Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain. . . . In short, most intelligence is false.
-Carl von Clausewitz, On War
Anyone who has read Clausewitz is aware of his disdain of intelligence. The world is full of tactical operators that have prepared for an operation only to find out what they actually face was not accounted for. By the same token, many operators have successfully conducted operations because they did have a good picture of enemy forces. Clausewitz’s Napoleonic era conclusions regarding intelligence are certainly open to debate. But it can’t be argued that the US Intelligence Community has recently made exponential strides and continues to make those strides in the Tradecraft of Intelligence Analysis.
Analytical Tradecraft is both science and art. On the “art” side one can fail to discover what is actually happening due to cognitive and perceptual biases of the institution and/or the analyst. On the “science” side, one can fail to have adequate structured analytical tools and then populate what tools they do have with incorrect assumptions. TOSS proposes that the systemic breakdown to analyze initial information and the inability to piece together data threads for actionable intelligence is not the result of a lack of information/intelligence, but how the information or data is being analyzed.
In the US Government paper, A Tradecraft Primer: Structured Analytic Techniques for Improving Intelligence Analysis (2009) the author recommends to overcome internal biases in analytical tradecraft one must apply more structured analytical techniques:
- Instilling more structure into the intelligence analysis.
- Making analytical arguments more transparent by articulating them and challenging key assumptions.
- Stimulating more creative “out-of-the-box” thinking and examining alternative outcomes, even those with low probability, to see if available data might support these outcomes.
- Identifying indicators of change (or signposts) that can reduce the chances of surprise.
Collection consumes a large portion of the Intelligence Analysis Cycle. One part of collection that is producing great results is Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). The challenge is that Open Source data or Intelligence generates an incomprehensible amount of information daily, much of which becomes irrelevant soon after it is collected. People or groups of people (good and bad) communicate with each other over open source channels. Even though malicious communications are likely disguised or coded from their true evil intent, it is probable that within this vast array of information being shared lies the answer to successfully “connect the dots” for actionable targeting—if the intelligence is analyzed correctly.
To meet the OSINT Analysis challenge, TOSS has advanced and implemented an innovative scientific method that codes and categorizes open source, qualitative textual data. Our original purpose in designing this platform was to potentially reveal emerging threats targeting United States interests. While our concentration lies on OSINT, it can be utilized seamlessly in a classified environment as well. The analysis we perform is also “grounded” to the source of the data, thereby removing any form of opinion, bias, or speculation. This will ensure that policymakers can make informed decisions because the analysis adheres to the “canons of good science” which are grounded to what is actually occurring.
TOSS brings this capability not only to the government sector, but to the corporate world. As corporations become more vulnerable to multiple security and threat exposure, TOSS will provide actionable intelligence to leaders so informed decisions can be made with potential threats mitigated and removed.
Contact Frank Bosia at TOSS for further information and inquires.