Created: 4/1/1958

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Some Views on the Theory and Practice of Intelligence Collection

Stanley E. Smigel





A collcclion ol articles on Iho hisioricat. operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ol Inlelllgcnco.

All statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are those of

the *uihors They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations.

Collection practices artreviewed from theof the middlemantate Department expert.



collection as here discussedroad service and support activity. Its principal aerrtce, of course, isof material for the Intelligence analyst-producers mill To meet this responsibility, intelligence collection seeks out Information on countless facets of subjects political,scientific, cultural and military. In form thismay be press clippings, books, reports, maps, photos,of grain or oil, radios or machine tools, Identity documents, or reproductions of industrial markings

This article will deal principally with that part of thecollection activity which is done by tbe headquarters organization. Obviously, one key responsibility of theunit Is the organization, maintenance, coordination and direction of the actual collection and reporting operation in the field. Other important service and support activities are performed and these will be pointed out. Because the precise responsibilities and activities of the variousunits vary, we shall discuss Instead the more Important functionsypical headquarters collection specialist. The emphasis Is placed very largely on overt activities; little will be said of clandestine collection.

The Job of the Headquarters Collection Specialist

Let's look first at the comparatively well known and obvious services and practices that may be expected of the goodspecialist. Ho la, of course, expert on the sources which might be used Iniven requirement. His experience to handling many requirements also enables him to use the most suitable collection form. On occasion, for example, an official-lnfcarnal letter to tbe first secretary of the political


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Intelligence Collection

taste lingers onong while. The requestor, ol course, feelsorm restinglat rock which has suddenly been remored^Flrst blush reaction^ thaPTf the post never reports again. It Is only the Just dessert earned by the requestor. But what ol the dozens of others who are also interested to Information from this post? Their interests cannot be Ignored, should be promoted, and, where necessary, must be protected.

A good collection specialist, although the servant ofconsumers, must be alert to circumstances in the field. In the overall picture, he does his Washingtonisservicee Is notost Is substantially reduced In strength by illness or loss of personnel, normally validbecome marginal orhangeriendlyostile government makes the taskoreign service post Immeasurably more difficult. The roostanswers may be found only after much digging andRequirements must, therefore, be screenedOther possible collection avenues must be scouted. Solid "justifications" must stand behind all outgoingCollectors and analysts alike should be on tbe alert to provideost with Information that appears outside of the country concerned but Is not readily available Inside. This practice Is notourtesy but by keeping the field unit Informed maximizes its collection potential.

A difficult and not uncommon problem for collectioncan be Illustratedypothetical case. The foreign service post in Lower Routinla cables Washington:

Rumors ore rife that members of the armed forces, incensed that pay-increases and other concessions have not been granted, are threatening to overthrow the central government. Air Marshal Schwarzbart Is reported leading this group. The Minister of Defense hastatement denouncing rumors that are being spread by "traitorous, tclf-seekingand assuring the population that any attempt against the government is unthinkable, but that if it comes tt will be "smashed by the ever-vigilant, loyal armed forces." The police

guard around the Capitol buildings has been materially


Intelligent* Collection

Within hours after receipt of this cable theequirement, for "immediate" transmission to the field, as follows:hat important military figures '* are supporting Marshal Schwarxbart?hat Is the position of the Navy? The Army? Are they supporting the Air Force? To what extent?s the incipient revolt primarily one by the young officers group?re there any influential civilians or civilian groups supporting the Air Force group?ny other pertinent information on scope, timing, probabilities and personalities is desired.

Basically there is nothing wrong with this requirement. It represents Information In which the requestor has legitimate interest But the timing is all wrong. The requestor'sbeen arousedeport from the field. That the field Is reporting on the subject and that they reported by cable indicates their awareness of Washington interests and their recognition of the importance of the subject. Bad the field possessed any additional significant Information this would undoubtedly have been Included in the cable. The only reasonable assumption Is that the field is concentrating every effort to secure and report additional Information. Everything on the subject will be reported. To single outelements and cable them to the field may a) attachpriority or importance to these elements which In retrospect may be found unjustified, or b) may, as here, stress the obvious and thus not only be superfluous but may beby tbe field unit an unjust reflection on Its intelligence.

In the circumstances of our example, overwhelmingcounsels patience and waiting: the boys in tbe field know what they're doing. Ifeasonable period no further reports are received, the transmission of the requirement would be justified. An immediate Instruction to the field would, bow-ever, be justified if the field report Indicated a) Ignorance of significant information available to Washington from other sources or b) significant rnlsunderstanding or erroneous

The foregoing covers the work of the collection specialist on what are commonly termed "spot" or od hocess dramatic but Important collection function Is theand constant revision, of tbe standing or basicInstructions. These are the manuals, the coUectton tn-


Intelligence Collection

struclions, the intelligence plans, tbe periodic guides,hey tend to be lengthy and encyclopedic in contrast to the generally brie? character Ol the spot Instruction The general* inclination In the intelligence community is to turn up one's nose at these pieces. In point of fact. If they did not exist and were not periodically revised there wouldap which would frequently be keenly felt, for basic or standing Instructions play much the same role In the intelligence collection picture that the National Intelligence Survey (NTS) plays In thescheme- The periodic revision of these bask pieces provides an occasion for the Introduction of new concepts as well as the dusting off and refurbishing of the old. Moreless urgent than tbe ad hoc requirement, there is still room in their construction for hard thinking, imagination and the application of perspective on the part of the collector.

Before we proceed to the non-coUecUon duties oford of clarification is In order with respect to "requirements officers" and their role As their namethese officers busy themselves primarily withwhich are the expressed Informational needs ofanalyst-producers. By example and exposition, however, we have shown that the collection specialistull-scale requirements function. Requirements officers, therefore, may be collection specialists under another name. More often, however, the functionsequirements officer do not reach the full scope of thoseollection specialist but are limited to consolidating the requirements of the analyst-producer. Tbe establishment of requirements officers Isractlon-ahration. andecentralization, of the collection activity.

IBM for example: US NavalManualov.epartment of the Array iDteUlfence Plan (DAIP) Dec. 1MT; Array IaVlUaeoce Collecaon InttrncUoruarch ISM; Foreign serrkw Manual. Vol. IT, Chapter BOO antcDltvDce).


If the requirements officer Is too close organizationally to the analyst-producer, especiallyependent relationship, there Is danger of hisort of bat-boy for the analyst-producer. This kind of requirements officer frequently has too little concern for the merit, timing, or priority of thehe shepherds.ollection request sent to the field may on occasion be even more Important than the reply.

Intelligence Collodion

ost of other jobs such as: processing clearances and declassifications; arranging briefings and debriefings;intelligence exchanges with representatives of foreign countries; administering evaluation programs of Individualand overall performances; supervising distribution and reproduction; arranging trips to the field; assisting Into the field; handling funds and fiscal records;special equipment for the field; assisting in orientation and training.

Collection is inseparable from liaison. That is, while not all liaison officers are collection specialists, every collectionengages In liaison, some more thanotthe liaison activityormal one recognized andby official regulations. Certain collectionare Invariably included. On other occasions, liaison Is carried out not as an official duty butogical means to gain the collection objective or further other activities.

The staff work that collection specialists perform (or can perform) Includes studies on such topics as:

The nature and scope of Baboo are Indicated by the following quotation takenepartment of State draft memorandumLiaisonhalln matters of Interests to their respective agencies, such as tbe collection and exchange of information (orbe operating; andmatters appertaining thereto, and tbe securing of such reciprocal assistance and services as are customary tn general liaisonn the performance of their duties, they shallfor and provide to the Agency with which they maintain liaison appropriate Information and assistance when not Inconsistent with the obligations and Interests of tbe Department: these services shall be extendedeneral practice and In response to specifichenever practicable,in be conducted through designated liaison offices. Specialized subjects, however, may be handled by those familiar with them or directly concerned in cooperation with officially designated representaUvea Moreover, interagency discussions and collaboration on policy and directly related matters by policy and executive. shall beout In such manner and channels as the participants deem advisable. This does not, however, relieve liaison officers of the responsibility of providing all possible assistance and service If called upon In suchm '

intelligence Co/fecfion

The InlelUgence Potential of ForeigD Service Consular

Relationships and Coordination among Collection Com-ponenU In the Field.

The Use and Value of Intelligence Reports to (Selected) End Users;

Annual Evaluation of Foreign Service Reporting from an

Intelligence Standpoint; Emergency Instructions and Procedures Necessary to Put (Department of State. Army, etc) Intelligence Activitiesar Footing upon Outbreak of Hostilities; The Intelligence Potential of (Army, Navy, Air) ReserveResiding Abroad; etc. Some of the Implementation of such studies rests logically in the lap of the collection specialist. And as he takes on these broad, responsible support activities, he finds himselfeneral secretariat activity for the Intelligence chief and his associates.

The picture we have drawn of the collection specialist'sIs one of an extensive support, staff, and backstopplng activity. This is properly so.eemingthe collection specialistack-of-many-trades This roleogically derived one. He exists In the first Instance because most analyst-producers if left to their own devices would fumble the mechanism of collection. Some would fall to think out their needs, thus falling short on the substantive aspect. Other analyst-producers need to be prodded, else any collection effort for them or from them is apt to be too little, too late. Tbe very resourceful, highly talented analyst-producer can approach the collection specialist inand results, but It would be poor use of resources to occupy bis time in collection except where no substitute were possible.'

* As indicated, we do not Imply that the collection specialist should do all collceUon or that tbe analyst-producer should do none. Tbe analyst-producer whoibrary or the industrial register or discusses an interest with some specialist in another organization isecessary, almort unavoidable, coUecUoo Job. Assignment of all collceUonollection specialist is no more sound orthan the assignment of all security rcspooslbulUesecurity officer or all administration to an administrative officer.


Intelligence Collection

By handling many different requirements from manythe collection specialistund of general information. Because of his many contacts, he can make the imagination and sensitivity of one analyst benefit other analysts. His many contacts, bis knowledge of theof others, his administrative ties and his essential spirit of service makeocal point for people asking questions, seeking information or advice. So from the roots of collection and liaison, the activity buildsroader staff and support function.

The Wgerenccs in Collection Organizations

The organizational command structure and theof headquarters collection units in the intelligencevary greatly. The differences are both significant and Interesting. At one end of tbe scale are the military services. All the intelligence collection activities are under the pertinent Intelligenceollection Instruction to the attaches in the field Is drafted In the intelligence collection component, signed by the intelligence chiefeputy, and proceedsto tbe attache. The attache in turn is directlyto his intelligence unit in Washington.

This pattern contrasts sharply with the command andrelationship in the Department of State. In thethe principal collection arm, tbe Foreign Service, lies outside the Intelligence organization. Instructions to the Foreign Service are drafted by the Intelligence Bureau, but, with small exception, these instructions must receive theand clearance of other bureaus before transmission. On the other hand, the approval of the Intelligence Bureau, again with small exception, is not required on instructions to the Foreign Service drafted by other bureaus. In contrast to the clear-cut responsibility the service attache has to bisIntelligence unit, the foreign service officer hasto the Departmenthole and has indirect responsibility at best to the Intelligence Bureau.

The mission of every military attache and his staff Is flatly intelligence, and very clear-cut For example, the Department of the Air Force Instructions (Intelligence Collection(Id) ofurrently being revised) state that the primary function of the air attache Is to collect and report

Intelligence Collection

intelligence information. Speaking ol this function, themoreover, admonish that "it is of such overriding Importance that It must never be subordinated toor admlriistrative. Naval Intelligence Manualpeaking also on the collection and reporting function. Instructs naval attaches ashis task is so important that It should never be relegated to secondary consideration In favor of othert would be difficult to Issue Instructions more precise and more categorical.

The Foreign Service, on the other hand, has no suchfor Itulti-purpose operation. There are many Foreign Service postsonsulates)f the effort Is devoted to passport and visa work, protection of American Interests, seeing to the welfare of American seamen and the like. Intelligence is secondary at best and the smallpotential which does exist Is largely unexploitedfrom these posts covers admirustrative, fiscal, andmatters. Even In the political sections of Americanabroad mtelllgence reporting must on occasion vie with representation for primary Importance.

The military servicesloser control of their attaches' collection activity than the Department of State does of Its collection activities In missions and posts abroad. Military attaches are required to prepare Intelligence collection plans and keep them current. Copies and revisions must be sent to Washington. These plans Include Information on theof sources and contacts, their value and extent of use, deterrents toravel plan, emergency plans, etc. The Foreign Service has no comparable collection Instruction andood portion of this kind of information, however. Is reported piece-meal.

The undiluted Intelligence nature of military attaches and tbe directness of the command structure permit anstatement of the highest interest and objective of theprogram,The primary mission of Armyis, and for the foreseeable future vnTX continue to be, the collection of information and the production of intelligence on the Stno-Soviet Bloc Nations." (Italics are In the original.)

ol the Army Intelligence Collection Instruction (ARarchMS.

Imelligtnc* Collection

The emphasis in Foreign Service instructions is not so pointed. Because of the multi-purpose nature of Foreignmissions, the responsibility and oricntat'oh of each must be principally to the host country. In practice, however, it can be shown that for many posts thisrientation Is more an appearanceeality.

In the structure of military intelligence, counterintelligence and security are under the direction of tbe intelligencen the Department of Slate, the Intelligence Bureau concerns Itself only with foreign positive intelligence. Security and counterintelligence activities are assigned elsewhere. The most amicable of relations exist between the two components, so that many uf tbe positive intelligence fruits ofand security are secured for the use of theBureau.heoretical standpoint, however, the military pattern Is preferable in order that a) all, not tome, of the positive intelligence data collected by counterintelligence become available, and b) one need not relyavorablerelationship that can quickly change.

The CIA command structure and organization lies between tbe two poles represented by the military services and theof SUte. Covert and overt operations althoughare responsible to the same chief.

To sum up. some of the differences in organization andstructure of Intelligence units reflect the differentand responsibilities that exist In the case of the Foreign Service, consular work, protection of and service to American citizens, reporting of economic and allied Information for UJS. export-Import and producer Interests, and the like areassigned functions, even If non-Intelligence, whichbe put aside.anpower and funds standpoint these are major activities of tbe Foreign Service. It Is truly surprising, therefore, and greatly to its credit, that the Foreign Service continues to play the very Important role It does in furnishing intelligence Information to the VS. intelligence

In the Department of the Air Force, some security and counter-lnteUleence functions He under the inspector General

Intelligence Collection

The Status of Intelligence Collection

It seems appropriate to conclude this article with someon how well Intelligence collection has performed in recent years and some personal views and recommendations. Let's look first at the record.

The positive accomplishments of intelligence collection in the postwar years are numerous. Coordination in the field, in good part because of headquarters initiative and action, has Improved markedly over that existing immediately after World War II. The Joint Weeka, for example, despite trials and tribulations, hasery effective reporting instrument which is used and Is highly regarded by end-users throughout the intelligenceumber of programs, such as publications procurement, travel folder, exploitation oftrade fair opportunities, peripheral reporting, and the like, have been established and have provedmore so than others. Periodic Requirements Guides andRequirements Lists have been useful stimulants and guides for field collectors. The worth and use of CIA covert reports has increased tremendously. From the days when the useful covert report was an exception, the point has been reached where they arealuable portion of the material In the analyst-producer's in-box. Intelligence exchanges withallies have been established and operate smoothly.and methods have been established for effective day-to-dayormal structure (committees, etc) exists to consider and deal with community problems.

Intelligence collection has thus many accomplishments to which It can point. We are Inclined to feel, however, that there should be more. In terms of results, collection has notapace with production since World War IX Intelligence collection has sufferedack of imagination and from too much formalism. Tbe real gains that have been made must be weighed against the failures to initiate, to exploit, to Innovate. Collection has been afflictedeluctance to assert itself or to try something new. There is too littleout of the end-user, analyst-producers and others,them with collection's service potential, makingstimulating. Too often collection waits for the analyst-producer to knock down the door. There is not enoughinterchange between collection personnel on solutions


Colled ion

to common problems, procedures, methods, projectsetc To be sure, comxrJttees^exist with responsibilities In the collection field. But these have formally assigned tasks, assigned participants, and do not take up the workaday,operating problems of collection Itself.

Needless to say, the above observations will have imperfect and uneven application. Where they exist, the faults are not, of course, ineradicable. We would suggest that the following would go far to righting the situation:

Collection should Insist on better access to the analyst-producer's thoughts. Capable collection specialists should sit, for example, as observers on lower and Intermediate levelmeetings on estimates and other studies. This wouldractical way of securing detailed, priority requirements. Post-mortems tend now to be broad-brush statements ofInadequacies, and lack the detail which was available weeks earlier. Tbe analyst-producer, having shot his bolt, is In no mood generally to recover this detail for the collector. We would venture to suggest also that the presence of acollector as observer could lead to other benefits.

Collection should recruit and select Its personnel more carefully. Most of us. as average American motorists, have had the experience of driving an automobilearagethe engine, or something, was out of sorts. In seconds the garage mechanic had the motor running smoothly.needs such mechanics. On the other hand. It would hardly be vise to ask that same mechanic to design an engine. An engineer Is needed for that. Collection needs engineers, too. In the past, mechanics have been asked to do the Job of engineers. This must be corrected- Both good mechanics and good engineers must be secured and be properly utilized.

Admittedly selection of personnel has been hampered by such factors as budget ceilings, salary ceilings on Individual jobs, etc. In the long run,ood case and persistence, these can be overcome.

must insist on better support from the topIt can carry out Its programs and Implement Itscan earn some of this support by doing Its Jobbeing constantly on the alert to assist Its chiefs withsupport work.

Irrfcl/rgence Coffecfion

An effective exchange of collection personnel should be initialed within tbe Inlclligcnce community. It could be established as an adjunct to or within present exchangewhichever is more feasible. Consideration should be given not only to the training of the individual but also to the long-run Improvement of the different collection organizations. The Intelligence Bureau of the Department of State, which docs not take part in existing exchanges, should participate.

An intra-community training and orientation coursefor collecUon personnel should be organized. It would throw collection people together and establish ties which could be exploited long afterward. Lectures and course-work could serve to educate, to identify common problems and possible solutions, etc. Subjects which could be covered Includeand appraisal of reports, effective briefing and de-briefing procedures, requirements work, and headquarters collection organization. This training, and assignments within it, might provide the basis for community-wide manuals on various phases ofliaison, briefing andetc

This recommendation and the one immediately preceding are obviously complementary. They are aimed at mcreaslng the exchange of ideas and experience and at creating Informal working relationships.

We nave addressed this article to collection and production people alike. Collection Is after all created for production. Without good collection, production soon tends to fallor become sterile. Productionistinctto point out inadequacies Inand demand improvement. On the other band,Is obliged to give reasonable cooperation in effecting this improvement.

As the intelligence product, the raison d'etre of thebecomes more mature, the point is reached where tbe additional qualitative Improvement and refinement of the product depend principally upon tbe development of Improved collection techniques and organization. There are doubtless some In the community who would maintain that we are at that point now.

Original document.

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