Intelligence is more than just information that is gathered. It refers to knowledge that is specifically prepared to meet a consumer’s distinctive situations and needs. The term knowledge signifies the need for human involvement and participation. The intelligence cycle refers to an investigative procedure that is utilized by end users. The cycle enables the user, who is either a commander or supervisor, to collect particular information, comprehend the odds of the gathered information, and the restraints of the intelligence procedure.
The collection and analysis of correct and dependable information is important to decision- or policy makers at all levels in making informed decisions . The cycle terminates where the decision-makers provide feedback and modified requirements. The intelligence cycle meets client needs very well by producing products that are disseminated in an appropriate manner and in a position for the decision makers to come up with informed decisions. Despite the fact that the intelligence process is multifaceted and dynamic, it has several components that operate separately for the success of the whole.
The cycle has five key components: planning and direction, collection, processing and exploitation, analysis and production, and dissemination . This paper discusses two of the five components: planning and direction, and collection. Planning and direction Whenever an individual or an organization is faced with a particular task, it is always important to start with what and how to do. The task is handled in a particular direction listing what is known about the task and what is needed to be found out. Planning and direction is the stage that sets pace to the intelligence process.
This is the stage where the decision on the intelligence that is really required. The goals and objectives of the entire process are defined here. The success of the entire process is at risk if the goals and objectives of the intelligence process are not correctly defined. The goals and objectives are formulated as questions that the decision makers and the end users want to have answers to. For instance, ‘what attacks are we vulnerable to at the moment? ’ In planning and direction, intelligence requirements are determined in order to meet the desired objectives.
Without proper focus at the beginning of the process, the agency risks dealing with matters that are receiving media focus. Such issues may not meet the goals of the agency and may not provide answers to the objectives of the process. Additionally, the agency might deal with less important issue at the risk of the more important ones. There is also the need to define the timeframe for the entire process. Any successful process requires a timeframe and identification of the resources that will be required for its successful completion .
Planning and direction is management of the entire process, from identification of the needs to delivery of the intelligence product to an end user. It is normally the beginning and the end of the entire intelligence process. It is the beginning since it is where collection requirements are drawn and the end since it is where new requirements are generated from the finished intelligence. Most of the information required will be searched from records to see if they are related with what the intelligence bodies require.
Most of the times, past strategic plans are available for purchase, download or accessing from websites such as National Technical Information Service (NTIS). For instance, the report, “The Intelligence Community in the 21st Century” produced by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence can be accessed via GPO at http://www. gpo. gov/congress/house/intel/ic21/ic21_toc. html. The report offers an important alternative for confidential strategic plan . The entire process is dependent on the leadership and direction from public officials.
Policy-makers or decision makers, who include the president, his advisers, the National Security Council and other key agencies and departments in the government, are the one that initiates calls for intelligence. This also depends with particular governments or countries. In the US federal government, requirements may be provided from the white house or the congress. In The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the commander makes us of the requirements, usually referred to as ‘Essential Elements of Intelligence’ to begin the intelligence process .
Planning and direction is an important component of intelligence since it offers the starting point as well as the direction of the entire process. It enables agencies to effectively start the intelligence work. Additionally, it enables the understanding of the strategic intelligence plan. This kind of plan is necessary in any government. This is because it presents an outline of how, when and where intelligence information is to be gathered. The purpose of the intelligence report is normally tailored to the plan.
This means that the process cannot commence without the understanding of the strategic plan, which consequently means that the process cannot commence without the planning and development phase . Collection Collection is the process that follows planning and direction, and whose outcome begins the analysis stage. This is the stage where the information required is collected, explicitly (openly) or secretly. It is defined as the obtaining of unprocessed information by use of a variety of collection tools to generate the finished intelligence. This is the stage that is mostly given more attention as compared to the others.
It is the point where the larger part of the budget is spent. During this stage, an intelligence collection plan is developed. The plan is developed in response to the requirements specified in the planning and direction stage. The plan establishes what is required, all the available sources of information, the methods of obtaining it and priority. The available sources depend on the organization and its access to the information. The sources may include Human Intelligence (HUMINT), Imagery Intelligence (IMINT), Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) among others.
The open sources of information include newspapers, periodicals, books, and broadcasts. This kind of reporting is central to Criminal Investigation Agency’s analytical capabilities. The officers in the agency gather such information from their agents who are located abroad or defectors who offer information that can be gotten in any other manner. Technical collection of information, for instance satellite photography and electronics plays a key part in current intelligence. They are used for purposes such as supervising arms control treaties and giving express support to armed forces.
Each of the sources of information has specific characteristics that can be utilized, but can be restrictive. For instance, satellite photography depends on weather, position and time . Collection of data or information in an intelligence process requires care since the limit of information that is considered appropriate can be wide. For instance, officers collecting intelligence information can be required to collect information about terrorists operating in Britain. This kind of task is wide for it requires collection of a wide range of information.
There are other situations where officers gathering information may be required to collect specific information, for example location and available resources for refugees in a particular region. This means there is need for proper care and understanding of what is required of the task force. Gathering of the information is not an easy task since there is requirement for sufficient information to be gathered in order to generate informed decisions. The intelligence process cannot continue without presentation of enough appropriate information. The data gathered during this stage is what is delivered to the analysis phase .
Collection of the information required for the intelligence process is crucial. Regardless of how the planning and preparation for the process is carried out, without information to work with, the intelligence process cannot go on. This is a very crucial process in providing the policy-makers with the final analysis. It is not possible to answer the original question without having the resource which is in form of information. Additionally, it is not possible to satisfy the consumer’s needs without having the information tailored to the need.
In the analysis stage, the gathered information is transformed to intelligence. This means that there is no intelligence without information. This can be said to the most important stage in the process . Decision making is one of the most important elements of intelligence. The essence of having the entire process as a cycle is so as to come up with a systematic decision making process capable of generating informed decisions. Another element of intelligence is teamwork. The capacity to work effectively with other people is the factor that influences results.
The entire process involves team working in order to come up with effective decisions. By effectively managing the entire process from the beginning, the final reports that are developed and disseminated to the people that require them are correct and respond to the needs that initiated the process. The intelligence cycle meets the user needs effectively, since the reports required are delivered precisely, to the people that require them and on time. The intelligence cycle meets client needs very well by producing products that are delivered in an appropriate manner .