Mark M. Lowenthal: information to meet the needs of policymakers. The information is collected, processed, and narrowed to meet those needs.

Abram Shulsky and Gary Schmitt: each country has an interest in strengthening the national security of its country, and can face the threat of actual or potential enemies. Intelligence parties must provide relevant information to decision-makers who are in line with the formulation and implementation of the country’s government policies (Stottlemyre, 2015).

Michael Warner: intelligence is a secret state activity to understand or influence foreign entities.

Stan A. Taylor: intelligence is the practice of collecting, analyzing, producing, and using information about the potential of countries, groups, individuals, or activities that threaten the security of a country. Information is collected confidentially from unusual sources, and countries usually try to prevent other countries from obtaining it. Intelligence also includes special activities aimed at influencing the foreign or domestic policy choices of other countries without revealing the source of their influence.

Don McDowell: intelligence is a structured research practice to investigate a problem to detect early warnings and get “future directions” that in time will require corrective or preventive action, and clarify potential threats and opportunities. Intelligence defines the problem specifically, uses design, and implements an effective system for recording, sorting, and evaluating the data collected, then adjusted to the specific difficulties that may occur. Intelligence focuses on getting a variety of types of high-quality data in a certain quantity, integrating data, choosing an appropriate analysis methodology, analyzing information, and interpreting it to answer a problem.

Loch K. Johnson: Professional intelligence personnel divides intelligence into two parts, namely strategic intelligence and tactical intelligence. First, strategic intelligence is knowledge and predictions that must be known and understood by the leaders of a country, including the President. The geographical scope of strategic intelligence consists of two parts, namely the global sphere versus the local sphere. Strategic intelligence focuses on information about potential hazards and opportunities at the national and international levels. Global scope, for example, detailed information about the political, economic, social, and military situation throughout the world. Local scope such as comprehensive information about domestic radical movements that spread the threat of subversion or infiltration of foreign intelligence agents in the country. Second, the scope of tactical intelligence is narrower such as in-depth information about the situation on the battlefield. Military commanders called it “situational awareness.”

Intelligence information has a confidential component, so it is different from the type of everyday information that can be found in the local library. Intelligence personnel combines open-source information obtained from the public sphere (newspapers, magazines, blogs, public speeches) with information that is hidden by other countries. The confidential information must be taken from communication devices that are protected by secret passwords or stolen from safes, locked offices, military and intelligence installations under tight surveillance, or dangerous areas located in a centralized defense circle covered with barbed wire, guarded by armed security forces and dogs- watchdogs, sophisticated electronic alarms, surveillance cameras, and motion detectors. Intelligence expert Abram N. Shulsky states intelligence often requires access to “information that is strongly denied by some.”

Allan Liska: An intelligence organization can operate three types of intelligence: strategic intelligence, operational intelligence, and tactics intelligence. Each type of intelligence accommodates different goals, targets, and users.

The intelligence pyramid

Strategic intelligence predicts potential long-term threats to an organization, thinking ahead, relies heavily on estimation, anticipating future actions based on past actions. Strategic intelligence requires analysts who understand a subject in-depth, have the willingness to understand and adapt to changes in the environment on the opposite side.

Tactical intelligence aims to directly assess the capabilities and strength of the enemy, for example, the deployment of the number of enemy troops and their weapons on the battlefield. An accurate situation evaluation helps troops on the battlefield to allocate resources effectively, make a careful plan to defeat the enemy at the right time.

Operational intelligence aims to provide technical information directly, spontaneously, real-time, or near real-time to support the operations of ground forces involved in the war against the enemy. Intelligence analysts have quick access to data collection systems and can collect finished intelligence (FINTEL) in high-pressure environments.

Strategic Intelligence & Analysis. Guidelines on Methodology & Application (1997), page 7.
Handbook of Intelligence Studies (2007), page 1-2.
HUMINT, OSINT, or Something New? Defining Crowdsourced Intelligence (2015), page 583.

Building an Intelligence-Led Security Program (2015), page 26-27.

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