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Thread: The Search for Strategic Intelligence

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default The Search for Strategic Intelligence

    Over the past 8 years I have served in 3 separate 4-Star Headquarters (Army Staff, PACOM/SOCPAC, and SOCOM), and have always been amazed at the level of intel product that has been requested, expected, provided, accepted.

    Invariably it has been very very tactical in nature. Even if they looked at a broad area, they still focus on and talk about very tactical intelligence. Not that this is bad information, but it does tend to draw senior leaders down into the weeds that they grew up in and are comfortable with (plus it is sexy and fun) as opposed to much larger perspectives and issues that are the turf that these respective commands really need to be focused upon.

    So, here is my question: WHAT exactly is strategic intelligence? and why is it so rarely asked for, and even more rarely provided?

    Some thoughts on this as I work on some projects in my lane:

    1. What types of Competitors are associated with a problem, probably laid out in 3 tiers from those directly engaged, those 1 degree of separation away, and those 2 degrees of separation away.
    a. Who are the state actors?
    1. Nuclear States
    2. Non-nuclear States
    3. Failing States
    4. Criminal States

    b. Who are the non-state actors working within these states and what are their relationships to the same and each other?
    1. Quasi-State Competitors (LH, Hamas, etc)
    2. Non-State Competitiors (AQ, Exxon, Red Cross, etc)
    3. Insurgent Competitors (Taliban, MILF, etc)
    4. Dissident Competitors (Green Peace, Individuals)

    c. Of all of these, what are there stated and implied interests, and where are there points of shared interests and conflicting interests (goes to opportunities, risks, and predicting likely respones to various COAs)

    These are things I think about, but get the 1,000 yard stare when I ask the intel guys about the same. Does anyone else have thoughts on what "strategic intelligence" should be?
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    BW,

    Good and timely post. I'll try to provide some detailed thoughts later when I have some more time.

    In my experience (EUCOM, CENTCOM), "strategic intelligence" at that level is closely tied to the strategic warning function, which is usually under-resourced. Most intel people are forced into current intelligence to support the crisis du jour, so don't have much opportunity to research and examine the things you list. If you haven't already, I recommend you go talk to the people (or person) in the strategic warning shop and see what they have to say.

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    Council Member max161's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    BW,

    Good and timely post. I'll try to provide some detailed thoughts later when I have some more time.

    In my experience (EUCOM, CENTCOM), "strategic intelligence" at that level is closely tied to the strategic warning function, which is usually under-resourced. Most intel people are forced into current intelligence to support the crisis du jour, so don't have much opportunity to research and examine the things you list. If you haven't already, I recommend you go talk to the people (or person) in the strategic warning shop and see what they have to say.
    Don't know if this is true but I heard a statistic that during the Cold War 75% of our intelligence professionals were focused on long term analysis with 25% on current intelligence production. However, in the post Cold War World the percentages are supposedly reversed. While those stats may be an exaggeration I would bet the concept is illustrative.

    Part of the "problem" is the huge amount of information available and the proliferation of electronic media (both of the electronic storage kind but also of the broadcast kind - e.g., 24 hour news cycles). The real problem we have is when leaders say that they do not want to hear about it first on CNN or read about it first in the Washington Post. This drives our intel focus to current ops reporting so they do not get "scooped" by the news media. Again, this may be an exaggeration but I also think it is instructive. We need intel analysis that is useful not just immediately for targeting (the sexy stuff that Bob means, I think) but to allow for sound strategy development and effective campaign planning. We have to stop "chasing the shiny thing" (and there are good intelligence organizations that can do the targeting piece - but our theater level HQ, services, and national level leaders need good, thorough and useful analysis.

    Dave
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    As Dave points out, we had a better balance of our approach to intel during the Cold War. Personally, I attribute much of this to everyone having a better grasp on what it was we were trying to do. The Soviets were a state like us, so we could mirrror image in large part and figure out what might most likely deter or provoke them.

    AQ, on the other hand, is not like us at all. Therefore we have necked it down to a simple "We must capture or kill them as they cannot be deterred."

    So what comes first, the proverbial chicken or the egg. Will once we achieve greater strategic understanding of this new threat, played in this new post cold war playing field/rules, we will be better able to focus our strategic intelliegence?

    Or,

    Will the intel community step up to the challenge that they cannot simply provide weather and threat info, and provide the insights that help senior leaders develop effective strategies for these new threats in this new playing field with new rules??

    Intel guys, I'm asking. Seriously.

    I will be sitting down with our guys and having this same conversation next week, so here is your chance to influence that conversation. I don't know what the right answer is, but I know what we've been doing isn't it.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    I concur with Entropy's statement about the neglect of strategic I&W in the COE. But ultimately, the shape of intelligence work is driven by consumer demand - Max's comment about Cold War intel reflects the perspective at the time that we had a (relatively) well understood adversary, and at the national command level consumers were focused on identifying their global strategic moves with regards to resources and positioning with enough lead time so that action could be initiated. Cold War intelligence consumers demanded accurate strategic warning intelligence.

    Even then, there were often substantial issues and problems with strategic intelligence in general, and I&W in particular. Grabo's Anticipating Surprise: Analysis for Strategic Warning remains the classic read in that context.

    As you state, today's environment is very different. The focus too often tends to be down in the weeds, and everyone is a tactical analyst, looking for the next attack and the HVT of the week.

    However, I don't believe it is a matter of the IC "stepping up to the challenge", but rather one of the consumer being educated on the necessity of true strategic focus. Without real consumer demand, the IC will not effectively resource or focus on strategic I&W in a manner in which we seemingly agree is a practical necessity. In this context, resource and focus also pertains to the fundamental building blocks of competence - training and mentoring analysts to effectively perform this type of task. The longer that true strategic I&W is relegated to the sidelines, the fewer people we end up with who are competent at the task and the harder it will be to rebuild the capability. This is a problem that can only be truly fixed at the most senior levels.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Strategic intelligence like other types of intelligence can be a "leap in the dark" and as long as those involved as consumers and providers understand that is a first. Some "insiders" even suggest educating the consumers, the politicians; hardly an easy task assuming agreement.

    Is strategic intelligence 'Driving a car by looking out of the rear window only', a pertinent point made by an insider who looks ahead. We do need to think a lot harder.

    The UK prides itself on the work of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC, a central co-ordination function); see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_I...United_Kingdom) and the official site: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/secu...committee.aspx . A ppt is on: http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets...el_Goodman.pdf

    Mirroring BW's comments a Whitehall "insider" recently commentedin a speech:
    JIC was very bad at predicting the onset of crisis; it was very good at predicting the course of a crisis.
    And called for the involvement of outsiders to get real innovation, citing the Double Cross counter-intelligence success in WW2 reliance on Oxbridge brain power. A lot depends on the method used to follow history; a better method was not events but the broad impact of technological advances e.g. radio and direction-finding.

    UK intelligence historians often refer to the 1982 Nicoll Report as seminal in describing how faulty intelligence assessment is; not fully in the public domain, but this helps: http://www.essex.ac.uk/ecpr/events/g...ers/PP1729.pdf Behind a 'pay wall' is this: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/con...ent=a782893438 which has a redacted copy of the report.

    The role of analysts is covered by: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-f...in-the-uk.html

    This point reminds me of the value given to HUMINT in the past thirty years has varied, often with a preference for other sources (SIGINT, IMINT etc). I have seen the use of low grade human sources almost disappear in LE, in preference use is made of the directed, paid informant on priority tasks.

    Who would have thought the UK, let alone others, would have 9k troops in Afghanistan today? After all we left South Asia independent in 1947 and had kept out of Afghanistan as much as possible for a long time.

    Judgement is what the consumer seeks in intelligence & warning and often that means saying what is going wrong. Judgement today depends on relationships, situational awareness, many other factors and not as most analysts I know prefer just information.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-31-2009 at 10:08 PM. Reason: Slow assembly and adding links.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    David,

    I suspect that the national interest that the UK is servicing in AFG today, is the one of sustaining a good relationship with the US. We've put a lot of pressure on good friends, and it is wearing.

    Good point though that it is up to senior leaders to elevate their sights, but I will not use that bit of reality to take the pressure off of the intel guys to be a little proactive...
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default 2007 CIA article

    A useful article, from the CIA viewpoint and asking all the right questions in 2007 is: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-f...elligence.html

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Sir, your approach sounds like common sense to me.

    I assumed a lot of things the last eight years. As I've been allowed to see more "behind the curtain," I return more disillusioned.

    My answer is to start firing folks. That is one way to stir up a bureaucracy.

    Keep at where you're headed and let us know what you find.

    Mike

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    I strongly suspect that perspectives on this very much depend on where one sits, or which shop one works in. I also suspect there is also a lack of consensus as to what strategic intel looks like, what time frames it ought to address, and whether it is actually much use. (I can think of a number of folks who would argue that, warning aside, it is actually not very useful at all.)

    I can't comment on the down-in-the-weeds immediate threat material because I don't dealt with it. There is, however, a massive amount of medium term assessment (6-12 months), which addresses the full range of significant political, security, socioeconomic, ideological, and other trends. It is also typically pretty good in terms of accuracy--one recent unclassified calibration study of Canadian intel product found a 90%+ predictive accuracy rate.

    In my experience, although this stuff is good building-block material for broader strategic planning, policy-makers rarely use it in that way, nor do they want product that looks much beyond the medium term, nor are they banging down anyone's door demanding strategic intel product.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    I would think that for Intelligence to be Strategic it would need to be that information to be collected in support of some Strategy. Or more important in support of some Grand Strategy, which during the Cold War dealt partially with containment but also with insuring that our internal economic and social conditions were sound and we were prospering as a nation in order to avoid war.

    As I mentioned earlier on another thread one of the first houses my parents bought was totally electric because our future plan (as a Nation)was to build atomic power plants to power our future electictronics....Our Electric future as it was called and was part of the marketing plan at the housing development.

    I have not seen anything close to any type of National Plan since then, exception was Carter's plan to reduce our dependence on foreign Oil, which was rescinded by Regan and we have been going down hill ever since.

    Sort of a ramble but my point is before we start to collect Intelligence maybe we should develop a National Strategy First which would include an Energy Policy of the highest priority.

    Other than that you are going to end up with an ever growing list of motivated targets looking for opportunities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF
    ...My answer is to start firing folks. That is one way to stir up a bureaucracy....
    I wholeheartedly agree with you. But my experience over the past couple of decades is that it is far easier said than done. The old adage #### up, move up I've seen function in the intel world so often its painful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen
    ....policy-makers rarely use it in that way, nor do they want product that looks much beyond the medium term, nor are they banging down anyone's door demanding strategic intel product....
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that Bob isn't just talking about civilian policy-makers, but also senior military planners and decision-makers. Unfortunately, (but perhaps Bob has a different perspective) I also don't see senior military leaders banging down the intel shop's door demanding strategic product in the context of this discussion.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World
    ...I will not use that bit of reality to take the pressure off of the intel guys to be a little proactive...
    It all comes down to leadership. By all means come down hard on the commander/supervisor/manager of the intel domain that supports you. State clearly what you want, why you want it, and why current production is failing to meet your needs. Put it in writing and CC the appropriate people. The analysts doing the grunt work will only be proactive and produce at a level beyond what exists in current requests and tasks if their leadership resources and incentivizes that sort of production.

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default I don't want to take away from...

    COL Jones' points. They are important, but I get excited when Jedburgh steps outside the norm to comment. His insight are often very informative. As for me, y'all will realize that I use this forum to talk about things that I can't typically do in real life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    I wholeheartedly agree with you. But my experience over the past couple of decades is that it is far easier said than done. The old adage #### up, move up I've seen function in the intel world so often its painful.
    Tom and I had this discussion earlier in conversations about intelligence. Here's the worst example that I endured wrt manuever,

    "Mike, I'm going to send you to x place to un#### y battalion."

    "Sir, I'm just a company commander."

    "Mike, I know, but you can handle it."

    "Roger, sir."


    Mike

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    There was a definitive period in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War--when the Berlin wall came down--and all the old parameters seemed to vaporize leaving leaders--both operator and intelligence--uncomfortable in the extreme with the changes. In writing the forward to my memoirs, GEN (ret) Denny Reimer chose to focus on that period.

    The realization that suddenly the US did not have huge data banks of information and years of looking at it when it came to dealing with emerging crises in the Balkans, Africa, and the Middle East was earth shattering to many. Consider also that the same elements in the strategic community that had built the huge apparatus to study the Soviets then sought to rob the capabilities watching the rest of the world to meet the challenge of the newly emerging republics.

    I contend that what passed as strategic intelligence during the Cold War--especially that targeted toward the Warsaw Pact--was very much an institutionalized comfort blanket. Saying the same things over and over again--while they may have in fact been correct--became more important that detecting changes.

    I can tell you where the two worlds of Cold War strategic intelligence and the post-Cold War confusion met head on: Desert Shield when DIA, CIA, and the service intelligence systems had to focus on a non-WP enemy. The DCSINT of the US Army was lost in space--he just never got it and he really didn't try. Note that in Jan 1990 at the World Wide Threat Conference, he as a former J2 CENTCOM and now DCSINT of the Army removed iraq from the threat list. GEM Schwartzkopf went ballistic at the conference. I knew nothing of this as I took over the middle east current intel desk in June 1990; I got roasted by the Dep DCSINT for daring to say in early July 1990 that conditions in the region were favorable for a war. The DCSINT to the day that Saddam invade Kuwait insisted that it was all bluff. Afterwards he said "we" a lot when offering mea culpas.

    In facing Desert Shield the strategic community was forced by conditions on the ground to take over tactical analysis to a very large degree, something it was ill-suited to do but did so anyway. That later paid a very large part in the idea that reachback was somehow better than eyes on the ground.

    Had lunch a week ago with senior official whom I worked with on Rwanda. that official referred to Rwanda as a time when Washington thought it knew what was going on in the region better than those in the region. Maybe things have changed; I am not so sure but I am hopeful.

    Tom

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    As an example, we tend to assign tremendous resouces to look at specific problems. "You guys look at China, you guys look at AQ, etc."

    But who is looking at the big picture? And for those looking at specific problems, who is looking at the context of things within those problems against the big picture? Who is assessing strategic risks and effects across the cumulative effects of how all these many, often seemingly unrelated, but all ultimately connected, things so that the guys starring down their respective soda straws can have some context?

    Even within the specific lanes, you don't find the understanding of the larger problem that you would expect. Guys who focus on GWOT don't really have a tremendous understanding of the nature of insurgency, and insurgency related conflicts. They just focus on the players. If you also don't understand the game being played, there is no way you are going to make the right assessments of what the players moves mean.

    But then pull up a level from that and ask, ok, so how does this AQ thing pan out in the larger mix of competitors, challengers, friends, threats, risks, opportunities, etc around the globe? What effect on overall national security to all threats if we take this particular course on this threat? (answer: I just look at this threat, and then only in the narrow context of what they can do to us and what we can do to them, so not only do I not really understand what their actions mean or what the likely second order effects of executing the actions I propose, but I certainly don't have an opinion as to how it would impact our relations with some party, friend or foe, on the other side of the globe...)

    Obviously better interaction and fusion within staffs, between staffs, between agencies, and between states all serves to mitigate this effect. But if they all start by shaping the left and right limits of their interaction by a very narrow intel product....

    I have thoughts on areas and considerations, just seeing if others have considered this as well.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 11-01-2009 at 11:38 AM.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    I am rather cynical Bob, more than anything else some way some how it is always about the money. And based upon that, financial intelligence is the easiest way to understand a situation and it is usually the best predictor of a situation. Every once in a while you get a wild card and some unusual event will happen but more often than not it comes down to somebodies bottom line. When the FBI first started the primary people they hired were lawyers and accountants. Your thoughts?
    Last edited by slapout9; 11-01-2009 at 12:18 PM. Reason: stuff

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    As an example, we tend to assign tremendous resouces to look at specific problems. "You guys look at China, you guys look at AQ, etc."
    Another problem of this approach is that the topics get their own lobby that often fails to understand the appropriate weight of the topic in relation to other topics.
    That in turn leads to a poor understanding of necessary priorities at the higher level.

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    Default Follow the cash...

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    And based upon that, financial intelligence is the easiest way to understand a situation and it is usually the best predictor of a situation. Every once in a while you get a wild card and some unusual event will happen but more often than not it comes down to somebodies bottom line.
    Too true.

    Why did only certain areas in Mosul have waterlines? What facilities were electrified? Who was fighting to have what repaired/built? What companies were to do the work and who were they connected to? It was wise to think about mom (method, opportunity, motive), stakeholder analysis, swot, and vrine
    Sapere Aude

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    ....financial intelligence is the easiest way to understand a situation and it is usually the best predictor of a situation. Every once in a while you get a wild card and some unusual event will happen but more often than not it comes down to somebodies bottom line....
    Slap, while in many cases, I'd agree with you, I feel that as a general statement it is simplistic and flawed.

    I would argue that interest-based intelligence is a better descriptor of the critical piece of understanding you're trying to get across. This is a broader label that includes the financial aspect. A given target's interests may be fundamentally financial/economic, but often they are more nuanced. There's the old seeking for power and influence, within the unique context of the target, as well as interests driven by ethno-cultural and socio-political standing. These may also have financial/economic links, but the structure of those linkages may not appear strong or important enough to the analyst lacking an understanding of the other factors.

    The tools that SB brings up, SWOT, VRINE, etc. can be very useful, but as with all analytic tools we have to be very careful about mirror-imaging and have the mental agility to innovate and modify those tools to fit the task at hand. This is necessary in many cases to move beyond purely financial/economic models and integrate the full spectrum of target interests into the analysis.

    There is a real danger of bias and false assessments/conclusions in applying LE, business or any form of analytic tool in a cookie-cutter approach to strategic or any other type of analysis in the context of COIN, CT, FID, Stability Ops etc. etc.

    I find real value in using matrices and qualitative modeling for analysis, but I've found that contextual differences tend to require tweaking the model to ensure accurate results. Look at attempts to use criminal intelligence hot spot mapping to the counter-IED fight. At a higher level, there's also Rossmo's Geographic Profiling; its a very effective methodology - in its original context - that integrates a number of other proven investigative techniques. However, although some have tried, it doesn't transfer in its original form to an effective analytic method against insurgents or terrorists. But with substantive modification, it can.

    As another example, the Getting to Yes Workbook contains a number of charts and matrices that can be very useful for the analyst developing a mental picture of the target when suitably modified for context. Their use certainly applies well beyond the negotiation scenario for which they were originally designed.

    In the end, what my disjointed Sunday morning rambling boils down to is that intelligence analytic tradecraft requires mental agility and analytic innovation by professionals who also possess a solid in-depth understanding of the target situation. If we don't have enough people with both characteristics, then we don't have an effective intelligence capability.

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    Col. Jones,
    A few more thoughts on your post:
    WHAT exactly is strategic intelligence?
    There are the book answers, but I think strategic intel can be divided into two categories: (1) Strategic warning and (2) strategic estimates that support policy. One aspect of Strategic intelligence that I believe is important is that it must be purposely limited (or focused) in some way to make it manageable and meaningful. Just because the issues may be "big picture" doesn't mean they can be open-ended or unlimited in scope. That why intel shops (and even CoCOMS) have specific responsibilities and that is why, I believe, there aren't many people dedicated to looking at the "big picture."

    Warning is very broad and deep from an intelligence perspective since it can include any kind of intelligence (including a lot of tactical intel) and is continually updated, so it is also timely. It is functionally limited, however, to the narrow purpose of preventing surprise. That narrow purpose makes it manageable.

    Estimates, by contrast, are not functionally limited. Instead, the scope of intelligence is limited as well as the time frame (ie. Itís difficult to keep the estimate continuously current). The NIE is the most obvious example of this kind of strategic intel.

    why is it so rarely asked for, and even more rarely provided?
    A few reasons (which are only my subjective, but informed opinion):

    - Military commanders are used to tactical and operational intelligence and they want what they know (a point you touched on).

    - Military intelligence people are trained in tactical and operational intelligence support and they provide what they know. It's easy to see how ops and intel people reinforce each otherís tendency to stay inside the operational/tactical box. Personally, I didn't begin to develop a strategic mindset until graduate school because my entire military experience was at the tactical and operational levels. So strategic education and training for intelligence people and senior leaders is necessary and it's simply not happening.

    - The strategic questions that many want answered are usually too broad and unfocused to be practically answered. Consider the issues you list in your original post. You have probably hundreds doctoral theses worth of research and analysis in there. The questions you want answered require the kind of knowledge that is both a mile wide and a mile deep. I submit that itís impossible to continuously maintain that level of expertise. The intel community works on such big questions through committees of experts who have the mile deep knowledge and together they potentially reach the mile-deep and mile-wide goal. They canít sustain that, though, because they have to maintain their expertise. Now, there are certainly those who look at strategic problems through the mile-wide, inch-deep model. That is the realm of politicians, pundits and current intelligence. A middle ground is difficult to find. Be glad your intel people gave you a 1000 yard stare instead of trying to give you a shallow ďFred BarnesĒ answer.

    - The cost-benefit of resourcing strategic intel vs. current/tactical/operational is perceived to be low most of the time for a variety of reasons one could write a book on. One reason is the "what have you done for me lately" syndrome. The guy who produces daily or weekly and can answer tactical and operational questions in minutes or hours is simply more valued than the guy who produces quarterly or semi-annually and needs weeks or months to answer strategic questions. For example, the history of strategic warning since 1947 shows a recurring pattern:
    1. Resources get pulled out of strategic warning to support something else.
    2. A major warning failure occurs.
    3. The AAR identifies lack of support to strategic warning as a major factor in the failure.
    4. Strategic warning becomes well-resourced and respected in the immediate aftermath.
    5. Memories are short and pretty soon the leadership begins wondering why so much is going to the warning function when they don't appear to be doing much of anything.
    6. Return to step 1.

    There is also the problem that significant resources can be spent on a strategic subject that turns out to be irrelevant or simply confirms the common wisdom. Leaders then view the effort as wasted. That's not nearly as a big a problem at the operational and tactical level.

    - Strategic intel requires direction and the continuous support of leadership. Unlike other types of intelligence, it can't be done ad hoc or as an additional or secondary duty. It's hard to overestimate how important that is. No analyst, no matter how proactive, is going to be able to answer those questions you listed unless that is their primary job. If you want them to be able to answer strategic-level intel questions then you need to get them out of the tactical and operation environment and assign them to work on strategic-level intelligence, exclusively.

    - Strategic intel usually requires a depth of knowledge that is incompatible with the 2-3 year PCS cycle and the frequent internal moves over the course of one assignment. When I was at EUCOM, for example, I was in training for 3 months, on a watchfloor supporting theater units for 8 months, in an analysis shop doing mainly operational-level analysis (with a bit of what I'd call strategic) for six months, supporting a war (Allied Force) for 4 months, back to the analysis shop for 3 months, then PCS. Also, a turnover with your replacement is almost always inadequate (a couple of weeks usually) and is often nonexistent since assignments (at least in my experience) are frequently gaped. It's not hard to get quickly spun-up to support current intel. It's very hard to get spun-up on strategic topics because the required depth-of-knowledge is so great.

    - Strategic intel has been intentionally and unintentionally outsourced. Most inputs into strategic intel are open-source, so the unclassified guys (Janes, EIU, etc.) can seriously compete. The obsession with current intel and punditry doesnít help.

    - Stovepiping, which is still a problem. Strategic intelligence questions are almost always interdisciplinary and it's unlikely a CoCOM or any one agency will have all the expertise in-house. Getting analysts at another agency to help you with your problem can be a bureaucratic nightmare unless you're at the NSC-level and can order production of an NIE and force the various agencies to participate.

    -Communication. Requests for analysis and information are invariably altered as they pass through layers of bureaucracy so the problem an analysts gets is often much different from what the originator wanted. Iíve seen this particularly with sycophantic officers who, upon hearing a question from the General during a briefing, will order up reams of wide-ranging analysis for what was only a simple clarification. More wasted effort is the result.

    - Finally, there is asking the right question, which is more difficult than most people think. IOW, defining the intelligence requirement is critically important. This requires collaboration between the analyst and the ďcustomerĒ to determine exactly what is and is NOT needed. Itís important that the problem not be too open-ended but it also canít be overly narrow. The latter was a serious flaw in the Iraq WMD NIE which led to OIF. Hereís how Robert Clark puts it in his book on intelligence analysis:

    The problem definition was focused solely on the question of whether Iraq had WMD programs, and if so, what they were. By focusing on weapons of mass destruction, analysts had a tendency to fit all evidence into a WMD model. Analysts assumed that Iraq had WMD programs, and analysis proceeded from that point. A broader look at Iraqís overall military capability would have found more logical explanations for some of the evidence.
    I think your issues are worth exploring. I think you need to sell the idea to your leadership in order to get the resources. I think youíd be best served by forming a group of experts to look at your issues and giving them the time and resources necessary to examine your issues. As I mentioned to you in another thread, a Commander's priority intelligence requirements (PIR's) are how intel people prioritize intelligence production. Changing the PIR's to strategic priorities is an important first step. Good luck!

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