special operations forces » intelligence support activity

Intelligence Support Activity

US Army Intelligence Support Activity (USAISA), also known as ISA, The Activity, GREY FOX and, in recent times, the Mission Support Activity (MSA), is a top secret Army intelligence unit. The Activity grew out of the need for specialized intel support for US Special Operations that was highlighted by the failed US attempt to rescue American hostages from Iran in 1980

Intelligence Support Activity - Role

The Activity's primary role is to gather actionable intelligence in order to pave the way for special operations undertook by units such as Delta Force (known as 'operational preparation of the battlespace'). The forms of intelligence gathered by the Activity include:

  • HUMINT (HUMan INTellgence)
    Intel gathered through eyes and ears on the ground, both directly and through agents run by the Activity.. An example would be having ISA operatives, working undercover, do a recce of a suspected terrorist's safe house, finding routes in and out, looking for blind spots, assessing the numbers and dispositions of hostile forces etc. The ISA also cultivates and runs agents in order to infiltrate organisations and gather intelligence.
  • SIGINT (SIGnals INTelligence)
    monitoring and tracking radio communications e.g. finding a hostage by homing in on the kidnapper's cell phones or tracking a terrorist organisation through its communications network.

Intelligence Support Activity - Organization

The Activity is thought to made up of around 300 operators and is under the command of JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command).

The unit is organized into several elements

  • Administration
  • Training
  • SIGINT
    the 'knob turners', who monitor and track radio, cell phone and other electronic communications
  • HUMINT
    the HUMINT element runs agents, carries out reconnaisance, prepares safe houses, transport, plans and proves infil/exfil routes etc.
  • Direct Action
    Delta Force-trained soldiers who act as the unit's 'shooters'.

Since its inception, the Activity has been providing invaluable intelligence and support to many United States operations.

more info : activity operations

Featured Book:

Killer Elite
by Michael Smith

Smith's book lifts the lid of secrecy on the Activity, one of America's least well known Special Ops units. The unit's history, the politics that have shaped it and the operations it has carried out are recounted in great and fascinating detail.

Highly recommended.

find out more
(amazon.com)

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