Discovering the Best Intelligence Management School

Finding the right intelligence management school is essential to unlocking your future career in intelligence. Understanding that intelligence requires skills that can be learned will help you to seek out the best intelligence management training. Don’t look for those wannabe Bond-types and be fooled by Hollywood bravado; this business doesn’t take into account flashy moves and fast cars. Looking beyond the headlines, what really then is the intelligence?

Intelligence is information that’s analyzed and converted into a product to support a particular customer. Intelligence is both a process and a product and has played an important role in diplomacy and warfare throughout history. In the information age, intelligence has taken on an even greater importance. But in the popular media the role, means, and purpose of intelligence is very often misrepresented at best. Only a tiny fraction of intelligence officers perform clandestine intelligence gathering. They don’t assassinate people, carry weapons or even wear trench coats. The vast majority of the intelligence community carries out their tasks at a computer terminal and, while intelligence alone cannot stop the next terrorist attack, it is the critical first step in identifying and possibly preventing one.

The art and science of gathering critical operational intelligence has been defined in many ways; what is agreed upon is that intelligence management is key to effective statecraft, policy formulation and development, and national security. Throughout the course of history, many wars have been fought depending heavily on various forms of intelligence. During our most recent actions in the War on Terror, intelligence analysis has played a critical role in both offensive and defensive operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Intelligence is even more important in homeland security and defense. Our society is suspicious of intrusions on personal liberties. Mandated identity cards, restricting vehicle access, and random searches of airline passengers are generally not well received. That makes it especially important to prevent terrorist attacks by interdicting the terrorists and their resources before they can reach their target. The primary means of accomplishing this is through a combination of intelligence and law enforcement work.

A good intelligence management school is going to prepare its students for how to use intelligence tradecraft to detect, deter, and prevent terrorist attacks and illegal activity. Almost every illegal activity can be given away by indicators. It’s the observation of these indicators and the proper analysis of their significance that could directly lead to the defeat of future terrorist acts. Various stages of terrorist operations can be determined by the smallest of indicators provided during that particular operational maneuver. You won’t necessarily recognize these indicators for what they are, but to an analyst who has studied a particular terrorist group or individual that indicator can speak volumes. The question is, how do you know what to look for?

In the intelligence community, the process of addressing this question is known as collection management. Analysts who study an intelligence problem (e.g., what are the plans and capabilities of a particular terrorist organization) have the best idea of what intelligence gaps exist. They identify these gaps to a collection manager (CM) in the form of a requirement. A requirement consists of priority, justification, essential elements of information and reporting requirements. The CM then integrates these requirements into a collection strategy. Finally, a collection plan is developed to detail a tactical level course of action and subsequently briefed to operators (e.g., SWAT team members, daily patrols, and field agents, etc.) to carry out. The interaction of the analysts and collectors is absolutely essential to this entire process.

Intelligence management training can be a valuable tool to assist law enforcement agencies in the performance of their daily duties. It’s especially relevant in counter-terrorism investigations and operations. Terrorist organizations rely heavily on secrecy and anonymity to carry out their religious and politically driven agendas and intelligence gathering and exploitation is best suited to stripping away this critical layer of protection and making them more vulnerable to infiltration, investigation and arrest. Intelligence work is a discipline in and of itself, just like police work, and carries its own language, rules and culture. At times, it can be in direct conflict with law enforcement, but the goal of both remains the same; the protection of every American citizen and our way of life.

This article was adopted from, “Intelligence and Its Role in Protecting Against Terrorism,“ by Richard J. Hughbank & Don Githens, published by Henley-Putnam’s Journal of Strategic Security, Vol. 3, No. 1, forthcoming Spring 2010 on the Henley-Putnam University website.