did they stop? When they stopped were they deployed in a defensible manner, or did they just fall where they stopped. When they stopped, did they put out security? Did they eat? Did they have a rest plan, or did they all pass out? Were they drinking when they stopped? The idea of the activity report is to give me an idea, not just of what they are doing, but of their capabilities, and level of ability. If 75 of the 100 are armed, but they just bop down the road looking at their feet, and don’t bother putting out security at night, with everyone falling asleep at the same time, my 20 guys suddenly have a MUCH better chance of kicking the dog piss out of them in a fight. If we’re talking about enemy forces in a fixed location, are they conducting sustainment training of any type?

Location: Crossed Road Junction GL 123456 is great….When they were there. Did they stop moving there? When they left, where did they go? When they stopped, did they stop on a key terrain feature with good OCOKA considerations (see Terrain, below), or in a very tightly-vegetated, hard-to-access hide site? If they are in a built-up area, are they stopping in buildings, or are they sleeping outside in vacant lots? Are they taking over occupied homes, or only empty buildings? If its an organized security force, where is there headquarters? Where are their outposts? Do they have LP/OPs set up around their positions? Where are those located? Where is their base of operations located?

Unit/Uniform: The doctrinal idea behind identifying the unit that the enemy is in is that, by knowing the enemy’s order of battle, we can determine the level of ability of the forces we’re facing. There’s a lot to be said for that. A 12-man SFODA can be a hell of a lot more lethal than a single conventional infantry squad of 9 guys, and not just because they have four extra guys. On the other hand, in an UW environment, the enemy may not be wearing uniforms, and the uniforms they are wearing may not mean shit. Everyone, I’m sure has seen the hilarious photograph of the fat kid playing airsoft, kitted out like a JSOC ninja. I’ve been to shoots with people who had been to three or four shooting classes, could run their guns pretty well, while having no concept of what SUT even means, but were kitted out from boots to do-rag in multi-cam (it’s gay enough that HH6 always looks at me when she sees them and asks, “Why is that guy wearing pajamas at the range?). Having the gear doesn’t mean they know how to use it. On the same hand, it could be a bunch of GWOT veterans who still have all their shit, or have purchased their own shit, and DO in fact, know what the fuck they are doing.

On the opposite vein, a bunch of scruffy looking dudes looking like they raided a fucking yuppie backpacker’s yard sale may be a bunch of yuppies with little or no clue what they are doing, or it may be a bunch of SOF veterans who are experienced enough to be more concerned with being as comfortable and efficient as possible, and less concerned with looking like a goddamned recruiting poster (there’s nothing wrong with looking professional, and I am, and always was, a fan of starched BDUs and spit-shined jungle boots in garrison. Call it a throwback to growing up in the Ranger Regiment of the 1990s. In the field? I only give a shit about being efficient, and if possible, comfortable). If you can tell that they are an organized unit, based on their cool-guy Velcro patches, then record it. If you are gathering information based on what others are telling you, or that you overhear, and they are mentioning specific units, by all means, identify them. In a field environment though, don’t get too wrapped around the “uniforms=unit=training levels and professionalism” horseshit though.

Time: Where are they, when? When do they stop? How frequently? Do they operate at night, or just during daylight hours? Operating only during daylight hours may indicate a lack of night-observation technology, and/or training for night operations. If my guys are trained to move and fight at night, and the enemy isn’t, that can provide me a pretty lethal force multiplier. If the enemy can move and fight at night, and my people get separated, lost, and involved in blue-on-blue every time they try and function at night, then I’m probably going to get my ass kicked (as a side note observation, this is one of the most critical reasons I introduce you to functioning after dark in my classes….if you can’t fight at night, you can’t fight. This got aptly demonstrated at a recent patrolling class when communications and connections broke down and two guys got separated from the rest of the element. Fortunately, one of them was an experienced infantry veteran with experience moving in the woods at night, or my ass probably would have spent a large portion of my rest interval looking for lost students while the rest of the class slept). The idea of reporting time information about the enemy goes to identifying capabilities, which can tell the planner about the enemy’s possible courses-of-action.

Equipment: I don’t want to just know what kind of weapons they have. I want to know if their weapons seem to be well-maintained. I want to know how many weapons they have. Does everyone have a weapon? Do they have crew-served machine guns? Do they have vehicles? Are their vehicles soft-skins or armored vehicles? Do they have (Please, God, no!) tanks? Do they have mortars or other indirect-fire assets at their disposal? Do they have air assets (just because they are an irregular force, doesn’t mean they don’t have air assets. I have a friend who has a light experimental airplane…I’ve flown in it and am pretty sure I could put rounds on a target, from the air, accurately enough to fuck up a dude’s week. Plus, considering the research and innovation happening in the civilian-sector UAV department, never assume they DON’T have air assets, unless you find out conclusively that they don’t have air assets. On the same hand, just because they are an organized, “professional” regime security organization that is known to have air assets, don’t assume they’ll be readily available to your particular hostile element. Lots of Afghanistan veterans can tell you stories about needing air support and finding out all available assets were occupied elsewhere and a long way from being readily available to them, when they needed them….)

Developing an understanding of the enemy situation, in relation to how it’s going to affect your forces is absolutely critical to developing an accurate information picture of the situation, and determining if you will be able to accomplish your intended missions. Developing a comprehensive SALUTE report can allow the analyst/planner to determine the enemy’s composition and disposition (how he’s arrayed within the battlespace), as well as likely and possible courses-of-action the enemy will take (i.e. an enemy force of 100 with only 30 armed fighters, who doesn’t know enough to maintain security when moving and stopped, and moves during daylight, and stops at night, is not LIKELY to suddenly conduct a night-time raid. In the event of my forces hitting them with a raid at 0230, the most likely course-of-action may very well be to break and run, scattering to the four winds, allowing my forces to then hunt them down one or two at a time, as necessary.)

Terrain: Terrain is a dominant factor in mission-planning, as well as in the success or failure of operations. It’s an age-old adage that a “guerrilla knows his home terrain better than the invader.” There’s a lot of truth to that, but it’s only part of the story. Knowing the location of every creek, draw, and ridge within ten square miles is useful, but only if you understand the tactical significance of those terrain features. This tactical significance filter must be applied to the terrain both in how it impacts the enemy as well as how it impacts friendly forces. To analyze terrain, we use the OCOKA framework. Again, like METT-TC, every element is synergistic with the others. One element has to be analyzed not just in light of friendly and enemy force capabilities, but also in light of the other elements.

Observation and Fields of Fire: When analyzing positions to stop, as well as routes of march, we have to look at what we can see and what we can shoot at, given the limitations of our STANO (Surveillance, Target Acquisition, Night Observation–in other words, “optics” of all types, although audio surveillance equipment could be considered in the STANO list as well) equipment and weapons, as well as where we can be seen and shot at FROM, given the limitations of the enemy’s STANO equipment and weapons. Cover and concealment (see below) can impact this from both angles.

Cover and Concealment: What is available for cover along a particular route of march or at a proposed stopping point? Will it stop direct fire only, or will it stop indirect fire, if the enemy is so equipped (see the inter-relationship between Terrain Factors and the Enemy Situation, now?)? If no cover is available, is there sufficient concealment to keep us hidden from observation from the enemy? What if he has NODs? What if he has thermal imaging? What if he has aerial FLIR assets? Thick, northern coniferous forests offer a great deal of concealment from visible light observation, both during daylight and through NODs, as well as from thermal imaging in many cases, including overhead FLIR. Thick, overgrown jungle-like swamplands in the Southeast can offer many of the same benefits. Being inside of buildings in built-up areas can offer cover and concealment, or just cover. Moving within the normal patterns of urban foot and vehicle traffic, in a non-suspicious manner may not offer cover, but it may offer more than ample concealment to allow partisan forces to move amongst hostile occupiers in a relatively free manner. Quit being pigeon-holed and ass-raped by your preconceived misconceptions, and think outside of the box, when it comes to determining what determines concealment. Multi-cam ACUs and old woodland BDUs are camouflage out in the boonies, but when you’re moving into built-up, populated areas to conduct actual operations, whether reconnaissance and surveillance, or direct-action (raids and ambushes) missions, sometimes dressing in street clothes is the more prudent and effective “uniform” of the day, and may be the only “concealed” way to approach a target.

At the same time, what cover and concealment is available to the enemy to hide in? As you’re moving along your route of march, and you are looking at potential lanes of observation and fields of fire, what cover and or concealment do you see that could potentially be hiding enemy fighters? How far out are they? Are they within the maximum effective range of your enemy’s weapons?

Obstacles: When most people consider obstacles, they think of man-made emplacements such as roadblocks, or concertina wire emplacements. Both of those certainly fit the description, but limiting yourself to just man-made obstacles will not only limit your offensive options, but will ultimately result in your getting fucked from a defensive aspect. Man-made obstacles generally serve one of two purposes: to either block you from going somewhere, or to channelize your movement into a desired corridor. In the first place, if properly emplaced and utilized, they will always be overwatched by someone with a gun. That may mean a sniper, or a rifle squad or platoon, or it may just be a forward observer with a radio and the ability to call on indirect-fire assets or air.

In the second case, they may also be under observation, but by bypassing them and taking the route the enemy desires, you may very well be walking into an ambush kill zone. It’s sort of a fucked if you do, fucked if you don’t, when dealing with man-made obstacles, unless you take the approach that coming across a man-made obstacle pretty much means you’ve gotten WAY too predictable, and completely change your operational modes.

Natural obstacles are the guerrilla’s best friend. These are natural choke points and terrain features that restrict or limit the enemy’s ability to move somewhere he wants or needs to move. A narrow, two-lane road along a lake, with steep, heavily vegetated mountainsides on the other side are a natural choke point, and no thinking commander is going to utilize that approach, unless he’s so ignorant that he holds his enemy in complete disdain (don’t for one minute think that U.S. commanders are immune to underestimating the enemy….). On the other hand, steep, heavily vegetated terrain severely constricts the movement of vehicle-borne forces, often times forcing them to take routes that traverse natural obstacles that are natural choke points (another reason I despise the emphasis on vehicle-borne operations in lieu of traditional, foot-mobile, light infantry patrolling skills). Even air assets can be channelized by terrain, if you use the terrain to your advantage. Make ridgetops impossible to land helicopters on, and the helicopters HAVE to set down in the valleys, where they are subject to interdiction from any fuckhead with a century-old .303 Enfield….let alone a 12.7mm.

When looking at terrain for protection, we look at how natural obstacles can be used to “disrupt, turn, fix, or block” an enemy force (quote is from FM 7-8 Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad, 22 APR 1992). Knowing that the enemy is a bunch of weak-sauced Nancies, who can’t move more than 50 yards from their pick-ups and SUVs or ATVs without going into cardiac arrest (apparently a characteristic of most of the rifle hunters in the northern Rockies, from what I’ve seen over the last decade of living here), means you can use a steep, high ridge with lots of vegetation as an obstacle to approach, thus “disrupting” them, forcing them to use the logging roads and/or ATV trails (turning), so we know where they’re going to be, allowing us to set up ambushes to interdict them….

Key Terrain: Key Terrain is any location or area, the seizure of which affords the force in possession with a distinct tactical advantage over any hostile force that attempts to approach. In a nutshell, key terrain can be simplest defined as a location that offers covered and concealed positions, with observation and fields of fire on all probable or likely avenues of approach, and natural obstacles on any potential avenues of approach that do not afford easy fields of fire or observation (see what I did there? Damn, it’s like I planned that shit or something…..).

Avenues of Approach: “An avenue of approach is an air or ground route of an attacking force of a given size leading to its objective or key terrain feature in its path. In the offense, the leader identifies the avenue of approach that affords him the greatest protection and places him at the enemy’s most vulnerable spot. In the defense, the leader positions his key weapons along the avenue of approach most likely to be used by the enemy(quote is again from the 1992 edition of FM 7-8).

I didn’t quote the manual because I’m lazy and couldn’t think of a better way to express it. I quoted the doctrine in that manner, because it pretty much tells you everything you need to understand about avenues of approach. Some important details are encompassed in that. The avenue of approach that a small unit of elite personnel can use (such as scaling the cliffs of Point du Hoc at Normandy) are not going to work for a large conventional force without the advanced individual training necessary to utilize that approach. On the same hand, the avenue of approach that a Stryker brigade may be forced to use, based on the limitations of the trucks (I know they can dismount too, but stay with me…) mobility are not going to be the same routes that a SEAL platoon may elect to use.

A HALO-qualified Special Operations element, such as a SEAL platoon, or an MFF SFODA (MFF=Military Free Fall=the real name for HALO and HAHO operations), has a significantly different avenue of approach available to it than a static-lined inserted platoon or company from the 82d Airborne Division. A Ranger company fast-roping into an LZ can use a significantly different avenue of approach than a company from the 101st performing an Air Assault mission…and of course, a JDAM dropped from a bomber at altitude has access to an extremely different avenue of approach than any of the above. It’s critical, when determining what avenues of approach the enemy can use, to determine what his capabilities (based on knowledge of training and rehearsal”activity” and what “equipment” he has…) are. When you know what avenues of approach he’s CAPABLE of using, you know can start figuring out which ones he’s likely to use, allowing you to determine the most advantageous places to put your SDMs and .50BMG marksmen, as well as any crew-served machine guns and mortars you might have come across.

When determining what avenues of approach your forces can use, it’s important to have a realistic, objective analysis of what your forces are trained and equipped to be capable of. A bunch of 50-something accountants and programmers turned guerrillas who have spent all their time “prepping” and “training” by shooting full-size E-type silhouettes at 500M on the square range are not going to scale a 2000′ elevation 70-degree rock face in Montana in the middle of the night, with fighting loads and assault packs (let alone real rucks), in order to approach an objective (Hell, I’m a fit guy in my mid-thirties with experience climbing all over the world, and I’m not going to pull it off at this point….). On the other hand, a bunch of young studs in their twenties and thirties who run obstacle races for fun, do regular PT involving forced marches with rucks, and spend a couple hours a month at the rock gym climbing, might actually be able to pull that shit off (note to self….see if any of the gyms in town have a climbing wall….).

Terrain is a third force operating in the battlespace. Knowing how to read and how to use terrain can make it an ally instead of an enemy. Ignoring terrain, or simply not understanding what it means, from an operational and tactical standpoint, means you will not only be fighting the enemy, but actually fighting the fucking planet…and that’s just going to suck.

Troops: In an UW environment, knowing what friendly forces you have available may only be determined through information-gathering, as “friendly” force commanders hedge their bets by holding troops in reserve, to hide their true capabilities from their erstwhile allies, in recognition that, in a wartime environment, especially in UW, today’s ally may be tomorrow’s enemy. It may also be done in order to conserve power for dealing with tomorrow’s enemy.

On the same hand, exhibiting slightly more faith in humanity, even if you are confident that you have a true representation of what friendly forces are available, understanding what is available means you can analyze the other factors: enemy, terrain, time, and civilian considerations, in light of what forces you have to work with. For the UW leader (as opposed to the foreign SF advisor), this can be difficult, due to the need to be thoroughly, brutally objective. If you’ve spent two or three or four years or more, training with your group of beer-drinking buddies, to start, organize, and develop the East Tiddly-Winks Militia of Foot, having to admit that you do not have the ability to conduct an effective security patrol, react to an unexpected contact, or do fuck-all at night could be disheartening, to say the least. Having to admit it, at the same time you realize that the ONLY way you have a rat’s ass chance in hell of beating the enemy you are facing could be depressing enough to make you want to eat your gun.

I teach guys to perform a SALUTE report, just like they did for the enemy, on their own forces…

Size: How many actual trained fighters do I have?

Activity: What training have we done? Have we learned and practiced foot patrolling? Have we mastered react-to-contact and break contact? Have we practiced conducting raids or deliberate assaults? Have we mastered clandestine movement in our operational environment, whether urban or rural? If urban, have we learned, practiced, and mastered conducting link-ups in urban environments without getting compromised by the old lady with 45 cats that sits in her nightgown on the balcony smoking Pall Malls at 0200, because the bitch has no life? Or, have we sat on our asses, drinking beer and eating nachos and barbecue while we plink steel at 50 yards and call each other “sniper?”

Location: What locations are my guys able to access? Can they run across rooftops and cross from one building roof to another with scaling ladders in urban areas, or can they get down in the sewer system and traverse country that way? Can they scale cliffs? Swim fast-moving rivers, or at least construct and cross rope-bridges? Are they even capable of walking a mile or two with all their fighting load on, if we can get them that close with pick-up trucks?

Unit/Uniform: Am I only using my guys, or do I have other cells/units coming to help? What are the capabilities of the others? Do I need time to train them up? Are they actually trained to the standards my guys are? Are they better trained? How will we identify them as friendly in the heat of the fight, if we don’t know them? If it’s darker than three feet up a bull’s ass?

Time: Can my guys operate at night, or are we limited to daylight operations? What about my allies? How fast can my people move, stealthily, on foot? If I have a limited time window within which to accomplish my mission, does my guys’ inability to hump a ruck mean I need to have access to trucks? Do I have the resources within my auxiliary network to procure adequate trucks to accomplish the movement?

Equipment: What weapons do we have available? What STANO equipment? What vehicles?

I need to know the enemy’s abilities, but I have to know my abilities also. Misconceptions about the enemy can be catastrophically bad. Misconceptions about my own forces are the mark of an incompetent fucktard of a leader and planner.

Time: Time available is not simply a measure of how much time you have to accomplish a mission. It also represents what times you and the enemy are capable of operating, and how that impacts the timetable of different operations. Will the target of a precious cargo recovery (prisoner rescue or piece of vital military equipment) be moved? When will they/it be moved? Do I need to hit the objective before they or moved, or will it be simpler and safer to hit them while in transit? If I’m planning on raiding an encampment of cannibalistic San Franciscans, do they move first thing in the morning every day, so I need to hit them in the last of darkness, or the evening before at last light? Can my troops get their in time to hit the objective within the time window available. given the requirements of planning and other troop-leading procedures?

Civil Considerations: Civil considerations is a relatively new addition to the tactical intelligence packet, outside of SF, as far as I know. I remember, as a young RIP student, in the early 90s, someone (I believe, twenty or so years later, that the guy was a former ROTC Nazi) asking one of the cadre (for the Regiment veterans, the RI in question was “The Evil Christian,” for the rest of the readership, that’s actually a compliment to the individual in question…so don’t start burning me in effigy yet…) a question about METT-T. The RI informed us all that METT-T was obsolete, because it was now METT-TC.

Regardless of when the addition was made, in UW, civil considerations impact EVERYTHING. Let me re-state that one for emphasis also: In UW, civil considerations impact EVERYTHING! If you think otherwise, you’re fucking retarded, which actually doesn’t impact me at all, so don’t take it personally, but recognize that you’re going to lose and die as a result, because you’re fucking retarded.

The enemy’s response to your actions has to be considered, and the impact on the civilian population. Will the enemy grab ten civilians and execute them for every on of his guys you kill or wound? What impact is that going to have on the local civilian populace’s willingness to aid you? It might piss them off and make them more active in helping you. Or, just as likely, they may decide since you’re not protecting them, you’re not capable of protecting them, so they better side with the enemy, just to stay safe.

Civil considerations will impact your relationship with terrain. If an avenue of approach requires crossing in view of eight different farms, will the farmers provide you food and shelter? If not, can they at least be trusted to keep their mouths shut about you being in the area? In urban areas, will the locals make you as a non-local (Yes. Always.)? Will they help you, or simply ignore you? Will they rat you out to the enemy in hopes of gaining a benefit?

Friendly forces has an impact on civil considerations, as we’ve discussed. Your people need to know how to be genuinely friendly and helpful, whether you actually like the locals or not. Just because you think Islam is a 10th Century anachronism full of barbarity and should be stomped into oblivion under the boot heel of modern liberal (in the classical sense of the word) philosophy and liberty (which I do), when you’re working in an Islamic country to defeat insurgents, you better know enough not to piss on dead bodies and burn Korans if you want to win…

Always, always, always consider the impact your operations will have on the local civilian populace. Gather information from the locals on local attitudes towards your forces. Are they on your side? Do they support the goals of the partisans, without being willing or ready to lend active support? Are they neutral and just don’t give a shit either way? Any of those are okay from our point-of-view, although the first two are obviously preferable.

Are they actively opposed to you? Do they believe you’re nothing more than a bunch of wanna-be Rambo criminals who should all be thrown in the darkest cell in the basement of a prison somewhere, and then the key melted down to slag? If so, what would it take to change their minds and gain their support? Is that possible for you to accomplish (I’ll give you a hint….”Kill them all” will not work, regardless of how tempting it might be to “hoist the black flag and commence to slitting throats.”)?

A thorough understanding of the implications of METT-TC to developing an accurate information picture of the battlefield is a critical element in determining what information is necessary to develop an actual tactical intelligence capability. In addition however, we also need to develop the ability to gather the requisite information to determine the validity of targets for attack, whether that target is an enemy encampment, a physical structure, or a specific individual.


Too often, when keyboard commandos and militia “commanders” discuss the implications of applying unconventional warfare methods they oversimplify the discussion by stating that they will use raids and ambushes, sniper attacks, etc, to destroy the power of any enemy. While the ancient dictum of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) is valid, oversimplification is a flaw of amateurs training novices, resulting directly from a lack of knowledge.

Yes, raids, ambushes, sniper attacks (a form of ambush, really), and sabotage, ARE the fundamental tactics of irregular warfare (and small-unit conventional warfare, for that matter), but a sound grasp of the fundamental realities of these methods, as well as a solid grasp of strategic target selection and analysis is critical to prevent a waste of limited material and manpower resources on tactical level targets of insignificant worth.

Partisan leaders must consider the METT-TC factors in their operational area, when considering suitable targets for offensive operations, but there’s a lot more to it as well, unless you like wasting the blood and lives of your friends and neighbors on pointless bullshit.

The current doctrinal method of target analysis/selection is the CARVER matrix. An analysis of any potential target, using this matrix will provide a planning organization with a method to categorize the cost-benefit value of potential regime targets in a hierarchical manner, allowing the greatest emphasis to be placed on the targets that offer the greatest value (i.e. hitting a fuel depot that re-supplies occupation force Strykers or BMPs will be of much greater value to the resistance than ambushing a squad-sized element of conscripted infantrymen. In turn however, a sniper attack that assassinates key members of a special operations element within the regime security forces may have greater value than a raid on a vehicle park that results in destruction of a half-dozen armored vehicles). It’s critical to recognize that like the METT-TC factors, the CARVER matrix is not independent and stand-alone. Every aspect of the matrix is related to and dependent on the METT-TC factors.

Criticality: A potential target can be considered critical when its destruction or severe damage will create a SIGNIFICANT negative impact on the enemy’s ability to continue projecting military force in the operational area. Criticality is dependent on several key factors:

  1. How rapidly/soon will the destruction/damage of this target impact and affect enemy operations in the operational area? Will it happen immediately (i.e. the destruction of his armored vehicles may preclude continued mounted patrolling the next day, especially in areas that require lengthy, time-consuming travel, such as in much of the western U.S.A.) or will there be a noticeable delay (destruction of a fuel storage depot might negatively impact the enemy’s ability to continue operations, but not until the fuel supplies maintained at the unit level are expended…and they may be able to replace the fuel depot before that happens)?
  2. What percentage of enemy operations will be curtailed by target damage or destruction? What level of damage must be incurred in order to ensure a given percentage of curtailment (if I destroy ALL of their vehicles, will it curtail operations 100%, or will they continue with foot-mobile operations? It depends on the enemy’s ability to conduct foot-mobile operations effectively)?
  3. Do substitutes for the damaged/destroyed material/manpower assets exist within the enemy’s logistics trail? How long will it take for those to be put into place?

  4. How many targets exist, and what is their position/value within the greater scheme of the enemy’s order of battle?

  5. If I’m dealing with cannibalist San Franciscans, of course, instead of a professional security force, any mission-essential equipment may well be a critical node, with no capacity for replacement in a grid-down situation.

Accessibility. The target, in order to realistically be the subject of a planned attack, must be accessible. While it has been accurately stated that NO target is completely inaccessible, some high-value targets must, after being weighed on an objective cost-benefit basis, be considered as practically inaccessible, due to the cost involved with actually damaging/destroying them, in terms of friendly force manpower/material assets. A target can be considered accessible to attack when it is possible for the maneuver element to physically infiltrate the target’s immediate area, or the target can be successfully engaged via direct or indirect fire weapons (the current focus on the development of open-source UAV technology by some elements within the liberty movement will greatly expand the accessibility of future targets for partisans, due to the inherent “guided missile” nature of these force multipliers).

Critical concerns when considering the accessibility of a potential target include infiltration and exfiltration routes/methods, route security concerns for the maneuver element, the requirements for barrier penetration, obstacle negotiation, and survival/evasion considerations during exfiltration of the maneuver element. All of these, of course, fall under the OAKOC terrain analysis we discussed previously.

Recuperability. The ability of the enemy to repair and return the target to service should be a critical element in target selection and analysis. This will vary, depending on the target, as well as other variables present only during the planning process. The effects of economic downturns/depressions, sabotage by the subversive underground in the manufacturing facilities that build the necessary repair parts, and the ability of the resistance to continue interdiction missions to prevent repair of the damaged/destroyed targets are all factors that must be considered when determining the recuperability of a given target. On the same hand however, if the target is not actually CRITICAL, then recuperability may not be an issue to the enemy, as they may be able to afford to ignore the damage sustained.

Vulnerability. The vulnerability of a specific target refers to the actual ability of the maneuver element, given its organic or available inorganic weapons and assets, to cause the requisite damage/destruction needed to accomplish the stated mission (if a unit is limited to individual small arms, a tank unit in a vehicle park will not be particularly vulnerable, while a unit that has access to stockpiled HE munitions, underground-manufactured thermite weapons, or battlefield recovered munitions and/or anti-tank weapons will be much more dangerous to those vehicles. On the same hand, while an in-flight UAV will not be particularly vulnerable to resistance threats, the personnel that run the UAV, and the UAV itself, while grounded, may be particularly vulnerable to various resistance threats). A target can ultimately only be considered vulnerable if the maneuver element has the capability and expertise (or can acquire/borrow the expertise) to successfully attack the target. Vulnerability will be predicated on the nature and construction of the target (soft-skinned patrol vehicles will be inherently more vulnerable than armored vehicles. Personnel are often more vulnerable than material assets), the amount of damage required to affect it’s recuperability (it’s a lot easier to slash tires and punch holes in the oil pan of a soft-skinned vehicle than it is to damage a M1A2 Abrams MBT), and the assets available to the friendly force (the use of open-source UAV technology to provide the resistance an indirect-fire/air support mechanism, locally-manufactured HE weapons, and the availability of heavy-caliber, long-range sniper systems all provide interesting force multipliers to future resistance elements).

Effects. The positive or negative influence on the civilian population of the operational area, as well as the PSYOP value on enemy personnel is defined as the effect of a specific targeting operation. The effects paragraph of the CARVER format must consider public perception of the destruction of the target (i.e. destruction of a critical bridge in the area may have a severely detrimental effect on the ability of the local civilian population to continue their daily lives. While it will also impact the ability of the enemy to conduct vehicle-borne patrolling operations, it will more negatively impact the civilian population, since the security forces can always resort to airborne transportation methods, using rotary-wing assets, while the local civilian population is simply out-of-luck. Obviously, this would be a negative effect when looked at from the PSYOP angle, since it would negatively impact the public opinion towards the resistance. Similarly, as we discussed in the Civil Considerations section above, the effects of enemy retaliation on the local civilian population, both directly, i.e. punishing the civilian populace for the actions of the partisans, and indirectly, the changes in public perception towards the partisans as a result of the enemy’s actions towards them, must be considered, based on what we know, or can learn, of the enemy’s possible and likely courses-of-action in relation to the civilian populace as an effect of targeting a specific target).

  1. Will regime forces retaliate against the local civilian population? To what degree? Will that impact the civilian population’s willingness/ability to aid the resistance (harsh enough reprisals may terrorize the local population enough that they no longer feel the risk is worth the potential rewards of aiding the resistance. On the other hand, reprisals that result in the death of family members may drive some members of the civilian population to more actively support the resistance. There is an extremely fine balance that must be considered during all operational planning)?
  2. Will the resistance’s PSYOP themes be reinforced by the destruction of this target (is one of the major themes that the regime cannot protect themselves, let alone the public? Is a theme that the government is inept, and so the people have no reason to fear reprisals)?
  3. Will the local civilian population be alienated from the regime, or more closely supportive of the regime? There is a fine balance that must be kept in the forefront of all planning during UW missions, with the effect on the local civilian population being at the forefront of everyone’s mind, from the highest planner, to the lowest trigger-puller (For the record, doing things that are inherently inimical to the civilian population’s core beliefs….say, pissing on corpses, or burning religious items/texts, or murdering a dozen innocent non-combatants…is ALWAYS going to have a negative effect…just sayin’).

Recognizability. This pertains to the degree to which a target can be easily identified under adverse conditions, including inclement weather, low-light conditions, and other factors, without being confused for other nearby targets (a mission to assassinate a critical member of the regime’s local leadership will be difficult to effect if he has a member of his staff with a close physical resemblance who may be accidentally targeted due to low recognizability. On the same hand, a raid on a commandeered local home used by regime leadership may backfire if the next-door neighbor has a similar-looking house, full of kids, and it gets hit instead. This happens…a lot. For one simple example, look at the number of LEO warrants served on the “wrong house.”).

Putting It All Together

Understanding that all aspects of tactical operational intelligence are synergistic; none of them can exist in a vacuum absent the others, it the first critical step in developing an intelligence capability. For leaders, knowing what types of information he needs in order to develop effective planning, and how the different aspects relate to one another allows him to develop PIRs for information that allows his intelligence cells within both the underground and the auxiliary, as well as guerrilla patrols, to gather the specific information he needs.

For the individual partisan, whether guerrilla fighter, support echelon personnel, or auxiliary member, knowing the depth of information, and understanding how the information he/she is tasked with gathering will be useful creates a multiplier effect in their ability to gather information. Instead of just looking at “avenues of approach” and saying, “Well, shit, Bob, yeah, there is a road there!” By understanding that Bob actually needs to know whether the road in question will support the enemy’s armored column, and/or if there are suitable ambush points along the route, and knowing how to conduct a comprehensive OCOKA assessment, the auxiliary member will be able to provide Bob with actual USEFUL information.

Active and Passive Information Collection

The difference between active and passive human intelligence information gathering lies in the efforts made to collect the information. A reconnaissance patrol is an active collection asset. They are setting out with the stated, intentional goal of gathering information. A combat patrol, setting out to conduct an ambush of a convoy of cannabilistic San Franciscans, and discovering a uniformed, serving UN advisor amongst the dead has just demonstrated passive information collection. In other words, passive information collection is the collection of information you “stumble” across, versus information you were actively seeking to discover.

For the auxiliary and underground, active information collection will require the use of high-level interviewing skills (versus interrogation skills), and the ability to build a great deal of rapport with people. This may involve interviewing other auxiliary personnel in the area, or non-auxiliary personnel in the area who happen to be supportive of the partisan force. At the same time, superb interpersonal skills and the ability to build rapport, coupled with the “gift of gab,” and a sublime sense of the subtle, may even allow the agent to perform active collection of PIR from people who do not support the partisans (the barkeep or hooker wheedling information out of security force personnel/customers is the classic example of this), whether the target is a member of the local civilian populace who is in a location or occupation to unwittingly gather information, without realizing they are aiding the partisans, or it may be an actual member of the enemy force. In either case, it is absolutely critical that the intelligence agent understand the severity of the risks they are taking, know when to stop, and be willing and able to walk away from a contact without having collected the needed information in order to avoid compromise. This is another example of my previously stated adage that the auxiliary can, in many ways, be far more important than the actual paramilitary guerrilla force. They gather information that a dude jocked up in multicams and plate carrier with a rifle squad of buddies may not be able to even get close to. At the same time, they don’t have the plate carrier, or the squad’s worth of rifles protecting them if shit goes South during an agent contact. They are on their own.

Handlers dealing with agents need to recognize the difference between an agent just being scared to put themselves out on a limb to gather information, and the legitimate feeling an agent can get from knowing they pushed too far and either compromised themselves, or are on the verge of being compromised. Partisan forces need to be ready to jerk an agent out of danger and move him to the guerrilla base camp area, where he can be utilized for other tasks, instead of just leaving his ass out to dry if he gets compromised, or feels he is about to get compromised (thus the importance of recognizing the difference between the two). Human intelligence functions, whether collection or agent handling, requires a thorough understanding of practical psychology, and genuine human empathy, along with the ability to look a dead man walking in the eye and not flinch when asking for critical information. The difference is, any time you send an agent to actively gather information, you’re basically signing a death warrant, because he may not realize he’s been compromised until he’s staring down the muzzle of a rifle, or feels the hemp prickling against his neck.

Passive information collection, for the auxiliary and support echelon is information that is collected without actively seeking it. This can range from things seen during daily activities (“Hey Bob! This morning, on my drive to work, I noticed the UN guys had a bunch of BMPs and MRAPs parked in the marshaling area, going through maintenance checks. I don’t know, but it looked like they might be spooling up for an operation.”), to conversations they overhear (“No shit! So there I was, sitting in the bar, nursing a cold one, and I hear this Dago lieutenant talking to this German feldwebel. They mentioned the safe house out on Highway 19, like they knew what was there. I couldn’t hear everything, but I definitely heard the words “raid” and “helicopters” in the conversation. Thought you’d want to know!”).

While a great majority of specific tactical intelligence may require active collection, the best operational level intelligence is often passively gathered information that someone overheard someone saying, somewhere, or something someone saw (“Hey Joe! How are ya? Hey, I know you guys like to use the old Piranha Creek Bridge to bypass the checkpoints on Highway 19, but I was out there for a roofing job the other day and noticed that the thunderstorm last week must have knocked the bridge out, because it’s not passable now. Ya’ll are going to have to find another way around, man!”)


1) Understand what constitutes tactical intelligence information: METT-TC and CARVER, primarily. Don’t get bogged down on unrelated, useless shit that just doesn’t matter.

2) Understand how to relate what you’re seeing to what matters. That way, both when gathering information, and when asking others to gather information, you know WHAT information to gather.

3) Record anything that might be relevant, within those parameters. You’re not an analyst, so don’t analyze. If you are doing double duty, gathering information, and analyzing it, separate the two tasks. Even if you have a “big picture” view of things, due to access to information, you don’t have that access unless you’re sitting at your desk. If you’re trying to analyze on the fly, while looking at something in the field, you will fuck it up. Collect it all now, collate it at your fucking desk (desk being a figure of speech oftentimes….it may be in front of your laptop, laying in a cave, or in the backseat of an SUV tearing down a two-track in the mountains).

4) Know the difference between active and passive information collection. Develop the ability to do either, under tactical field conditions, and in street clothes, in a built-up area, under the noses of the enemy.


John Mosby

SFOB-Rifleman’s Ridge

Postscript: I owe a heartfelt thank you and apology to Max Velocity. He mentioned and linked to me in a brief article he had on Rawles’ SurvivalBlog, and I forgot his recent contribution to the battle drills discussion when I wrote my article the other day, although I did mention AmMerc and Ryan. So, Max, one, my apologies for overlooking you, and two, my thanks for the mention. Hope we get to see you in West Virginia while we’re there.

From → Uncategorized

  1. parapearce permalink

    Awsome, alot of great info here. Keep it comming.

    “Gayer than a Bag of Dicks” freakin killed!

  2. Shorty permalink

    God damn this is a Gold Mine.

  3. Attack Company 1/75 permalink

    This brings back memories from the early 90’s at Regiment’s Pre-Ranger. Oh, and the only “Christian” I remember at RIP and Pre was a former 3/75 who moved on to 1/75 after being a RIP/Pre-Ranger instructor. I think it was Harrison (I’ve lost a lot of brain cells since then, so I might have messed up with the name).

    Keep up the good work!

    • Ranger K,

      Wrong person. Think about the guy who was the only private to make it to RRD, when they trialed that program. He was in 3/75, but retired as a Chaplain.

      • Attack Company 1/75 permalink

        Ok, now I know who you are talking about. He wasn’t at RIP when I went through, which was right after Panama. Anyway, I enjoy reading your articles. It brings back memories. I’m a little rusty, so when I read your articles it helps jog my memories.

  4. extremely well written…very informative, I know that this amateur wants to learn it well and learn more…keep at it, that was a wonderful piece and I will get to one of your courses with my son as soon as I can, but I want to get in better shape first…Thank you

  5. CoonassMedic permalink

    Rock ass solid info !!! Trying not to laugh out loud at times. Sucking it up like a sponge. Thanks

  6. Mud Duck permalink

    Thanks for the info. Will keep all, well in mind. Mud Duck

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