Military intelligence is a military discipline that uses information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to assist commanders in their decisions. This aim is achieved by providing an assessment of data from a range of sources, directed towards the commanders' mission requirements or responding to questions as part of operational or campaign planning. To provide an analysis, the commander's information requirements are first identified, which are then incorporated into 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.
Personnel performing 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 is concerned with broad issues such as economics, political assessments, military capabilities and intentions of foreign nations (and, increasingly, non-state actors). 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.
Strategic Intelligence is formally defined as "intelligence required for the formation of policy and military plans at national and international levels", and corresponds to the Strategic Level of Warfare, which is formally defined as "the level of warfare at which a nation, often as a member of a group of nations, determines national or multinational (alliance or coalition) strategic security objectives and guidance, then develops and uses national resources to achieve those objectives."
Operational intelligence is focused on support or denial of intelligence at operational tiers.
The term operation intelligence is used within law enforcement to refer to intelligence that supports long-term investigations into multiple, similar targets. Operational intelligence, in the discipline of law enforcement intelligence, is concerned primarily with identifying, targeting, detecting and intervening in criminal activity. The use within law enforcement and law enforcement intelligence is not scaled to its use in general intelligence or military/naval intelligence, being more narrowed in scope.
Tactical intelligence is focused on support to operations at the tactical level and would be attached to the battlegroup.
Tactical Intelligence is formally defined as "intelligence required for the planning and conduct of tactical operations", and corresponds with the Tactical Level of Warfare, itself defined as "the level of warfare at which battles and engagements are planned and executed to achieve military objectives assigned to tactical units or task forces".
Intelligence should respond to the needs of leadership, based on the military objective and operational plans. 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, analysts examine existing information, identifying gaps in the available knowledge.
Analysis reports draw on all available sources of information, whether drawn from existing material or collected in response to the requirement.
This process is described as Collection Co-ordination and Intelligence Requirement Management (CCIRM).
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 (JP 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."
Many of the most important facts are well known or may be gathered from public sources.
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.
A great deal of useful intelligence can be gathered from photointerpretation of detailed high-altitude pictures of a country.
Most intelligence services maintain or support groups whose only purpose is to keep maps.
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.
It is also common for diplomatic and journalistic personnel to have a secondary goal of collecting military intelligence.
Some industrialized nations also eavesdrop continuously on the entire radio spectrum, interpreting it in real time.
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 consists of assessment of an adversary's capabilities and vulnerabilities.
Human intelligence, gathered by spies, is usually carefully tested against unrelated sources.
In some intelligence organizations, analysis follows a procedure.
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.
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.
Packaging threats and vulnerabilities for decision-makers is a crucial part of military intelligence.
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.
The processed intelligence information is disseminated through database systems, intel bulletins and briefings to the different decision-makers.
- Admiralty code
- Aesopian language
- Classified information
- Company Level Intelligence Cell
- Cultural intelligence
- Edmund Charaszkiewicz
- Electronic warfare
- Fog of war
- Intelligence (information gathering)
- Intelligence gathering network
- Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance
- Intelligence outsourcing
- Medical intelligence
- Meteorological intelligence
- Military secrets
- Scenario planning
- Spy satellite
- Strategic intelligence
- Tactical Ground Intercept Facility
- Technical intelligence
- Intelligence Branch (Canadian Forces)
- Direction du Renseignement Militaire (France)
- Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and Defence Intelligence (United Kingdom)
- Czech Military Intelligence
- CISMIL (Portuguese Military Intelligence)
- DIO (Australian Defence Intelligence Organisation)
- Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye (GRU, Russian Military Intelligence)
- Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence (Pakistan)
- BND (German Federal Intelligence Service, also gathers Military Intelligence through the AMK), MAD (German Military Counter-Intelligence),
- Defense Intelligence Agency
- Defense Language Institute
- Document Exploitation (DOCEX)
- Military Intelligence Corps (United States Army)
- Office of Naval Intelligence
- Twenty-Fifth Air Force
- United States Army Intelligence Center
- World Basic Information Library (WBIL)