Innovation and Adaptation

The Four Cs Part 2: Multi-National and Multi-Agency Intelligence in a COVID-19 Environment

By Chris Field July 13, 2021


A note from The Cove Team. To gain context for the article below, read up on the first instalment of this two part series that was published on The Cove in February 2021.

 

The annual United States (US) Army Central Virtual Land Forces Intelligence Conference (VLFIC) creates a multi-national and multi-agency intelligence community of practice defined as:

“…people informally bound together by shared expertise and passion for a joint enterprise…[where] some communities of practice meet regularly.”

“A community of practice may or may not have an explicit agenda…and even if it does, it may not follow the agenda closely. Inevitably; however, people in communities of practice share their experiences and knowledge in free-flowing, creative ways that foster new approaches to problems.”[1]

On Tuesday 27 October 2020, US Army Central hosted the inaugural Virtual Land Forces Intelligence Conference (VLFIC 1). The VLFIC 1 employed Microsoft Teams, uniting a community of practice of more than 60 participants from 11 nations and 35 partner organisations across eight time zones from North America, to Europe, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.[2]

Then on 23 - 24 March 2021, US Army Central hosted the second annual VLFIC (VFLIC 2). Through the continued use of Microsoft Teams, VLFIC 2 expanded the first conference to more than 120 participants from 15 nations, and 42 intelligence partners and 20 international organisations across the eight time zones.[3]

Continuing momentum from VLFIC 1, the purpose of VLFIC 2 was to listen, discuss and create a shared understanding of common intelligence challenges in the Middle East and globally. VLFIC 2 sought to coalesce shared intelligence challenges, ideas, innovation and change. Through the listening, sharing and partnering generated at VLFIC 2, there are now opportunities for participants to plan future communities of practice as bilateral or multi-lateral intelligence discussions either virtually, face-to-face or through a combination of both methods.

Virtual Land Forces Intelligence Conference (VLFIC)

Both VLFIC 1 and VLFIC 2 occurred in a COVID-19 environment. Like VLFIC 1, the VLFIC 2 focused on the four-Cs: communication, coordination, cooperation and collaboration. Supporting the four-Cs, VLFIC 2 was:

Discussions and community of practice interactions during VLFIC 2 produced a range of ideas. Employing the theme of four-Cs – communication, coordination, cooperation and collaboration – this article shares best practice VLFIC 2 ideas generated by 120 participants from 15 nations, 42 intelligence partners and 20 international organisations.  

Four-Cs – communication, coordination, cooperation and collaboration

Best practice ideas – Communication:

  • Creating a common understanding of challenges, innovation and change that VLFIC 2 participants perceive in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility and beyond. These include:
    • Countering remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) and uncrewed air systems (UAS).[13]
    • Transnational threats.
    • Climate change.
    • Regional challenges.
    • COVID-19 challenges and opportunities.
  • Countering remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) and uncrewed air systems (UAS):
    • Emerging characteristics of RPA / UAS:
      • Asymmetric systems, defined as ‘prolific, counter-measure defeating, low-cost technologies’, employed by non-state actors and state-sponsored terrorists.
      • One-way attacks promoting anonymity and degrading detection.
      • Difficult to counter and engage.
      • Employment of stealth, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
      • Increased range, payloads and loiter time.
      • Include lethal, surveillance and battle damage assessment capabilities.
      • Swarming enables multiple autonomous systems to act as a cohesive unit through actively coordinating their actions.[14]
    • Countering RPA / UAS requires:
      • Operational security, early warning systems, camouflage, concealment, decoys, deception, dispersal, active defence measures and minimising electronic emissions.
      • Collaborative doctrine.
      • Regional cooperation establishing a shared understanding and common operating picture.
      • Community communications, support, cooperation and reporting enabled by flight track technology.
  • Communication and cooperation opportunities generated by the COVAX system of cross-levelling and sharing support, where it is needed most, as a global community. COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the 'Access to COVID-19 Tools' (ACT) Accelerator:
    • COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). COVAX’s aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
    • The ACT Accelerator is a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.[15]
  • Build Back Better in a post-COVID-19 world, through adapting the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction definition to Build Back Better beyond COVID-19 defined as:
    "The use of the recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction phases after a pandemic to increase the resilience of nations and communities through integrating pandemic risk reduction measures into the restoration of societal systems, and into the revitalisation of livelihoods and economies… and “build back better”, to avoid or reduce future pandemic risk."[16]
    • Build Back Better can be achieved through:
      • Establishing legal frameworks for recovery and encouraging local governments to maintain COVID-19 vaccine and minimisation policies.
      • Develop, strengthen, and invest in COVID-19 minimisation training and education for local leadership, business and non-profit sectors.
      • Strengthen COVID-19 minimisation information-sharing mechanisms to support pre- and post-pandemic recovery planning, operations and recovery coordination.
      • Establish risk-based COVID-19 minimisation funding mechanisms, lending or otherwise. Require evidence of Build Back Better COVID-19 minimisation as an eligibility requirement.
      • Ensure communities have adequate access to COVID-19 minimisation experts, planning and operations, both before and after pandemics occur.
      • Integrate COVID-19 minimisation policies and activities throughout government.
      • Explore ways to improve donor engagement in longer-term COVID-19 minimisation financing needs.
      • Promote a greater focus on the assessment of post-pandemic needs when COVID-19 minimisation planning and implementation are taking form.
      • Establish a contact point for governmental and non-governmental organisations to learn about best practices and raise awareness about legal frameworks for COVID-19 minimisation problems arising from a lack of clear policies and directives.[17]

Best practice ideas – Coordination:

  • Societies often change when confronted with war, recession, and pandemics. For example, as noted by the McKinsey Global Institute:
    “The COVID-19 pandemic could potentially heighten economic insecurity, which has grown for individuals in their roles as workers, savers and consumers over the past two decades. The situation post-pandemic would be very different from wartime precedents in such a scenario, with wages and inflation remaining subdued, interest rates remaining near or below zero, and high unemployment persisting even after labour mobilisation. These factors would create major social and economic challenges for government and business leaders.”[18]
  • Multi-domain problems require multi-domain relationships and partnerships, unified through three dimensions of the environment (human, information and physical) while understanding and connecting the five warfighting domains (maritime, land, air, cyber and space).
  • Unifying our efforts to achieve a catalytic effect – meaning enabling cooperation or increasing the speed of cooperation.[19]
  • Posturing forces based on:
    • Assigned missions.
    • Access, basing and overflight.
    • Intra-boundary and transboundary coordination.
    • Availability of enablers.
    • Mutual support.
    • Partner reassurance.
    • Requests for capacity building.
  • Collective security or ‘security for individual nations by collective means,’ that is, by membership in an organisation made up of states pledged to defend each other from attack.[20] For example, collective security may occur through de-escalating regional tensions and enabling people to reach their aspirations and cultural, personal and professional potential.

Best practice ideas – Cooperation:

  • LTG Scott Berrier, Director, United States Defense Intelligence Agency
    • T = R + P: Trust = Relationships + Partnerships
    • Work at the speed of trust and the speed of war, emphasising the importance of long-term relationships based on people-to-people connections and partnerships.
    • When “trust is low, speed is low and the cost is high… [in contrast] when trust is high, speed is high and cost is low”.[21]
    • The components of trust are:
      • Character through integrity and intent.
      • Competence through capability and results.
    • Thirteen Trust Behaviours include:
      1. Talk straight.
      2. Demonstrate respect.
      3. Create transparency.
      4. Right wrongs.
      5. Show loyalty.
      6. Deliver results.
      7. Get better.
      8. Confront reality.
      9. Clarify expectations.
      10. Practice accountability.
      11. Listen first.
      12. Keep commitments.
      13. Extend trust.[22]
  • Relationships are a pacing item [or a fundamental input into capability]. Where pacing items are “major systems [or capabilities]… central to an organisation’s ability to perform its designated mission”.[23] These systems and capabilities are subject to continuous monitoring and management at all levels of an organisation. A pacing item is held at the highest level of readiness. We must constantly care for and maintain these systems and capabilities.
    • Activities like VLFIC encourage cooperation through confidence in ourselves, our team and our partners. Relationships require mutual trust and shared confidence between leaders, their people, partners and teams. Trust in relationships is built over time based on common shared experiences and habitual training.[24]
    • Trusted relationships are hard to build and easily broken. Trusted relationships are accelerated by exercising consistent considered leadership, demonstrating personal example and upholding organisational ethics and values.[25]
  • A model for seeing threats and cooperating across international boundaries, in regions and globally includes considering:
    • Proximate threats: near term existential threats, based on power projection through:
      • Military hardware sales.
      • Interoperability.
      • Advisors and proxies.
      • Multi-partner exercises.
      • Extending military influence.
    • Pacing threats: strategic competitors, based on power projection through:
      • Accelerating military modernisation.
      • Deterrence.
      • Cyber capabilities.
      • Economic power projection, including logistics, basing, infrastructure and vaccine diplomacy.
      • Coordinating and synchronising legitimate businesses.
      • Nefarious actions.
    • Uncertain threats beyond 2030: peer challengers, based on power projection through:
      • Limited warning.
      • Long range capabilities.
      • Proxies and partners.
    • Violent extremist threats: persistent globally metastasising elements, based on power projection through:
      • Sophisticated technology procurement.
      • Recruiting disempowered populations.
      • Expanding global influence, information, ideology and radicalisation.[26]
      • Building partner capacity.

Best practice ideas – Collaboration:

  • Intelligence fusion is a deliberate and consistent process of collecting and examining information from all available sources and intelligence disciplines to derive as complete an assessment as possible of detected activity. It draws on the complementary strengths of all intelligence disciplines and relies on an all-source approach to intelligence collection and analysis.[27]
  • Climate change, where rising seas levels and threats to Middle East nations exist, especially agricultural land and urban areas. The threat of climate change encourages local, regional and global collaboration in areas including:

Conclusion

Discussions and community of practice interactions during VLFIC 2 produced a range of ideas. Employing the theme of four-Cs – communication, coordination, cooperation and collaboration – this article shares best practice VLFIC 2 ideas generated by 120 participants from 15 nations, 42 intelligence partners and 20 international organisations.  
The purpose of VLFIC 2 was to listen, discuss and create a shared understanding of common intelligence challenges in the Middle East and globally. VLFIC 2 sought to coalesce shared intelligence challenges, ideas, innovation and change.

Through the listening, sharing and partnering generated at VLFIC 2, there are now opportunities for participants to plan future communities of practice, as bilateral or multi-lateral intelligence discussions either virtually, face-to-face or through a combination of both methods.

End Notes

[1] Etienne C. Wenger and William M. Snyder, Communities of Practice: The Organizational Frontier, Harvard Business Review, Boston, Massachusetts, January–February 2000 https://hbr.org/2000/01/communities-of-practice-the-organizational-frontier [accessed 09 May 2021]

[2] 11 Nations, VLFIC 1: Australia, Bahrain, Canada, France, Jordan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates. United Kingdom, and the United States.

[3] 15 Nations, VLFIC 2: Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Egypt, France, Jordan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, New Zealand, Qatar, United Arab Emirates. United Kingdom, United States and Yemen.

[4] President Joseph R. Biden, Renewing America’s Advantages –Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, The White House, Washington, DC, United States of America, March 2021, pp. 3, 6, 18, 20 & 23.

[5] President Joseph R. Biden, Renewing America’s Advantages –Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, Ibid, pp. 6, 7, 8, 10 & 11.

[6] President Joseph R. Biden, Renewing America’s Advantages –Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, Ibid, pp. 12 & 14.

[7] President Joseph R. Biden, Renewing America’s Advantages –Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, Ibid, March 2021, pp. 6 & 10.

[8] President Joseph R. Biden, Renewing America’s Advantages –Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, Ibid, pp. 11 & 13.

[9] Nine Middle East partner nations: Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

[10] US Central Command area of responsibility: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

[11] Lieutenant General Scott D. Berrier: is the 22nd Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency. He previously served as the Department of the Army, G-2 . LTG Berrier has served as an intelligence officer at every level from Battalion to Combatant Command. The depth of his leadership experience ranges from Company Commander to Commanding General and Senior Mission Commander. His Army, Joint Service, and Special Operations assignments include service throughout the United States, the Republic of Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Scott D. Berrier, US Army, Director, Washington DC, 2021 https://www.dia.mil/News/Articles/Article-View/Article/2369284/lieutenant-general-scott-d-berrier-usa/ [accessed 09 May 2021]

[12] Lieutenant General (Ret) Terry Wolff: returned to his duties as the full time Director of NESA in February 2019 after serving as the Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. LTG (Ret) Wolff completed 34 years of service and retired from active duty in February 2014 upon completing service as the Director of Strategic Plans and Policy, J-5 for the Joint Staff. LTG (Ret) Wolff commanded at every level from platoon to armored division. He spent nearly ten years in Germany and served three tours in Iraq commanding the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team, and the United States Division-Center (1st Armored Division). Near East South Asia Center, LTG (Ret.) Terry A. Wolff – Director, National Defense University, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC 20319-5066 https://nesa-center.org/senior-leadership/ [accessed 09 May 2021]

[13] International Civil Aviation Organisation, Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for International Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) Operations, Montreal, Canada, 29 April 2020, pp. 7-8  https://www.icao.int/safety/UA/Documents/ICAO%20RPAS%20CONOPS.pdf [accessed 09 May 2021]
Uncrewed aircraft system: An aircraft and its associated elements which are operated with no pilot on board.
Remotely piloted aircraft (RPA): An uncrewed aircraft which is piloted from a remote pilot station.

[14] Science Daily, Learning capabilities of drone swarms, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, 10 August 2020 Learning capabilities of drone swarms -- ScienceDaily [accessed 03 May 2021]

[15] World Health Organisation, COVAX - Working for global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, Geneva, Switzerland, 2021 https://www.who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator/covax [accessed 09 May 2021]

[16] United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Build Back Better in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction, Consultative version, Geneva, Switzerland, 2017, p. 6 https://www.unisdr.org/files/53213_bbb.pdf [accessed 09 May 2021]

[17] United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Build Back Better in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction, Ibid, pp. 38-39

[18] Gary Pinkus & Sree Ramaswamy, The ‘war’ on COVID-19: What real wars do (and don’t) teach us about the economic impact of the pandemic, McKinsey Global Institute, Washington, DC, 14 May 2020 https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/the-war-on-covid-19-what-real-wars-do-and-dont-teach-us-about-the-economic-impact-of-the-pandemic# [accessed 09 May 2021]

[19] Collins English Dictionary, Catalytic, Harper and Collins, Glasgow, Scotland, 2021
https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/catalytic#:~:text=If%20you%20describe%20a%20person,Quick%20word%20challenge [accessed 09 May 2021]

[20] Roland N. Stromberg, Collective Security, Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, Washington DC, 2021 https://www.americanforeignrelations.com/A-D/Collective-Security.html [accessed 09 May 2021]

[21] Steph Clarke, Three Big Ideas I Learnt from the book Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey, Steph’s Business Bookshelf, Medium Corporation, San Francisco, California, 23 June 2020 https://medium.com/stephs-business-bookshelf/three-big-ideas-i-learnt-from-the-book-speed-of-trust-by-stephen-covey-c515590aca7e [accessed 09 May 2021]

[22] Steph Clarke, Three Big Ideas I Learnt from the book Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey, Ibid.

[23] United States, Headquarters Department of the Army, Army Regulation 220–1, Field Organizations, Army Unit Status Reporting and Force Registration – Consolidated Policies, Washington, D.C., 15 April 2010, p. 99

[24] Email from Brigadier Doug Laidlaw, Commander JTF 646, to author, 14 May 2020

[25] United States, Headquarters Department of the Army, Army Doctrine Publication 6-0, Mission Command: Command and Control of Army Forces, Washington, D.C., 13 July 2019, p. 1-7

[26] Gregory L. Cantwell, (ed.), Theater Army Role in Multi-Domain Operations Integrated Research Project, Center for Strategic Leadership, United States Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, 2020, pp. 26, 49. 87, 90, 98, 131, 138 https://csl.armywarcollege.edu/usacsl/Publications/Theater%20Army%20Role%20in%20Multi-Domain%20Operations.pdf [accessed 09 May 2021]

[27] U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Intelligence, Joint Publication 2-0, Washington, D.C., 23 October 2013, p. II-12 https://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/Doctrine/pubs/jp2_0.pdf [accessed 09 May 2021]


Portrait

Biography

Chris Field

Major General Chris Field is Deputy Commanding General, Operations, US Army Central.

 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.



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