22 November 2009

AWG: "Attack the Network" Series

Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG) published a series of useful information papers ("white papers") in March and April of this year covering the topic "Attack the Network" that are worth highlighting. All three papers discuss effective targeting methods at the Battalion and Brigade level. All three articles also offer recommendations on targeting methods and effectively linking targeting to collection platforms, and the creation of modified ISR Synch Matrices (more detailed, layered, and focused - but flexible). As a recent MICCC graduate I would argue that turning each of these papers into a 2-3 day block of instruction in the MICCC would be extremely useful - and timely.

We all watched as our peers in adjacent and higher units in Mosul targeted events and things (technologies) instead of high level individuals or entire networks. Time and time again we watched as ISR assets were improperly utilized to over watch blast sights where events had already occurred, or flex to people and developing situations where resulting collection would not direct immediate action or potentially answer questions pertaining to priority targets, related NAIs, or network fidelity.

The first article titled "Attack the Network Part I: Oil Spot Methodology" focuses on using this method as a model for describing insurgent influence. Use of this model helps the analyst (and S2 and commander) determine the motivations and positions of targets, and how they relate to the population (Center of Gravity). Doing this effectively will reveal which individuals are worth targeting i.e. how disrupting or removing them will impact to the entire network. As COIN focuses our targeting down to the lowest levels the conventional Army on a whole has a tendency to target individuals and not entire networks. From there, the paper describes the flaw in continued targeting of Tier III individuals which produces immediate, but not lasting effects in the battlespace. This first article argues the need for more focus on targeting Tier II individuals - or "intermediaries". Targeting at this level within the conventional BDE and BN is further facilitated by Regional Fusion Cells. Nothing new here - but reiterates important point I think. From the article:

"Attacking a network requires leaders and analysts to understand the link between an enemy's Critical Capabilities, Requirements, and Vulnerabilities, as well as, indicators reflecting that an enemy action has occurred."

With regard to ISR collection and management I do not believe that the average MICCC graduate received enough instruction on the emphasis for identifying indicators reflecting that an enemy action has occurred - which allows for predictive analysis and drives commander's decisions for action (to include continued development for action at a later time).

The second article, also great, is titled "Attack The Network Methodology: Part 2 Critical Vulnerabilities and Targeting" and outlines how to focus ISR by first conducting the Center of Gravity analysis which identifies threat networks, their critical capabilities, and their critical vulnerabilities. This article argues that we should "attack the threat's weaknesses and contain it's strengths" and offers a template for analysts that branch targets out from the Center of Gravity to the target's critical vulnerabilities.

The third article "Attack The Network Methodology: Part 3 Network Modeling and ISR Synchronization" offers solutions which focus ISR against enemy vulnerabilities after identifying observable indicators. The article offers ideas for a more detailed Intel Synch Matrix and wow - tells us to share it will all collection assets. This article is an analyst's delight - particularly the unusual (but looks very useful) way to break out doctrinal templating. Again - if only they had taught more of this way of thinking (and detailed dissection) at the MICCC!

Just wanted to point everyone in the direction of some of the interesting articles that AWG put out. Check it out at https://portal .awg.army.mil and use your AKO from there. Enjoy!


  1. Great post Jen! I tore through these and quickly disseminated them to my CCC peers. The Field Artillery schoolhouse is loathe to accept F3EAD as anything other than a passing fad. The reality, much to the disdain of Fort Sill, is laid out quite well in the AWG products. Thanks for bringing these to everyone's attention.


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