Department of the Army
U. S. Army Center of Military History
The Separate Brigade S-2 in Vietnam
Participant: Major Dennis F. Hightower, S-2, 199th Infantry Brigade.
Interviewing Officer: First Lieutenant James G. Lindsay, Commander, 44th Military History Detachment, 199th Infantry Brigade.
Interview conducted 24 June 1969 at Fire Support Base Blackhorse, Long Khanh Province, Republic of Vietnam
NOTE: This tape recording originally carried a security classification of CONFIDENTIAL, but had been downgraded prior to contracted transcription by the US Army Center of Military History's Oral History Activity. The original tape is part of the Vietnam Interview Tape Collection (VNIT) in the Center's Historical Resources Branch. This transcript and attached original accompanying documentation has been modified only to the extent required to conform to hypertext mark-up language (HTML) used in internet publishing, and to remove information protected under the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 USC 552a) which was not in effect when the recording was made in Vietnam.
The Separate Brigade S-2 in Vietnam
Lt. Lindsay: This tape recording is produced by the 44th Military History Detachment. There are no restrictions on its' use, but it has a security classification of CONFIDENTIAL. It is downgraded on a Group 4 plan and unclassified twelve years from today, 24 June 1969. This tape is classified CONFIDENTIAL with Maj. Dennis F. Hightower, by the 44th Military History Detachment at the 199th Light Infantry Brigade's forward base at Blackhorse, south of Zao Zorn Loc [? Xuan Loc], Republic of Vietnam on 24 June 1969.
This interview is with Maj. Dennis F. Hightower, whose branch is Military Intelligence, SSN ***-**-***. His date of birth is 28 October 1941. He entered the Army on 15 June 1962. His type of commission was ROTC. From 1962 to 1965, in January, he was with the 101st Airborne Division serving as a platoon leader/company CO, in the branch of Infantry, and also as Assistant S-3 Air [at the] battalion [level]. January through June 1965 he attended the Intelligence School at Fort Hollabird, Maryland. From 1965/1966 he served as an intelligence research officer with the 502d Military Intelligence Battalion, Eighth U. S. Army. From September 1966 through May of 1967 he was at Intelligence School at Fort Hollabird again. From 1967 through 1968 he was with the Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, [in] the Soviet Area Office. From July 1968 until the present he has been with the 199th Infantry Brigade, serving as a
battalion S-2, then as the Commanding Officer of the 179th Military Intelligence Detachment (MID) and, at the present, he is Brigade S-2. He has been a brigade S-2 since 9 January 1969 to the present, 24 June 1969.
There are two principal intelligence activities in the Brigade, the S-2 Office and the 179th Military Intelligence Detachment. Just what is your relationship or division of labor and could this be improved in any way?
Maj. Hightower: To answer this question, we look at the structure of the Brigade as it currently is organized. The S-2 in the brigade is responsible for all intelligence functions within the brigade operations. That is the collection and processing and dissemination of intelligence information. To do this the S-2 is assisted by the 179th Military Intelligence Detachment which provides specialized support in the areas of counter-intelligence, imagery interpretation, order of battle, and interrogations of prisoner of war. So in fact, the 179th MI Detachment then becomes my operating arm or my executive agent in those specialized areas which encompass the entire spectrum of combat intelligence as it relates to supporting the Brigade.
With respect to improvements, at this point I think we have refined the processing and the analysis on dissemination to a very high degree within the Brigade. The 179th MI Detachment is probably the finest MI detachment in country and produces
intelligence which is used at all levels, not only levels up through and including brigade. This extends throughout the II Field Force of Victor area of interest and in many instances our product has found itself at Embassy and MAC-V [Military Assistance Command, Vietnam] Headquarters-level to include the COMUS MAC-V himself. We have done a number of special studies, both for the Combined Intelligence Center-Vietnam [and] II Field Force and, on special request, by the Office of the Special Assistant at the U. S. Embassy in Saigon.
So, at this point, I would say yes, we have accomplished our mission. The refinements have been made so that a credible product is put out but also indicate, at this point, there is a reason for this, and that is that a number of the personnel who are with the [179th] MI Detachment currently, have been with the brigade since it was formed back in 1966. They found that their product has been heeded and has been listened to, people have appreciated the effort that they have expended. Consequently, they have extended their tours on three or four occasions. In one instance we were fortunate to have an Order of Battle Officer who had five years in country, who had been with the brigade for approximately three of those five years. The Chief Order of Battle Specialist has been here over two-and-a-half years. He was one of the original members of the brigade before it came in country. So we have a great deal of area knowledge of expertise.
I can't say it's all been a U. S. venture because we had an
ARVN [Army of the Republic of Vietnam] military intelligence battalion attached to us for operational control, the 3d ARVN MID. The 3d ARVN MID is fully integrated in all of the MI detachment's operations, to include counter-intelligence, imagery interpretation, order of battle and interrogations of prisoner of war. The most sterling contribution has been that in the area of order of battle. Between the ARVN senior Order of Battle representative and my senior Order of Battle representative, we have a combined experience factor in excess of 18 1/2 years in III Corps [Tactical Zone] Order of Battle.
So, when we look at the overall picture, we see that the S-2 is essentially a manager of people and a manager of things. The MI Detachment is the extension or the entity which then produces and follows through on the specific guidance.
It's been a wonderful experience having worked, not only as a commander of the MI detachment, but also as the S-2 managing the resources available and seeing the worthwhile product which has evolved.
Lt. Lindsay: What have been your most important sources of intelligence, other than the ELINT [Electronic Intelligence] methods?
Maj. Hightower: It would be rather difficult to say which one source provided the most or the best type of information. In our
sense, it comes from a variety of sources. a variety of collations, a variety of correlations. When we look at the collection effort that the brigade expends, speaking basically of two aspects, human intelligence sources and non-human intelligence sources. Of course, within the field of human intelligence we're speaking of the agent reports performed or submitted by informants, sources, or what have you. We're speaking of the results of ground activity and the debriefings of
personnel that actually operated on the ground. We're speaking of visual reconnaissance performed by aerial observers forward air controllers. In this respect, I would say that the agent
reports, or the agents that are currently being used by our own Brigade assets, the limited sphere in which we do conduct these activities, and the efforts of the 525th MI Battalion principally
responsible for this effort, by in large the results have been credible and if I were to say among the human source assets, which of these was the most productive, the most reliable across
the board, I would say yes, we did get tremendous support from the informant or the agent program as conducted by MAC-V.
In the area of non-human sources, a variety of surveillance and collection assets were utilized. The airborne personnel detector, the "people sniffer;" the SLAR (Side-Looking Airborne Radar); RED HAZE; certain DUFFEL BAG equipment or sensory devices, both the seismic and acoustical sensors; and, to a degree, as you indicated, certain ELINT capabilities. None of
these areas can be said to have provided more than the other but rather a combination of these assets give you the indicators, or provided us with the indicators, from which certain ground responses could have been conducted.
The point I really want to get across is that there is no sole-source. It's—the matter of developing the intelligence has been a concerted effort to analyze all-source type information using the techniques of pattern analysis, utilizing all of these assets available and then coming up with a certain conclusion or certain recommended course of action based on the correlation of all of these sources of intelligence for the benefit of the brigade as a whole.
Lt. Lindsay: Do you receive much intelligence from ARVN intelligence sources, the other ARVN agencies such as National Police, from civilians both rural and urban? Can you give any
notable examples of this, also, perhaps, from on-post workers?
Maj. Hightower: We had considerable success in our former area of operation in [Bien Chong] District working in close coordination with the district assets—the territorial forces
(RF/PF [Regional Forces/Provincial Forces]), the National Police Special Branch representatives, the provincial reconnaissance units, and the intelligence squads. Again, all Vietnamese at this point. The information which we derived from their sources
of information, in most cases, were valid.
We conducted a number of operations, particularly with the provincial reconnaissance units and the intelligence squads at district level, based on their intelligence needs. Because when we look at the facts, no matter how much rapport we established with the District Chief, with whom we had daily, and continuous liaison, to include my placing a senior NCO (intelligence NCO) with the District Intelligence Operations Coordinating Center, which is the focal point for all intelligence activity in the district. Even with this degree of rapport established we must recognize one fact that the district officials still had their own personal sources of information to which we do not have privy and probably never will.
However, from time to time, because of the nature of the relationship which we had with the [Bien Chong] District personnel, we would receive the end product. To whit, there are an unknown number or an "X" number of VC [Viet Cong) we feel [are] located [in the] vicinity [of] this particular hamlet. Their pattern has been to come in to the village at this time and to leave at that time. At this point, we would always suggest well, possibly we could run a combined operation.
In this case, and the cases that reap the greatest success, we utilize the provincial reconnaissance units or the intelligence squads. These are specialists who, to be quite
frank, are basically assassins and body snatchers. They're
designed for special action type missions. The most successful operations have been the "snatch and flush" wherein we had airmobile assets, we would have maybe two or three helicopters with U. S. and District assets in this case PRUs or intel personnel. We would circle the target area, move in as close to the specific target that had been identified using the element of surprise without the benefit of an artillery prep. Attempting to snatch the specific individual or individuals whom we had by name and by location, or to flush personnel known to be operating in the area. We ran three such operations recently and the results were ten enemy killed, five prisoners of war, and four VCI [Viet Cong Infrastructure—personnel of political rather than military status]. This type of operation should be continued where the terrain and the information allows. Again, a type of an operation developing from ARVN or Vietnamese intelligence sources.
On the other hand, we worked quite closely with the case officers from the 525th MI group who had agents in each of the hamlets or villages within our former AO [area of operation]. As the operation is conducted here, the Vietnamese counterpart then is the agent handler through a series of principal agents and subagents. We received almost immediate readout from any information or any contact with the principal agent or any of his subagents and we were able to react in one instance about two months ago—found a sizeable arms cache based on a previous
hour's meeting by the Vietnamese agent handler with one of his principal agents.
So going back through the results of the year's efforts, at least from my standpoint, having seen it both at the operating level as a battalion S-2, from the MI detachment level as a producer, and now from the brigade S-2 level as the manager, I can look back with much pleasure in the associations that we did develop with the Vietnamese intelligence assets because only through this type of combined operation or combined exchange or free exchange of information are we going to be able to succeed in the overall objectives.
With respect to on post workers, of course our main base is at Long Binh, Camp Frenzell-Jones. As a part of our base security program the counter-intelligence special agents in the CI section of the MI detachment have a member of what we call "early warning" and base security sources. These sources pervade all activities on post to include PX workers, personnel working as house girls, [and] as bar girls in the various clubs, to keep eyes and ears open to any changes within the area immediately around the Brigade Main Base Area. The program itself is limited but it has one principal objective, that of close-in security and early warning. In this respect we've received a number of good reports.
Some notable cases. In "Tet" (the Vietnamese lunar New Year holiday] of '68 some of the indications of course when all of the
mama-sans and daily hire personnel packed all of their earthly belongings and began to move off post, then this gave us some indication that something was about to happen. Fortunately, we did have a source working in the enlisted mess system who was able to provide us with certain clues which allowed us to gain the successes which resulted in the Tet Offensive.
Again, in May just a very short discussion with one of our sources on post, one of the house girls, indicating that her cousins weren't coming to visit her as was normal during a certain portion of the period in May due to certain family ties gave us another clue. We pursued this clue and found that this applied to other families as well and were able to alert and of course the May Offensive evolved from this.
The development of personnel off post is extensive as it meets our requirements for early warning for the brigade main base [camp]. This extends throughout the [Hau Nghia] Village
immediately to the north and east of the brigade main base. We have had tremendous amount of success in this effort: to whit, having trained a 4,200-man militia to instill additional confidence among the people to be able to handle their own assets. In addition, we established a combined reconnaissance and intelligence platoon which operated and worked hand-in-hand with the Vietnamese that we had previously trained, again with the overall objective of not only base camp security but [also] instilling a measure of confidence in the villages themselves.
The most notable return on this investment was viewed this past February during the initial phases of the enemy's winter-spring offensive where elements of the 5th VC Division['s] 275th Regiment attempted to move through [Hau Nghia] Village in efforts directed against the Bien Hoa Airbase. About 6 o'clock in the morning elements of the enemy moved through the village and were repelled by villagers throwing pots, pans, capturing the weapons of the enemy, turning the weapons on the enemy, and of course in this case supported by our quick [reaction] platoon. So we feel that a year's effort was very well spent in this regard.
Lt. Lindsay: Can you describe your counter-intelligence organization to me?
Maj. Hightower: As I indicated before, the Counter-Intelligence Section is an organic section to the Military Intelligence detachment. The section is comprised of an officer trained in counter-intelligence, a warrant officer also trained in the area of counter-intelligence, two or three counter-intelligence special agents, and an intelligence coordinator—a counterintelligence coordinator. The manner in which we currently operate divides the section into three functional areas. One being base security, a second function being special operations, and a third personnel and documents security.
The base security function is in that sense, yes, base
security. A periodic check of the perimeter wire to insure that there are no gaps in the wire or no conditions which would allow the enemy to infiltrate for saboteur or sabotage sapper purposes.
A recurring check of waste receptacles throughout the base area to insure that documents of classified nature, equipment which could be of some use to the enemy are not being discarded by
elements on the base and a periodic check of the daily hire personnel, just random interviews or debriefings to determine if the enemy is attempting to infiltrate the base for low level observation by these personnel who have a reason for being a cover for action, if you will, by coming on post in a daily hire status.
In the area of special operations—primarily the base informant program, early warning, and the use of the coded sources under our control.
The area of document and personnel security—the normal counter-intelligence defensive aspects, that of quarterly inspections of offices and organizations comprising the brigade to insure that the handling procedures with respect to classified documents, storage, and certain physical safeguards are being met. And personnel security, the investigation of sensitive or interest cases by headquarters USARV [United States Army, Vietnam).
Lt. Lindsay: Have you had many instances of sabotage or
espionage at Camp Frenzell-Jones or at least known instances? And if so could you discuss a few?
Maj. Hightower: To my knowledge and having traced back among the records when I took over the MI detachment last fall, we have not had any discernable attempts at sabotage or espionage at Camp Frenzell-Jones. Now, I'm sure that there have been attempts but to the best of my knowledge none have been brought to our attention. We like to feel that we do have a fairly extensive coverage through all strata of the Vietnamese population that has access to our post or to the area surrounding our post.
I'm sure that low-level observation agents running up and down Highway 1 undoubtedly-have collected bits and pieces of information. It's not difficult to do, anyone can do it. The manner in which we are so disposed along that route would make it quite easy for a low-level observation agent to run the route 8 to 10 times a day, going unnoticed and picking up certain bits and pieces of perimeter defense as he went along. But as far as having detected any active espionage or sabotage attempts against the base, no, we have not detected such.
Lt. Lindsay: Have you come up against any unusual problems as brigade S-2?
Maj. Hightower: Well, to say I've had no problems would not be a
factual statement, but I have not had what you would consider unusual problems. As a matter of fact, I have had quite the contrary. It seems that the commanders, at least the commanders that I've been associated with, in the brigade, both at brigade level and at battalion level, have been extremely intelligence oriented or intelligence conscious. This then greatly assisted the efforts that the brigade S-2 office was attempting to achieve because this permeated to the battalion S-2 levels and with the same level of interest as was generated at brigade. Of course, sir, the normal internal problems of any organization of handling of information, of insuring the proper dissemination, insuring that all areas, all questions of the who, what, when, where, why, and how are always covered. But as far as unusual problems which would affect or could have affected the operational capability, or the collection capability, or analytical capability of the brigade, fortunately during the year that I've been here, such problems of this nature have not arisen.
Lt. Lindsay: Do you have sufficient personnel and equipment by TO&E [Table of Organization and Equipment] to accomplish your mission? And if not, how have you modified your TO&E in actual practice?
Maj. Hightower: As we look at the Table of Organization of a separate infantry brigade, we see that the brigade S-2 shop is
authorized one major, two captains, one master sergeant E-8, one E-7, one E-5, one E-4, and two E-3's. In every position that I've been in which involve the delineation of duties within an S2 office in a tactical or combat intelligence situation, this does not begin to meet the demanding requirements imposed on the S-2 office. Even with the assistance of the MI detachment there are still certain non-technical functions which must be fulfilled which the current Table of Organization unfortunately does not allow for.
A prime example is that of the Tactical Operations Center [TOC] operations. Now, rightfully, one of the two captains is an assistant S-2 for air operations but when we look at the TOC organization we run a combined S-2/3 TOC which means that an officer must be provided for the day shift and an officer must be provided for the night shift. To do the job efficiently and effectively that officer must do only work that pertains to the functions and operations of the current situation in the TOC. Therefore, under the actual TO&E there is the one major fulfilling all of the other requirements and very seldom is allowed the time to sit down and actually think about what's going on in his operation or the betterment of his intelligence collection assets or to provide and fulfill the other staff functions required of the S-2.
Realizing this when I took over, I've since modified the section on two different occasions because of certain additional
assets which have been made available to not only the separate brigade, but other divisions in country as well. Currently in the organization which I run, I have, of course, myself as the S2, one captain, four lieutenants, one E-8, one E-6, one E-5, four E-4s and one E-3. Further functionally broken out as S-2 administration, that being the master sergeant chief intelligence NCO, a clerk typist and a driver here in the forward area, plus an enlisted representative to run my rear office where the base administrative aspects are handled, primarily the security clearance program and the handling of all of the incoming correspondence of an official nature. I have an assistant S-2 day TOC duty officer, an assistant S-2 night TOC duty officer, each accompanied by an intelligence clerk for each shift, assistant S-2 sensor officer of the DUFFEL BAG Program. This is a program which has taken fire for the last year-and-a-half and though the desire to have the function in the S-2 office has been pushed, there has been no authorization to have the individual by modified TO&E, so this was one modification.
Additionally, in order to allow the Brigade S-2 to be a planner and manager, I have created an additional modification to include a plans and operations officer within the separate
brigade assistant S-2 office. This particular officer is then charged with future planning in conjunction with the S-3 plans officer and then again frees the S-2, the principal staff
officer, to conduct the necessary coordination management actions
with the S-3 and the other staff officers which are essential and to be able to sit, back and provide the necessary guidance, provide the necessary emphasis rather than become completely bogged down in the routine operations of the section.
Additionally, we have the support of the III ARVN Corps, in the form of ARVN interpreter support. We have interpreters down with each company in the [maneuver] battalion[s] and supporting the interrogation effort within the 179th MI Detachment; ARVN mobile training teams which the brigade supplies to the 18th ARVN Division; and interpreters for the S-5 [Civil Affairs) activities within the brigade.
An additional area which again, an area of command interest but yet an area which was not allowed for in the S-2 organization, is the Kit Carson Scout Program. We look at this as essentially an intelligence gathering program or intelligence oriented program.
Lt. Lindsay: There are no restrictions on the use of this tape, however the material contained on the tape has been classified CONFIDENTIAL. For down-grading instructions, [that) means this tape will be declassified twelve years from today, today being 24 June 1969.
Maj. Hightower: So, the Kit Carson Program, though commanding a high degree of command emphasis, was never allowed, at least never programmed, within the assets of the operational capability of the S-2. In this manner—the manner in which we operated in the brigade is to subordinate this program to the MI detachment who conducts extensive screening and selection operations in conjunction with the ARVN MID. We run a school, a familiarization course at the brigade main base [camp], extensive debriefings so that we can insure that where at all possible the Kit Carson scout is assigned to a battalion operating in an area similar to, terrain wise, that which the Kit Carson scout has been most familiar. This program has reaped tremendous returns to include the nomination of one scout for the Silver Star which, if he gets it, he would be the first in Vietnam ever to achieve this accolade.
In other areas of staff supervision, the Brigade S-2 organization as the TO&E depicts, in some ways, is not sufficient to meet the tasks which are currently being levied throughout Vietnam. There's a great deal of impetus, now, to manage information which will tell you how you are doing in relative comparison to others, what operations are successful, why they are successful, in other words the assigning a program systems analysis to operational results so that one can better manage his resources and use the results of these actions as a management tool.
While in the area of intelligence this becomes increasingly important because then we begin to identify areas of priority, areas where we have had the most success, the reasons why—just—you can extend this projection indefinitely. This, in fact, requires an officer in a full-time capacity maintaining and establishing a data base from which these statistics can be portrayed in a meaningful manner. This I have done in the form of my Plans and Operations officer.
So again, before I leave I do plan to submit these in writing as a recommended modified TO&E under the prevailing situation and at this point in the war, and the nature of the war as it is now, I can see that this emphasis on management of assets, management of information, establishing the data base so that you can be selective in your operations, the systems analyst approach to the problem will prevail.
Lt. Lindsay: Do you find that replacements you receive are generally well trained for their jobs or do they require extensive OJT [on-the-job-training] to perform their jobs correctly?
Maj. Hightower: In the area -- this is going to be answered in two categories.
First, personnel coming in to the brigade S-2 office in many cases [are] not intelligence trained—it's a matter of OJT, of
training them on the job. Even though they are detailed as intelligence clerks, intelligence assistants, they are, in fact, not trained when we get them. Normally, in this respect, I normally review the files to try to find a college graduate, someone who at least should have an ability to reason, ability to think clearly and be able to express himself in a clear, concise manner. In most cases I wind up with personnel with degrees in excess of the Bachelor's Degree working in an intelligence clerk capacity because there is a certain amount of expertise which must be acquired and must be acquired rapidly.
I do not overlook however, the man who's been in the field, who's spent six months in the field, who knows what's going on, who can be an asset from the standpoint of cause and effect. So there is a balance here.
So to answer that specific question, the majority of personnel working directly under me in the office are not intelligence trained when I get them. It's a matter of on-the-job-training.
[It's] a different story in the MI detachment in that these personnel are in all cases technically qualified by schooling at the intelligence school at Fort Hollabird, Maryland. Now, of
course the quality of work varies as [i.e., with] the individual. This is no different than any other job or any other case from the standpoint of getting work accomplished. However, the nature
of the organization itself encourages competition among the
personnel. Quite rapidly they become proficient in their tasks, though the first three or four weeks the newness takes its course.
So, overall I would say that in the end result the proficiency of the personnel in the MI Detachment achieve their acceptable level within the first month of operation. If the individual does not have it at that first month then, as a rule, we'll move them on to less demanding duties.
The individual, on the other hand, performing in the staff function under my direct supervision, normally takes about an equal period of time depending upon the degree of application by the individual. This application, I might add, normally is quite rapid because we are in a constantly changing situation which requires a very adept, very keen, alert mind and is quite easy to identify the person who just won't cut it.
Lt. Lindsay: Have you placed any new emphasis on any facet of the S-2 function or perhaps downgraded any facets?
Maj. Hightower: My emphasis currently has been increased in the area of liaison. There is no substitute for getting around talking to people. You can't sit back and read reports, look at the map, try to come up with estimates. You've to get out and talk to people, get other opinions, solicit other comments and then bring these into view with what you have, into focus,
analyze it, look at it from all angles and come up with a reasonable conclusion.
So in this regard, especially coming into this new area, liaison is going to be the greatest, I think the greatest single asset, to the success of our operations. We must use the people who have been in the area the longest, who have the area knowledge, who know what the trends have been, who know what the patterns have been, who know the enemy units, where they hide, how they operate, what their tactics are.
In this regard, we must have close and effective coordination with the district intelligence operations coordinating centers and the province intelligence operations or coordination center. Because here is the focal point as indicated earlier of all intelligence, primarily VC infrastructure information throughout the area. These people can provide you with the studies, the trends, the patterns, the locations, the names that will ultimately affect the success of your operations. You can't ignore their existence. There must be permanent liaison in some cases, or weekly transient liaison in others depending upon the effectiveness of that particular POC [Point of Contact] itself. So as I see it right now, the key to our success here, since our mission involves the upgrading of the ARVN Territorial Forces (RF/PF) and combined operations, the element of liaison and the daily getting out, talking, looking, seeing is going to really pay off in dividends in the long run.
This not only applies to the provincial or the governmental aspects, but applies most urgently to the ARVN aspect, the 18th ARVN Division, whom we are here to assist and work with. So it would be remiss on the part of those who follow to neglect the concept of getting out and conducting effective liaison.
Lt. Lindsay: Have you downgraded any facets of the S-2 function?
Maj. Hightower: Quite the contrary. It would be difficult to downgrade any specific function because you never know which one is going to pay off. You again look at the study from the statistical standpoint and you say "well, agent reports, human sources, mechanical means of collection, so forth and so on, which of these have been providing the majority of the information?" While because, say the agent report has not been providing you exactly what you need, you really can't downgrade it because you can't overlook anything. You've got to be completely open and objective in the receipt of information. Because the ninth or tenth time out of the tenth try might be the very thing you are looking for.
On the other hand, I have expanded one specific asset and that is again, that of liaison. Whereas before, I had one or two personnel conducting this function, I now have four to five personnel because of the very definite importance of this to the overall mission, especially when we look at the area that the
brigade is now involved in. We are talking about responsibility or interest in an area sixty kilometers by sixty kilometers. We could not afford to just sit here as I indicated before and try to map this intelligence effort out. It requires people getting out. So again, nothing has been downgraded, rather a specific function has been expanded by allowing more personnel to get involved in the intelligence gathering process so that, when it gets back to the analytic section within the OB [Order of Battle] shop, they have the very best available, [or] if not the best, they have the most information available on which to come up with their assessments and their evaluations.
Lt. Lindsay: In other words, the way that you have expanded your liaison without downgrading other elements was simply to add more people to what you were originally allowed by TO&E. Is that correct?
Maj. Hightower: That is correct. In so doing, I still haven't reduced the capability of the OB section. I should have mentioned this early but I'm fortunate in the fact that the MI detachment, right now, is about—and I don't know whether I should even mention this—but it is 250% overstrength because of the fact that we have been performing specialized missions for higher headquarters. They have seen fit to allow us to maintain a high level of personnel in order to fulfill these jobs in a
So now that we're here, the focus of operations is forward. Therefore, if any sacrifice, or downgrading if you will, comes about, it's in the rear operation. However, when you consider the quality of the people that I have in the rear, the analysts there who conduct the special detail studies, I really haven't downgraded, I've just refined the approach to maintaining the data base.
Lt. Lindsay: Have you made any policy changes or revisions in SOP's [Standing Operating Procedures] during your time at S-2, and if so, why?
Maj. Hightower: I have made quite a number of policy revisions because, in fact, there were very few policies in being when I took over. Policy in the sense of establishing a Kit Carson scout program where there is a regulatory aspect to this now, where responsibilities are defined among the other staff sections involved in the success of the program.
In the area of intelligence dissemination and collection, I have refined or at least caused to have refined the quality and quantity of information with which our people must render their estimates. With respect to operational aspects, I think we have achieved a much closer working relationship with the battalion S-2s through combined efforts, primarily the meeting together each
week to discuss trends, patterns, and so forth in the area, because the S-2 has a thousand and one things to do as does every other staff officer on the brigade staff. every other principal staff officer. Sometimes he misses some of the very, very detailed pieces of information. Sometimes he only gets the overview. You can't sit back in a vacuum and try to render estimates. You've got to use the people who are out there working for you, the battalion S-2s. Get their ideas, their concepts, their lessons learned and then incorporate this into the whole to make the overall brigade operation a better one.
So I think we've come a long way in this respect because now there's an open exchange of information between the brigade [S-]2 and the battalion [S-]2s. They realize that their ideas will be listened to and in those cases where it will contribute to the overall success, it will be so implemented and the individual so recommending the addition will be so cited. The proper recognition is given. In this case, you instill a measure of competition among the battalion [S-]2s and competition between the battalion and the brigade to make sure their information is a high quality, that all information is important or could be important, is made available at brigade level for proper analysis.
In the areas of personnel and document security. We have expanded the program, I think, along more meaningful lines. Prior to my assumption of duties, the inspections were being
conducted on a semi-annual basis. This is fine if you are in a stateside environment where the personnel maintaining the records will probably be in the same capacity a year and a half to two years. To conduct inspections on a semi-annual basis, each six months, you are liable to run into two to three different sets of S-2s or personnel because of the rapid turnover. Therefore, now we have gone to a quarterly system where we can see, or at least we can encourage, a very definite degree of involvement because no longer can the individual say "well I won't even be here six months later so I won't have to worry about it". He does have to become involved not only from a professional standpoint but from the standpoint of doing the job that he's there to perform. This has shown a marked increase in the level of security within the brigade from the standpoint of personnel and document security and looking back now as to what it was then and what it is now, we have com e one heck of a long way in the physical safeguards and the procedural safeguards with respect to the handling, storage, and dissemination of classified information within the brigade.
In summary, I would say this, it's been an extremely rewarding tour of duty here with the 199th Brigade. My primary exposure prior to coming into the brigade have not been combat intelligence. I have been oriented primarily in the area of counter-intelligence and area intelligence and strategic intelligence. Completely separate and different in its
application and approach. To have done anything else in the combat environment, 1 think, [I] would not have derived the sense of self-satisfaction, job accomplishment which I now have with only six days remaining in country.
The experience of having been at battalion level, to learn exactly what timely intelligence means to the guy on the ground, who is out there beating the bush day in and day out would give me a greater perspective, a greater sense of urgency, in my primary fields of interest. Because now I know exactly what is needed, what the man down there at the end of the line, carrying the rifle, must have in order to function, in order to stay alive. I think that the—so having seen it then from the operator's level as the battalion S-2 would be an invaluable tool, I'm sure, in my future endeavors, whether it be combat intelligence or the areas previously mentioned.
To then progress to the MI detachment level, I was able to view the brigade operations from the standpoint of the producer of intelligence within the brigade. To see the interrelationship of what is needed to what is actually put out in the form of written estimates, written summaries, maps, IPW [Interrogations of Prisoners of War] or interrogation reports that would then get down to the field. I was better able to manage my assets there, having been at battalion, because when a PW [Prisoner of War interrogation] report, for example, came out I knew what I needed on the ground to give to those company commanders who were going
out to exploit it. So I was better able to influence the course of interrogations from the MI detachment level.
The same applied to the tasks assigned to the personnel in the imagery interpretation section. It's one thing to read out photography, make nice maps, but unless you make maps that are meaningful to the man on the ground, who has to fold them up and use them on a day, in, day out basis, then we're somewhat counterproductive. We were able then to develop scales of unusual size, 1:5,000 in many cases, that the actual patrol leader could take out and specifically place his men on the ground. This is an asset again, having been there, knowing what could have been and what should have been in order to make the job easiest for the man at the end of the line who's got to get out there doing the fighting.
Then to have elevated to the brigade S-2 level where I was the manager of all brigade intelligence resources, to include the long-range patrol [LRRP, long-range reconnaissance company] now Company M (Ranger), 75th Infantry, the radio research [Army Security Agency] support to the brigade, and the 179th assets has been most gratifying, but only meaningful, in the sense that I had seen it from the other perspectives. So that I think, in my particular case, I would be a much better intelligence officer from the year's experience here in the 199th, especially having been in a separate brigade where you had a direct measure of influence over the intelligence results, or the intelligence
reactions that results in the ground's successes.
Lt. Lindsay: This has been an interview conducted by the 44th Military History Detachment, attached to the 199th Light Infantry Brigade based at Camp Frenzell-Jones, Vietnam. The interview has no [INAUDIBLE—restrictions on its] use but it is classified as CONFIDENTIAL with downgrading instructions Group 4, to be totally declassified 12 years from today. Today being 24 June 1969.