Special forces units are often charged with going into unfamiliar, remote and potentially dangerous areas to gather intelligence and conduct operations independent of external support.
Recognizing the importance of improving these capabilities, members of the Slovak 5th Special Forces Regiment, asked U.S. Special Operations Command Europe, intelligence leaders to provide a forum for them to build upon their own detachment-level intelligence capacity.
The SOCEUR J-2 Intelligence Directorate developed a program of instruction and conducted several tactical intel seminars from January through October 2010, to provide a basic understanding of the unit-level requirements that a special forces intelligence operator would need in the field.
The program was divided into four one-week seminars — three held at the 5th SFR headquarters in Zilina, Slovakia, and the fourth held in U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Oct. 18-22.
The first seminar focused on intelligence basics and tools. The operators were given an overview of the Battlefield Information, Collection, and Exploitation System, a NATO secret-level computer network used in Afghanistan.
“We started with the very basics — giving the Slovaks the tools necessary to conduct intelligence support for tactical-level operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mark Steliga, the SOCEUR J-2 lead officer for Partner Nation Development.
The second seminar included introductory classes on different types of intelligence, methods to process this intelligence, and different ways to utilize this information to support the planning and execution of unit-level operations.
The third seminar focused on the duties and responsibilities of a special forces intelligence sergeant. Students then practiced in “on the ground” situations, based on real intelligence from Afghanistan.
“This was where we wanted them to really start thinking about what [they] need to do to support real world operations and come up with the products critical to mission success,” Steliga said.
The fourth seminar focused on techniques normally thought of as detective skills. During this session, the Slovaks were introduced to biometric and forensic analysis, as well as more advanced methods of finding and exploiting evidence.
To complete the final exercise, the Slovaks had to produce a complete target intelligence package, with a target description, threats and vulnerabilities, as well as demographics and cultural information. They then had to brief their results, in English, to senior leaders from the Slovak and SOCEUR staffs.
According to Col. Mike Faruqui, SOCEUR’s director of intelligence, the opportunity to support SOF intelligence personnel is of vital importance to both the U.S and its allies.
“SOF has a very unique role, and this type of engagement is essential to what we’re trying to do for our collective national security interests,” Faruqui said.
After completing the seminar, one of the Slovak intelligence sergeants had high praise for the instruction he received during the nine-month period. “I wanted to learn new intelligence techniques — new ways to do my job as an intelligence sergeant so I can be better in my mission,” he said. “We were very receptive to this course and were very impressed with what we were learning. I feel more relevant as to what I can provide for my guys. In the past, we could not have been such a valuable asset to the commander.”