Intelligence is the know-how of an issue. Business intelligence, for example, understands business practices. Determination of Intelligence classification is according to the field in operation.
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However, the intelligence community refers to a community of government operatives who work to unearth information from the society, economy and political structure, issues that are meaningful to a nation’s security.
The data collection may be within or outside a country’s borders. The intelligence community has several modes of intelligence gathering ranging between covert and overt operations. The intelligence community collects information in five main ways/disciplines.
Human Intelligence is the collection of intelligence from human sources. The collection, therefore, is either with direct knowledge of the collection by the source such as through interrogation or without their knowledge through clandestine means.
It is a valuable source of information: especially in regard to the wealth of knowledge, it can provide. It also requires less massive investment, unlike other collection disciplines. This, however, is at the behest of source reliability, since, evidence from other intelligence collection disciplines is usually a prerequisite before putting it into use.
Secondly, human rights abuses at the hands of interrogators may arise while covert operatives essentially put their lives in danger in the course of an operation.
Signals Intelligence gathering is through privately obtaining signal transmissions, which may be inter-party/interpersonal communication (communication intelligence) or electronic signal interception (electronic intelligence).
Communication intelligence is through tapping conversation between two or more parties, such as tapping emails or cell phones. Electronic intelligence is the collection of information through analysis of electronic signals such as radar information. Especially in electronic intelligence, it is accurate, with modern technology; however, this can be subject to tampering.
Imagery Intelligence collection is through photo imagery. Accomplishment of this discipline is through aerial photography or by satellites.
In modern times, apart from collecting information about physical structures and ground movement, through appropriate technology can gain additional information such as the number of people within buildings through assessing heat signatures or even the radiation levels at a nuclear plant.
However, this would require low flying aircraft in enemy territory, which is dangerous and may provoke war. Therefore, in cases where countries are not in conflict, satellite photography is the choice of use for imagery intelligence but can be limiting as it provides only physical structure and ground activity.
Therefore, imagery intelligence is a discipline whose impact is primarily in the provision of areas of speculative activity, backing up other intelligences while guiding plans of military action.
Measurement and signature intelligence goals are to collect information about nuclear radiation and weaponry through analysis of electronic and image intelligence. Nuclear activity at nuclear plants involves enrichment of uranium to obtain energy.
The enrichment process of energy production and development of nuclear weapons produce different radiation levels. This is through analysis of ground activity near a nuclear plant by identifying component of new materials brought to the plant. Additionally, information collection of radiation levels in the course of enrichment is of the essence.
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Satellite intelligence can collect information about ground activity while imagery intelligence can collect radiation at such a plant. Especially in enemy territory, collection of radiation levels at such a plant by aerial methods may be too risky; thus, satellites have to do, which is speculation on possible activity at such a nuclear plant.
Assessment of weaponry is through satellite details of military barracks. This, too is speculative as actual weapons production may be within buildings and weaponry magnitudes are not assessable by identifying ground activity at barracks.
Open-Source Intelligence collection is from public information such as from media, public records, industrial and professional data. The amount of information in the public spectrum is wide; therefore, intelligence collection is tedious.
It may reveal information gems through statistical trend analysis, for example, which may identify potential hot spots. With such information, it can now guide other intelligence efforts of the government, such as imagery intelligence and human intelligence. It may further provide information on potential accomplices of a suspect.
Also enables the government to select a covert operative that will fit the appropriate profile of an accomplice. However, trend analysis is not a truly accurate tool, but use of technology such as supercomputers can boost ease of collection and accuracy of assessment.