BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - 1st Theater Sustainment Command Forward, 3d Expeditionary Sustainment Command relies on intelligence synchronization with subordinate and Regional Command Intelligence Professionals to ensure accurate and timely intelligence support to Single Sustainment Mission Command.
Challenge: Conduct Retrograde and Sustainment Operations in a Land-locked Country. Unlike the withdrawal of forces from Iraq in 2011, Afghanistan lacks a direct route from U.S. Forward Operations Bases (FOB) to a secure port of embarkation. Non-sensitive military equipment must be processed in Afghanistan and transported by contract carrier from holding yards in Afghanistan, through Pakistan and to the Port of Karachi or the Muhammad Bin Qasim Port facility. Additional cargo is flown from Afghanistan or crated and transported through the Central Asian States along the Northern Distribution Network. Retrograde and sustainment movements outside of U.S. control, contracted Afghan flatbed and fuel trucks, are subjected to theft and or attack by criminals, corrupt government officials, and insurgents across Afghanistan. Providing timely and accurate intelligence support Single Sustainment Mission Command in an ambiguous operating environment is difficult at best and requires a unity of effort as U.S. military operations transition to Resolute Support.
Support to Single Sustainment Mission Command is not an Army of One. The 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC) deployed to Afghanistan to assume the role of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command’s forward command post and tasked with Single Sustainment Mission Command responsible for simultaneously sustaining the force and managing retrograde operations to meet the President’s time line for a reduction in force to 9,800 personnel by Dec. 31, 2014.
With all of the knowledge and talent that is inherent to the 1st TSC FWD, 3d ESC, the command lacks a robust Intelligence Warfighting Function (G2). To meet the intelligence needs of the commander the G2 relied on collaboration and synchronization with national, theater and tactical intelligence throughout Combined Joint Operating Area – Afghanistan (CJOA-A).
The 1st TSC FWD, 3d ESC does not own organic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets which requires the G2 to synchronize with the operational environment (OE) owners for ISR support to sustainment operations. As OE owners withdrawal from the CJOA-A, the availability of their tactical ISR diminishes; forcing sustainers to compete for an ever decreasing availability of theater and national ISR coverage.
To compensate for limited ISR, the “Every Soldier a Sensor” concept is employed by the 3d ESC and subordinate commands. The G2 and S2’s debrief drive teams upon completion of their mission. This afforded the 1st TSC FWD, 3d ESC critical information about civil attitudes and possible surveillance in Kabul City. Sustainment Brigades and Battalions conduct and receive Convoy Escort Teams (CET) mission debriefs. These debriefs assist analyst in determining civil attitudes towards International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF), and more specifically, the United States; identifying changes in threat operating areas and recording ANSF presence along ISAF routes. The G2 and S2s analyze the information provided by the drive teams and pass the results between commands through daily graphic intelligence summaries (GRINTSUM).
Boots on the Ground (BOG) limitations resulted in smaller intelligence sections at each level of command. Unity of effort is employed to assess the enemy’s capability or intent to target sustainment and retrograde activities. The need for unity of effort in the intelligence community will become more apparent as U.S. sustainment commands continue to transition to Resolute Support during the Taliban’s Operation Khyber summer offensive.
Taliban’s Operation Khyber Impacts to Sustainment. On May 8 2014, the Taliban senior leadership announced the start of the 2014 fighting season, christened “Operation Khyber”, referring to a series of battles in 629 C.E. in which Muslim forces seized a series of Jewish fortifications at An-Natat and Ash-Shiqq in the Khyber Region north of Mecca. The Taliban’s 8 May 2014, announcement on the Voice of the Jihad, their online media outlet, identified threats to sustainment operations across Afghanistan. The Taliban posted: Mujahedeen would attack Afghan ministries and military facilities; conduct rocket attacks against foreign bases, and attack military and civilian supply convoys.
The fighting season began on May 12, 2014 with rocket attacks against International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) bases and direct fire attacks against Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) check points and U.S. contract Afghan logistics convoys. Although indirect fire is a constant threat to ISAF bases, the targeting of contracted fuel convoys directly impacts the ability of the 3d ESC to perform Single Sustainment Mission Command.
After enemy forces attacked and destroyed several U.S. contracted fuel convoys, the monitoring of Afghan contract logistics convoys became a primary focus for the command. This complex task required collaboration between all of the Warfighting functions: Mission Command, Movement and Maneuver, Intelligence, Fires, Sustainment, and Protection. Additionally, the command coordinated through ISAF and Regional Commands to levy ANSF against the problem.
A clear channel between the Sustainment Command and Afghan National Security Forces is paramount in identifying and neutralizing threats to contracted logistics convoys. Equally as important, collaboration and synchronization between the U.S., international and Afghan intelligence communities permits analyst to focus on a small piece of the puzzle while maintaining situational awareness to complete the picture. This sharing of intelligence analysis and collection capabilities is often referred to as Federated Intelligence.
Federated Intelligence is a Key Component to Intelligence Support to Single Sustainment Mission Command. During this final year of transition, maneuver units will transfer facilities and security responsibilities to the ANSF; the closing of FOBs and Combat Outpost (COP) increases the linear distance contract and U.S. military sustainment and retrograde convoys need to travel in order to continue sustaining the force and meet retrograde goals. As the maneuver units withdrawal and FOBs close, the availability of tactical ISR capable of supporting movements along ISAF routes declines. These factors increase the necessity of intelligence synchronization and collaboration national, strategic, operational intelligence section.
Lacking robust intelligence Warfighting Function and organic ISR, the 1st TSC FWD, 3d ESC enhances its intelligence capabilities through a synchronized intelligence effort with subordinate and Regional Command’s intelligence collection and analytical capabilities. Analysts meet via digital (ADOBE Connect) and telephonic means to discuss and debate enemy trends, tactics, techniques, and procedures. These meetings are held several times throughout the week; each meeting is hosted by a separate command and affords analyst an opportunity understand enemy TTPs from analyst closest to the threat. Experienced and inexperienced analyst offer varying assessments, collaborate, and have the occasional disagreement on topics ranging from enemy TTPs to regional and international political impacts to Sustainment and retrograde operations. Additionally, these meetings help analyst avoid developing a myopic view of the battlefield. This federated approach to intelligence will become more important as sustainment operations transfer from the Afghan Transition to Resolute Support and U.S. forces draw down to 9,800 personnel.
|Date Posted:||07.19.2014 03:55|
|Location:||BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AF|
This work, Intelligence Support to Sustainment Operations in Afghanistan: The Final Year of Transition, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.