What is Order of Battle?


A very traditional task of the Intelligence Analyst is building and maintaining the Order of Battle (OB) for adversary, neutral, and friendly forces in the given Area of Responsibility.  The Order of Battle, sometimes referred to as OrBat/ORBAT, is an intelligence product detailing the command, strength, disposition, and equipment of military units.  There’s a likely an OB product for every military in the world sitting at the Pentagon right now.  Order of Battle products are updated periodically to reflect the most current design and health of the adversary or potentially adversarial military.  The OB is one of the most important of all intelligence products when facing a known adversary, and it costs nothing but time to produce.

Typically, Military Intelligence Analysts are assigned to a particular country or region.  If I was in a unit at Southern Command (SOUTCHOM), maybe I’d be looking at a nation’s military, or maybe I’d be focusing on terrorist groups or drug cartels.  Either way, one of my first tasks would be to become intimately familiar with those forces.  I would become the subject matter expert, and when there was a flashpoint or an event that required expertise, I would be called on to answer the questions of senior-level military or political leaders.


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