The Intelligence Cycle
The Intelligence Cycle
Typically, the intelligence Cycle refers to the process where data is converted into
intelligence and provided to the consumers (Weiss & Naylor, 2010). The primary objective of
the intelligence cycle is to offer policymakers with accurate, timely, and effective process of
creating intelligence products. The core purpose of this paper is to explore the steps used in the
intelligence cycle. Mainly, the intelligence process comprises of seven integrated steps. These
steps are; Requirements, Collection, Processing and Exploitation, Analysis and production,
Dissemination, Consumption, and Feedback. In the modern security system, there exists a
complex array of data, and it is difficult for intelligence systems without adequate resources to
mitigate risks and threats in the environment.
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The concept of requirements is the first step in the intelligence cycle. Mainly, this step
involves planning and direction. In that regard, the idea of requirements identification consists of
the definition of questions that should be used in the contribution of creating reliable and
efficient intelligence. Besides, requirements involve specifying the collection of different aspects
of information. In other words, the majority of policies formulated in modern security have
intelligence requirements (Weiss & Naylor, 2010). The entire intelligence cycle is expensive,
and priorities are essential in addressing the limited capabilities of intelligence. Therefore,
through the concept of requirements, the information sets its priorities to allow the initiation of
other procedures. Mainly, the ability to produce Intel is inadequate, and the intelligence
requirements are needed to maximize the production even by using a limited and constant
number of available resources.
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The methodology used in the requirements step identifies different areas in which the
intelligence is produced. It also ensures that the information provided has the most impact and
contributed actively to the intelligence process. Requirements ensure that planning is done
fundamentally to determine the categories of intelligence that need to be gathered. One type of
information gathered through requirements is OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) (Weiss &
Naylor, 2010). Moreover, this step ensures that the processes, people, and technology applied in
the cycle are established based on the roles and responsibilities of each level. On the priorities
are set in the requirements, the next step of the collection follows.
The collection is the second step in the intelligence cycle. Mainly, collection involves the
different activities that are addressed through research. The steps involve the collection of
relevant data used to ensure that the requirements were accurately defined. Besides, the process
of data collection can be done through the rational approach or technical approach. Collection
also involves gathering data from different sources, such as primary and secondary sources. The
collection is a necessary procedure in the intelligence process because it is used in the
intelligence community and in the military to gather data and information. The chief sources
used in intelligence are objects, emanations, records, and people. Thus, these sources form
different disciplines of collection, such as OSINT, SIGNT, IMINT, HUMINT, and others (Radu
& Viorel, 2014). In other words, intelligence is collected in the intelligence cycle once priorities
and requirements are formulated. However, different elements have a specific collection
approach where some conditions are subjected to several types of collection. Decision making is
essential in determining the kind of data to be collected to meet priorities and needs (Radu &
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Viorel, 2014). Overall, after data collection, the correlation of information is completed before
forwarding the information to the third step for processing and production.
Processing and Exploitation
This is the third step in the intelligence cycle. In the previous step, the collection gathers
information in the form of raw data. Thus, processing and exploitation ensure that collected data
is processed before classifying it as an intelligence (Pellissier & Nenzhelele, 2013). Therefore,
the data analyst is essential in this step in converting the raw data into intelligence through
conversion approaches such as interpretation, decryption, and translations. In other words, this
procedure ensured the collected raw data is translated, interpreted, and converted into a reliable
form for users of intelligence. Processing and exploitation make sure the information is decoded
from foreign language through evaluation of reliability and relevance (Pellissier & Nenzhelele,
2013). The process also involves the collation of raw data in preparation for exploitation. At the
end of this step, the raw data is converted into information.
Analysis and Production
Analysis and production is the fourth step in the intelligence process. Mainly, the level
addresses the evaluation, integration, and analysis of data. The procedure is also applied in the
production of intelligence products for end-users. Some of the intelligence products are prepared
through event-oriented reports, single-sources, intelligence studies, and long-term sources. The
analysis of intelligence is exclusively done by the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and
Research, DIA, and CIA (Malone, 2015). The analysis is done by analysts who complete a
thorough assessment and evaluation of intelligence information through the integration of data
from unclassified and classified primary and secondary sources.
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Besides, analysis and production is a vital step in the intelligence process because it
enhances the refinement of the intelligence information produced in the processing and
exploitation step. Mainly, analysis involves the fusion of intelligence information processes in
intelligence disciplines that remain the leading task performed by analysts. Moreover, the
analysis consists of findings, forecasts, and facts of intelligence information that determines the
element of research to allow anticipation and estimation of events and results. Analysts used in
this step should ensure that the analysis is accurate, timely, and objective.
The level also ensures that intelligence is produced objectively via different basic types
of reasoning. Thus, analysts use abduction, induction, the scientific method, and deduction to
ensure that the analysis of intelligence id produced objectively (Malone, 2015). Analysts should
also take into consideration the different analytical pitfalls because the analysis of intelligence
information can be bias and misperceived. Furthermore, the result of the analysis of intelligence
information is value-added tailored toward a specific requirement. For example, the CIA is the
main body trusted with national security in the United States. Thus, creating finished intelligence
for the CIA would be of great importance for military and national security in the United States.
Dissemination is the fifth step in the intelligence cycle. Distribution is crucial in the
delivery of finished intelligence products. Mainly, these products are designed in different forms
based on the requirements of the decision-maker and other reporting needs (Lahneman, 2010).
Besides, the intelligence community can disseminate finished intelligence products found in the
level of urgency. Dissemination is a logical step in the intelligence process because it allows the
smooth distribution of the finished intelligence products to end-users (Lahneman, 2010). Once
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the finished intelligence is distributed to the consumers, it is used to make viable decisions based
on the type of information provided.
In most cases, dissemination and consumption go together. In the intelligence process,
the use of finished intelligence is a vital process that determines the outcome of using a specific
knowledge (Geraint, 2009). Some of the consumers of complete information are the president as
the commander-in-chief of armed forces, the national security advisers, and policymakers whose
drive established the formulation of the intelligence requirements (Geraint, 2009). Once the
intelligence is moved from producers to consumers in the step of dissemination, consumption of
the information by policymakers assures those involved in the intelligence process whether the
cycle was feasible or infeasible.
The last step in the intelligence process involves giving feedback to determine the
success or failure of the entire cycle. The level consists of a dialogue between the producers and
consumers of finished intelligence products (Deng & Luo, 2010). Mainly, the dialog takes place
before and progresses after producing and receiving the intelligence. Thus, through feedback, the
analyst can access some sense of how the intelligence requirements are used to make the
necessary adjustments. Through feedback, assessment is made to determine the level in which
the finished intelligence managed to address the needs of the intelligence users (Deng & Luo,
2010). Feedback also determines whether there is a need for further collection and data analysis.
Overall, the intelligence cycle is a closed-loop where outcomes trigger input from the decision-
maker to revise the requirements issued in the initial stage.
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To sum up, each stage plays a vital role in the preparation of crucial finished intelligence.
Many countries across the globe have invested in the intelligence process to enhance their
national security. Without the use of intelligence information, the world would be the most
unsafe and secure place ever existed. The exploration of each element of the intelligence cycle
demonstrates it is essential to understand, address, and investigate risks and threats in a safer,
efficient, and thorough approach.
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