22 April 1997

Intelligence & Exercise HUNTER WARRIOR

Major, United States Marine Corps, (Retired)

Last night, the Potomac Chapter, MCIA, Inc. was treated to an assessment of the intelligence support to Exercise Hunter Warrior by the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force(Exercise) (SPMAGTF(X)) Senior Intelligence Officer, Major Vincent R. Stewart, USMC. This candid presentation of the work-up and conduct of the exercise was met by a sense of “déjà vu all over again” by the 30 some intelligence professionals in the audience. The much anticipated exercise was touted as a test vehicle for revolutionary and forward thinking concepts: The presentation demonstrated that the thinking involved here was unencumbered by intelligence. 


The Commandant's Warfighting Lab (CWL) was established at Quantico, Virginia as the organizational entity to formulate concepts on how the Marine Corps should fight in the 21st Century. It gave birth to Sea Dragon as the overarching rubric for three distinctly different scenarios to be tested over five years--Hunter Warrior, Urban Warrior, and Capable Warrior. The SPMAGTF was conceived, organized and established to function as a testing unit comparable to a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) headquarters. By philosophy and design, the CWL has no intelligence personnel, “We do not need intelligence officers for intelligence has failed us in the past.” This is a curious precept for the institutional intellect determining the future operational/warfighting philosophy of the Marine Corps. Conversely, the SPMAGTF enjoys intelligence personnel--Major Stewart and his staff. 


Simply put, Hunter Warrior pitted small teams--27 were available-- capable of calling in fire from supporting arms against the 7th Marine Regiment (Rein) functioning as the Opposition Force (OPFOR). After the first day of the exercise, the OPFOR had no air or EW capability and only STINGERs for anti-air. SPMAGTF enjoyed air dominance and used air,  overhead, and electromagnetic spectrum assets with impunity.


Cellular Command Structure

--This Structure attempted to get away from the “stovepipe” Napoleonic staff structure by integrating intelligence personal with operators. This consisted of three cells with intelligence personnel and only one headed by an intelligence officer thereby creating competing analytical entities. This situation was exacerbated by, for all intents and purposes, a fourth intelligence cell--the Red Cell composed of non-intelligence personnel. Fortuitously, the Marines involved saw the inherent dangers and made the structure work in spite of itself by regular inter-cell personal contact. A common comment from observers with extended combat experience (MajGen. Livingston, Col. Pat Collins, Col. Charles Adams, etc.) was “the structure was doomed to failure for it didn't emphasize intelligence.”

Information Versus Intelligence

--The exercise attempted to emphasize “information” and de-emphasize “intelligence” with concepts such as “sensor-to-shooter” and “spotter to shooter” and shot gunning information. As with the Cellular structure, information was fused and intelligence produced transparently in spite of those efforts. “They got a lot of intelligence and some information. I'm not sure if they [the operators] recognized the difference.”

Collection Management

--The Marine Corps Intelligence Activity was a critical contributor in this effort.

--Major Stewart and two captains--none had been to collection management school--learned on-the-job.

--There does not appear to be a Marine standard for collection management for “I MEF does it one way and II MEF does it another way.”

Training Levels of Personnel

--Major Stewart had One GySgt, two Sgts, and one Cpl. and only the GySgt had done any analysis and all had only received basic intelligence formal training. In garrison, Maj Stewart observed that intelligence personnel are not training full-time in intelligence but continue to be the “dirty little jobs personnel” in their respective units. When exercises or deployments come along, they are not prepared to perform at the same level as the rest of their unit. 

Imagery Support

--This area was “tremendous.” More than 150 images were provided and retasking the system was done without difficulty.

Human Intelligence Support

--This was not played


--A Radio Battalion detachment was attached and GUARDRAIL, REEFPOINT and national assets supported the exercise. This support was “superb” though the “take” was minimal due to 7th Marines' “outstanding” COMSEC. 

Theater and National Support

--SR-71 and U2 were both down for the entire exercise. The Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System  (JSTARS) was planned for two days but  was only up for one day and performed well on that occasion. There were problems however: “Who owns it?” and  the application of its products: “If it moves, hit it!” More on problem two under MILINET Conclusions below. Infra Red (IR) assessments were provided effectively.

Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV)

-- EXDRONES was used and proved to be “useful.” When it overflew the OPFOR they would move. With only a nominal anti-air capability, they could do no more. PIONEER was not available.

Joint Maritime Command Information System (JMCIS)

--The JMCIS does not permit fusion/analysis/projection of information and is therefore of marginal utility. An enemy icon in this system is a static display without expansive information on projected movement, terrain affects, or does it permit weighing “What if/” Some in attendance attributed JMCIS' shortcomings to the use of the Commander's Tactical Terminal (CTT) as its correlator.

Weather Effects On Operations

--There was no capability to integrate weather effects on operations.

Unattended Ground Sensors

--Over 100 were implanted by air and hand and proved to be highly effective against motorized forces.

Ericsson/Newton Man Pad

--Operated in the clear.


With respect to intelligence, Hunter Warrior was doomed from the outset by a philosophy that intelligence had failed its organizers. Intelligence is a command responsibility and Marine commanders are failing intelligence not vice versa. The observation cited above that intelligence personnel are not being given training comparable with other fields is a long, recurring failure of Marine commanders. The error of that practice has been learned and relearned when exercises such as Hunter Warrior and deployments occur. The information technology explosion has only heightened the need for emphasizing intelligence training not diminished it. The cavalier attitude of the CWL toward information suggests that it is preparing for “Arcade Warfare” rather than “Shooting Warfare.” This information MUST be filtered by intelligence analysts. The “sensor-to-shooter”  concept is dangerous to friendly forces and constitutes a presumptive attack on a target. These systems do not differentiate between friend, foe and non-combatant and therefore their unfettered assessments can cause unintended casualties. Also, during combat operations, there will be a multiplicity of weapons being detonated causing seismic ground sensors to activate and creating “hot spots” for IR sensors. Also,  Moving Target Indicators (MTI) will be generated by civilian motor vehicles, large animals and, on occasion, TREES swaying in the wind. To reduce the probability of misdirected fires on those assessments, that information must be fused with other information. This constitutes nothing more than confirming an indication. All these lessons were learned as far back as Vietnam and recorded in the tomes entitled “Lessons Learned.” Hunter Warrior demonstrated that those in the CWL didn't bothered to go through the requisite research to learn those lessons. The propensity for repeating these mistakes can to be stopped by giving substance to existing Marine Corps doctrine contained in the Marine Corps Warfighting Publication (MCWP) 2-1 and attributed to former CMC, General Gray: “Intelligence drives operations.”


Place an intelligence officer in charge of the Commandant's Warfighting Lab and let intelligence guide the Marine Corps into the 21st Century. 

Semper Intelligence Drivers,

Anthony F. Milavic

Major USMC(Ret)