Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace

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Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace (IPB) is a U.S. Army methodology, leading to a series of action, to gather information needed for the successful conduct of battle. Battlespace implies that the preparation is not only of an area on the ground, but preparation for long-distance air, artillery and missile fire support; reconnaissance and surveillance by methods from scouts and informants all the way up to nationally managed satellitesl; and the political management of alliances. In 1994, the U.S. Army described a more specific doctrine, [1]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff define it as "An analytical methodology employed to reduce uncertainties concerning the enemy, environment, and terrain for all types of operations. Intelligence preparation of the battlespace builds an extensive database for each potential area in which a unit may be required to operate. The database is then analyzed in detail to determine the impact of the enemy, environment, and terrain on operations and presents it in graphic form. Intelligence preparation of the battlespace is a continuing process. Also called IPB."

As opposed to Joint Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment, IPB is at the level of a tactical or operational commander.

JIPOE and IPB products generally differ in terms of their relative purpose, focus,

and level of detail. The purpose of JIPOE is to support the JFC by determining the adversary’s probable intent and most likely COA for countering the overall friendly joint mission, whereas IPB is specifically designed to support the individual operations of the component commands. During operational-level, force-on-force confrontations, JIPOE utilizes a macro-analytic approach that seeks to identify an adversary’s strategic vulnerabilities and COGs, whereas IPB generally requires microanalysis and a finer degree of detail in order to support component command operations. However, in some situations (especially during military engagement, security cooperation, and deterrence operations, or crisis response and limited contingency operations), both JIPOE and IPB will require the highest possible level of detail. JIPOE and IPB analyses are intended to

support each other while avoiding a duplication of analytic effort.[2]

Commander's intent

The commander describes, for staff work, the environment and the proposed courses of action. There are four basic steps:

  1. Define the battlespace environment
  2. Describe the battlespace's effects: Operations in rugged terrain high mountains with hot summers, as in Afghanistan, is very different from cold weather, as in the Falklands, which is very different than hot weather with a good road network, as in Iraq.
  3. Evaluate the threat
  4. Decide on courses of action

Each of these will require considerable staff work.



  1. Field Manual 34-130, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace, U.S. Army, 8 July 1994
  2. Joint Publication 2-01.3: Joint Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment, Joint Chiefs of Staff, 16 June 2009, page I-4