Analysing, understanding, and targeting Daesh

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Article / November 25, 2016

By: Maj Mark Peebles, JTF-I Public Affairs

Understanding an enemy is key to defeating him. Since they stood up late last May, the men and women of the All Source Intelligence Centre have been contributing to the Coalition’s ability to understand and ultimately defeat Daesh.

The deployment of the All Source Intelligence Centre (ASIC) to Operation IMPACT is the result of the Government of Canada’s refocussing of the mission last February, which amongst others capabilities added more intelligence resources. While Joint Task Force – Iraq (JTF-I) had an intelligence staff deployed as a National Intelligence Centre, the ASIC now adds a greater collection management capability to its core of analysts and became a line unit of approximately 50 personnel within JTF-I.

“Intelligence gathering and dissemination is a central pillar in our expanded military contribution to Coalition efforts,” says Brigadier-General Shane Brennan, Commander of JTF-I. “The fight against Daesh depends on credible and integrated intelligence, which is key to the planning and executing of operations. We need to understand what Daesh is doing, how they do it and why. The ASIC is conducting very important work in this area.”

The ASIC has three key tasks within JTF-I:

  • Force Protection – Providing indicators and warnings of environmental and adverse activity so that the JTF-I leadership can take informed measures to enhance the protection of the men and women of JTF-I.
  • Situational Awareness – Providing JTF-I with an understanding of Daesh as well as the human activities and dynamics within the Joint Operations Area to provide a better understanding of the environment and enhance their decision-making ability.
  • Targeting – Collecting and analysing information about Daesh to identify points of interest and develop them into targets which are vetted and validated before being shared with the Coalition.

The ASIC concept is not new to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The concept was used by the 1St Canadian Division circa mid 1980s with the Intelligence Collection & Analysis Centre (ICAC), and has been refined since then. Even so, it wasn’t institutionalized until Operation ATHENA in Afghanistan in 2006. Now, the CAF has ASICs formed across Canada that are nested within the Canadian Army under the Canadian Army Intelligence Regiment, any of which can be deployed as formed teams instead of deploying as ad hoc organizations.

“The fact that we now have ASICs institutionalized under the Canadian Army Intelligence Regiment enhances cohesion when deploying on missions,” says the JTF-I J2 (Senior Intelligence Advisor). “They already have a formed core of personnel and leadership, to which you can add specialists as the situation demands, and away they go in a relatively short period of time.”

Targeting is a particular area where the ASIC has improved JTF-I’s contribution to the Coalition. With the added intelligence collection and analysis horsepower, the ASIC has been able to better feed what is an intelligence-driven effort. The Commanding Officer of the ASIC notes that the ASIC is one of a number of Coalition partners contributing to the targeting effort, and has produced a steady flow of high-quality targets to the Coalition.

“We are at the forefront of the development of targeting and intelligence in the CAF. We are testing concepts and moving from theory into practical application,” says the Commanding Officer of the ASIC. “We’ve become more efficient, and able to create a broader intelligence contribution to JTF-I and the Coalition. The lessons we are incorporating here are helping the evolution of the intelligence function throughout the CAF, and helping to keep pace with the changing threat environment.”

The deployment of the ASIC to Operation IMPACT has created a significant demand on resources within the Intelligence Branch. The JTF-I Intelligence advisor, however, notes that this is the first opportunity since Afghanistan for many junior non-commissioned members and officers to get operational experience and put into practice what they have learned over countless training events.

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