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“Tempo VS. Speed”

Jacob Rasbeck

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INTL442- Tactical

Professor Eloy E. Cuevas

Completed 3 December 2017







and speed are two crucial elements any fighting force must achieve to gain
command and control over the battlespace and maintain an advantage over the
enemy. Speed, as defined in Merriam-Webster, is the swiftness or rate of
performance or action ( Tempo keeps the adversary off
balance, thereby escalating his friction. Speed, leadership, and flexibility provoke
and preserve a tempo that the enemy fails to contest (MCWP 2-1, 2003). The
purpose of this paper is to assess how speed and tempo within tactical
intelligence operations can assist a commander in establishing command and
control over a battlespace, as well as assess how speed and tempo at the
analyst level can affect the success of an operation.

          Accurate and timely intelligence within a battlespace is
demanded from any commander and they will set the standard at which he or she
wants their operations performed at. So, how can a commander’s tactics and
operations benefit from the speed and tempo in their intelligence process? For
tactics and operations to have the opportunity to move swiftly and concisely,
the intelligence cycle must operate congruently. If this fails to occur, then
it will certainly effect the success of a mission. For example, intelligence actions
provide a significant chunk of the observation-orientation phases to the
Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action (OODA) loop, with the fundamental objective
of supporting the decision stage (MCDP 2, 1977, 9). The OODA loop is a process
that is useful to a tactician because it allows them to observe their
surroundings, gain situational awareness, make a rational decision based off
their current situation, and finally execute their decision. MCDP 6 Command and
Control states, “In any conflict, the antagonist who can persistently and adequately
cycle through the OODA loop faster—who can maintain a higher tempo of actions –
reaps an ever-increasing advantage with each cycle” (MCDP 6, 1996, 6).
Therefore, the tempo of the intelligence cycle that is disseminating
information to the troops on the ground must match the tempo at which the
tactical operations are being conducted. Another example is regarding
counterinsurgency operations and how the speed of intelligence collection
directly benefits the commander’s needs. For instance, the more rapidly
intelligence personnel establish an understanding of the insurgency, the sooner
they can manage it and the greater the potential for reducing the length and
intensity of the conflict (Teamey and Sweet, 2006). Following these two
examples, it is apparent that speed and tempo in intelligence directly support
the commander bring about speed and tempo in his or her tactics and operations.

          The success of the intelligence supporting any operation is
directly influenced by the analysis level of expertise. On this subject, does
the expertise of an analyst effect the speed and tempo of the intelligence
operations? Although the situation may change, subordinates who undoubtedly
understand the principle of a commander’s intentions and act to reach that
purpose can conform to dynamic circumstances on their own without risking dispersal
of effort or reduction of tempo (MCDP 1-3, 1997, 73). When an analyst or intelligence
officer is a subject matter expert (SME) in his or her specialty, they can
analyze a situation through their own experiences, quickly make a decision that
is best for the situation, and effectively continue the intelligence cycle in
accordance with the commander’s objective tempo and speed. Professionals will
be able to carry on this mission on their own initiative and through lateral
coordination with other subunits, rather than running every resolution through
the higher commander for a green light (MCDP 1-3, 1997, 74). This is imperative
in sustaining the tempo and speed of any intelligence operation because it
reduces friction within the intelligence cycle. However, it is also important
that any SME is well-rounded and understands the needs of tacticians as well. How
can an analyst, who is proficient in intelligence operations and analysis procedures
but a neophyte in tactics, diminish this tempo? Additionally, what challenge
does this present if one wants to be an efficient intelligence technician at
the tactical level? In a military sense, there is more to speed than merely going
fast, and there is a vital contrast between acting expeditiously and acting
recklessly (MCDP 1-3, 1997, 62). When an intelligence operations expert fails
to fully understand tactics, it can severely hinder mission success and
ultimately put the tacticians in dangerous situations. Failing to understand
the needs of a tactician reflects through an analyst’s products which are
supposed to support a commander’s decision making and troops on the ground. Intelligence
seeks to frame as complete a picture of both the opposition and area of operations
as possible made up of an array of factors – the concrete and discernible, the
intangible and illusory, the environmental and cultural, the military and
political – all of which must be appraised to develop the knowledge needed to bolster
the commander’s decision-making (MCDP 2, 1977, 70). Not being a well-rounded
expert will introduce friction into the overall objectives, ultimately
effecting the speed and tempo required to sustain command and control over the
enemy. If one wants to become a competent intelligence specialist at the
tactical level, they must educate themselves on the needs of a tactician. They
should become familiar with the OODA loop and include those needs into their
thought process while developing their intelligence products. Another challenge
they must overcome is simply assimilating to the tactical mindset. Some
analysts have never supported a mission at the tactical level and are
accustomed to missions at an operational or strategic level. If I were in this
position, I would find the SME of the current mission and essentially use them
as a mentor. Personally, working alongside a veteran analyst is almost
contagious and certainly boosts my confidence and work efficiency. It would be
a challenge to overcome, however, I feel the first step to would be educating
myself on the OODA loop as well as interacting with tacticians to more
thoroughly understand their needs.

          In conclusion, speed and tempo in tactical intelligence
operations is an indispensable component to mission success. Achieving command
and control over the battlespace is directly influenced by any commander’s
standard of speed and tempo. General Patton said in 1943, “When the great day
of battle comes remember your training and remember above all else that speed
and violence of attack are the sure road to success” (MCDP 1-3, 1997, 61).
Complementing speed is tempo. Tempo is not merely a matter of acting fastest or
at the earliest opportunity. It is also a matter of timing—acting at the right
time (MCDP 1-3, 1997, 64).

















Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1-3,
1997. Tactics. Department of the Navy. Accessed December 1, 2017.


Corps Doctrinal Publication 2, 1977. Intelligence. Department of
the Navy. Accessed December 1, 2017.


Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 6, 1996. Command
and Control. Department of the Navy. Accessed December 1, 2017.


Marine Corps Warfighting
Publication 2-1, 2003. Intelligence
Operations. Department of the Navy. Accessed December 1, 2017.


“Speed.” Accessed
December 1, 2017.


Teamey, Kyle and Jonathan
Sweet. “Organizing Intelligence for Counterinsurgency.” Military
Review 86, no. 5 (Sep, 2006): 24-29. Accessed December 1, 2017.





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