Military intelligence is a military discipline
that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance
and direction to commanders in support of their decisions. This is achieved by providing
an assessment of available data from a wide range of sources, directed towards the commanders’
mission requirements or responding to focused questions as part of the operational or campaign
planning activity. In order to provide an informed analysis, the commander’s information
requirements are first identified. These information requirements are then incorporated into a
process of intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination.
Areas of study may include the operational environment, hostile, friendly and neutral
forces, the civilian population in an area of combat operations and other broader areas
of interest. Intelligence activities are conducted at all levels, from tactical to strategic,
in peacetime, the period of transition to war and during a war itself.
Most governments maintain a military intelligence capability to provide analytical and information
collection personnel in both specialist units and from other arms and services. The military
intelligence capabilities interact with civilian intelligence capabilities to inform the spectrum
of political and military activities. Personnel selected for intelligence duties
may be selected for their analytical abilities and personal intelligence before receiving
formal training. Levels of intelligence Intelligence operations are carried out throughout
the hierarchy of political and military activity. Strategic intelligence
Strategic intelligence is concerned with broad issues such as economics, political assessments,
military capabilities and intentions of foreign nations. Such intelligence may be scientific,
technical, tactical, diplomatic or sociological, but these changes are analyzed in combination
with known facts about the area in question, such as geography, demographics and industrial
capacities. Operational intelligence
Operational intelligence is focused on support to an expeditionary force commander and will
be attached to the formation headquarters. Tactical intelligence
Tactical intelligence is focused on support to operations at the tactical level and would
be attached to the battlegroup. At the tactical level, briefings are delivered to patrols
on current threats and collection priorities. These patrols are then debriefed to elicit
information for analysis and communication through the reporting chain.
Intelligence tasking Intelligence should respond to the needs of
the commander, based on the military objective and the outline plans for the operation. The
military objective provides a focus for the estimate process, from which a number of information
requirements are derived. Information requirements may be related to terrain and impact on vehicle
or personnel movement, disposition of hostile forces, sentiments of the local population
and capabilities of the hostile order of battle. In response to the information requirements,
the analysis staff trawls existing information, identifying gaps in the available knowledge.
Where gaps in knowledge exist, the staff may be able to task collection assets to collect
against the requirement. Analysis reports draw on all available sources
of information, whether drawn from existing material or collected in response to the requirement.
The analysis reports are used to inform the remaining planning staff, influencing planning
and seeking to predict adversary intent. This process is described as Collection Co-ordination
and Intelligence Requirement Management. The intelligence process
The process of intelligence has four phases: collection, analysis, processing and dissemination.
In the United Kingdom these are known as direction, collection, processing and dissemination.
In the U.S. military, Joint Publication 2-0 states: “The six categories of intelligence
operations are: planning and direction; collection; processing and exploitation; analysis and
production; dissemination and integration; and evaluation and feedback.”
Collection Many of the most important facts are well
known or may be gathered from public sources. This form of information collection is known
as open source intelligence. For example, the population, ethnic make-up and main industries
of a region are extremely important to military commanders, and this information is usually
public. It is however imperative that the collector of information understands that
what is collected is “information”, and does not become intelligence until after an analyst
has evaluated and verified this information. Collection of read materials, composition
of units or elements, disposition of strength, training, tactics, personalities of these
units and elements contribute to the overall intelligence value after careful analysis.
The tonnage and basic weaponry of most capital ships and aircraft are also public, and their
speeds and ranges can often be reasonably estimated by experts, often just from photographs.
Ordinary facts like the lunar phase on particular days or the ballistic range of common military
weapons are also very valuable to planning, and are habitually collected in an intelligence
library. A great deal of useful intelligence can be
gathered from photointerpretation of detailed high-altitude pictures of a country. Photointerpreters
generally maintain catalogs of munitions factories, military bases and crate designs in order
to interpret munition shipments and inventories. Most intelligence services maintain or support
groups whose only purpose is to keep maps. Since maps also have valuable civilian uses,
these agencies are often publicly associated or identified as other parts of the government.
Some historic counterintelligence services, especially in Russia and China, have intentionally
banned or placed disinformation in public maps; good intelligence can identify this
disinformation. It is commonplace for the intelligence services
of large countries to read every published journal of the nations in which it is interested,
and the main newspapers and journals of every nation. This is a basic source of intelligence.
It is also common for diplomatic and journalistic personnel to have a secondary goal of collecting
military intelligence. For western democracies, it is extremely rare for journalists to be
paid by an official intelligence service, but they may still patriotically pass on tidbits
of information they gather as they carry on their legitimate business. Also, much public
information in a nation may be unavailable from outside the country. This is why most
intelligence services attach members to foreign service offices.
Some industrialized nations also eavesdrop continuously on the entire radio spectrum,
interpreting it in real time. This includes not only broadcasts of national and local
radio and television, but also local military traffic, radar emissions and even microwaved
telephone and telegraph traffic, including satellite traffic.
The U.S. in particular is known to maintain satellites that can intercept cell-phone and
pager traffic, usually referred to as the ECHELON system. Analysis of bulk traffic is
normally performed by complex computer programs that parse natural language and phone numbers
looking for threatening conversations and correspondents In some extraordinary cases,
undersea or land-based cables have been tapped as well.
More exotic secret information, such as encryption keys, diplomatic message traffic, policy and
orders of battle are usually restricted to analysts on a need-to-know basis in order
to protect the sources and methods from foreign traffic analysis.
Analysis Analysis consists of assessment of an adversary’s
capabilities and vulnerabilities. In a real sense, these are threats and opportunities.
Analysts generally look for the least defended or most fragile resource that is necessary
for important military capabilities. These are then flagged as critical vulnerabilities.
For example, in modern mechanized warfare, the logistic train for a military unit’s fuel
supply is often the most vulnerable part of a nation’s order of battle.
Human intelligence, gathered by spies, is usually carefully tested against unrelated
sources. It is notoriously prone to inaccuracy. In some cases, sources will just make up imaginative
stories for pay, or they may try to settle grudges by identifying personal enemies as
enemies of the state that is paying for the intelligence. However, human intelligence
is often the only form of intelligence that provides information about an opponent’s intentions
and rationales, and it is therefore often uniquely valuable to successful negotiation
of diplomatic solutions. In some intelligence organizations, analysis
follows a procedure. First, general media and sources are screened to locate items or
groups of interest, and then their location, capabilities, inputs and environment are systematically
assessed for vulnerabilities using a continuously-updated list of typical vulnerabilities.
Packaging Critical vulnerabilities are then indexed
in a way that makes them easily available to advisors and line intelligence personnel
who package this information for policy-makers and war-fighters. Vulnerabilities are usually
indexed by the nation and military unit with a list of possible attack methods.
Critical threats are usually maintained in a prioritized file, with important enemy capabilities
analyzed on a schedule set by an estimate of the enemy’s preparation time. For example,
nuclear threats between the USSR and the U.S. were analyzed in real time by continuously
on-duty staffs. In contrast, analysis of tank or army deployments are usually triggered
by accumulations of fuel and munitions, which are monitored every few days. In some cases,
automated analysis is performed in real time on automated data traffic.
Packaging threats and vulnerabilities for decision-makers is a crucial part of military
intelligence. A good intelligence officer will stay very close to the policy-maker or
war fighter to anticipate their information requirements and tailor the information needed.
A good intelligence officer will also ask a fairly large number of questions in order
to help anticipate needs. For an important policy-maker, the intelligence officer will
have a staff to which research projects can be assigned.
Developing a plan of attack is not the responsibility of intelligence, though it helps an analyst
to know the capabilities of common types of military units. Generally, policy-makers are
presented with a list of threats and opportunities. They approve some basic action, and then professional
military personnel plan the detailed act and carry it out. Once hostilities begin, target
selection often moves into the upper end of the military chain of command. Once ready
stocks of weapons and fuel are depleted, logistic concerns are often exported to civilian policy-makers.
Dissemination The processed intelligence information is
disseminated through database systems, intel bulletins and briefings to the different decision-makers.
The bulletins may also include consequently resulting information requirements and thus
conclude the intelligence cycle. See also National
DIO Glavnoye Razvedyvatel’noye Upravleniye
Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence MAD
Canadian Security Intelligence Service CISMIL
US specific Defense Intelligence Agency
Defense Language Institute Document Exploitation
Office of Naval Intelligence United States Army Intelligence Center
World Basic Information Library Footnotes References
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Roman World From the Second Punic War to the Battle of Adrianople. London: Routledge, 1995.
Julius Caesar, The Civil War. Translated by Jane F. Mitchell. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books,
1967. Cassius Dio, Dio’s Roman History. Translated
by Earnest Cary. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1916.
Francis Dvornik, Origins of Intelligence Services. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press,
1974. J. F. C. Fuller, A Military History of the
Western World, Vol. 1: From the Earliest Times to the Battle of Lepanto. New York: Da Capo
Press, 1987. Richard A. Gabriel and Karen S. Metz, From
Summer to Rome; The Military Capabilities of Ancient Armies. New York: Greenwood Press,
1991. John Keegan, Intelligence in War. New York:
Knopf, 2003. Charles H. Harris & Louis R. Sadler. The Border
and the Revolution: Clandestine Activities of the Mexican Revolution 1910-1920. HighLonesome
Books, 1988. Ishmael Jones, The Human Factor: Inside the
CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture, New York: Encounter Books, 2010.
Henry Landau, The Enemy Within: The Inside Story of German Sabotage in America. G.P.
Putnam Sons, 1937. Sidney F. Mashbir. I Was An American Spy.
Vantage, 1953. Nathan Miller. Spying for America: The Hidden
History of U.S. Intelligence. Dell Publishing, 1989.
Ian Sayer & Douglas Botting. America’s Secret Army, The Untold Story of the Counter Intelligence
Corps. Franklin Watts Publishers, 1989. Barbara W. Tuchman, The Zimmermann Telegram.
Ballantine Books, 1958. “Coast Guard Intelligence Looking For a Few
Good Men and Women.” Commandant’s Bulletin, p. 34.
“Coast Guard Investigative Service.” Coast Guard, pp. 24–25.
The Coast Guard at War: Volume XII: Intelligence. Washington, DC: Historical Section, Public
Information Division, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, January 1, 1949.
Hinsley, Francis F. “British Intelligence in the Second World War: Its Influence on
Strategy and Operations”. Cambridge University Press, 1990.
Ruiz, Victor H., 2010. “A Knowledge Taxonomy for Army Intelligence Training: An Assessment
of the Military Intelligence Basic Officer Leaders Course Using Lundvall’s Knowledge
Taxonomy”. Applied Research Projects. Texas State University Paper 331. http:ecommons.txstate.edu331
Alfred Rolington. Strategic Intelligence for the 21st Century: The Mosaic Method. Oxford
University Press, 2013. External links
Office of the Director of National Intelligence Intelligence Resource Program of the Federation
of American Scientists Reference Joint Publication 2-0