The Intelligence Cycle

The Intelligence Cycle is a concept that describes the general intelligence process in both a civilian or military intelligence agency or in law enforcement. The cycle is typically represented as a closed path of activities. Problems with a closed loop include an overall process that is no better than its weakest component and stove piping. In the traditional intelligence use of the term, stove piping keeps the output of different collection systems separated from one another. Stove piping prevents one discipline from cross-checking another and bypassing the regular analysis of raw intelligence by sending only raw intelligence that supports a particular position to the leadership.

 

Analysis is using information about the context of a situation, characterising the known observables, and applying the appropriate statements of probability to anticipate future situations. Descriptions of the anticipated situations are developed from what may be inaccurate or deliberately deceptive information; therefore, the analyst must correlate the similarities among observations and develop a common "truth." A set of repeatable and useful problem-solving approaches is helpful and essential for analysts. Because of the nature of the intelligence problem and work, an analytic approach must be tolerant of deceptive information far more than the scientist performing an experiment. Intelligence analysis involves incremental, iterative, refinement.

 

The Intelligence Process

The term "intelligence process" refers to the steps of the cycle. Intelligence, is commonly thought of as having five steps, namely requirements, collection, processing and exploitation, analysis and production, dissemination, consumption, and feedback.

  • Requirements.
    Identifying requirements means defining those questions to which intelligence is expected to make a contribution. Requirements also means specifying the collection of certain types of intelligence. The impulse is to say that all policy areas have intelligence requirements, which they do. However, since intelligence capabilities are limited, priorities must be set.

  • Collection.
    Once requirements and priorities have been established, the intelligence is collected. Some requirements have specific types of collection; some may require several types of collection. Making these decisions is a key issue and the question of how much can or should be collected to meet each requirement.

  • Processing and Exploitation.
    Collection produces information which must undergo processing and exploitation before it can be regarded as intelligence and given to analysts. Conversion includes translations, decryption, and interpretation.

  • Analysis and Production.
    Analysis and production includes the integration, evaluation, and analysis of all available data, and the preparation of intelligence products, including quickly developed single-source, event-oriented reports and longer term all-source and intelligence studies. "All-source" intelligence analysis is done exclusively by the CIA, DIA, and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. All-source analysts complete a more thorough evaluation and assessment of the collected information by integrating the information from other classified and unclassified sources.

 

Most of the intelligence process ends with the dissemination with the intelligence having reached the policy makers.

  • Dissemination and Consumption
    The process of dissemination, or the process of moving intelligence from producers to consumers, is largely standardized, with consumption being assumed in the 5-step process. 

  • Feedback.
    A dialog between intelligence consumers and producers should occur before and continue after the intelligence has been received. The analyst should have some sense of how well their intelligence requirements are being met and address any adjustments that need to be made. Feedback assesses the degree to which the finished intelligence addresses the needs of the intelligence consumer and will determine if further collection and analysis is required.

Intelligence Reports

14 April 2020

After AI comes Quantum AI...and then what?

When Google's Sycamore effectively moved us to the next step in AI it will become one of those defining moments...but how will Quantum Artificial Intelligence affect the Intelligence World?

21 March 2020

Neurodiversity & ASD within the Secret Intelligence Services

Some have gone as far as to say that the 'diverse' represent the next step in the evolutionary process.  Maybe.  But, ignore the Neurodiverse at your peril!

12 May 2020

A Government Department of Virus Safety

A Government run, uniform and credible safety certificate to be used across the board, would benefit UK business greatly.

Wuhan conspiracy theories aside, diplomatic traction is the reward.

 

A week or two ago we wrote an article "Conspiracies & Ripples" which focused primarily on conspiracy theories and kicked off with the rather obvious statement that a conspiracy theory is simply a theory without the facts i.e. just a theory.  Within that we highlighted that ‘flavour of the month’ theorist’s delight, the origins of the Coronavirus and its links to Wuhan.  This echoed our views published in February which, as many did, ponder the chances of this remote coincidence maybe actually being true.  Since then there have been swathes of articles on the topic citing all sort of sources and from numerous ‘renowned’ scientists.  We have also recently had the opinions offered by those whose opinions really count, that this virus originating from the labs in Wuhan may not actually be so far-fetched after all.

We do tend to agree, or at least we did.  That was then and this is now and in the world of Politics things move quickly and one does have to look at the reality of the situation.  If there is enough fog between you and your destination, then sometimes the route you take can change, leaving you all sorts of options.  If the objective was originally to circumnavigate through uncertain waters to establish who, what, why and when the virus came about – then that is now lost in the fog.  It is arbitrary.  Now we have something that is far more concrete and tangible to use to our advantage – we have uncertainty.  We now have enough debate and conspiracy to render the findings of the scientists open to interpretation.  And that… is a diplomat’s dream come true.   This particular carcass will feed many and although the WHO will go in, on the ground, and no doubt find yet more uncertainty…it really is irrelevant.  You will certainly not find individual government’s chomping at the bit to send their representatives into Wuhan anytime soon, and even if they did, why?  Wuhan is not some sleepy suburb in leafy Northamptonshire… it is in China.  Whatever was there has long gone, if indeed it was ever even there.  So perhaps it would be wise to assume that at least for the next few decades this is a conspiracy that will never find out those salient facts. 

Now, listening to the scientists, there is an overwhelming urge to say, “shush now”.  Step back ladies and gentlemen and look at the bigger picture at play.  Nobody is actually interested whether or not the virus started in Wuhan, intentionally or not.  As long as it is open to debate, it is far more valuable.  The scientists have debated at length and argued, but there is still no unequivocal proof either way that satisfies all parties…and why could that be?  Scientific fact is not open to debate or questioning, that is a given.  However, to say Science is correct, is not true.  That is because Science has Scientists, and Scientists are human beings who in turn are fallible and motivated by many many other factors.  In China for example, one might say that scientific fact is exactly what they want it to be.  Indeed, who is to say it ends in China.

 

So why is uncertainty such a blessing in this case?  It provides an additional bargaining chip and a weapon in the armoury for all Governments to now use against the Chinese.  Maybe on the other side of the fence their own initial conspiracy theory that a foreign Government (the US) planted the virus in their midst, is being written about in their own press.  Or maybe not. The fact is it is a safe bet to assume that no body will ever know.  There will be no compensations or admissions of guilt in this case sadly…however the capillaceous network that is politics, diplomacy and economic negotiations will be the real beneficiaries.

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