FORT HOOD, Texas -- According to the Creed of the Military Intelligence Corps, the core task of a military intelligence Soldier is finding, knowing, and never losing the enemy. The phrase is hardly clichéd, and for the Soldiers of the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, exemplifying that creed takes on a sense of urgency and duty, especially in light of emerging global threats.
Terrorism and dangers posed by state actors like Russia and North Korea, and non-state actors like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, continue to grow and threaten the United States' national security. Luckily, the nation is watchful against those who wish to do it harm. The men and women of the United States Army are the best in the world. To ensure the Army can complete its mission decisively, a small percentage of Soldiers provide intelligence collection and analysis required to shape the strategic environment and aid unit commanders' ability to make battlefield decisions.
The "Always Ready" brigade has provided intelligence support for over 70 years to the U.S. Army. Most recently, Soldiers with the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade have deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. Designed to support a corps-level headquarters, the brigade provides human intelligence, signals intelligence, geospatial intelligence, linguist support and analysis for current and future operations.
While Hollywood portrayals of military intelligence focuses on the likes of "Mission Impossible" and "James Bond," the real-world application of intelligence revolves around deliberate collection and analysis. In some senses, gathering pieces of information can lead to completing a "big picture" puzzle for commanders to better understand the battlefield.
Col. Ryan Janovic, commander of the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, said the military intelligence (MI) community's role is vital to U.S. national security interests. Helping military, defense and political leaders to make better decisions is a duty not taken lightly, Janovic said. He added that the unit has fostered a positive reputation among III Corps and the larger intelligence community, for the work it has done for the warfighter on the ground.
"We enjoy a great reputation because the Soldiers of the 'Always Ready Brigade' have always been motivated to succeed and help the warfighter win," Janovic said. "The 504th is a small part of a great enterprise. We help deliver the power of that enterprise to the III Corps team."
The fundamental element of military intelligence is saving and protecting lives, both at home and around the world. To do so, military intelligence Soldiers must provide methodical collection and analysis to identify threats and protect our country's citizens and its military. Intelligence Soldiers work diligently to ensure they never lose sight of their mission.
Sgt. 1st Class William Phillips, the physical security and information security noncommissioned officer-in-charge for the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, said in his experience that military intelligence is a critical function to the military.
"It is critical for an army to know its enemy and react to an ever-changing battle space," Phillips said. He added that his previous units were able to successfully conduct over 100 missions against the enemy because of clear and deliberate intelligence. Through those missions, the Army could exploit additional intelligence collection and target critical nodes within the enemy networks.
"The enemy did not expect us," said Phillips. "We were able to capture nearly all the targets we sought out."
Intelligence collection also brought a tangible lifesaving benefit to the unit -- the unit was able to drastically reduce the number of Improvised Explosive Devices throughout the area. In doing so, it created a safer environment for both Soldiers and host nation citizens.
The Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, Lt. Gen. Mary A. Legere, said in a recent presentation to senior Army leaders that the Army's intelligence corps has proven itself again and again in various missions around the world.
"In this past year, our Intelligence Corps has demonstrated exceptional versatility, supporting Army forces in multiple theaters in a wide range of operations," Legere said.
"From support to [Operations] Pacific Pathways and Atlantic Resolve, combat and counterterrorist operations in the Middle East and South Asia, humanitarian relief in West Africa and cyber operations globally, our Intelligence Soldiers and Civilians are fully engaged, providing tailorable expeditionary capabilities for our Army wherever and whenever our Nation requires," Legere continued.
1st Sgt. Steven Kappus, the acting battalion command sergeant major for the 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, said military intelligence plays into the nation's larger intelligence community to understand global threats. The intelligence community is comprised of 17 separate agencies that work together to conduct intelligence considered necessary to foreign relations and national security.
"Army military intelligence feeds into the national and strategic agencies in developing understandings of terrorism potential," said Kappus. "The Army assists higher echelons in understanding the picture from its view."
The 504th Military Intelligence Brigade officially changed from a battlefield surveillance brigade to a military intelligence brigade, Oct. 26, and now oversees two MI battalions that can provide multi-functional intelligence to battlefield and theater commanders.
Although the brigade's name has changed, Col. Janovic emphasized the overarching mission would not.
"Each unit in our Army has changed structure and focus at some point in history," said Janovic. "What has not changed, and what won't change, is the strength of Army intelligence. Our soldiers make that possible, no matter what structure or title we take on."