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Our required textbook Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy, is abundant with reasons for intelligence failure. This paper will require the student to approach the subject of intelligence failure from a particular angle, that angle being the Intelligence Cycle.
Each step or phase of the Intelligence Process (Cycle) is a difficult task, and it should not be a surprise when intelligence failure occurs.
The student is requested to identify four different errors that could possibly occur during each of the seven phases of the Intelligence Process. Each error will be described in its own paragraph (for a total of 28 paragraphs), and each paragraph must consist of at least four full sentences which fully describe the error that could occur.
Errors in the 7 Phase Intelligence Cycle (Process)
Intelligence cycle is a step wise process of intelligence gathering by the intelligence community till decisions made on the basis of this gathered and processed information by the policy makers. In the following discussion I have organized the types of errors that might occur at any of the seven phases of the intelligence process.
Phase One – Identifying Requirements
- There is a possibility that an urgent matter on national security has to be addressed. In such urgent cases an expert related to the matter may not be a part of this phase. There might be other experts that are identifying the problems at this stage. This might have serious implication for the later phases of the intelligence cycle as there is a risk that the requirements might not be properly identified.
- We know that all activities of any organization needs a proper set of resources to be provided with. In the process of intelligence activities there is always an issue of properly assigning resources. These problems may arise due to the fact that there are less budgets available to the intelligence agencies by the government.
- There are always chances of some priorities that are in conflict with each other. In such situations, the intelligence agency has to make tough decisions as what way to choose and which one to drop. If a wrong priority is selected, mistakes are possible in the intelligence process at the coming stages.
Phase Two – Collection
- The most important issues is that the collection of data is often provided to private contractors. They might gather more information than needed due to their financial interests. They might even provide false information in cases of conflict of interest. They might opt for expensive collection techniques instead of other techniques that are more beneficial.
- The hidden interests of the intelligence agencies might force to fabricate false information during the collection process. This might lead the whole process of information in a completely different direction. The decisions made on the base of these collected information may not be in public interest and only serve the needs of a few in the higher ranks. This could divert the attention from real issues in hand.
- We live in a technologically advanced age. Technology is given more importance over human resource. This has some implications for the collection process. There could well be a real need to invest human resource for collection. Instead the agency decides that they can collect their desired information by breaching the security of the computers of the suspected people.
Phase Three – Processing and exploitation
- There is more budget allocation to the collection of data in comparison to its processing and exploitation. Collection is done by private contractors in many cases and this arises a financial interest for all involved in the process. Processing and exploitation is an internal agency job therefor not many finances are spent on them. Due to this reason the processing departments might be technically weak and make mistakes.
- There is over abundant data collected to be processed and exploited. There may or may not be enough resources to do the task of processing and exploitation efficiently. As a result there are deficiencies in the process. The collected information may not be fully utilized.
- As less financial resources are allocated to processing and exploration, it could result in technical deficiencies in related departments. This technical deficiencies could well cause unforeseen technical errors. Depending on the nature of these technical errors, processing and exploitation is performed which is not very useful in helping the successful progress of the remaining phases.
Phase Four – Analysis and production
- The agencies sometimes do not have the necessary human or technical skills to analyze data. Sudden issues arise that require quick responses for which the agency is not ready yet. The deficiency of resources causes serious problems in the process of information at all levels. Wrong analysis may be resulted because of this deficiency.
- New software tools are used these days for the analysis of information. There are security risks involved with these software’s. The analysis teams, if not aware of the risks, could prove fatal. Important information can be leaked to the enemies.
- If there is more data than the analysis teams can handle, mistakes are due to happen. These teams might rush with making analysis. They might miss important points that can provide important information about the case under study. The analysis would then be simplistic in nature.
Phase Five – Dissemination
- There can be misunderstanding causing errors in the process due to an uncertainty about who should be the receptor of the report? Should the report be given to someone at the higher level or a lower level? Also how many people should receive the report? Is there one person, a few or many people who should get the report?
- The timing of the report is another issue. For example if the report is submitted at a time when there are other urgent and important tasks in discussion, your report might not get the importance it required. It must be established that how urgently the report must be submitted in order to get proper attention. You can be in contact with the authorities that are making decisions on the report you submitted to know about how they are dealing with your submitted report.
- As there might be many people who will receive the report. Therefore it is important to know which receiver should get how much in length report. Unnecessary lengthy reports should be avoided. They might get overlooked by the concerned authorities and may not play the part that it should have played in the intelligence process.
Phase Six – Consumption
- The reports are often provided on time but the policy community may not be available to receive and read the reports. There is a possibility that they are doing some urgent tasks and have less time to read the reports that are provided to them. There is also a chance that they don’t think that the reports you send is important and they have already enough information about the intelligence.
- The competence levels of the policy community is also a challenge when it comes to the consumption of the reports that are on their table. They might not be competent enough to make decision on the reports submitted to them. This would cause in the wastage of time and even conflicts arising. These conflicts arise when an incompetent person challenges the competence of someone else who is competent enough.
- Reports are addressed on the level of priorities that the issue they are highlighting. In case the policy makers make wrong decisions about addressing a report, problems can arise compromising the utility of the intelligence process. There is a need for the policy makers to set their priorities in accordance to the importance and urgency of their duties.
Phase Seven – Feedback
- If there is not a proper channel or mechanism for the feedback process, its benefits could lost. There could be communication gaps caused by the absence of the proper channels. The feedback could not be then passed on properly and there might be now feedback at all.
- In reality there are less feedbacks as there should have been. This causes problems in making use of the process and hence making the intelligence reports less quality than it actually should be. The intelligence community must try their best to get enough feedback from the policy makers. They can use multiple channels in this regards.
- The time of the policy community is very important. They have to attend meetings and government activities as part of their job. They work from issues to issue. They usually have less time to offer detailed feedback. The might even think that feedback is not a necessary thing to do.
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