HUMINT is Improved by Intelligence Education and Intelligence Degree Programs
Intelligence work is a team effort. This is certainly true for Human Intelligence (HUMINT). An important contributor to the overall HUMINT effort, like in other forms of intelligence, is the collector. Without the collector, how would one attain information? HUMINT collectors are distinguished from other types of collection precisely because of the human component. Whereas other intelligence can have a technical focus, HUMINT is obtained through human interactions.
Those collectors inform the larger intelligence picture with the data they attain, for the information they corral is siphoned back to analysts who prepare a product for the consumer. The consumer, of course, is the policymaker. With such a first hand account of the intelligence one would think that the collector would have a unique insight into the meaning of that data. Certainly the context of the data is important to a full understanding of it. However, the collector’s evaluation of the data has been considered less than valuable in the past (Pechan, 1961).
Indeed, the prevailing notion was that the collector was not qualified to evaluate the intelligence he or she delivered (Pechan, 1961). Conceptually, the idea that collectors just collect information and the analysts interpret the information was probably one dimensional. One can only imagine the bureaucratic process involved in processing intelligence based on that conception. It is no wonder why the hierarchical process of intelligence management has been problematic to this date (Clark, 2010).
At least analysts and collectors have learned to work together to get the mission accomplished (Clark, 2010). Their work is recognized as complementary rather than resembling the caste-like system of the past. Those changes in the intelligence system beg the question of, “What changed?”
One can surmise that changes in intelligence education played a large role in improvements in the intelligence system. Intelligence education fosters an understanding of the various roles in the intelligence community that contributes to the mission. Perhaps such education begets a better appreciation for colleagues who have complementary roles (e.g., analysts and collectors). If intelligence education is so valuable, where does it take place? Conceivably, it can take place within the confines of the organization.
However, such education and training is properly offered through intelligence degree programs. Intelligence degree programs are offered by an assortment of universities. But, like any matter deserving of a proper decision, choosing which university has the best intelligence degree programs can take time and individual research. Does the student want an intelligence degree from a university where the degree program is treated as another department of the university? Or worse, an underdeveloped sub-section of the closest related discipline?
The best opportunity for quality intelligence education exists in a university actually devoted to intelligence training. A university that devotes its resources to intelligence training offers unique advantages. One advantage is in the faculty. A faculty with “real world” experience can offer a perspective into the curriculum that brings the material to life. Another advantage is the focus on intelligence. That laser beam focus assures that the curriculum is delivered as a top priority.
Clark, R. (2010). Intelligence analysis: a target centric approach. Washington D.C.: Sage.
Pechan, B. (1961). The collector’s role in evaluation. Studies in Intelligence, 5(3).