Intelligence preparation of the battlefield in the contemporary operating environment : a grounded theory of the New Zealand experience : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand
The past decade has seen the New Zealand Defence Force operate in a diverse
range of land-environment missions. From the low-risk efforts bringing support
to civil authorities in the Solomon Islands, through peacekeeping operations in
Timor Leste, to the contribution to the counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan;
New Zealand forces are experiencing the complexities of the irregular nature of
the contemporary operating environment (COE). While accolades are
forthcoming for New Zealand’s contribution, some operational difficulties,
particularly in intelligence exist. A key problem that needs to be addressed as a
matter of urgency is the utility and understanding of the Intelligence Preparation
of the Battlefield (IPB) process in the COE. The reason is clear - Countering
Irregular Threats (CIT) will be the main form of activity for at least the next
decade with complex missions predicted to be the regular, contemporary form
of military operations for New Zealand out to 2020.
This thesis discusses the perception of the IPB by 17 participants from the New
Zealand Defence Force. The participants included personnel who deployed on
operational missions as well as training staff. By analysing their experiences the
grounded theory just getting by emerged as a research-based explanation of
the New Zealand approach. Just getting by consists of six categories:
ambivalence, short of expectations, recognising the need to adapt, risk,
professional optimism and satisficing. The theory concluded that difficulties in
applying the traditional IPB in the COE were the result of three key elements.
First, most of the training was perceived as still grounded in the Cold War era
conventional environment. Second, the small Intelligence Corps was considered
overstretched and barely holding on as an effective military force. Third, the
doctrine of intelligence-led operations appeared to be ignored, causing much
angst and frustration. The overall feeling was the IPB was not operating as
expected, however in lieu of any other process it was suffice.
Just getting by provides an opportunity for the New Zealand Defence Force to
consider modifications to optimise the current process.