522nd MI (CEWI) Battalion passes tactical intelligence test
April 7, 1977
Army Intelligence received an extreme makeover in the mid-1970s.
Following the end of the conflict in Vietnam, the Army Intelligence field was facing a difficult time of introspection and dwindling resources, compounded by harsh criticism from a review panel ordered by the chief of staff. This study, the Intelligence Organization and Stationing Study, or IOSS, recommended radical changes to the Army Intelligence structure, beginning with the dismantling of the Army Security Agency, or ASA.
At the strategic level, ASA’s headquarters and fixed field stations merged with theater support organizations into a new command, the Intelligence and Security Command, or INSCOM. At the tactical level, the Army had finally reached the conclusion that intelligence companies could be integrated as a permanent part of combat divisions, providing better peacetime training opportunities and concentrating radar and ground sensor assets in one location. But the need for multi-discipline intelligence support to the field plus the overriding requirement to do more with less drove this idea a step further.
In an attempt to provide ground commanders positive control of tactical intelligence and electronic warfare assets, a new type of unit emerged: the Combat Electronic Warfare Intelligence, or CEWI battalion.
The first of these was the 522nd MI (CEWI) Battalion, formed at Fort Hood, Texas, in 1976 and assigned to the 2d Armored Division. The battalion, initially only a test unit, was formed from the merger of elements of the 303rd Army Security Agency (ASA) Battalion, the 502nd Combat Intelligence Company (also a test unit) of the 2d Armored Division, and a signal security detachment. The 522nd consisted of a headquarters and operations company, an electronic warfare company and a ground surveillance company.
The concept seemed sound; the maneuver commander, in this case Maj. Gen. George Patton, Jr., would for the first time have the same control over his intelligence assets as he did over the rest of the forces assigned to him. But the concept had not been tested.
The Army tested its new CEWI battalion from January to April 1977, highlighted by a field exercise in March known as GALLANT CREW.
Lt. Col. William Harmon was the G2 of the 2d Armored Division at the time. A few years after the test, Harmon wrote an article for Military Intelligence magazine entitled “Some Personal Observations on the CEWI Concept,” (Military Intelligence, January – March 1983). He wrote: “The tactical intelligence provided by the 522nd CEWI Battalion and the Cavalry Squadron to the tactical decisionmakers of the 2d Armored Division during GALLANT CREW was the best ever received outside of combat. And, as the G2, I felt for the first time that I was in control of the collection effort.” CEWI had passed its test.
The 522nd CEWI test battalion emphasized intelligence training integrated with maneuver elements, placing MI into a truly combat support role.
By placing all of the ground-based intelligence assets and the Quick Fix directly under the division commander, intelligence was no longer fragmented around the division or controlled by a bureaucracy external to the command. As Harmon noted in an earlier article, “The most important aspect of the CEWI concept is it gives the division commander and his G2 the ability in combat to rapidly shift collection requirements to satisfy his intelligence needs for impending combat operations which has always been a formula for success on the battlefield,” (Military Intelligence, April – June 1978).
The G2 was not alone in his evaluation. Following on the heels of the 522nd CEWI Battalion’s success, the 313th Airborne CEWI Battalion was activated in June 1977 to support both the XVIII Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne Division. At the conclusion of this second CEWI battalion test, the commanding general announced during the exercise briefing, “No division can afford to be without a CEWI battalion.” CEWI was rapidly becoming more than a concept.
CEWI would continue to evolve over the next few years. Company-sized CEWI units formed to support separate brigades and armored cavalry regiments; MI Battalions, Aerial Exploitation replaced air reconnaissance support battalions; the MI Group became the intelligence structure in support of the Army’s Corps.
The first of these, the 504th MI Group, was formed in 1978 at Fort Hood in support of III Corps. In 1985, the 201st, 205th, 207th, 504th and 525th MI Groups, each supporting an operational Active Army Corps, were all upgraded to brigade status. From a historical perspective, however, the successful activation, testing, and acceptance of the Army’s first battalion-sized division support units showed just how far intelligence had evolved since World War I when the division intelligence staff consisted of four officers plus a handful of enlisted men and civilians serving as field clerks.