Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Summary of Findings: Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) (4 out of 5 Stars)

Note: This post represents the synthesis of the thoughts, procedures and experiences of others as represented in the articles read in advance (see previous posts) and the discussion among the students and instructor during the Advanced Analytic Techniques class at Mercyhurst University, in September 2018 regarding IPB as an Analytic Method, specifically. This technique was evaluated based on its overall validity, simplicity, flexibility and its ability to effectively use unstructured data.

Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) is an analytic method for understanding the threat and environment in a specific geographic area. The military has applied IPB to  analyzing the mission variables of enemy, terrain, weather, and civil considerations in an area of interest to determine their effect on operations.  As a result of this process, unit leaders are able to: describe the unit’s operating environment as well as the effects the environment has on the unit, and determine likely courses of action (COA) by the adversary.

  • Provides base to assess intelligence gaps in the environment
  • Helps prioritize requirements
  • Increases awareness of the battlespace
  • Structure allows analysts to identify extraneous information
  • Flexible based on terrain, operations, contingencies

  • Does not take 2nd and 3rd order effects of battle into consideration when planning
  • Assumes adversary is fighting “the same battle”; Conventional-on-Conventional warfare vs. Conventional-on-Guerrilla warfare (i.e. Vietnam)
  • Depends on analyst experience level
  • Requires understanding of tactics and maneuvers
  • Is dependent on leader guidance and direction in requirements
  • Requires knowledge of adversary commander and forces

  1. Define the battlefield environment
  2. Describe the battlefield effects
  3. Evaluate the threat
  4. Determine threat courses of action (COA)

Application of Technique:
Analysts constructed a terrain model from a topographical map of Gettysburg.  Sand was used to create the terrain and depict changes in elevation.  Roads were identified with black yarn and water was identified using blue yarn. After completion of the terrain model, key terrain within the area of operations were identified.

Topographical Map of Gettysburg (1863)
Application of Technique using a Sand Table
to create a Terrain Model of the map shown above.

For Further Information:
  1. FM 34-130: Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield
  2. Street Smart: Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield for Urban Operations

1 comment:

  1. The market intelligence department I manage at a global manufacturer and wholesale distributor of a relatively new alternative consumer product use IPB to help develop models of total addressable market space and barriers to compete in each country. This has critical implications on go-to-market strategy and helping DMs decide which markets to invest in (sales reps, marketing, product launches, pricing, sales channels, etc).

    As an example when the company evaluated Eastern Europe, industry magazines pegged the total market size of Country A at $100 MM and Country B at $30 MM. IPB helped reduced uncertainty and helped the company decide that Country B is actually a better bet long-term due to factors such as competitive pressures (Country A has close to 1,500 physical points of sale but an industry behemoth controlled nearly 900 points of sale at the time and has since consolidated the country even further by acquiring most other shops and flooding the market with cheap products); the consumer's flavor palate; the segmentation of products by price; and more.

    Have a $wagilicious day!