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Thread: Open Source Intelligence (OSINT): merged thread

  1. #21
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    I'd appreciate those links as well, if you don't mind. Some of this bleeds over into my own theories of insurgencies and may have some historical links as well.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bismark17 View Post
    I learned a lot from a great friend over coffee just outside of the gates of Ft. Lewis. Until my eyes started drifting over to more interesting sights in the coffee shop......The new Army Intel Analysis manual is pretty good. FM34-3??? There is also a great one on Intel Analysis in Urban environments. I will send you the links.

    The great thing is all of this stuff is on the net...
    As far as I know, the current FM 2-91.4 Intelligence in Support to Operations in the Urban Environment (AKO log-in required), dated Jun 05, is not available on the general 'net - if that is the one you are referring to.

    FM 34-3 Intelligence Analysis, dated Mar 90, is readily available - but that version is dated. There was a much-improved draft dated May 98, but that isn't generally available. A new version has been in the works for a long time....

  3. #23
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    Default Continuation

    I tried to find them and am still looking. Whenever I find them I will pm them to you guys. The Open Source manual does have an interesting break down on basic research techniques that was also good.

    You could cut and paste it with other items and create a great abstract for teaching. There is a lot of relevant material being created by the Military community that is applicable to anyone needing to understand what is going on in an area. Take care!

  4. #24
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    ...The growing military appreciation of open source intelligence arises from the ever-increasing quality of public sources and the evident limitations of traditional classified approaches...
    The new OSINT FM is only the latest in the evolution of the military approach to OSINT. Within the US Army we've had the INSCOM OSINT Handbook, published in May 03, and the Joint Military Intelligence Training Center Open Source Exploitation: A Guide for Intelligence Analysts, published in Apr 04 (this is the second edition, I never saw the first). Both had relatively limited distribution.

    As far as I know, NATO was ahead of the game with a formal manual published in Nov 01, the NATO OSINT Handbook and the NATO OSINT Reader, published in Feb 02.

    For those with AKO access, the OSINT Knowledge Center contains copies of the presentations from a number of intelligence assets and their approaches to OSINT as put out during a series of OSINT conferences held in 05 and 06.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-26-2007 at 08:08 PM.

  5. #25
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    Default The Coffee Shop

    I learned a lot from a great friend over coffee just outside of the gates of Ft. Lewis. Until my eyes started drifting over to more interesting sights in the coffee shop.
    Hi Bismark !
    That's not too far fetched. Most of Humint today is little more than common sense and eyes open. DIAs course goes farther with lessons and experiences over the last 25 years. That "book" at AKO is much the same. The folks that put that together are former Army NCOs and Officers who once worked for DIA.

    Regards, Stan

  6. #26
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    We used to joke that OSINT was just an excuse to surf the niprnet, check email, buy crap from amazon, etc.

    We started to get reports that some bad guys in the area were going to meet with a reporter, and we were tracking that, trying to find out where and when.

    We missed the meet, but got lots of reports about it after it happened. Sure enough a few days later an analyst from higher emails us some pics from Reuters showing a group of BG's meeting in a typical sit down. Weapons, unifroms ak's, commo etc. The main BG's had their faces covered but some did not.

    OSINT, actually proved useful, and will continue to do so.

    This is especially true considering the BG's effective use of IO, along with the "good" of getting their message, videos, etc out there they get increased exposure and may end up showing us something we need to know.

  7. #27
    Council Member bismark17's Avatar
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    Default Re:

    It's amazing how much information can be lifted from social networking sites like myspace, facebook or just googling the target's email address. Obviously, these things are more relevant on the CONUS L.E. side.

  8. #28
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Deception and Bias

    Deception and bias are of particular concern. These sources may also convey one message in English for US or international consumption and a different non-English message for local or regional consumption. It is important to know the background of open sources and the purpose of the public information in order to distinguish objective, factual information from information that lacks merit, contains bias, or is part of an effort to deceive the reader.
    Bill Mera has some good strong points on this. My experiences in Sub-Sahara and Estonia often led to confrontation at the embassy. Reporting variations were at times near opposite and worse, irreconcilable. Those with greater rank, simply jammed their version down the tube.

    The FM is certainly better than some of the "100 dash Ones" from my days in the early 80's.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by bismark17
    ...The new Army Intel Analysis manual is pretty good. FM34-3???...
    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh
    ...FM 34-3 Intelligence Analysis, dated Mar 90, is readily available - but that version is dated. There was a much-improved draft dated May 98, but that isn't generally available. A new version has been in the works for a long time....
    A Draft - Not For Implementation copy of the new FOUO FM 2-33.4 Intelligence Analysis in now available for review to those with an AKO log-in. It has significantly changed from the previous versions that I referred to in my earlier post.

  10. #30
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Open Source

    Jed,
    It's getting better. I see some good improvements over the previous version. It will get even more practical as people use it and provide input.

    It literally stands on OSINT as if this was the singular source and doesn't strike differences in clear terms for the typical Joe. A paragraph or two is used to strike distictions in intel gathering.

    Relationships between two propositions with similar content and predicate, but differing in quantity or quality as in pro-govt. vs oppostion views are missing. Those situations tend to come up each day. Who then decides which version is more correct without anything else to go on ?

    Those tend to be harder to grasp even for a seasoned player with a language background. Only with time does such an understanding come. How much time do we then allow before concluding the source is reliable ? It is after all, open and subject to 'opinions'.

    The DC end of the coin has to make sense of this source. The FM doesn't address this adequately in my opinion. The end user will then determine on his/her own the significance ?

    We often received inquiries from DC to recheck our info. Our views then were not just open, but from several sources put together in order to conclude we knew what we were talking about.

    I welcome the FM and hope for success....Go Rangers !
    Regards, Stan

  11. #31
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    I've been doing some IPB on a new AO, and have been using a massive amount of OSINT to do it. I balance it out with the classified stuff I get, but for the most part, between media from the region, media in the US, and scholastic reports on the history of the AO, I have a much better overall understanding of the AO and can convey that to my commander. I am definitely an OSINT convert after these past two weeks!

  12. #32
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Dusty

    Welcome !
    That would be my point, dead on.
    Take it in, but back it up with something more credible.
    Good on ya !

  13. #33
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    Default DNI Open Source Conference 2007

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    On July 16-17, Chris Pallaris, Sean Costigan and I attended the DNI Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) Conference in Washington, DC. The most important message that emerged from the two day session was that OSINT is no longer "nice to have", rather it is an absolute imperative in our contemporary world of complex, asymmetric and non-linear security threats.
    Read here descriptions of the panel sessions and download selected power point presentations.

  14. #34
    Council Member Dominique R. Poirier's Avatar
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    In my own opinion, a good specialist armed, once and for all, with solid real world knowledge in politics in general and about a given country or region can make surprisingly good analysis, and even accurate forecasts in politics and strategy on the sole basis of open sources.
    However, it is understood that, in that case, analysis and forecast are likely to loose in accuracy with time since real world knowledge are not exempt from changes and evolutions. The pace of this observable decrease in accuracy depends of the observed country or region and of the significant political events or upheavals (publicly known or not) happening in them.

    I see that correct deductions and forecasts exclusively based upon open sources owe to two ways of analyzing open sources which are: the formal analysis of the open sources per se; and perception management analysis. Other factors linked to the specifics of the observed country (when the object of our attention happens to be a country in particular) will provide the analyst a basis which will help detecting deception attempts. Iíll probably not tell anything new if I say that if the formal content of a given media known for its inclination to practice deception is therefore of relatively poor value, then we may consider it otherwise when analyzing it under the angle of perception management.

    What happens when it comes to Army intelligence operations (a field about which I bloody don't know anything)? I admit that things might be ruled otherwise, then; especially if the enemy is not a nation or a country with a government and its own national media and is, or is not, acting as proxy.

    So Iíll read this manual with great interest.

  15. #35
    Council Member sgmgrumpy's Avatar
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    Default Open Source Intelligence Familiarization Documents

    Open Source Intelligence Familiarization Documents

    The intent of this single-page document is to share basic knowledge about Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). From OSS net

    Version 2, May 2006

  16. #36
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    CRS, 5 Dec 07: Open Source Intelligence (OSINT): Issues for Congress
    Open source information (OSINT) is derived from newspapers, journals, radio and television, and the Internet. Intelligence analysts have long used such information to supplement classified data, but systematically collecting open source information has not been a priority of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). In recent years, given changes in the international environment, there have been calls, from Congress and the 9/11 Commission among others, for a more intense and focused investment in open source collection and analysis. However, some still emphasize that the primary business of intelligence continues to be obtaining and analyzing secrets.

    A consensus now exists that OSINT must be systematically collected and should constitute an essential component of analytical products. This has been recognized by various commissions and in statutes. Responding to legislative direction, the Intelligence Community has established the position of Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Open Source and created the National Open Source Center. The goal is to perform specialized OSINT acquisition and analysis functions and create a center of excellence that will support and encourage all intelligence agencies.

    The effort has been only underway since late 2005 but the Center is up and running, and providing support, including training, to OSINT professionals throughout the Intelligence Community. Administrative mechanisms are in place to ensure that there is a comprehensive community-wide open source effort. It appears, however, to some observers that not all agencies have as yet made comprehensive commitments to acquiring and using open source information, nor that the ODNI has taken sufficient steps to ensure that open sources are appropriately exploited. Observers suggest that congressional oversight of the OSINT process might provide insight into current progress as well as identify areas that need modification. A particular focus of congressional interest might be potential tradeoffs between classified and open source collection to ensure that needed information is obtained in the best and most cost-effective manner. Proponents maintain that this approach helps to ensure that agents and expensive surveillance systems are focused on obtaining information that is being actively hidden.

    The collection and analysis of OSINT information will be ultimately judged by its contribution to the overall intelligence effort. Collecting information from open sources is generally less expensive and less risky than collection from other intelligence sources. The use of OSINT may result not only in monetary savings but also in less risk than utilizing sensitive technical and human sources. OSINT can also provide insights into the types of developments that may not be on the priority list for other systems or may not be susceptible to collection through other intelligence approaches — innovative applications of new technologies, shifts in popular attitudes, emergence of new political and religious movements, growing popular discontent, disillusionment with leadership, etc. Supporters of OSINT maintain that the future contribution of the Intelligence Community will be enhanced by its ability to provide detailed information and incisive analyses of such developments. This report will be updated as new information becomes available.
    Complete 27 page report at the link.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 12-13-2007 at 03:40 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    CRS, 5 Dec 07: Open Source Intelligence (OSINT): Issues for Congress

    Complete 27 page report at the link.
    I just finished reading it during my ferry commute home. I need some time to think about the implications, but I'm concerned about the lack of commitment to OSINT on the part of so many in leadership positions.

    I see that DHS is farming out it's OSINT duties to the SITE Institute. I'm inclined to support that model for the entire IC - i.e., farm out OSINT collection and analysis to small niche firms that have the skills, the people, and the agility to do it properly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgmgrumpy View Post
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    Read here descriptions of the panel sessions and download selected power point presentations.
    Wow. This is a treasure trove. Thanks, grumpy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffC
    I see that DHS is farming out it's OSINT duties to the SITE Institute. I'm inclined to support that model for the entire IC - i.e., farm out OSINT collection and analysis to small niche firms that have the skills, the people, and the agility to do it properly.
    Your statement implies that the IC does not have the skills, people or agility to conduct effective analysis of open sources. I beg to differ. (although I would definitely state that neither DHS nor the Bureau have those resources - they are both still struggling to develop their emerging intel capabilities into something approaching minimally capable)

    In sum, any properly trained and experienced intelligence professional is fully capable of effectively exploiting open source material. The fundamental tradecraft of the intelligence analyst remains the same whether the material is unclass or on the high side.

    The primary struggle is with collection. Given the overwhelming amount of information available through a broad spectrum of media in a babble of languages, dialects and local jargon, collection structures have yet to meet the needs of analysts serving agencies with widely differing collection priorities. That problem is critical enough to justify contracting out certain specific types of collection.

    However, although analytic products obtained from third party vendors are also valuable information sources (and the government has long used such vendors to conduct special studies), regular analytic production should not be outsourced - for what should be very obvious reasons.

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    I completely agree with Ted.

    I would also add--as someone who works with both OSINT as well as very high end classified material, that I think its very important that the streams not be too separated, since one is often needed to make sense of the other (certainly for the kind of assessment work I've done).

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