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Intelligence is defined as the process of gathering data that convenes the stated and understood needs of the policy makers in government. Research shows that intelligence is a special form of data collected carefully, analyzed using the best techniques, and applied based on the scenario. This challenges the idea that all forms of data are considered intelligence while at the same time supporting the claim that all intelligence is information. Based on this, intelligence is well-timed and actionable information that plays a critical role in policy making among government officials whether in the military or the police, as the main aim is always to preserve the national security, which is the major interest of any government. In the field of intelligence, an expert always relies on competencies, proficiency, and talent.
To be successful in interpreting the collected data, analysis is critical whereby transformation of information into something sensible is mandatory. Through analysis, the expert is capable of synthesizing information effectively and this needs the breaking down of large chunks of data into manageable units including close assessment of related items to establish whether such data authenticate, complement, or challenge the problem under investigation. In the information age, policy makers are faced with the massive challenge of verifying information meaning that a proper analysis is crucial as regards to drawing of sensible conclusions that would help in resolving a security issue in the country1. Intelligence officers should offer expert analysis to the security question since they are not simply another source of information, but instead they are depended upon in providing available options in handling the security menace in the country.
Currently, the intelligence status of the country is unstable because of ineffective training and unpreparedness to adopt programs that could perhaps help in designing the working policies. The office of the Director of National Intelligence has to design the best training, certification, standards, and reporting processes to enhance the country’s intelligence, which is known to strengthen the security of the country. It is noted further that ODNI is least prepared to handle the problems facing the country as regards to intelligence collection and subsequent utilization. The paper therefore looks at the leadership and training challenges facing the agency and offers some of the ways through which the situation could be improved.
After the 9/11 attack, the office of the Director of Intelligence was set up and it was given specific objectives to accomplish in 2004, one of them being leading the intelligence community in fighting crime. However, the agency has not been able to realize its objectives because of insufficient training and leadership skills. This article argues that poor training and inadequate leadership skills are responsible for the underperformance of the agency and the only way to improve is to formulate a strong curriculum that will enable the agency to deliver quality services. It is noted further that designing a training program will facilitate learning of strong leadership skills, which will enable the organization convene the needs of the client. In this regard, various challenges facing the organization will be explored and consequently some of the ways of mitigating the problems will be analyzed.
Leadership and Training Challenges Facing the Agency
It is expected that any successfully analyst should possess certain qualities that would enable him or her carry out the duties effectively. This means that training programs are critical since they foster dedication to work and excellent results. The officer is expected to have specific capacities, expertise, and knowledge to undertake intelligence work smoothly. In this regard, the professional should develop strong relationships with clients, but the question arises as regards to how the high results are achieved.
In the intelligence agency, success is measured based on the performance of the individual in the field and this entails calculating the number of reports that an individual presents. Moreover, the volume of the raw data under the possession of the professional, the degree which the expert is relied upon, the level at which clients are satisfied, and the quality of services that he or she offers are some of additional means through which the successfulness of the expert is measured. Unfortunately, the techniques employed are inconsistent with the nature of the job since the agency should develop a different approach that insists on training and imparting leadership skills among the professionals in the field.
The current methods only focus on the outcome, which is considered one of the success factors meaning that the agency does not focus on measuring the real factors that enable the individual to achieve professional and personal objectives. The agency has to develop a working process that permits professionals in the field to add value to what they do in their daily lives-information collection, which has an impact as far as enhancing the country’s security through intelligence, is concerned.
The process of collection information ought to be timely and the data has to be applicable for any success to be realized. All these are simply realized through instituting an effective training program that observes all the tenets of leadership. If the agency is to succeed in enhancing the intelligence in the country, it should drop the current system that focus on results and adopt a strategy that follows two basic criteria, one being intelligence collection process, which entails processing of data and addition value to the gathered data.
Secondly, it has to focus on the product meaning convening the needs of consumers. Many practitioners in the field rarely follow the process of data collection and simply explore all options, including the use of shortcuts in satisfying the needs of clients. In this regard, the system is unbalance leading to analysis paralysis and contradicting an assembly-line frame of mind. Intelligence analysts and other experts in the field have to understand the fact that training encourages a rigorous assessment of an event before drawing conclusions. This means the information obtained from the field should be holistic, viable, value adding, highest in terms of cognitive level, and finally mutual in the sense that many experts take part in producing it.
Experts in the field are leaders because they are relied upon in providing analytic conclusions, act as decision points meaning that they are authorizes, and finally their choices and decision have implications to policies. Upon undertaking successful training, experts would not be accused of highhandedness because they will be good managers with sufficient administrative skills, such as customer management, community relations, resource distribution, work organization, empowering the juniors, and finally taking the profession seriously through observance of ethics.
Intelligence collection process is considered a holistic process in the sense that it entails art, as well as science. It is an art because it makes use of intuitive knowledge, inbuilt abilities, accumulated skills, and experience, which permits analysts to conduct their activities in a multidimensional manner consequently keeping off from the shortcomings of scientism and adventurism2. Recently, some analysts have been accused of overlying on the scientism since they believe that it reveals the truth. For some analysts, science is not important since they simply rely on inspiration, which is mainly unconfirmed through a thorough analysis. Through training, intelligence experts will come to the realization that combination of scientific method and intuition combine in providing a valid conclusion. It is observed that competition is a major contributor to the process of intelligence collection and analysis because it encourages the development of a common mindset3.
Many analysts have failed to satisfy the wishes of clients because of monopoly owing to the fact that only few individuals are allowed to operate while various competent individuals are denied the licenses to operate. Based on this, many analysts do not question the credibility of their results as regards to the intelligence process, as well as the target. The council charged with the role of overseeing foreign relations advised that the agency should accept redundant analysis, as well as competition, as this would encourage growth in the sector and promote leadership.
In case the agency facilitates leadership among professionals, chances are high that analysis will be conducted successfully meaning that value will be added to the information collected. Again, this will be beneficial to institutional knowledge, the field, the entire process, and the individual particularly as regards to reputation and the level in which practical analysis is conducted in an environment characterized with changes in target, client’s needs, and human resources. High quality analysis entails the one that arrives at a conclusion by judging an event and estimating or measuring a problem. Through training, analysts would be aware of the risks that they have to take in order to succeed.
For instance, courses touching on critical thinking are highly encouraged to realize the leadership objectives. Based on this, an analyst has to understand that settling on the first answer is not recommended because a good leader has to undertake a review of the entire process before coming up with a final decision. The current state of the affairs in the profession reveals that analysts are arrogant in conducting their review meaning that they are likely to be biased when making assumptions, calculating the weaknesses, and measuring the strengths of a policy. Through training, the experts will appreciate the importance of working together since the weaknesses of one professional are covered by the strengths of the other, which ensures the outcome of the analysis is based on reality, even though the result might be controversial.
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The role of management has never been determined in the sector, but the reality is that it plays a major role, as it encourages access to consumers and other stakeholders needed in accomplishing the main task. Without teaching the personnel in the field managerial skills, they would not be able to organize their programs when handling clients4.
Again, managerial courses will help in resource allocation, both human and capital because the analyst has the much-needed tools and techniques to collect sufficient information, but coordination is often cited as major problem facing a number of them. When the managerial aspects are applied successfully, any analyst will have sufficient techniques to interpret an event or behavior effectively and this will inspire them to do better. The main aim of any analyst in the field of intelligence is to equip his or her client with sufficient information to help with the process of policy formulation. The results help in understanding the analytic tools applied. The role of any intelligence information is to help the policymaker and military officials in strengthening the security of the country, which is the main target of any regime. The main consumer of intelligence information is the government and research shows that any date gathered in the right way makes the consumer more effective, as it makes him or her smarter than the opponent5.
The US is unable to contain the heinous acts of terrorists without adequate and credible intelligence. The office of the Director of Intelligence has a role of ensuring that the security agencies are ahead of terrorist organizations that plan to harm the country at unexpected time, but it has failed to undertake this function because of insufficient training and poor leadership skills. However, it cannot do this on its own because its main role is oversight meaning that it simply facilitates intelligence collection in the country. The results of intelligence should judge the level of trust of other countries towards the United States.
Ways of Improving Leadership and Training
Training is very important in instituting discipline and consistency to all experts in the field, which enables value-addition to intelligence. The type of training to be provided has to employ specific methodologies that exist to provide answers to the major problems facing experts. In this case, research skills are important and all officers have to be equipped to ensure that he or she engages in thorough exploration of the phenomena. Based on this, the agency should consider offering basic research skills that facilitate problem definition in terms of the research question, which goes a long way in ensuring that consumers realize their objectives of providing securing to the country. Intelligence collection employs various strategies, but experts in the field should be taught a specific process that facilitates efficient data collection known to play a role in identifying type of information needed, the ways through which to collect information, and the means of analyzing the same data6.
Information is the most important component of any intelligence process meaning that an expert has to seek it aggressively if he or she has to be successful. In this case, several information collection and manipulation skills should be passed on to experts through manuals and training programs.
The first of stage of any intelligence process is collection, which is concerned with data gathering, but calls for coordination of process, making leadership and managerial skills inevitable. The expert is expected to choose and filter data to determine whether it is of any value. Monitoring is the second process and it is mainly concerned with the reliability of data because not all information is intelligence. Therefore, the reviewing, analysis of descriptors and summarizing data are some of the major techniques employed in the stage. Organizing, which is the third element, focuses on arrangement of the information, formatting techniques, and data maintenance. Information in the modern society is easily obtained, but making sense of it is problematic meaning that the expert has to be careful with the way the information is handled. This cannot be understood without bringing in lessons and materials showing how the process is conducted. Apart from these important stages, the analyst is expected to be taught important synthesis skills, data interpretation techniques, the mode of communication, dissemination, coordination, and finally evaluating the entire process7.
Regarding leadership, the agency has a problem dealing with the current challenges, but communication would be one of the ways through which the issues would be resolved. Many instructions issued never reach the intended target because the means employed in passing information are defective. Additionally, the officials of the agency rarely hold conferences to discuss with stakeholders on the way forward, with claims that the organization deals with the most sensitive issue, security. Employee dialogue in solving the problems would be the best way of improving the relationships among various stakeholders.
The field of intelligence collection in the country suffers from teaming and collaboration in the sense that each individual is left to operate on specific rules, which is harmful to the growth of the sector. Based on this, ethical codes should be set whereby all players will be required to follow the law and observe the moral standards. In other words, the agency should consider taking the supervisory role by ensuring that no player is allowed to operate without the necessary documentation and skills. If teaming and collaboration is enhanced, consumers, professionals, and significant others will benefit since it will help in strengthening the process. Team building and collaboration entails influencing the followers, leading members, following those with good ideas, and finally synergizing.
It is concluded that intelligence is all about thinking meaning that it depends majorly on cognitive functions hence the individual features matter so much. Therefore, the office of the Director of Intelligence should ensure that it has better thinking abilities to be ahead of the enemy otherwise the national interest will not be realized. The agency faces several leadership and training challenges and it is upon the office of the Director of Intelligence to draft ways through which information gathering process could be improved. In this article, three problems have been identified, which call for the formulation of training programs that will have an impact on the leadership styles employed in the agency. The first problem is the process in which data is obtained while the other is analysis process, which is always skewed.
The final challenge is the utility of the information in the sense that analysts view the collected data as final. The solution lies with changing the leadership style from the current autocratic to democratic whereby the views of each analyst are to be evaluated before arriving at a conclusion. Additionally, intelligence professionals should triangulate meaning that they have to communicate when collecting and analyzing information.
Ackerman, Robert. “Information Age Poses New Challenges to Intelligence.” Signal 53.2 (2000): 23-25. Web.
Aid, Mathew. “The Time of Troubles: The US National Security Agency in the Twenty-First Century.” Intelligence and National Security15.3 (2000): 1-32. Web.
Foster, Gregory. “Research, Writing, and the Mind of the Strategist.” Joint Force Quarterly, 11.1 (2001): 74-79. Web.
Fuld, Leonard. “Intelligence Software: Reality or Still Virtual Reality.” Competitive Intelligence Magazine 4.2 (2001): 24-25. Web.
Kaplan, Robert. The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War. New York: Random House, 2000. Web.
Lowenthal, Mark. Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2000. Web.
Wheaton, Kristan. The Warning Solution: Intelligent Analysis in the Age of Information Overload. Fairfax: AFCEA International Press, 2001. Web.
1 Robert Ackerman, “Information Age Poses New Challenges to Intelligence,” (Signal 53.2 2000), p. 24.
2 Robert Kaplan (The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War, New York: Random House, 2000), p. 112.
3 Leonard Fuld, “Intelligence Software: Reality or Still Virtual Reality,” (Competitive Intelligence Magazine 4.2 2001), p. 26.
4 Kristan Wheaton (The Warning Solution: Intelligent Analysis in the Age of Information Overload, Fairfax: AFCEA International Press, 2001), p. 78.
5 Mathew Aid, “The Time of Troubles: The US National Security Agency in the Twenty-First Century,” (Intelligence and National Security15.3 2000), p. 32.
6 Gregory Foster, “Research, Writing, and the Mind of the Strategist,” (Joint Force Quarterly, 11.1 2001), p. 78.
7 Mark Lowenthal (Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2000), p. 56.