Military Intelligence training in the US

July 27, 2018

The first two weeks of June 2018 saw 13 members of Manchester-based 6 Military Intelligence (6MI) Battalion deploy to Utah, USA, in order to participate in Exercise PANTHER STRIKE 18 (PS 18), a collective training exercise run by the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade of UTAH National Guard (NG).

The exercise focussed solely on Military Intelligence skills and was resourced on a scale that displayed the enviable assets and resources available to a US National Guard unit. The linguistic capability within the Utah NG was similarly impressive, with many local Salt Lake City residents being Mormon members of the Church of Latter Day Saints and having completed Mormon missions overseas gaining valuable knowledge of foreign languages.  95% of the US personnel on the exercise were fluent in at least one additional language.

PANTHER STRIKE 18 Provided the opportunity for 6MI personnel to practise the disciplines of Defence Debriefing, Counter Intelligence (CI) and all source analysis, all set in a contemporary conventional scenario and conducted with the stunning backdrop of the Camp Williams Training Estate in the foothills of the Traverse mountains.  The British personnel were embedded in small US teams adding value at all levels and demonstrating to our US allies minor variations in the way UK Military Intelligence operations are conducted.

A pause in the exercise enabled troops to visit some of the more scenic areas of Utah such as the Great Salt Flats, the birthplace of many land speed records, a guided tour of the Timpanogos Cave system and a visit to Park City, location of the 2002 Winter Olympics and world renowned winter sports destination.  There were also opportunities to sample some of the cultural delights including witnessing the local Baseball team, The Salt Lake Bees (maybe distant cousins of the Manchester Worker Bee?)  in action and sampling the abundance of local cuisine.

The exercise was a hugely enjoyable and positive experience highlighting clear synergies in US / UK operating procedures and training activities.  It provided insights into the nuances facing the US reservist community and enabled UK Reservists to experience an operationally realistic interoperability exercise and refine their own professional Military Intelligence skillset.

As well as the benefits gained from this training event this exercise helped further develop the relationship between the UK and US MI communities and has confirmed the potential for continued UK MI participation on future iterations of PANTHER STRIKE.