Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield and the Community (Overview)

This post is the first in the series on Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield and the Community.  I’ll publish a new part every Monday, to include Defining the Battlefield Environment, Describing the Battlefield’s Effects, Evaluating the Threat, and Determining Threat Courses of Action.

FM 34-130 was the foundation of my Army schoolhouse training and it holds a dear place in my heart.  Of course, we learned Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) on a Soviet-style adversary; and although that model is largely outdated, the principles of IPB are still very applicable in a myriad of scenarios – for our purposes, that of your community and its surrounding areas.

Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield is a critical step in gaining an expert knowledge of your community, its terrain and demographic features, and how they affect your defensive operations or activities.  While gaining an understanding of IPB and its tenets, and applying it to your Community Defense Framework is going to require some brainpower; in the end, you’ll come away with a much better plan to defend your community from whatever adversary you encounter.

Before I go further, please understand that this is an overview of this process.  In future posts, I’ll go into more detail for each step.  If you have any questions along the way, please fire away and I’ll answer the best I can.  If you’d like to go into great detail with regard to your community and situation, I’m available for consulting and training.

Let’s get started with a good understanding of exactly what IPB is.  FM 34-130′s Introduction sums it up well:

IPB is a systematic, continuous process of analyzing the threat and environment in a specific geographic area.  It is designed to support… military decision making.

IPB is a continuous process which consists of four steps which you perform each time you conduct IPB:

- Define the battlefield environment.

- Describe the battlefield’s effects.

- Evaluate the threat.

- Determine threat Courses of Action (CoA).

Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield is extremely important for battlefield commanders so they can understand the the battlespace and operating environment.  The same can be said with you – and maybe you’re not defending your community (or maybe you will have to); but you might have to defend the immediate area around your home or your retreat location.  We’re going to go through each of these steps and I’m going to offer you some examples – some that I saw in Iraq and Afghanistan and others that I observe around the areas where I grew up and where I live now.

To some degree, every member of every organization will need to conduct IPB.  Just like in chess or checkers, you’ll want to anticipate the moves your adversary makes.  Is the local gang more prone to quick hit and run attacks to attrit their victims or are they more interested in sustained, clearing attacks followed by looting?  Do they take the path of least resistance, move only by night, have overwhelming firepower, or are mounted in vehicles?  Where is the adversary most likely to advance and where will he have cover from your line of sight or fire?  Is the physical terrain around my home more advantageous to me or to an advancing force?  Is the human terrain an asset to the enemy or an addition to my prepared defenses?  These are all questions we need to answer.

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