Talent Wins Games, Intelligence and Teamwork Wins Championships.
Lots of people will bemoan that we (the military) are too dogmatic about doctrine. That is probably true. All ranks go through TAMs, Pams and ticklist procedures to ‘get stuff done’, without truly thinking about what or why we are doing it. We are all fallible, which makes these exercises useful. Most of these doctrinal publications are produced by the Land Warfare Centre and/or by Defence, Concepts and Doctrine Centre. Some of these publications have been invaluable, albeit often turgid – sorry. However, there are reservations over the RM investment into these publications, as they are largely Army driven and focussed, which the RM often just accept into their way of doing things. One of the newest doctrinal concepts to emerge is equally useful, but should be tailored to suit the RM. Integrated Action seems to be one of the first modular doctrinal concepts which can be manipulated or augmented using other concepts to suit most scenarios – genius. It can plug and play with many of the other doctrinal concepts to create a holistic model. Only using Mission Command doctrine can it be truly successful, with the components (Mutual Trust, Unity of Effort, Freedom, Mutual Understanding and Timely & Effective Decision) playing into the hands of marines’ quality. These components of Mission Command are enabled by the Functions of Command doctrine: Decision Making, Control and Leadership. If a leader prepares and follows these components, they are on the steps to gaining the benefits of Integrated Action. In doing so, the leader can enable a critical element of Integrated Action, Fighting Power. Once the Conceptual, Physical and Moral components of Fighting Power are understood and implemented you can plan how to resource actions. Moreover you can overlay the Principles of War into Fighting Power components, to understand your strengths and weakness (example Fig 1.1). Once understood the Tactical Functions/Actions (Fig 1.2) can be resourced and we can begin to understand what is achievable by the force. Only when we know these should we begin planning, and to get there it is valuable to follow the model highlighted: It starts with leadership! Doing so informs of the multifaceted topics to ensure nothing is missed and a robust plan/way forward is made. However, the Royal Marines have more considerations to factor in, which must also be cohered with the variety of skills, tasks and deployments worldwide. The RM offers many organic skills and capabilities which the Army may not have.
Fig 1.1 – Fighting Power – Principles of War Overlay
Fig 1.2- Integrated Action Model
Source: Integrated Action – Doctrine Note 15/01 Summary
As you can see from Fig 1.2 the Integrated Action Model seeks to achieve the Manoeuvrist Approach (effects) – which is essentially getting the enemy to break any which way you can. It directly achieves this through the Tactical Functions: Understanding, Joint Fires, Land Manoeuvre, Information Activity and Capacity Building (plus Command and Protection not accounted for in the model). However, the Royal Marines could be offering more than this. Land Manoeuvre can quickly become ‘Surface Manoeuvre’ to factor in maritime and littoral opportunities – that’s simple. However, it doesn’t incorporate other insertion methods which Commandos are trained for: Aviation Assault and Para etc. Furthermore, the Surface Manoeuvre needs to be better understood, as it could include bespoke manoeuvre reserved for RM, such as Mountainous and Extreme Cold Weather. Whilst Joint Fires is receiving an updated platform with F35B and 42 Maritime Operation Commando is performing upstream Capacity Building roles. Whilst these are important, it isn’t the key thrust of this article.
Fig 1.3 – A3E Model
Source: Integrated Action – Doctrine Note 15/01 Summary
A key element to Integrated Action is Understanding, which endures throughout the cycle in Fig 1.2. However, the current climate of public and media scrutiny demands more than a cursory afterthought like how this is illustrated. Whilst Integrated Action focuses on understanding the Human Terrain of A3E (Audiences, Actors, Adversaries and Enemies) and its constant flux (Fig1.3), it can and should do more to help us to translate A3E into successful operations/actions. Understanding is achieved through various guises. A key one is Intelligence. Intelligence has become more dominant in the way militaries conduct their business. Intelligence based activity is a key requirement for modern day operations, where even civil agencies such as the Police focus on it. The best military example of this is McChrystal’s F3EA-D cycle. In his book ‘Team of Teams’ and ‘My Share of the Task’, he highlights how they needed a ‘network to kill a network’. To do this they needed robust and open intelligence pathways, which were widely connected. Find, Fix, Finish, Exploit, Analyse and Disseminate heavily relies on intelligence. Having intelligence integrated into their force is what enabled their success. JDP 04 (Understanding doctrine publication) articulates that ‘understanding helps us make decisions’. Based on the Integrated Action model there are only a few actions which we can use to help our understanding, but none exclusively enable it or support F3EA-D. So how do we understand and improve our decision-making, if we don’t have the requisite actions? Many will argue ISR, but this is largely capability or components of Intelligence collection – which is also expanding and needs a refreshed understanding. Simply assuming Intelligence is done as part of Understand and Information Activity is not enough, it can also be an action. There is more to it, and simply reducing it to an element of ‘Understanding’, does it a disservice.
Whilst having never been an Intelligence Officer – await the other green beret sort to pipe up – it appears there is a gap in how we achieve our Understanding. Fortunately, the Royal Marines are in an ideal place to bridge the gap. Intelligence Activity should be incorporated as another action, within the Tactical Functions. Like the other actions, it too has functions. Collection, Analysis, Exploitation and Dissemination are all key functions to understand. Just assuming this happens by including ‘Understand’ is grossly neglecting its importance. This needs to be incorporated fully into the way we conduct business. 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group is a perfect opportunity to introduce Intelligence Activity as a core Tactical Function/Action. As Commandos, 30 Cdo IX Gp’s ability to integrate into a Commando structure, conduct and reach back/into intelligence collection is a unique and priceless asset. The niche capabilities of Y Sqn (Signals and Electronic Warfare), Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron and Information and Intelligence Cells, alongside opportunities within Air Defence makes 30 Cdo IX Gp unique. Furthermore, their integration into Cdo Units allows efficacious exploitation and analysis of intelligence, which can then be disseminated rapidly – as they are part of, and deeply integrated into the tactical force. Their integration offers the RM an opportunity to do F3EA-D like no other organisation. As they have done, the Royal Marines must continue to invest heavily in this capability but try to integrate it better to meet the needs of the Future Commando Force concept. This will be a key element. To do this we could have them as part of a new structure split into two capabilities: Intelligence Activity, Information Activity and Capacity Building (I2C) for Understanding and enabling; then Surface Manoeuvre, Strike and Shield (S3) for physical activity. Capacity Building (42 MOC) would be persistently deployed, feeding back into Information and Intelligence Activity. This Understand would enable or support S3 activity and recycle the process. Fig 1.3 illustrates a new model for Tactical Functions.
Fig 1.3 – Commando Integrated Action
Having Intelligence Activity as a Tactical Function, provided by a force cut from the same cloth (30 Cdo IX Gp) and integrated formally into the structure will provide an overwhelming advantage to achieve the desired effects on an enemies Physical Capability, Perceptions and Will & Cohesion: Manoeuvrist Approach. Ultimately, this closer fusion of intelligence and operations will allow Royal Marines the ability to speed up their OODA loop cycle (Observe, Orientate, Decide, Act) and consequently speed up the F3EA-D cycle; speed aids Manoeuvrist Approach. With the broad array of mobility (and insertion) options, it makes the Royal Marines ideal for intelligence-based targeting, within an F3EA-D model. The opening title from a Michael Jordan quote personifies commando ethos. But we need to integrate intelligence better with teamwork. Using 30 Cdo IX Gp capabilities alongside enhanced Site Situation Exploitation (SSE) skills and a broad network of deployed personnel (Capacity Building) will enhance F3EA-D and the speed at which it is achieved. As shown in Fig 1.4 Find would be done by enabling activities within I2C Tactical Functions – as part of Understand. Fix would then be the handover of I2C to S3 Tactical Functions to provide the Strike (and/or Shield) – this could be threshold based on fidelity (trigger). The integration of I2C and S3 would allow for rapid SSE and further Exploitation within I2C Tactical Functions to improve efficacy of Dissemination, which feeds the cycle again.
Fig 1.4 – Commando F3EAD cycle
The aim of this article was to highlight that Integrated Action is more applicable than just A3E, and alongside other doctrinal concepts we can use it to greater affect. However, the key part is that the RM has the organic capability to utilise it far wider and should seek to expand the concept to suit a revised Fighting Power. Revising RM Fighting Power will highlight more physical capabilities and broader conceptual and moral boundaries better able to complete the F3EA-D cycle. Incorporating them into Integrated Action and expanding the concept with Intelligence Activity, as a Tactical Function, will enhance broader understanding and place the RM as the premier force to deliver intelligence-based targeting operations – amongst others. The article highlights how the full team (all Cdo Units) and organic intelligence will be key to this. The challenge is cohering the team to exploit the combined intelligence, alongside existing (and developing) S3 capabilities. Intelligence Activity is a critical action which should sit alongside physical and non-physical activities (operations), and its introduction into formal doctrine will ensure it is considered through planning and execution. Furthermore, it will allow the force to incorporate emerging capabilities such as data and AI. Dr King in his MWI podcast (21st Century General) postulates that these capabilities would enhance the forces decision making ability and expand their capacity for complexity. Both of which FCF will demand. This represents the true challenge of integrating technology to enable increased fidelity and speed, thereby enhancing decision making and understanding. Sharing of data across the Internet of Things will likely be accelerated by 5G communications, which may decrease the cognitive burden and speed up our decision making cycle. Moreover, the enhancement of computer analysis (and AI) may reduce the consequences of human error on decision making. Consequently, Intelligence Activity could clearly be fused into our current processes to glean more and be more readily disseminated, to achieve rapid success. We will need to be ready individually and organisationally to deal with this evolution. Intelligence Activity offers a foundation for this. The greatest results may see 30 Cdo IX Gp merge into Cdo Units, to increase the fusion. However, balance will need to be struck to ensure expertise are maintained.
Glossary of terms:
Intelligence – The product resulting from the directed collection and processing of information regarding the environment and the capabilities and intentions of actors, in order to identify threats and offer opportunities for exploitation by decision-makers – NATO AJP 3.9
Intelligence Based Targeting – Intelligence support to targeting is vital for maintaining situational awareness and targeting for future engagement. The holistic and dynamic intelligence assessment of all aspects of potential target sets (physical and psychological) to identify vulnerabilities which, if targeted by the appropriate capability (lethal or non-lethal) would achieve desired objectives. – determined from NATO AJP 3.9