Throughout the last two months of 2011, the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade played a key role in training elements of the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade.

The training tested 201st BfSB Soldiers' individual and collective skills conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in field-like conditions on Camp Bullis.

The 201st BfSB, consisting of the 109th MI Battalion and 502nd MI Battalion, rotated teams of Soldiers from its home at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., in and out of Camp Bullis every two weeks for two five-day exercises.

"The training focused on small teams with collective events that required Soldiers to exercise their skills in their respective Military Occupational Specialty," said Lt. Col. Kevin Hosier, S3 (operations and training officer) for the 470th MI Brigade. "The training centered around signals intelligence and human intelligence collection tasks and took place at several mock villages in the training area and at the IDTF."

The IDTF, which stands for Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) Detention Training Facility, simulates facilities used overseas for questioning detainees and analyzing information. The 470th MI Brigade operates the IDTF on behalf of INSCOM. In addition to running the IDTF and the overall battlefield surveillance training event, the Fort Sam Houston-based brigade also provided role-players and observer-controllers, and logistical and general support.

"The training scenarios were designed to train Soldiers in their individual skill sets, in tactics, techniques and procedures, and with their equipment to prepare them for deployments 'down range,'" Hosier explained. "The scenarios were also designed to encourage them to 'make the mission happen' at team level and force them to think on their feet when faced with the unexpected."

Maj. Chad Wetherill, 470th MI Brigade's assistant S3 and senior observer-controller for the exercise, explained that each scenario was designed to test all aspects of mission command as well as the individual and collective intelligence tasks.

"Each multi-functional team [MFT] leader had to plan, prepare and execute specific missions and figure out how to integrate the team's capabilities into the mission of the ground commander they were supporting," said Wetherill. "This type of training gave these young lieutenants and their teams invaluable experience conducting troop-leading procedures and complex collective tasks that are hard to replicate at their home station."

A daily exercise for Soldiers of the 201st BfSB began with orders for a team of about 12 Soldiers to conduct an intelligence mission in the training area, which could take place in a mock village or en route to one. The intelligence mission might consist of obtaining information about a weapons cache or hostile activity. The team members would have to question villagers, provide "tactical site exploitation" and positive identification of high-value individuals to the ground commander, and make recommendations on whether or not suspect individuals should be detained for further questioning, according to Wetherill.

After a team arrived at the IDTF with detainees, team members exercised their interrogation skills, analyzed the intelligence gathered, filling intelligence gaps and answering information requirements. After processing and producing the intelligence, they practiced dissemination of that intelligence to higher headquarters.

"These Soldiers went to schools to train with their equipment and in their skills, but they hadn't interacted with Soldiers in other MI skill sets," said Hosier. "This training [at Camp Bullis] was their first opportunity to do their jobs in a training environment together."

Wetherill added that the exercise not only enabled MFTs to exercise collective tasks but also gave each unit commander better understanding of what the remainder of their pre-deployment training should focus on to get their teams mission-ready.

"From a commander's perspective, this exercise was a huge success," Wetherill said. "This type of training is invaluable when preparing your unit for a deployment."