TITLE: Requirements and the American Scienciac
AUTHOR: Frank X. LaMountain
VOLUHB: 7 ISSUE:
A eolleclion ol articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspecls ol intelligence.
AN statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence arc those of
the authors. They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of ihe Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contcnis should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations.
problems in the guidancearticular kind of intelligence
REQUIREMENTS AND THE AMERICAN
My job Is the collection of intelligence Information fromscientists. To doepend heavily upon writtenfrom the production offices of the communityI am not scientifically trained. But while requirements are central to my effort, paradoxically they often Impede It because of deficiencies apparent to my sources which are not apparent to me. Since requirements will continue vital to myhould like to have themetter part ln It.
A requirement is something needed, and in practice sclen-
gence need. For the analyst thiseasonableto state his need. But lor the collector this impersonal kind of statement seems often to ignore the complex human source who must supply the need. This insensitivlty of analyst to source In the language of requirementsommunications failure for which the collector Cannot wholly compensate and which, while not fatal to the collection mission, attenuates the product.
Whereverry to adjust requirements tohink all collectors of scientific intelligence do. But this effort can have only limited success. TheJob is collection; it leaves little time for scrutiny ofMoreover, the technicalities and often the sheer numbers of requirements preclude lay editing. If anin requirements is to come,hink it must come at the point of origin.
In serving thousands of scientificavethings about technical question-askingould like to see applied in requirementshall detail these shortly. But here let me state their sum: that the great needew scientific requirements concept sen-
sitlzed to the reasonable In the concrete collectionthat Is, to the scientist
The Scientific Attitude
The scientistifficult source partly because of his special language buthink, becausepecial job
pllcity in the organization of objective truth. As the collector confronts it, the psychology of the scientist in pure form is something like this:
Nature, his subject. Is external being, systematic and subtle in structure. To investigate It his method must be objective logical and persistent. Confront himocial or political problem and he will unconsciously view it in terms of this habitual scientific methodology. When the methodology rails, he will register frustration with the social process.
For the scientisthich Includes government, is tooontrivance for securing advantage throughIn his casual observation itog of disarray and ready makeshift, qualities which are foreign to nature and foreign to the scientist's professional cast of mind. It is true that his reaction to politics Is reinforced by the broad popular disparagement of the art. But his indictment would stand anyway: politicsogical riot. Like other socialit will not stand still and be counted.
This is not an attitude which will bear the light ofscrutiny, but it seldom gets that The scientist livesof his work, even socially,ery great degree.social things which are outside his interesthe lacks the motivation to assess properly he can byall of us use, simply disparage. So while viscerallyappreciate the order which government brings, politicsoccupation he seldom remarks in any but aand the intelligence function, that unquestioningof the prevailing regime, can be its most
The Intelligence collector, then, walks into this mentaldeficient in both language and prestige, and he mustbegin to work upwardseful result. How
he has to go or whether he can make the climb at all depend in good part upon to what degree this simplistic mentality has been modifiediven source by other experiential factors. It has rarely been absent from my interviews. Occasionally It Is there in force. Nearly always, even with the friendly,source, it is present in some degree, alert for the trivial,
The Rote of Requirements
It is to this animus of his source more than to the peculiari-ties of scientific language that the collector must address his efforts in the interview. How successful these will be depends upon the quality of his strategy, of which the intelligenceare the fixed and inescapable element. They should be addressed, therefore, like his own efforts, first to giving theetter view ot American intelligence, and then to information objectives.
When they ate broached the requirements show thethreethey were preparederson of some technical background, that they are scientifically sound or not, and that they are reasonable in terms of his experience or not. His first reaction is not an answer but an Impression: American intelligence is competent or It is not.ime order the requirements firsticture ofintelligence and secondarily express its needs. Unless the scientist finds the picture better than his expectation, he is emotionally barred from turning usefully to the needs. It is my experience that he is so barred too often, that on the average the American scientist is not impressedake this reading from his typically un-enthusiastic manner, his brief attention to the questions, and, commonly, his criticism of some technical or rhetorical point All this in an atmosphere correctly pleasant, mind you, but registering disapprovalannon.
There are, of course, other things than requirements to queer an interview, most of them In the collector's ownbut It remains that requirements are the central thing, the core of the interview. If the collection of information from American scientists is to continue in the present way,
then let requirements ask the necessary, but for the sake of the American intelligence image and the information product let them ask It suitably.
To thisew suggestions to analysts on tech-rdque in scientific requirements writing. Each of theproposalsignificant and not unusual complaint
Ask the Essential
Beforeequirement determine with care,possible, whether the needed InformaUon Is available from other sources than the privatetheexisting Intelligence data, research files or currentof other government agencies, etc. Ponder seriously whether the need might be met by an arrangement ofdata and careful thought.
At writing, ask something scientifically big. Despite hisof politics, the source expects In the intelligence approach somethingational interest in research at the forefront. He is disturbed that the matter of questions is so often technicallytechniques ingrowth for semiconductors, mental health concepts in Moscow clinics. Items of research at theeV machine In Dubna. This kind of question must continue, of course, but the scientist's mind is at the forefront and he expects some inquiry at thatuggest he be asked, without regard to what the Soviets are doing, where the forefront in hislies, where the specialty is tending, and what its future configuration is likery toredict he will be pleased and disarmed. But more important, his answer will be an expert view of the future in his field, giving thetronger base from which to evaluate current foreign effort and aframework of the scientificallywhich to measure the importance of Soviet research directions.
Ask questions of substance only. The collector is practiced at asking general questions appropriate to the collectionRequirements questions should be essential to anintelligence objective and shouldureperception. Cover-all questions, such as "What is the
state of the art in controlled thermonuclear fusion in theDid the Soviet delegates at any time appear evasive in responding tond "What are key facilities In the Soviet space program and their positions inre passed over by most sources because they have not the time to ponder where to take hold of them.
In general, keep requirements succinct mr<Bro^'glandn number. Sources react badly to wordy or numerousunless they are uniformly superior. In myregardless of the Importancearget event to Intelligence, sources are seldom able to cope effectively with more than ten or so substantial questions. (The exception is where they have been asked to review at leisure survey-type requirements aimed at no particular event and covering needs In an entire scientifiche problem ofrief list'of questionsarget event from the questions of several intelligence agenciesan only suggest that all agencies hew to economy In questionsatter of
Ensure that questions asked once are not repeated inin tbe same set of requirements. Ensure also that multiple sets of requirements targeted against the same event do not duplicate questions. The collector may not have the competence to recognize the duplication, but the source will recognize It with annoyance.
Ask the Appropriate
When writing requirementsarticular source orof sources (such as conferencesk for things that they can reasonably providenowledge of their specialties or can reasonably acquire at the target event They cannot query Soviet conference delegates about weapons research or near-weapons research and will not do so. If the weapon is somethingball lightning, laser death ray,appliesould suggest that the analyst ask for evidence of Soviet standard research which he knows will have application to weapons. Normally this is theource can get. Certainly It Is the most he will usually venture.
v : OW-
arget event Is not of enough Importance toobjectives to warrant substantial requirements, do not ask routine coverage ol it or suggest pre-existing, quiteIll-fitting requirements. Many conferences and Bloc visits to the United States are so covered now at the risk ofto sources an impression of trite or uncertain in-
Do not ask the ordinary scientific traveler to observe things outside his field oficrobiologist on an exchange In Moscow should not be asked to report on the efficiency of the Moscow sewage system, the placement of ventilators in the Metropole, or the quantity of fumes emanating fromexhaust pipes. His rejoinder will be, "Don't weilitary attache in Moscow?"
Ask with Tact
Try toone of dogmatic Judgment ln requirements writing. For example, do notuestionratuitous (as distinctecessary) prefatory statement regarding something which exists or could exist In science or in Soviet science. It Invites the source to disagree and may shorten his patience and his answer. Example: "Q. There have been no significant Soviet papers In metal physicso what do you attribute this silence? A. This Is not true. There have been significant papers,he question might better have been phrased, "Have there been significant Soviet papers in metal physics ln the last several years? If so, would you try to recall them or at least theirt may be that the analyst is right and the source wrong about the significance of Soviet papers in metal physics, but it isnot to irritate the source with analyst opinions which do not directly contribute to the meaninguestion.
Make theommunication to the source,carefully to:
Courteous expression. When requirements are more than several, or areomplex character, it is natural to hand them to the source to read, and they should be phrased accordingly. Questions can be plain; "please" and "we would appreciate" need not encumber them. But commands such as "Specify" and "Explain in
tall" should be avoided. This consideration is valid, it seems to me, even in composing requirements foruse and only incidentally for domestic collection:uman being somewhere is always the source or the channel for the information sought, courtesy inhim would not be wasted. Attractive format and good syntax. Clear, uncrowded print, cleanly blccked,#is^ririly in requirements. Blue ditto at its bestasual effort, at its worst is illegible. Typing, black mimeograph, or oflsct would bead impression on sources who are usually university graduates, often universityis also created by the untidy sentence structure that often slips into requirements.
Insk analysts for substantia] need, awareness of source, and economy of words in intelligence requirementsfor the American scientist. Improved In theserequirements shouldetter intelligence image andetter information product.Original document.