Coalition intel cell breaks down boundaries

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. R. Alex Durbin
  • U.S. Air Forces Central Command
At the Combined Air Operations Center, the Coalition Intelligence Fusion Cell, a multinational team of intelligence specialists, works side-by-side to provide intelligence to commanders for the fight to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

CIFC is a diverse multinational team that plans, coordinates, develops and disseminates timely, relevant and accurate information among international partners and divisions within the CAOC. The team of international partners remains committed to facing ISIL on all fronts, dismantling its networks and countering its global ambitions – a goal set forth in September 2014.

“In the fight against (ISIL), every coalition nation brings valuable assets, personnel and perspective to the table,” said Lt. Gen. Jeff Harrigian, the Combined Forces Air Component commander. “Only together will we secure the region and finally dismantle (ISIL). The Coalition Intelligence Fusion Cell is a shining example of what the combined forces of the coalition can accomplish.”

The cell employs a multinational team of intelligence personnel, analysts and targeteers to provide effective information to international leaders to promote interoperability across coalition nations. Leveraging this intelligence helps coalition decision makers develop targets to achieve campaign objectives, ultimately supporting the defense of the Middle East and the dismantling of ISIL.

The cell originally formed in 2014 with the U.S. and two European nations pioneering the mission. In the two years since its inception, the cell has grown to encompass personnel from 12 NATO and Middle Eastern nations. The growth allowed the team to provide more than 9,000 imagery products and 240 full-motion videos to international military leaders.

Unlike other sections within the CAOC where divisions are U.S.-led and include international augmentees, the CIFC takes a completely multinational approach to intelligence gathering and information sharing.

“The most amazing thing about the CIFC is the organization is almost entirely non-U.S. coalition nations,” said Lt. Col. Michele, the CIFC director. “The CIFC shows the will and the effort of all the nations to provide their contribution to the coalition.”

The CIFC director said this unique approach and diversity provides the team with a better ability to achieve its mission.

“[The cell] is effective because we are all different,” he said. “We all provide our own perspective when we discuss intel, problem solving and the commitment to do something. It’s powerful when so many people with the same mission can provide different and fresh ideas. In the end, the final idea will be the very best it can be.”

Leading up to the counter offensive to retake the city of Mosul, Iraq, from ISIL militants, the cell worked to gather intelligence on high-value targets to help the air coalition support Iraqi-led forces now closing in on the city.

Diversity within the CIFC will continue to provide impact.

“This cell is important because the U.S. alone has a lot of assets and capabilities, but when you have the opportunity to use all of the other countries’ capabilities, you are stronger, not just at the military level,” he said. “(If) terrorists see the commitment and the cohesion of so many countries against (them), they might think twice or three times before acting.”