Contributor(s): Captain Nicholas A. McALLISTER
Subject: The Brigade’s Intelligence Support to Local Operations
In 2018, the Defence Board authorized the expansion of the Jamaica Defence Force’s (JDF) Establishment to a Division capacity (DBS No. 135/2018 and DBS No. 136/2018), and with that brought about the emergence of the Maritime Air and Cyber Command (MACC). As one of the five (5) Brigade Formations, the MACC subsequently achieved Full Operating Capability in January 2019, and has since been paramount to the Nation’s defence. As we mark the Brigade’s 3rd Anniversary over the January 2022 period, it is safe to say the teething pains of transitioning command oversight at varying levels, under a brigade construct, are now over. Operationally and administratively, we have been successful.
Albeit operational control resides with HQ JDF, the Military Intelligence Unit (formerly HQ JDF Intelligence Unit) forms a critical component of the Brigade, as it is the primary intelligence producer for the JDF, and by extension one of the leading producers for the Nation. Before receiving Unit status in the early 1980s, the Unit was known as the HQ JDF Intelligence Section which occupied what is now the HQ JDF Legal Office. Approximately forty (40) years later, the Unit’s Mission of providing timely and accurate intelligence products to meet the needs of the JDF and the Nation still remains priority. In monitoring the National Security Environment, the MIU is constantly improving its various intelligence estimates to efficiently track all four (4) Threat Tiers which were outlined in the National Security Policy (2014).
The concept of accurate intelligence impacts the decision-making cycle of commanders at respective levels, spanning current and future operations. Intelligence assessments allow commanders to have a better appreciation of the significant characteristics of the operational environment (OE), and the potential and ongoing hazards/threats which affect their mission. The relevant assessments are generated through the Intelligence Cycle; Planning and Direction, Collection, Processing, Analysis, and Dissemination. This five (5) step process is the global standard of converting information to intelligence, ranging from Large Scale Combat Operations to Counterinsurgency or targeted criminal groupings [gangs] operations.
During the execution of joint operations, intelligence must stay at least one step ahead of operations and not only support the current phase of the operation, but also simultaneously lay the informational groundwork required for subsequent phases/operations. Essential to this is the requirement for optimizing the use of limited intelligence assets and resources, and maximizing the efficiency of intelligence production. This is the ultimate test of the efficacy of intelligence. A critical assessment tool used to bolster Force-wide deployments is the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB). This allows for operational and tactical commanders to understand and appreciate their OE, threat actors and their support, and the overall civilian considerations which may affect how they manoeuvre. Running estimates of an IPB are constantly updated and disseminated by the Unit, in support of local internal security operations.
Considering the threat environment in Jamaica, the Unit’s information collection focuses on Transnational and Organized Crime (Major Crime, Illicit trafficking, et al), Counter Terrorism, Industrial Relations/Economics, Counterintelligence, Internal Military Security, and the emerging landscape of Cyber Security.
The capabilities of the Unit are layered into All Source Intelligence Management and Defence Intelligence Diplomacy as the end-users of the Unit’s intelligence consist of both local and overseas partner agencies. With a significant importance on managing partner relationships, the Unit takes pride in giving full support where applicable and possible, by sharing and developing intelligence which often times leads to operational success. With the continued reliance on Enhanced Security Measures to curtail crime in Jamaica, at least for the near future, the Unit is positioned to continually support Joint Forces’ deployments targeting criminals and associated hotspot areas. In keeping with the Unit’s Mission objectives, the focus continues to be on strategic and anticipatory intelligence, along with providing actionable assessments for current operations.
In hindsight, 2020 was a significant year in trying to fill the Force’s appetite for streamlined intelligence support architecture across all Formations. The operational focus, guided by the Chief of Defence Staff and Brigade Command, saw the Unit redevelop the intelligence cells by training all persons posted to those outfits and adding experienced intelligence specialists to the teams. By doing this, intelligence support (especially to the Jamaica Regiment) became more efficient and decentralized. For the Unit as well, an advantage was the renewal and management of the ‘Every Soldier is a Sensor’ campaign at the sub-unit level.
Operating within the MACC, the flow of intelligence for maritime operations has improved significantly with the inclusion of the Brigade’s Maritime and Air Operations Centre (MAOC) to manage the execution process. This has fared well for the Brigade, internally, as processes are continually being refined to suit the needs and preferences of all the units and sub-units involved.
Given plans to acquire more resources and assets (both human and material) over subsequent financial years, anticipation for more efficient collaboration between the MACC (MIU) and other Formations and Units remains high. Key to making this happen is continued joint training and sensitization to allow for all partners in the process to understand their roles and responsibilities. The MACC continues to permanently ‘hold the fort’ for direct maritime and air security, along with underpinning the framework for the MIU to support other kinetic aspects of internal security operations islandwide.
Happy 3rd Anniversary to the MACC!