The Nature of Intelligence
"And therefore I say: Know the enemy, know yourself; your victory will never be endangered. Know the ground, know the weather; your victory will then be total."1
—Sun Tzu, The Art of War
"For the whole reason-for-being of all military intelligence personnel is to facilitate accomplishment of the mission, and to save lives. When they fail, all the wrong people are hurt."2
—Stedman Chandler and Robert W. Robb, Front-Line Intelligence
To develop effective intelligence, we must first understand its fundamental nature—its purpose and characteristics as well as its relationship to command and operations. This understanding will become the basis for developing a theory and practical philosophy for intelligence.
HOW IMPORTANT IS INTELLIGENCE?
Maneuver warfare requires a firm focus on the enemy. It aims at taking action which avoids enemy strengths and exploits enemy critical vulnerabilities. The identification of these strengths and vulnerabilities is crucial. Maneuver warfare requires acting in a manner to deceive and then striking at a time and place which the enemy does not expect and for which he is not prepared. Identification of an adversary's expectations and preparations is also important. Maneuver warfare requires decision and action based on situational awareness—a keen understanding of the essential factors which make each condition unique—rather than on preconceived schemes or techniques. How is this situational awareness gained?
Accurate and timely intelligence—knowledge of the enemy and the surrounding environment—is a prerequisite for success in war. Certainly, maneuver warfare places a heavy emphasis on the judgment of leaders at all levels. Nonetheless, judgment, even genius, cannot substitute for good intelligence. Genius may make better sense of available information, and it may provide superior and faster use of the knowledge it gains from that information, but no command- er—no matter how brilliant—can operate effectively without good intelligence. A brilliant commander, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, proclaimed that, "It is not that one general is more brilliant or experienced than the other; it is a question of which general has a better appreciation of the battlefield."3
Intelligence, therefore, is at once inseparable from both command and operations. Intelligence contributes to the exercise of effective command during military operations and helps ensure the successful conduct of those operations. By identifying enemy weaknesses susceptible to attack, intelligence also serves as an important element of combat power.
Effective intelligence in the hands of capable commanders has often provided decisive advantages of tactical, operational, and strategic importance. The Battle of Midway in June 1942 was won by a vastly outgunned and outnumbered American fleet because its commanders had received, recognized, and acted upon detailed and accurate intelligence. In 1986, during air strikes conducted in response to Libya's terrorist activity, intelligence provided the detailed understanding of the Libyan air defense system that enabled Marine and Navy aviators to effectively shut it down. Intelligence's identification of critical vulnerabilities in Iraqi air and ground defenses contributed to the rapid and thorough defeat of Iraqi forces during Operation Desert Storm.
THE OBJECTIVES OF INTELLIGENCE
Understanding the relationship between intelligence and command and control is key to understanding the role of intelligence. Command and control is about making and executing decisions. The main purpose of intelligence is to support the decisionmaking process.
Intelligence strives to accomplish two objectives. First, it provides accurate, timely, and relevant knowledge about the enemy (or potential enemy) and the surrounding environment. In other words, the primary objective of intelligence is to support decisionmaking by reducing uncertainty about the hostile situation to a reasonable level —recognizing, of course, that the fog of war renders anything close to absolute certainty impossible.
In achieving its primary objective, intelligence performs four related tasks. First, it identifies and evaluates existing conditions and enemy capabilities. Second, based upon those existing conditions and capabilities, it estimates possible enemy courses of action, providing insight into possible future actions. Third, it aids in identifying friendly vulnerabilities the enemy may exploit. Finally, intelligence assists in the development and evaluation of friendly courses of action based on the results of the first three tasks.
The second intelligence objective is that it assists in protecting friendly forces through counterintelligence. Coun- terintelligence includes both active and passive measures intended to deny the enemy valuable information about the friendly situation. Counterintelligence also includes activities related to countering hostile espionage, subversion, and terrorism. Counterintelligence directly supports force protection operations by helping the commander deny intelligence to the enemy and plan appropriate security measures.
The two intelligence objectives demonstrate that intelligence possesses both positive—or exploitative—and protective elements. It uncovers conditions which can be exploited and simultaneously provides warning of enemy actions. Intelligence thus provides the basis for our own actions, both offensive and defensive.
INTELLIGENCE AS KNOWLEDGE
Although the objectives of intelligence have been discussed, the term intelligence has not been defined. Very simply, intelligence is knowledge—knowledge about the enemy or the surrounding environment4 needed to support decisionmaking. Since people understand situations best as images—mental pictures—intelligence aims to create an accurate or meaningful image of the situation confronting a commander. Good intelligence paints a picture—or more accurately, several pictures—of possible realities.5
Not all knowledge which goes into military decisionmaking qualifies as intelligence. Knowledge pertaining directly to the friendly situation or to the status of an ally does not constitute intelligence. Knowledge not pertaining directly to the friendly cause generally falls under the category of intelligence.
What do we mean by knowledge? In describing intelligence as knowledge, we are distinguishing intelligence from data or information.6 Intelligence is developed from information, but it is important to recognize that intelligence is not simply another term for information. Information is uneval- uated material of any kind—enemy prisoner of war interro- gation reports, radio intercepts, reconnaissance reports, photographs—and represents the raw material from which intelligence is ultimately derived. Few pieces of information speak conclusively for themselves. They must be combined and compared with other pieces of information, analyzed, evaluated, and, finally, given meaning. Good intelligence does not simply repeat the information which a source reveals. Rather, it develops this raw material in order to tell us what that information means and identifies the implications for decisionmaking. In other words, intelligence is the analysis and synthesis of information into knowledge. The end result is not more information, but knowledge that gives us a meaningful assessment of the situation.7
Since intelligence is derived from information, it shares many attributes of information. Information, and the intel- ligence which results from it, is perishable. Information will always be incomplete, sometimes confusing, and often contradictory. Not all information will be important or even relevant, and much of it may be inaccurate or misleading. Too much information can be as harmful as too little. With all information, we seek not a large amount, but to have the right information available when needed and in a useful form, and so it is with intelligence.
Finally, we note that knowledge does not exist for its own sake, but as the basis for action. We do not develop lengthy intelligence studies just because we have the ability to do so or because a subject is of academic interest. Intelligence that is not acted upon or that does not provide the potential for future action is useless.8
INTELLIGENCE AS A PROCESS
Intelligence should be thought of as not just a prod-uct—knowledge —but also the process which produces that knowledge. Intelligence is the process which identifies and evaluates existing conditions and capabilities, estimates possible enemy courses of action based upon these conditions and capabilities, and assists in the development and evalu- ation of friendly courses of action—all in support of the commander's decisionmaking.
Intelligence is thus a central component of the command and control process, which can be described by a simple model known as the observation-orientation-decision-action (OODA) loop. Intelligence activities make up a significant portion of the observation-orientation phases of the OODA loop with the primary purpose of supporting the decision phase. Intelligence also supports the action phase by identifying targets for attack and by assessing results, bringing the OODA loop full circle to the next observation phase in support of a subsequent decision.
Intelligence must not be construed as the exclusive province of intelligence specialists. Intelligence activities are driv- en by the need to answer questions crucial to the planning and execution of operations. Intelligence is inseparable from operations. Data collected during the course of operations is essential to the development of a timely and accurate intelligence picture. Above all, intelligence shapes (some would say drives) the decisions made during the conduct of operations. All Marines involved in operations are involved in intelligence in one way or another, and all Marines involved in intelligence are involved in operations.
WHY THE MYSTERY?
In the past, there has been a perception that intelligence is a highly specialized field shrouded in secrecy and isolated from other warfighting areas. Many misconceptions concerning intelligence have arisen; some even view it as the modern equivalent of wizardry. Why has this aura of mystery developed?
First, intelligence is usually much less concrete than knowledge of the friendly situation, which Marines are likely to know with much more certainty and detail. It is commonly understood that effective intelligence is an important factor—often the critical factor—in mission success or failure. Isolating or measuring the specific effects of intelligence on the mission's outcome, however, is often difficult.
Second, intelligence employs specialized techniques to develop studies and products. Intelligence personnel receive certain specialized training—but hardly more than specialists in other fields. In the normal course of performing their mission, Marine intelligence sections request and receive support from specialized, technical, and sometimes highly compartmented national, theater, or service-level intelligence agencies. While these activities provide access to resources necessary to develop tactical intelligence, the activities themselves may be of limited interest to combat units. In addition, intelligence often involves highly specialized technology, especially in the collection of information.
Finally, to protect the value of a piece of intelligence as well the sources used in developing it, many intelligence products and methods are classified. Out of the legitimate concern for security, a need to know is a basic requirement for access to intelligence products. In order to protect the sensitive nature of some intelligence activities, elements of the intelligence section may be physically separated from other staff sections, with access to these elements being controlled. Unfortunately, the rightful concern over security contributes more to the mystification of intelligence than any other single factor.
The result is a veil of mystery that often surrounds intelligence activities. However, intelligence is not an obscure activity unrelated to other warfighting activities. In fact, intelligence is a central component of command and control, a fundamental responsibility of command, and inseparable from operations. All personnel involved in the conduct and support of operations—commanders, operations officers, logisticians, communicators, etc.—must understand intelligence just as intelligence personnel must comprehend the conduct and support of operations.
There is nothing mysterious about intelligence. While intelligence collection and production may involve the use of high-technology sensors and networks, good intelligence is primarily the result of solid headwork and legwork, not the output of some secret process or compartmented database. Good intelligence begins with commanders clearly identifying their intelligence concerns and needs. It is developed through the focused collection of information, thorough study, and, most importantly, effective analysis and synthesis. The result is an intelligence product that provides knowledge, reduces uncertainty, and supports effective decisionmaking.
WHAT MAKES INTELLIGENCE DIFFERENT?
We have noted that while intelligence uses specialized capabilities and techniques, this alone does not distinguish intelligence from other command and control functions. What makes intelligence unique? The one feature which distinguishes intelligence from the other command and control functions is that intelligence deals directly with an independent, hostile will personified by the enemy. As such, intelligence deals with more unknowns and has less control over its environment than any other aspect of command and control.
A commander may well face unknowns about the friendly situation—uncertainty about the location, activity, or status of friendly forces. Presumably such uncertainty is not the result of a conscious effort on the part of those forces to deny that information to the commander. If commanders have questions about the friendly situation, they can usually obtain the answers directly from the principals involved. In other words, for nearly every question about the friendly situation, there is a reliable source ready to provide an answer.
This is not the case for questions concerning the enemy or the area of operations. Such information by its very nature will be significantly more difficult to obtain. The enemy will do his utmost to deny us knowledge of his capabilities, dispositions, methods, and intentions through the use of security measures and his own counterintelligence. He may intentionally present us with erroneous or ambiguous information. When a foe suspects that we know something significant about his situation, he will likely undertake actions to change that situation.
This is especially true at the tactical level of war. The closer a unit is to contact with the enemy, the greater attention it pays to security, camouflage, dispersion, and deception. Moreover, once execution begins, the rapidity of changes in the tactical situation combines with the friction and fog of war to make it increasingly difficult to develop a coherent image of the enemy situation. This is why it often seems that we have better intelligence about what is happening in the enemy's rear echelon or capital city than we have about what is occurring beyond the next hill.
We have to work much harder to obtain information and knowledge about the enemy than we do concerning the friendly situation. Despite our extensive specialized capabilities designed to collect information about the enemy, the information we collect will normally be less than what we would like to have. Furthermore, collecting information does not by itself provide the needed intelligence. Even when friendly forces are obtaining information directly from the enemy—intercepting enemy signals, interrogating prisoners of war, translating captured documents—we must still confirm, evaluate, interpret, and analyze that information. Follow-on collection, processing, and production activities are normally needed. Finally, it should be emphasized that our need for intelligence usually greatly exceeds our ability to produce it; while questions about the hostile situation are almost infinite, the intelligence resources available to answer those questions are limited.
Once we have obtained the information necessary to build a picture of the enemy situation, we are confronted with other challenges. First, we must properly interpret the information. More important than the volume of information is the value of the information and the abilities of the people interpreting it. Any single item or any collection of information may be interpreted in a number of ways. Many mistakes in intelligence are not the result of a failure to collect the correct information, but rather a failure to discern the correct meaning from the information collected.
Second, even if we can develop a good understanding of the current situation, we cannot know with certainty what will happen in the future. While we can often assess the enemy's capabilities, we can rarely be certain of his intentions. Capabilities are based ultimately on factual conditions, while intentions exist only in the mind of the enemy—assuming the enemy even knows clearly what he wants to do. Thus, any assessment of enemy intentions is ultimately an estimate. While good intelligence can identify the possibilities and probabilities, there will always be an element of uncertainty in these estimates.
Third, because we are dealing directly with a hostile will, we can never be sure we are not being actively deceived. Even if we should gain some type of access to his actual plans, we cannot be certain that the enemy does not want us to see those plans as part of a deliberate deception effort.
Finally, the problems facing intelligence are further complicated by the irony that good intelligence may actually in- validate itself. Consider the following instance. Intelligence estimates that the enemy is preparing to launch an attack in a certain sector. Acting quickly on this intelligence, the commander strengthens that sector. The enemy, however, detects our enhanced defensive preparations, which causes him to cancel the attack. As a result, the intelligence estimate which predicted the attack in the first place appears wrong—but only because it was initially correct. Intelligence is thus a highly imprecise activity at best, and its effects are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to isolate.
For example, consider the U.S. response to a movement of Iraqi troops toward the Kuwaiti border in October 1994. After a period of increasing tension between Iraq and the United Nations over continuing sanctions against Iraq, U.S. intelligence detected the deployment of almost 80,000 troops in the vicinity of the Kuwaiti border, including two elite Republican Guard divisions.9 The situation appeared similar to the one in August 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Intelligence warned that another invasion was possible. The United States and other allies responded by immediately dispatching forces to the region. The Iraqi forces were withdrawn, and the threat subsided. Did Saddam Hussein intend to invade Kuwait again? We will probably never know; intentions can seldom be determined with absolute certainty. On the one hand, we could state that intelligence failed because we could not as- certain Hussein's exact intentions and thus were unable to detect the difference between a provocation and an actual invasion. A more reasonable explanation, however, is that intelligence stimulated appropriate action, action which prevented an invasion. The warning appeared to be incorrect, but only because it was right in the first place.
EXPECTATIONS OF INTELLIGENCE
We expect a great deal from intelligence. We ask intelligence to describe in detail places we have never seen, to identify customs and attitudes of societies fundamentally different from our own, to assess the capabilities of unique and unfamiliar military or paramilitary forces, and to forecast how these societies and forces will act in the future. Most notably, we want intelligence to enter the thought process of an enemy commander and predict, with certainty, what course of action he intends to pursue, possibly even before he knows himself what he is going to do. The standard against which we measure intelligence is also high. We desire a depth and degree of accuracy in our intelligence which approaches perfection. Even when a reasonable response has been provided to almost every intelligence requirement, there is still one more question to be answered, one more detail to be fleshed out, one more estimate to be refined. This is as it should be. The price for failure in intelligence is high. Inadequacies in intelligence can lead directly to loss of life, destruction of equipment and facilities, failure of a mission, or even defeat.
When properly focused and given adequate time and resources, our intelligence can come close to meeting these standards. We can provide comprehensive depictions of phys- ical terrain and manmade structures or facilities. Our re- connaissance and surveillance systems can detect and track the movements of ships, aircraft, and ground formations, in certain instances even providing real-time images of enemy activity. Our signals and human intelligence capabilities, coupled with expert analysis, can provide insight into both enemy capabilities and intentions.
However, even in the best of circumstances, intelligence still operates in an environment characterized by uncertainty. Uncertainty is a fundamental attribute of war. As discussed in the previous section, intelligence deals directly with the inde- pendent, hostile will of the enemy. This makes intelligence more susceptible to uncertainty than any other command and control function. In practical terms, this means that there are very definite limits to what commanders can reasonably expect from intelligence. Not only will more gaps exist in what we know about the enemy than in what we know about our own situation, but the reliability of everything we do know will be subject to greater scrutiny and doubt. Even if we obtain the correct information, there is no guarantee that we will interpret it correctly or that it will not change. We may be the victims of deception, whether it is by a deliberate enemy effort or by our own preconceptions. Intelligence produces estimates rather than certainties; it is important to remember that "estimating is what you do when you do not know."10
Intelligence may be incorrect sometimes and incomplete at other times, and it often lacks the desired degree of detail and reliability. Some of the questions asked are simply beyond knowing—or are beyond knowing given the time and resources available. Gaps in our knowledge of the enemy sit-uation, sometimes sizable, are a natural and unavoidable characteristic of fighting an enemy having an independent, hostile will. We must continually remember that intelligence can reduce but never eliminate the uncertainty that is an inherent feature of war.
INTELLIGENCE IN THE INFORMATION AGE
As a result of the ongoing information revolution, more people have access to more information more quickly than ever before. Intelligence has benefited greatly from improvements in information gathering, processing, and dissemination. Sophisticated sensors clandestinely collect vast quantities of data in all regions of the world. Integrated databases allow us to store and rapidly retrieve virtually unlimited numbers of reports, images, and studies. Information processors assist us in analyzing the data and developing tailored, graphic-enhanced products that convey intelligence in a more meaningful form. Communications systems give us the ability to share databases, exchange intelligence, and disseminate products almost instantaneously on a worldwide basis.
While it is alluring to believe that the information revolution will solve the problems of uncertainty in dealing with the enemy, technology has its shortcomings as well. Systems employed in intelligence can be expensive and complex. Many are controlled at the national or theater levels, where priorities might not be consistent with those of the tactical commanders. Despite their sophistication, these systems are still subject to failure as a result of weather conditions, breakdowns, or enemy countermeasures.
Further, these systems generally provide and manipulate data and information rather than generate knowledge or understanding. The information revolution has created the very real danger of information overload—more available information than can be readily used or understood. Humans have a limited capacity to assimilate information. Even if we are able to collect vast amounts of information, information alone does not equate to knowledge or understanding, which are ultimately the product of human cognition and judgment. Since very few pieces of information are decisive by themselves, they must be interpreted and given meaning.
Finally, the seemingly unlimited availability of information does not necessarily help us in determining which information we should collect and develop into intelligence. In an unstable international environment, in which unanticipated crises proliferate, it is difficult to identify the next enemy or potential enemy. This complicates commanders' problems of identifying their concerns and priorities; it may be harder than in the past to focus the intelligence effort. As a result, it may not be possible to develop adequate basic intelligence about potential enemies or regions well in advance.
We must continue to pursue advances offered by technology to enhance our intelligence capabilities. At the same time, we recognize that technology by itself does not produce effective intelligence. Improvements in data collection, information processing, and dissemination are tools which assist in the intelligence effort. These tools increase our capabilities only when they are applied by knowledgeable and skilled Marines focused on producing timely, useful, and relevant intelligence.
A CASE STUDY: DESERT STORM 1990–1991
The development and use of intelligence in support of Marine operations during Desert Storm illustrate the nature of intel- ligence and its core concepts and challenges. During this operation, intelligence provided an accurate picture of the situation confronting Marine forces and identified the enemy's critical vulnerabilities which Marine commanders exploited to achieve success.11
By mid-January 1991 the situation at the strategic and operational levels was well understood. Iraqi commanders prepared for the expected Coalition assault into Kuwait in a manner that reflected the success of their defensive strategy during the Iran-Iraq War. They constructed two major defensive belts in addition to extensive obstacles and fortifications along the coast.
Intelligence identified three Iraqi centers of gravity at the operational level. The first was their command and control. If rendered unable to direct its military forces, Iraq would not be able to mount an effective defense at the operational level. Second was Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Degrading this capability would reduce a major aspect of the Iraqi strategic threat to other states in the region. The third center of gravity was the Republican Guard. Destroying or severely degrading the Republican Guard's ability to fight would dramatically diminish Iraq's capability to conduct a coordinated defense or to pose an offensive threat to the region later.
Intelligence likewise provided thorough understanding of Iraq's critical vulnerabilities: a rigid, top-down command and control system, the reluctance of Iraqi commanders to exercise initiative, an overly defensive approach to battle with limited ability to conduct deep offensive actions, vulnerability to air attack, an overextended logistics system, and extremely limited intelligence capabilities.
This understanding was used to plan the campaign and guide the conduct of air operations during the first few weeks of Desert Storm. Coalition air attacks had devastating effects on the Iraqis, severely disrupting their command and control, eliminating their naval and air forces, and degrading their logistics capabilities.
Nevertheless, the situation facing Marine commanders was less clear. Much of the intelligence developed prior to the start of the operation was focused on strategic- and opera- tional-level objectives and lacked the detailed, tailored intelligence essential for tactical planning. Further, ground force commanders were not permitted to employ most of their organic collection assets within Kuwait due to concerns about potential casualties, operational security, and initiation of engagements before a decision on ground operations had been made. Marines required support from national and theater intelligence agencies to answer many of their critical intelligence requirements. Although these needs were generally recognized as valid by the higher echelons which controlled these assets, Marine tactical requirements tended to fall too low on the priorities list to compete effectively with other requirements. When national sensors were used to support Marine force requirements, the results often did not provide sufficient detail to fully satisfy those requirements.
Still, by January the Marine forces' intelligence estimate provided a fairly accurate assessment of the overall size and disposition of the Iraqi units as well as the strategy and tactics they would employ. The estimate highlighted four potential Iraqi responses to Coalition air attacks: terrorist attacks inside and outside the area of operations, air and naval counterstrikes, surface-to-surface missile and multiple rocket launch- er attacks against Marine positions in the forward area, and a limited-objective ground attack or raid. Like most estimates, this assessment proved to be only partially correct. Iraqi air and naval forces offered minimal opposition, and no major terrorist attacks were conducted. However, there were extensive missile and multiple rocket launcher attacks, and a significant ground attack was launched at the end of the month.
The main shortfall of the estimate was that it lacked details required for tactical planning. Determining the effectiveness of Iraqi forces was a critical requirement. The raw numbers indicated that large Iraqi forces remained within Kuwait. Air attacks were damaging the enemy's forward echelon and had severely degraded both his sustainment and command and control capabilities. There were indications that Iraqi front-line infantry troops were demoralized and would not put up much of a fight. Intelligence clearly showed that the Iraqis had been hurt, but in the absence of definitive information detailing how badly they had been hurt, Marine planning continued to reflect a cautious approach.
During a battle from 29 January to 1 February at Al-Khafji, an Iraqi division-sized ground attack was soundly defeated by Coalition forces. Iraqi actions during this battle provided Marine intelligence specialists critical information to fill in the intelligence picture. Analysis confirmed previous assessments of the deteriorating condition of enemy units and the Iraqis' limited capability to coordinate between tactical echelons. From reports by Marine participants, analysts concluded that Iraqi soldiers were unmotivated, poorly trained, and unable to conduct combined arms operations.
With this insight, previous perceptions of the enemy's strengths and ability to mount a formidable defense were called into question. Subsequent intelligence operations further clarified the threat picture. Interrogations of enemy troops lured to surrender reinforced the view that the Iraqi will to fight was far weaker than anyone had anticipated. Artillery raids failed to elicit counterbattery fire, indicating that Iraqi artillery capabilities had been degraded. Unit boundaries along the defensive belts were located, and gaps in the defenses were identified at those points, confirming that coordination between tactical echelons was poor.
From the new intelligence, a new estimate reflected the likelihood that the Iraqis would be unable to conduct an effective defense of the forward positions. It noted that the Iraqis could not coordinate between units, employ supporting arms, or conduct counterattacks with forces larger than a battalion. Finally, it indicated that Iraqi infantry and artillery troops would probably surrender en masse once the first shot was fired.
This intelligence was used to substantially revise the Marine operation plan. Knowing that the Iraqis would be unable to assess what was happening on the battlefield or to respond effectively, Marine commanders adopted a more aggressive scheme of maneuver. The previous plan called for a sequential attack with one division following the other through the defensive belts using a single breech point. On February 6, the Marine Force commander approved a new plan in which two Marine divisions would conduct a simultaneous, coordinated attack through the defensive belts at points 40 kilometers apart (see figure 1). In addition, a significant force was now assigned to deal with the expected flood of surrendering Iraqi troops.
The intelligence assessment developed and refined during Operation Desert Storm reduced uncertainty, enhanced situational awareness, and aided Marine commanders in planning and decisionmaking. This assessment did not answer every question, but it did identify the enemy's critical vulnerabilities which were exploited to achieve decisive results.
Intelligence is a fundamental component of command and control—inseparable from both command and operations. Accurate, timely, and relevant intelligence is critical to the planning and conduct of successful operations. Effective intelligence uncovers enemy weaknesses which can be exploited to provide a decisive advantage. Shortfalls in intelligence can lead to confusion, indecision, unnecessary loss of life, mission failure, or even defeat.
Intelligence is knowledge of the enemy and the surrounding environment provided to support the commander's decisionmaking process. Intelligence is more than just information; it is the analysis and synthesis of information which provides a meaningful assessment of the situation. Intelligence evaluates existing conditions and enemy capabilities, estimates possible future conditions and enemy courses of action, assists in the development and evaluation of friendly courses of action, and aids in protecting friendly forces against the effects of enemy action.
While intelligence uses specialized capabilities and techniques in developing a useful product, it is not an obscure process isolated from other warfighting functions. In fact, effective intelligence requires a firm focus on the needs of commanders. This in turn, demands integration with all aspects of operational planning and execution. What separates intelligence from the other aspects of command and control, however, is the fact that intelligence must deal directly with the independent, hostile will of the enemy. Because intelligence attempts to look into the future despite significant unknowns, the resulting product will always be based on estimates, not certainties. Users of intelligence must always remember that intelligence can reduce, but never eliminate the uncertainty that is an inherent characteristic of war, and act accordingly.
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