BOOK REVIEW: STRATEGIC INTELLIGENCE PRODUCTION; BASIC PRINCIPLES

Created: 9/1/1957

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TITLE: Book Review: Strategic Intelligence Production; Basic Principles

REVIEWER: Louis Marengo

STUDIES IN

INTELLIGENCE

A collection ol orticlcs on Ihe hislorfcal, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ol intelligence.

All siaiements of face, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are ihose of

itie authors 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

STRATEGIC INTELLIGENCE PRODUCTION; BASICBy washington plait. (New York: t. A.

Brigadier General Washington Piatt has been anofficer for some ten years, and be clearly lores bis work-It would be pleasant to record, therefore, that General Piatt's book. strategic intelligence production; basic principleseally significant contribution to the literature of intelligence. However, although much of the book la rewarding and thought provoking, it tahole disappointing when viewed both against the gaps to the present literature and against the objectives which the author apparently sets out for himself.

The word "apparently" to tbe last sentence is usedfor the objective of the book Is not entirely clear. The preface contains the statement that the book Is Intended "as one step toward the development of first principles to the field of Strategic Intelligencehe first chapterimilar statement, adding that the primary purpose of the book Is to present concepts pertaining to strategic Intelligence production. One might expect, therefore, that the book would devote considerable attention to the theory and philosophy of strategic intelligence, to the broad first principles which make It what It Is and which distinguish It from other kinds ofand from other fields of learning. Aside from scattered statements, however, often to the nature of obtter dicta, one looks to vainiscussion along these lines.

Consider, for example, the term "strategictrategic Intelligence is denned formallyingle paragraph, and Its components are listed In another. Although the term la used frequently thereafter and although methods andfor strategic intelligence production are given, rery little else Is said about its nature. What is strategic about strategic Intelligence? How does strategic intelligence differ fromIntelligence and from other forms of intelligence. If any? What is the relationship between strategic intelligenceKfflKt.:

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the formulation of policy, and where does one end and the other begin? Any systematic discussion of these and other important first principles is conspicuously absent.

To be fair to the author. It may not hare been his purpose to consider these broader aspects. The stated aim of the book is to develop the principles of strategic Intelligence production (as opposed to strategic Intelligence,nd the emphasis is put explicitly on the working level. Hence, when the author speaks of principles, he may be thinking of bread-and-butter principles designed to provide the readerhow to" book or (perhapsort of Intelligence do-it-yourself kit. Torude analogy, the author may not have Intended to talk about transportation but merely about how to assemble an automobile. In any case, the result has been to divorce the working principles of strategic intelligence production from the broader theoretical and philosophical principles to which they relate. In doing so, the author has omitted the kind ofwhich probably most needs development in the literature and has rendered the principles which he gives us lessand helpful than they otherwise would have been.

General Piatt's book isresentation of certain basic principles of strategic Intelligence production and of methods of the social sciences and the assistance they can give the intelligence officer, to probability and certainty, and toThe author also gives us discussions of thebetween information and Intelligence, of the scientific method and Its application to strategic Intelligence production, and of intelligence production as an act of creative thinking. The last chapter covers the characteristics of the Intelligence profession.

The book presents nine principles of Intelligence production said to be similar In their field to Clausewitz's principles of war: namely, purpose, definitions, exploitation of sources,cause and effect, spirit of the people, trends, degrees of certainty, andne can scarcely quarrel with the relevance and Importance of these principles to theof strategic Intelligence. Agreeing with these princi-

howeverf^nuchIff^PMfe*

bad and motherhood admirable. Although each of theIs elaborated elsewhere In the book, one Is left with the feeling that he has beenkeleton without very much flesh on it. Thehink. Is fairly clear: here asthe book concentrates on working principles andto the virtual exclusion of broaderesult, we are given many fine hats, but no hat rack on which to hang them. The fact that the author may not have intended to giveat rack makes the hats no easier to handle.

It is Interesting that the author compares his nine principles not only with Clausewitz's principles of war but also with the Ten Commandments It may be remarked that during New Testament times the Pharisees, among others, were criticized, not because they disobeyed the Ten Commandments, butthey obeyed them rigidly, literally, and pridefully, and without spirit, compassion, or understanding. The user of General Piatt's nine principlesimilar risk, for although adherence to these principlesecessary condition to the production of good strategic Intelligence, It Isufficient condition.

The author states that the book Is 'purposely discursive" because such discursiveness is necessaryield with "so little unity of background, or systematic development of generalowever much this may be true, the book is not well organized or put together and frequently does not develop Its themes systematically or comprehensively. Moreover, the presentation Is often not as clear or as convincing as It should be and Is sometimes downright Irritating or dangerouslyThe book discusses at some length whether or not thereroupational character and, if so, whether or not Information can be gained about It. Ites answer to both of theselosely related questionforeign are foreigners?Is notes or no answer, but It Is clear that the author believes there Is some 'Torelgnness'* inish that the author had gone one step further (and incidentally, in so doing, better pulled his discussion to- ..

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gether) by warning tbe mtollJgence

irrevocably lost if he does not put hlrnselfTrftheiscnWoH

thought and/or action of the people or events which he is studying. Elsewhere the author attempts to quantify theof the 'inherent value" of various kinds ofwith time by stating, for example, that strategic intelligence depreciatesercent per month in wartime, so that at the endonths it has lost half Its value and at the endonths nearly three-fourths. These rates ofare presented out of hand, andualifying footnote, not as orders of magnitude, but as more or less fixed and immutable laws. It is difficult to decide whether to be horrified, or amused.inal example, the author discusses the normal curve of frequency distribution and suggestsimodal curve makes It practically certain that the group studied was in fact two groups of diverse origin. The reader is left with the Impression that the normal curve Is tbe most common kind of curve encountered In the social sciences and that deviations from it merely reflect the mixture of twoor inadequate sampling. Actually the analyst in many of the social sciences will only rarelyormal curve, not because he has mixed universes or developed bad samples, but simply because tbe universe with which be deals does not group Itself In the manner described by the so-called normal curve.

On the positive side, many of tbe principles andin the book are decidedly well worth statingto be part of the mental makeup and box of toolsproducer of strategic Intelligence. None of theseis strikingly new, but each Is at least useful andthan that, and together theyelpfulof tools and techniques. For example, the authortwo Important differences between the usual kindscholarship and the kind required for the production

of strategic intelligence. The importance of these-'

encesusefulness and timelinesscan scarcely be .

phasired, not only to those newly entering intelligence-

but also to Its current practitioners. The author makes a

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although not entirely sucx*ssful)y. to develop the relationship between the social sciences and strategic intelligence. This portion of the book points up the similarity between thematter and methods of the social sciences and intelligence and suggestshorough grounding in one or more of the social sciencesost useful background for the strategic intelligence officer. The book also contains hi one chapter, entitled "Probability andnd tn another, entitledumber of specific tools of analysis which can be of considerable use to the intelligence analyst.

The author first touches upon another important issuecasually. Early in the book he states that "In. we recognize intelligence as one of the socialar from explicitly providing and Justifying thisoes not even consider this question. The last chapter of the book discusses at some length theof the intelligence profession compared with otherHere the author states that "perhaps It would be more correct to say that as at present practiced intelligence has the makingsrofession, rather thatrofession" (emphasis In theiscussion then follows in which the author states that intelligence now lacks most ofearned profession, the key elements of which he lists and discusses. In short, the author asserts thatis atocial science androfession.

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Although the author asserts early In the book thatis one of the social sciences, he seems to writeas though it were not. Intelligence Is conspicuously missing from his list of the social sciences. The authorrefers to the social sciences and never to the other social sciences, even when, if Intelligenceeparate social science, the context calls for the latter expression. Finally, the author discusses what he believes toesirable undergraduateiculum as preparation for an Intelligence career and pleads for professional schools of intelligence at the graduate level. It Is notable that his list of undergraduate fields Includes only

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modern history, geography, and economics. His graduate school, which is to provide advanced studies "specifically In [the Intelligence]s to teach "the underlying philosophy and Improved Isle] methodology ofnd "to do systematic research into Intelligence production methods or to explore the basic principle* of this great field of human activity" (emphasis In thearticular course or field of study laid out, nor does the author describe exactly what is to be taught.

In the first issue of Studies in Intelligence, Sherman Kentucid and stimulating article on the needr. Kent argued that "intelligence hasin our own recent memory, an exacting, highly skilled profession and an honorablentelligence today Is notrofession, but like most professions It has taken on the aspectsiscipline: It hasecognized methodology; it hasocabulary; It hasody of theory and doctrine; It has elaborate and refined techniques. It nowarge professional following. What It lacksent says, then, that Intelligence isearned profession and close toiscipline. General Piatt, in contrast, concedes to Intelligence that higher order of developmentiscipline but does not believe It yet torofession.

Dr. Kent's article has stimulated considerable discussion of whether intelligence In fact has the attributeseparate discipline and, if so, what these attributes are. General Piatt's belief that intelligence falls short ofearned profession should stimulate even more. The Issues are much too complex to be considered here, even if the reviewer felt competent to do so. The reviewer believes, however, more or less Intuitively, that intelligence Is withouteparate profession,earned profession at that, because In Kent's terms it requires native mtolligcnce, rigorous training, and both general compe-

The Need for aa Intelligencetudies tn InUOtprnce

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IMMT

not Intelligenceeparate discipline, It may be notedrecognized disciplines, in addition toody ol

theoryethodology and vocabulary, also dealarticular subject matter which is more or less distinct from the subject matter of the other disciplines. Strategicbowever, dealsariety of events andencompassing almost every form of human activity, which are also the concern of the conventional natural and social sciences. Most of us believe, however. Intuitively at least, that intelligence is more than the parroting of any one of these disciplines and more than their simple sum. Must we not then discover what this "more" la, and. just asrecord It for all to see, before we can know who we are and where we belong?

To some, all this mayere jousting with windmillslaying with words, particularly since the job to be done seems so clear and the tune It allows for speculation so dis-couraglngly small. Surely, however, this is not tbe case. Issues such as these must be faced as part and parcel of that looking at ourselves which marks our growing up. Until we face them, make up our minds about them, and write down our thoughts and our conclusions, we cannot really know about ourselves General Piatt has attempted to do this, although only partially successfully, and be is to be commended for trying.

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Louis Mahkngo

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