STUTTGART, Germany — Poland Special Operations Forces Command (POLSOFCOM) and experts from U.S. Special Operations Command Europe conducted a two-week symposium held Aug. 3 – 12 at Panzer Barracks.
The engagement, aimed at improving Poland's intellegience gathering capabilities, is core to SOCEUR’s mission of developing interoperability with allied and partner special operations forces in support of the command’s Partner Development Program (PDP).
Human intelligence is critical and key to special operations forces missions. Knowing how to collect, analyze and debrief information is particularly important for intelligence soldiers when providing integral data to commanders and operators on the ground.
This was the third such PDP engagement that SOCEUR's J2 Intelligence Directorate has held with its Polish counterparts this past year; however it’s the first one held in Germany. Fifteen Polish personnel took part in the seminar, five of which are deploying to support operations as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
“POLSOFCOM specifically requested this intelligence engagement to prepare their soldiers for future missions in support of ISAF,” said Army Maj. Charles Vores, a SOCEUR intelligence operations officer. “This engagement allows us to enhance their capacity and provide lessons learned from some of our troops recently coming right out of Afghanistan.”
He also mentioned the most important aspect of the engagement was for the Polish to have the ability to identify and answer information gaps from intelligence sources on the ground to shape, plan and rehearse future operations on their own.
“As a result, it enhances mission success by preventing wasted time on the objective,” Vores said.
Vores mentioned the two-week engagement was tailored for both a classroom and rural environments with lessons focusing on intelligence analysis, counter insurgency, patrol briefings and debriefings and key leader engagements.
Additionally, the Polish soldiers were able to get hands-on familiarization with two systems. Battlefield Information Collection and Exploitation System (BICES) and the Secure Electronic Enrollment Kit (SEEK). The SEEK system offers soldiers the ability to conduct biometric operations such as fingerprint analysis, facial recognition and iris scans on individuals.
According to a POLSOFCOM officer participating in the seminar, the engagement was necessary to take the Polish out of their comfort zones in several ways.
“Conducting intelligence gathering is one of our biggest capability gaps,” the Polish officer said. “We obviously need language support to do this, but this engagement has allowed us to better organize our efforts so we can make the best decisions for the commander.”
The capstone event of the symposium was a practical exercise in which the soldiers were placed in a simulated combat environment where role players approached them with threat intelligence information about enemy or insurgent activity in their area of operations.
The soldiers were evaluated on tasks such as setting up source meetings, asking quality questions, gathering ‘key nuggets’ during the intelligence collection and finally writing actionable data reports.
“We were able to get them comfortable in an uncomfortable situation, particularly by having them speak English throughout the event,” Vores said. “During feedback, we would mention, ‘you should have asked this follow-up question’ or ‘how come you didn’t ask this question’ to help them see second and third order effects of collecting data.”
Agreeing with Vores’ observation, the POLSOFCOM officer added, “We can’t conduct tactical operations with the wrong intelligence, so I now feel we can build a better target intelligence packet as a result of this symposium.”