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Collection plan

Definition A collection plan is a coordinated set of instructions and guidelines used by military intelligence units to gather, prioritize, and analyze information related to specific objectives or missions. This plan enables efficient and focused data collection by determining the best resources, platforms, and techniques to acquire vital intelligence. Ultimately, a collection plan supports decision-making […]


A collection plan is a coordinated set of instructions and guidelines used by military intelligence units to gather, prioritize, and analyze information related to specific objectives or missions. This plan enables efficient and focused data collection by determining the best resources, platforms, and techniques to acquire vital intelligence. Ultimately, a collection plan supports decision-making and enhances situational awareness for commanders and their troops.

Key Takeaways

  1. A collection plan is a crucial component of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations. It outlines the systematic process of acquiring, analyzing, and distributing information for decision-making in military operations.
  2. Collection plans are typically tailored to meet specific mission requirements and objectives, which can include targeting enemy forces or supporting situational awareness for operational forces. They guide the efficient allocation and employment of ISR assets to provide accurate and timely intelligence to commanders and their units.
  3. The development and management of a collection plan require effective coordination and communication across all levels of command, including the integration of inputs from various intelligence sources and assets. Continuous updates and adjustments to the plan ensure that it stays relevant and effective in supporting military operations throughout their changing landscape.


The Collection Plan is a crucial aspect of military operations, as it enables the systematic gathering and management of vital information and intelligence from various sources, which contributes to informed decision-making, timely and appropriate actions, and the overall success of the mission.

In essence, it details the priorities, resources, allocation, and coordination of collection assets, ensuring that commanders have the accurate, relevant, and comprehensive data necessary to assess and adapt to situational developments.

As a well-devised collection plan optimizes the use of resources and enhances situational awareness, its importance within the context of military operations cannot be overstated.


Collection plans serve as an integral part of military operations, streamlining the process of gathering, analyzing, and distributing information to enable timely and effective decision-making among the defense forces. The primary purpose of a collection plan is to ensure that pertinent information regarding the enemy, their capabilities, and their intentions are continuously gathered in an organized manner, thus providing actionable intelligence to the commanders.

Furthermore, the collection plan outlines the various resources and methods which will be utilized in acquiring critical information, by assigning specific tasks to particular units or intelligence platforms in a coordinated manner. As such, it contributes to a more efficient and comprehensive understanding of the operational environment, ultimately enhancing the military’s situational awareness as well as their ability to react and adapt to changing circumstances on the battlefield.

In order to maximize its utility, a collection plan is designed to be adaptable and responsive, with the capacity to evolve in tandem with the rapidly transforming nature of military operations. By systematically directing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance efforts, the collection plan ensures that relevant and accurate information is prioritized and disseminated to appropriate units as quickly as possible.

This vital exchange and analysis of data not only bolsters the military’s chances of achieving operational success, but also helps minimize the risks associated with encountering unforeseen challenges or threats. In essence, the collection plan acts as a blueprint for continuous, proactive intelligence gathering that plays an indispensable role in efficiently managing resources and optimizing the overall coordination and effectiveness of military endeavors.

Examples of Collection plan

Operation Desert Storm (1991): During the Gulf War, the U.S. military’s collection plan played a crucial role in the coalition forces’ success against the Iraqi army. The plan involved coordinating intelligence from various sources, such as satellite imagery, electronic signals, and human intelligence, to provide a comprehensive understanding of the enemy’s forces, capabilities, and intentions in Iraq. This information enabled coalition forces to effectively conduct air and ground campaigns, ultimately leading to the liberation of Kuwait.

Operation Neptune Spear (2011): This was the mission conducted by the U.S. Navy SEALs to capture or kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Prior to executing the mission, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies had developed a detailed collection plan to gather intelligence on bin Laden’s suspected hideout. The plan involved surveillance through aerial drones, signals intelligence, and ground assets to confirm his presence and the layout of the compound. The gathered intelligence was essential for planning and executing the operation, which culminated in the death of bin Laden.

Battle of Tora Bora (2001): During the early phases of the U.S-led invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. military developed a collection plan to locate and target Taliban and al-Qaeda militants hiding in the mountainous region of Tora Bora. The plan included the use of satellite imagery, signals intelligence, human intelligence from local informants, and reconnaissance from special operations forces. These multiple sources of intelligence helped the U.S. military to understand the enemy’s movement, defenses, and supply routes, ultimately aiding in the destruction of key militant strongholds and the eventual collapse of the Taliban regime.

Military Operations: Collection Plan FAQ

What is a Collection Plan?

A Collection Plan is a document that outlines the systematic process of gathering information to support military decision-making. It helps in determining how, when, and where intelligence will be collected from different sources, and how it will be processed and disseminated.

What is the purpose of a Collection Plan?

The purpose of a Collection Plan is to provide a blueprint for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations. By outlining the sources, information requirements, and other details, it helps ensure that relevant and timely information is collected and delivered to key decision-makers, making the planning and execution of military operations more efficient and effective.

What are the key components of a Collection Plan?

Some key components of a Collection Plan include: Information requirements, collection assets, priorities, synchronization matrix, and dissemination requirements. These components help in allocating resources, prioritizing tasks and setting up timelines for various intelligence collection activities.

Who is responsible for creating and managing a Collection Plan?

Creating and managing a Collection Plan is typically the responsibility of the intelligence staff in a military unit or organization. They work in collaboration with other staff elements and personnel across the larger structure of a military force, to ensure that the plan meets the needs of the entire operation.

How is a Collection Plan integrated into a military operation?

A Collection Plan is integrated into a military operation through the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) process, which involves analyzing and structuring information about the enemy, terrain, and other contextual factors. This intelligence-driven foundation helps inform the overall operational planning process and ensures that the Collection Plan aligns with the goals and objectives of the operation.

What are the common challenges in creating an effective Collection Plan?

Common challenges in creating an effective Collection Plan include balancing competing priorities, dealing with limited resources, addressing knowledge gaps, and maintaining currency of information. These challenges may be mitigated by conducting thorough assessments, leveraging interagency cooperation, and continually updating the plan as new information becomes available.

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