Mission Analysis & the Four D’s

Military Intelligence [MI] [Branch+Regimental][1.5]Guerrillamerica – by SAMUEL CULPER III

I recently started incorporating the four D’s into Mission Planning and Analysis.  The mission drives intelligence and intelligence drives the fight.  Therefore if we don’t understand the mission, we can’t drive the fight.

The mission of protecting your family and community through tactical engagement is not enough.  There’s a reason why there are aggressive Counterintelligence/Human Intelligence (HUMINT) operations during conflict: to discover the threats before they appear and to discover the attacks before they’re launched.  US/CF disrupted countless attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it could not have happened had we been tucked away in our bases all day surfing on SIPR or JWICS.  

So I’d encourage each of you reading this, especially if you’re concerned with threats in your community post-SHTF, to get out there and be active in your community.  Learn about those who live around you, get to know them and develop a rapport.  If I’m going to depend on these people during an emergency, I want to be on a first name basis with all of them yesterday.

At any rate, the four D’s is our strategic plan to bring security to our community.  They are as follows…


The Defend mission is what many are already planning for.  Whether you’re going to set up check points or otherwise monitor the traffic coming in and out of your community, your (probably unstated) mission is to defend the community.  We’re going to deter attacks against us by looking like a hard target, and ruthlessly hunting down those who do attack us.  (It goes without saying that you aren’t going to hunt down anyone unless you have a robust and active intelligence element.)  Your Area of Operations (AO), your battlespace belongs to you, and dominating your battlespace is your primary Defend mission.


Our attackers find support from somewhere.  The Taliban rob or tax the populace, and find support from their ideological peers.  The Leroy Jenkins Gang (LJG) gives part of their loot back to their community, and finds support among them.  Our adversaries have support, and the Diminish mission is all about identifying and removing those levels of support.  For instance, if the LJG steals from a wealthy community then we must defend that wealthy community; otherwise, the LJG members will continue financing themselves to attack us.  They’ll continue recruiting new members because their survival is through looting what others have.  We end the looting, we threaten their survival and diminish their ability to operate.  If the Taliban are building bombs, then we diminish their ability to emplace IEDs by striking the flow of bomb making materials.  If the Taliban are encouraged to fight by a local Imam, then we influence the Imam (everyone has a price… or a fear).  If the LJG are encouraged to plunder by a former civic figure, then we influence (or remove) the former civic figure.   In any case, we find the enabler of bad behavior and we remove it.  In the Diminish mission, we seek the end of anything that enables our adversary to conduct operations against us.  You will not find their facilitation and logistical nodes unless you have an active and robust intelligence element.


What are US operations in Yemen (and across the Middle East) and north Africa and southwest Asia designed to do?  Deny safe haven to al-Qaeda.  If your Forward Operating Base (FOB) is under the constant deluge of mortars, rockets and improvised artillery rounds, then your attackers have an AO and they have bed down locations.  When those al-Qaeda or Taliban fighters get done launching rockets at you, they go back home.  Therefore we need to find their homes – their bed down locations – and deny them a safe haven.  They have hide outs.  They have places where they feel safe.  Therefore our job is to start kicking in doors and making them feel very unsafe.  They need to know that if they’re going to attack us, then we’re going to fight back ten times worse.  Similarly, if the LJG is going to come into our community to rape and pillage, then they ought to know that we’re going to come into their safe places to fight back.  Even if the LJG doesn’t or can’t come into my community, as long as they remain a threat to my community, I’m going to deny them safe haven because that’s where they build and plan.   The Deny mission is all about disrupting our adversary’s down time in the places they feel the safest.  We find those areas and we deny them those safe havens.  You will not find those areas unless you have an active and robust intelligence element.


If we’re doing the first three things (defending, diminishing and denying) then we should be well on our way to defeating our adversary.  If we’re staying safe and choking off the supplies and safety of our adversary, then we will eventually cause his defeat.  The more kinetic we are in targeting our adversary’s leadership and facilitation, the more quickly we will defeat him.  The Defeat mission is offensive: separating the proverbial head from the body and removing the arms. You will not defeat your adversary unless you have an active and robust intelligence element.


Everyone has some general idea of how they are going to protect their community; the defense of which is not enough.  If we’re going on patrols and trying to discover attacks before the last possible moment, then we will eventually fail.  We have to be — ALWAYS OUT FRONT — in gathering intelligence about the adversary and what he’s planning to do to us.  If we aren’t discovering his plans as closely to his brain as possible, then we are failing and putting our families and communities at risk.

In closing, I’d encourage each of you to incorporate the four D’s into your community defense mission.


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