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Support Team (CoIST)



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Afghan War News > Intelligence > CoIST

"In counterinsurgency, killing the enemy is easy. Finding him is often nearly impossible. Intelligence and operations are complementary. Your operations will be intelligence driven, but intelligence will come mostly from your own operations, not as a "product" prepared and served by higher headquarters. So you must organize for intelligence. You will need a company S2 and intelligence section - including analysts."
D.J. Kilcullen, "Twenty-Eight Articles", March 2006. 1. 

Company Intelligence Support Team (CoIST)

The CoISTs are a new development (circa 2009) within the U.S. Army structure that grew out of the need for company level units to develop a greater understanding of their operational area and to mitigate the threat of IED attacks in a counterinsurgency evironment.

Company Intelligence Support Team (CoIST)
(Graphic from cover of CALL Handbook No. 10-20, Jan 2010)

Purpose of CoISTs. The intelligence teams formed at company level are designed to analyze the effects of weather, enemy, terrain, and local population on friendly operations.

CoIST Operations. The CoIST usually occupies a desk, corner, or small room in or adjacent to the company tactical operations center (TOC). The CoIST will brief patrols prior to their departure and debrief the patrols upon their return. Reports are submitted to higher on a daily basis or as needed.

Some CoISTs are Better than Others. There are a number of factors that determined the usefulness and effectiveness of the CoISTs in Afghanistan. One is the command emphasis and support provided by the bde, bn, and company commanders and staff. A second is how much support the battalion and brigade S-2 staff provides. A third is the quality and quanity of personnel that are in the CoIST. A fourth is the pre-deployment training provided to the CoIST prior to the deployment. A fifth is the equipment provided to the CoIST.

CoIST Staffing. Most CoIST were led by a Lieutenant - usually a Fire Support Officer (FSO) - or a Staff Sergeant. Typically there were between one and six members in a CoIST. Some suggest that each platoon of the company should provide one of its members to serve in the CoIST. There are supporters and detractors for using members of the Fire Support Team (FST) in the CoIST. Usually a counterinsurgency environment sees a minimal use of indirect fire; however, some will see the CoIST as a distraction from the management of lethal and non-lethal efforts. One view says the targeting process is improved with FST involvement while another view says that fire support effectiveness declines.

CoIST Training. There are a variety of training methods and vehicles for CoIST training. These include mobile training teams, in-house, custom-tailored training events, or a resident course at the MI school at Fort Huachuca. There are also a few online courses available as well (as in the CoIST Training Web Portal on AKO). Training includes basic military intelligence analyst skills such as pattern analsys plots, link analysis diagrams, report writing, briefing and debriefing, biometrics (BATS, HIIDE, etc.), intelligence analysis process, targeting process, and basic computer mapping skills (TIGR, Google Earth, FalconView, etc.). The standard training is usually a five day course taught by brigade or division S2/G2 staff officers and NCOs.

CoIST Training 10th Mtn Fort Drum August 2012
Soldiers in CoIST Training at Fort Drum
(Photo by SGT Mark Moore, 10th Mtn PAO, Aug 12)

Military Pubs about CoIST

Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG), Tactical Reference Guide: Company Intelligence Cell, Fort Meade, MD: AWG, 2007.

Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG), Operational Reference: Company Intelligence Support Team (CoIST), GTA-90-01-022, December 2010. (U//FOUO).

CALL, Company Intelligence Support Team Update, CALL Handbook No. 13-09, Center for Army Lessons Learned, May 2013.

CALL, COIST - Company Intelligence Suppport Team, CALL Handbook No. 10-20, January 2010, Center for Army Lessons Learned. (U//FOUO).

Training Circular (TC) 2-19.63, Company Intelligence Support Team, November 9, 2010.

Papers, Reports, and Publications about CoIST

McGarry, MAJ Christopher C.E., Inverting the Army Intelligence Pyramid, AY 2011, School of Advanced Military Studies, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This research paper is a case study analysis comparing select brigade combat teams that employed company-level intelligence support teams (CoISTs) with those that did not.

Morris, Victor R., "Why COIST Matters", Small Wars Journal, March 25, 2015. The author believes that COISTs must be maintained for future conflicts . . . but also adapted to be better integrated and transitional within company mission command systems during Unified Land Operations involving a hybrid threat.

Sanders, Bill. Training Needs and Training Tools for Company Intelligence Support Teams, U.S. Army Research Institute, Aberdeen Proving Ground Element, October 2010. A 16-page slide presentation.

News Articles about CoIST

August 29, 2012. "2nd bCT soldiers train critical skills". DVIDS. Members of 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum take part in CoIST training.



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1.  Quote on organizing for intelligence at company level in a counterinsurgency is from David Kilcullen, "Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of company-level counterinsurgency", Small Wars Journal, Edition 1, March 2006.




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