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German 2ndLt Christian Neuman, shows a Moroccan soldier specific points to look at while analizing terrain information during an intelligence capacity building workshop as a part of Exercise African Lion 2014. Royal Moroccan intelligence personnel teamed up with U.S. Marines and German forces for a week to build understanding of the processes each use to gather information essential to a commander to make informed decisions on the battelfield. Exercise African Lion 14 is a multi-lateral and combined-joint exercise between the Kingdom of Morocco, the U.S. and other partner nations designed to strengthen relationships with participating countries by increasing understanding of each nation's military capabilities. The military-to-military portion of the exercise includes: command-post exercises with humanitarian aid and disaster relief themes; stability operations, such as nonlethal weapons training and respond-to-crisis drills; and an intelligence capability-building workshop.

Photo by Master Sgt. Chad McMeen

Intelligence building workshop an indication of interoperability during African Lion 14

25 Mar 2014 | Sgt. Tatum Vayavananda

During African Lion 14, the Intelligence Capacity Building Workshop was a small but significant example of multilateral cooperation and international partnerships to bolster partner-military capability and intelligence capacity across broad, professional domains.

 The four-day workshop brought together U.S., Moroccan and German military professionals to strengthen proficiency in integration for intelligence operations.

“The ICBW is all about partnering with our counterparts and improving interoperability as it pertains to intelligence,” said Maj. Paul Bischoff, the intelligence officer-in-charge, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

“Intelligence is one of those areas we want to be able to work with our partners; we want to share the process, find ways to work together so we can operate together,” he added.

 The workshop included topics such as: basic steps of the intelligence process; intelligence preparation of the environment (IPOE); systematic approaches to terrain, weather and cultural considerations of importance; standard terminology and procedures; military grid-reference systems; and geospatial intelligence and relevance to operational planning.

“I stopped calling it a ‘class…’ it’s a workshop; it’s all of us coming together and working together and trying to learn from each other,” said Bischoff. “We share the process, plan together, and operate together.”

The ICBW functions as part of the planning process for the final command-post exercise of African Lion 14.

“We built the IPOE brief that was given to all the personnel who planned the scenarios [for the CPX],” said Bischoff. “It was very helpful for all those who participated because we got a deep understanding of the exercise before we jumped into the planning of the CPX,” said the Jacksonville, N.C., native.

 The ICBW allowed the multinational group of intelligence professionals to share procedures and cultural variances to build a broad, varied, and enhanced understanding of each country’s strategies and capabilities.

“You don’t realize the cultural differences unless you work together and, once we understand them, we understand each other better and we can move on and plan together,” said Bischoff.

 Part of the ICBW involved geospatial intelligence personnel from the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the German Bundeswehr Geospatial Intelligence Office.

“The geospatial part lays the foundation for the planning,” said German Capt. Martin Heiermann, a geospatial analysis from the BGIO.

 Commonly known as “GeoIntel, or “GSI,” the discipline focuses on intelligence derived from the analysis of imagery and information to describe, assess and visually depict physical and geographic terrain features.

“If you have no idea of your surroundings or the landscape, you can’t really start planning no matter what you want to do,” added Heiermann. “A worst-case example would be if you planned your logistics routes and realized the maps are old and all the bridges or broken, or that there are no bridges. This is why you need geospatial before your planning.”

The engagement goes beyond military intelligence principles, focusing on the international cooperation of participating militaries.

“Every nation does [intelligence operations] a bit different. No one has the perfect solution, so it’s broadening the horizon and seeing how everyone does it; that’s why these multinational exercises are good for us,” Heiermann said.

“To know what your partners tend to ask for in your products can help circumvent mistakes and save time because, if you know how fellow [militaries] work, you can, in advance, prepare data and products to shorten the amount of time and set the right focus [for operations],” said Heiermann.

 Exercise African Lion is an annually-scheduled training engagement promoting military partnership between U.S. and Moroccan Armed Forces. It is the largest of its kind on the African continent. The exercise will run through April 5 and will continue to focus on interoperability with military-to-military engagements in stability operations, rapid response to contingencies, a multinational observer program with 13 different countries, non-lethal weapons and peace enforcement, live-fire and weapons familiarization training, humanitarian and disaster-relief response. The events increase partner-nation capacity not just for military proficiency but in commitment to the region’s security environment.

“I love working with the Moroccans, but we never know who the coalition will include; we have to be good with not just working with one country but working with any [partner] country,” said Bischoff. “It’s all about learning how to understand our own thoughts and processes and how to incorporate others’ into them.”


2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade