Value of Strategic Intelligence to National Policy and Decision Makers

Subject: Political
Type: Evaluation Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1400
Topics: Government, Public Policy

Strategic intelligence according to Pentagon is the essential intelligence required in formulating and executing a strategy, policy, military strategies, and tasks. It involves gathering, processing, investigation and dispensation of information needed in the development of policies as well as military tactics both in the homeland and international arena and involves the qualities that make leaders to be effective. Strategic intelligence involves 17 bodies that facilitate the whole process of intelligence, which forms a cycle of five components involving planning and direction, collection, processing, analysis and finally dissemination. The paper seeks to analyze the importance of strategic intelligence to policy and decision makers as well as the disciplines involved in collecting intelligence information.

Importance of Strategic Intelligence to Policy and Decision Makers 

Strategic intelligence supports the policy and decision makers on issues facing the national security. Individuals in the Intelligence Community (IC) guide the policy and decision makers by providing them with expert analysis of useful information. Although information means anything that could be known, strategic intelligence information is a refined subset that retorts to particular requirements of the decision and policy makers.  For instance, the CIA, which contains four directorates, is the most useful body in terms of acquiring strategic intelligence information required by decision makers. According to Joseph Wippl, NCS one of the CIA directorates acquires more information related to political matters and media; since, it is allowed to engage in spying, undertake clandestine actions, counterintelligence, as well as provide information about special operations. This information is critical for decision makers who are able to make the necessary arrangements of combat actions if the information provided indicates the possibility of an attack. The NCS fortifies, the national security as well as the foreign policy aims through its secretive activities of collecting the human intelligence as well as through covert actions. 

Nevertheless, the strategic information is important in preparing the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) that is based on the up-to-date intelligence. PDB provides information about what has occurred within the 24 hours and what is expected within the coming 24 hours.  The PDB is a highly confidential report provided by the CIA on a daily basis to the president and could be accessed by a few other officials. The report acts as a catalyst for further actions against pressing matters of national security and integrates all information as collected by other security agencies all over the world. Additionally, the PDB also provides the oral part, which is accessible to the few officials and the president. For example, in a particular year during the President Clinton term, about 40 oral briefings were provided in the PDB.

Nevertheless, the National Intelligence Estimates (NIE) is also a source of critical information. It is based on investigative intelligence designed to provide decision and policy makers with more detailed information on interesting topics such as the current North Korea nuclear project.  NIE provide information that has been collected and evaluated from the different sources of information; with an aim of assisting the president and other officials secure the nation against any form of attack by providing an in-depth understanding of foreign leaders, their plans and the military as well as economic capabilities of the nations they lead.  For instance, the NIE provided a balance between strategic nuclear in USSR and US in 1992.

Strategic intelligence is also valuable in making budgetary decisions. The earlier failures have been linked to weak intelligence system, hence the decision for the policy makers to increase more funds in an attempt to sophisticate the intelligence system. The number of CIA was increased to almost 30,000 while the FBI was increased to 15000 after the 9/11 attacks, while the budgetary allocation on counterterrorism activities have escalated to about $44 billion. However, the logic behind the increased budget and its outcome is controversial; there is significant improvement on the SIGINT type of information gathering.

The need to collaborate the five basic methods of collecting intelligence 

The value of strategic intelligence to the policy and decision makers could be understood better by understanding the intelligence cycle. The cycle defines the process through which the intelligence is acquired up to when it is made available for processing. However emphasis is made on the collection of the intelligence information, which is the most challenging part of the intelligence process. There are different types of disciplines used in collecting intelligence information as discussed below.

HUMINT is the first one and it involves the information acquired from the human sources. HUMMIT is synonymous with spying/espionage as well as the clandestine operations. However, this method is also achieved through the covert individuals such as military attaches. It is the main method applied by the CIA in acquiring important information required by decision makers. The SIGINT intelligence involves the information acquired through the interception of information either singly or on collective manner of the electronic, communications, and foreign instrumentation signal intelligences. This information aims at the video, voice, Morse code traffic and many others. MASINT on the other hand involves the information acquired through qualitative and quantitative analysis obtained from the technical sensors used to pinpoint the variances between the emitter and sender. OSINT, which is the open source intelligence, entails the use of obtainable in the public by the intelligence community as well as other enemies.

An all-source intelligence that combines all the disciplines discussed above is necessary in ensuring that the policy makers have comprehensive information. The PDB and the NIE are examples of the all-source intelligence model that ensures the policy and decision makers have almost all that is required to make their decision. The traditional way of acquiring information was based on seclusion, which always led to nothing but guesswork. Additionally, there is an increased demand and expectations by the policy makers on the need of more real-time information, especially due to the increased diversity of danger activities involving, terrorism, drugs trafficking and nuclear issues. Increased intelligence information and the failures from the past intelligence actions have all led to the need of collaboration of these methods of data collection. However, collaboration of the methods could help the decision and policy makers have an up-to-date feeling of what to collect. As a result collaboration of the various disciplines of collecting information would improve the intelligence process. For instance, the occurrence of the 9/11 attacks led to strong criticism of the FBI on failure to focus on the terrorism attack despite its speculation since 1998. Nevertheless, the agency was also blamed for failing to gather and analyze the intelligence strategically as well as its failure to share its information with other agencies in the intelligence community and its own components. Despite that the attack was sudden, that no one could tell the precise time and where, there could have been some efforts towards preventing the terrorism act.  Furthermore, the decision on invading Iraq on allegations that the country had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) could have been verified if the HUMMINT method of information was applied. After Iraq attack, it was found that the country did not have the WMD. However, HUMMINT could have provided concrete information through interrogation and other operations such as clandestine activities. 

In conclusion, strategic intelligence information is of great value to policy and decision makers, as it provides them with expert analysis, real-time and the budgetary limelight. Despite, the various failures in the past, the intelligence community remains as the major source of intelligence information that policy makers rely in an effort to protect US homeland against any form of attack. Collaboration of the different types of intelligence collection is also deemed as critical in minimizing the pitfalls experienced earlier, while improving the efficiency and accuracy of the decision and policy makers.

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