Introduction to Intelligence
The intelligence cycle is the process of building up unrefined data into well-polished intelligence that can be used by policymakers. As an intelligence analyst for the Department of Homeland Security, I have the responsibility of ensuring that every threat that my unit receives is properly investigated. Despite the fact that the terrorist group AKA has never shown any signs of targeting the United States before, the current threat must be taken seriously. The OIA must, therefore, validate the current threat and initiate a strategic assessment to understand clearly the threat of AKA and also identify the present intelligence gaps. The intelligence cycle consists of six critical phases. The OIA will make use of each of the six stages to properly investigate and validate the threat of AKA to the security of the United States.
The purpose of the requirements phase is identifying all information needs. The OIA must establish what they must know to protect the nation. At this initial stage, the OIA should define the areas or policy issues which intelligence is supposed to make a contribution. The team must also make sound decisions as to which issues will be given priority over the others. This task will, therefore, calls for the OIA to specify the collection of specific types of intelligence. This phase is significant to the intelligence cycle because, despite the fact that all policy areas or issues have intelligence requirements, the nation have limited intelligence capabilities; therefore, priorities must always be set. This phase is crucial in determining who is responsible for setting the requirements and priorities and conveying them to the intelligence team (Nolan, 2015).
Planning and Direction phase
The function of the planning and direction phase is establishing intelligence requirements and planning the intelligence activities. This is the most important step in the intelligence cycle as it sets the pace for the intelligence cycle. The phase involves determining the needed information, establishing how the required information will be collected, and creating a schedule for obtaining the information. For the current case, OIA will identify and list all the information they need to know about AKA, their operations in the United States and the circumstances surrounding the threat in the U.S. the team will list down what they already know about the terrorist group as well as what they need to know. OIA will then discuss the possible ways of gathering the necessary intelligence (Walsh, 2014).
The purpose of this step is to gather raw data based on the set requirements. The OIA should gather all the available information about AKA that will be useful in the production of the finished intelligence. There are numerous sources of information that the intelligence team can make use to collect the required information. The team should utilize foreign broadcasts from country X, periodicals, newspapers, books, monitoring of local radios and television stations associated with country X. Additionally, the team can also use modern technology such as satellite photography as well secret agents in country X to gather vital information about the operations of the terrorist group. The importance of the collection phase to the intelligence cycle is that it presents the intelligence team will the opportunity to identify the present information gaps. After identifying information gaps they team can then learn to work with what they have to establish additional data (Webb, Maynard, Ahmad, & Shanks, 2013).
Processing and Exploitation phase
The collection phase only produces information but not intelligence. The purpose of the processing and exploitation phase is, therefore, to convert the wide range of information gathered into a useful form. The activities conducted by the DHS-OIA during this phase include language translations, decryption, data reduction and interpretation of information stored in magnetic and film media. Since most of the information about the terrorist will be collected from country X, then a huge bulk of the information will be in a foreign language. The team must, therefore, translate this formation into English and reduce information by picking out only the useful data. Processing, on the other hand, involves entering the raw data into databases so that it can be exploited and used in the analysis process. This phase is important to the intelligence cycle as a whole because it is responsible for transforming huge pieces of information into useful data that can be used by the analysts. Regardless of the amount of information gathered, this information cannot be useful unless it is converted into the right form (Pellissier & Nenzhelele, 2013).
Analysis and Production phase
The purpose of this phase is to turn the raw information into intelligence. During this phase, the DHS-OIA will be evaluating, integrating and analyzing the available data as well as preparing intelligence products. The team will evaluate and weigh the information’s validity, reliability, and relevance. The information is then logically integrated, coined into context and used to generate intelligence. The first four phases are worthless unless the intelligence is given to the analysts who can transform the intelligence into reports that meet the requirements of the policy makers. This phase is, therefore, significant to the intelligence cycle as it allows for the preparation useful intelligence products such as intelligence reports that can be used to make significant implications by the relevant policymakers (Jensen, McElreath, & Graves, 2012).
The main purpose of the dissemination phase is moving finished intelligence from the producers to the final consumers. The DHS-OIA is thus responsible for presenting the finished intelligence to the policy makers, the president of the United States and other relevant bodies. During this phase, the OIA will be undertaking activities that involve the physical distribution of finished intelligence reports to the president, policy makers, and key security advisers. This phase is important as it gives way for the identification of further intelligence gaps. This can be attributed to the fact that the policy makers read the final analysis and raise more questions thus identifying intelligence gaps (Nolan, 2015).