Army standardizes military intelligence excuses

FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. — The U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence has published a new analytical framework that helps to standardize a wide array of excuses intelligence professionals can use during future failures, sources confirmed today.

The Standard Military Intelligence Justifications doctrine frames how military intelligence soldiers operate on the modern battlefield, and articulates their capabilities and limitations, according to defense officials.

“To know the enemy, you must know yourself,” Maj. Gen. Robert P. Walters, Jr., the center's commander, emphasized at a recent forum with the SMIJ doctrine writers attended by new military intelligence captains in training. "We want to get to a world where commanders are so aware, they can reject their own JSTARS requests."

“Our old doctrine says the commander asks his intel guy where the enemy is, and we tell him where,” Walters continued. “But we don’t fight that way. The new doctrine in a nutshell is: tell your story. When you don’t know where the enemy is, help the commander visualize how weather stopped drones from flying, the CIA won’t share key information, and S-6 can’t even get your email working. The bottom line is shared understanding. SMIJ gives us language to build that.”

SMIJ’s five “core justifications” are security, information technology, intelligence architecture, bandwidth, and processing, exploitation and dissemination capacity.

Sources say SMIJ doctrine writers provided other examples at the forum.

“Imagine you’re outside, in combat, and a company commander asks if a drone is nearby within earshot of a local national," Maj. Brad Kiefer said. "Under SMIJ you reply: ‘Sir, due to security considerations I cannot answer that question.’ There's a foreigner there! And is the commander cleared to know the answer to that question? Do you have security classification guidance telling you what the classification of the fact that a drone is overhead? Probably not."

The major also discussed information technology and intelligence architecture.

“The distinction there is important,” explained Kiefer. “IT means blaming the S-6 communications officer and saying your laptop doesn’t work. Architecture means blaming an intelligence system or database that laptop should talk to. Architecture is usually a problem that’s out of your hands. It might be a problem with a wonky system Congress made us buy. Generally architecture is the most robust explanation for why you are not doing something,” Walters added, explaining that architecture was the most common justification considered by senior intelligence leaders like himself.

Capt. Corey Rowe, another SMIJ doctrine writer, said that understanding when to employ one justification or the other was key.

“If you need your battalion commander to hate your S-6, blame everything on IT, even architecture,” Rowe told his peers. “You’re competing with that guy for a good evaluation. Apply judgment.”

Rowe concluded by discussing processing, exploitation and dissemination capacity.

“Many commanders don’t understand that the airmen watching drone feeds in Nevada are going to take a four-day pass around July 4th and that will have impact in Afghanistan,” Rowe explained. “Now we have a doctrinal language to help them understand PED capacity’s variability.”

“The response that we’ve gotten from maneuver commanders has been very positive,” Walters said in conclusion. “They’re telling us: SMIJ codifies what we’ve come to expect from you already. I think it’s good we’re getting that response.”