Strategic intelligence (STRATINT)

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The processes of strategic intelligence

The processes of gathering, processing, analyzing, and disseminating the necessary intelligence for military planning and policy formation at the national and foreign levels are collectively referred to as strategic intelligence (STRATINT).1 Intelligence may be viewed from the viewpoint of what an entity or organization wants to know about the environment in which it operates in order to gain insight into its current processes and expected and future changes.2 Aggregation of different intelligencesia for the purpose of enhancing organizational intelligence is another aspect of strategic intelligence, as well as knowledge management that facilitates the acquisition of vital information that plays a significant role in various organizational decision-making processes.3 Much of the required information for strategic reflections originate from open source intelligence. The five basic intelligence collection components include the human intelligence (HUMINT), Signal Intelligence (SIGINT), Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) Imaginary intelligence (IMINT), and Open source intelligence (OSINT).4 This paper seeks to address the value of strategic intelligence to national policy and decision makers. This paper also explains why it is necessary to cover all the five basic intelligence collection components as an integrated study as opposed to separating them into their individual stovepipes for study.

The Value of Strategic Intelligence to National Policy and Decision Makers

Strategic intelligence plays an essential role in a country's national security as well as a valued role to national policy and decision makers. Strategic intelligence refers to the necessary intelligence for the creation and implementation of a strategy, usually termed as the national strategy.5 A strategy is not just a plan. Rather, it is a logic driven plan. Strategic intelligence is a necessary tool for the county's policy development as well as a military strategy to use within the country and abroad.6 Additionally, it is essential for every country to have a well-developed intelligence infrastructure with separate agencies for the provision of optimal avenues of information collection and analysis, as well as dissemination.7

The intelligence cycle: Direction and Planning, Collection, Processing, Analysis, and Dissemination

The intelligence cycle consists of five primary components which include Direction and Planning, Collection, Processing, Analysis, and Dissemination. The five components of the intelligence cycle cannot operate independently since they feed one another in a cyclical manner.8 The Intelligence cycle's first step, which is Planning and Direction, defines what is required or essential in driving the intelligence team to begin its search. Based on what the leadership of a country or organization deems of most significance, the resources are then directed towards driving the intelligence, thereby influencing the decision-making process.9

The Collection step gets derived from specific requirements that initiate the collection of raw data for analysis. The collection process may include the open source information, which is readily available to the public, or the sensitive information sources, which include the use of either agents or technical means such as satellite imagery, communications intercepts, and clandestine among others.10 The gathered information then goes to the processing stage, the third step of the intelligence cycle, which involves the adoption of the information collected, into functional forms for analysis.11 The processing step could include scientific testing of samples, language translation, as well as decoding of signals or messages.12

The processed information then undergoes analysis and the production of the provided intelligence. In the analysis stage, the processed data gets dissected by the experts for perspective and validity.13 The data analysis process makes use of a combination of both the current and historical information with the aim of establishing the significance and reliability of the gathered information.14 Additionally, the analysis experts' work involves combining information with the objective of producing analyses that answer questions, resolve information conflicts, as well as make predictions so as to fill various gaps in what is known regarding different subjects of interest to policy and decision makers.15

The intelligence processes are however imperfect due to their dependence on human experience, imagination, judgment, as well as the ability to sift through several data points and identify what is relevant and reliable in establishing an accurate picture in the prediction of adversary actions.16

The final step of the intelligence cycle is the Dissemination, which involves the provision of intelligence or information to policy or decision makers.17 The information can get customized particularly for the entity that requested it, or it can get delivered to a bigger audience that includes the policy or decision makers, as well as analysts or intelligence staff.18 The strategic intelligence cycle works best in support of policy and decision makers. Additionally, due to the constant evolution of circumstances, the strategic intelligence processes usually undergo continuous adjustments.19 Besides, within every stage of the strategic intelligence process, there is the assessment of the nation's feasibility aimed at ascertaining if new resources or techniques are necessary for carrying out the strategic intelligence functions.20 In overall, the strategic intelligence system is adaptable and works towards being responsive to national policy and decision makers' needs.

Additional Importance of Strategic Intelligence

Additionally, given that strategic intelligence is necessary for the policy formation both at the national and international levels, it forms an integral part of how policy and decision makers get assisted in performing their duties of protecting and guiding the country.21 Strategic Intelligence is, therefore, oriented on national goals and objectives, helping in the determination of the country's feasibility, as well as planning accomplishment methods. The manner of the establishment of the directives that propel the gathering, examination, and interpretation of intelligence enables the intelligence team to provide policy and decision makers with what they require to perform their duties effectively.22

The significance of the role played by strategic intelligence in the realization of a country's, or firm's success is, therefore, indispensable. In fact, most countries and organizations view strategic intelligence as having relevant information for the right persons to make the informed and proper decision for the country's or organization's future success.23 The value of strategic intelligence may, therefore, be evident in the country's or organization's ability to maintain reputation despite various challenges that need critical decisions.24

Why it is Necessary to Cover all the Five Basic Collection Components as an Integrated Study

The five basic collection components of strategic intelligence include the human intelligence (HUMINT), Signal Intelligence (SIGINT), Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) Imaginary intelligence (IMINT), and Open source intelligence (OSINT).25 It is always necessary to cover all the five collection components as an integrated study as opposed to separating them into their individual stovepipes for study. That is because the integration of the five components allows for the incorporation of intelligence from all the intelligence disciplines so as to produce a consolidated or combined intelligence of significant value.26

Additionally, the integration of the five collection components of strategic intelligence helps in the reinforcement of the relationship between the intelligence users and the producers.27 Besides, it also promotes an improved evaluation approach in all the levels including raw data, sing-source intelligence, as well as all-source intelligence products.28 The coverage of all the five basic collection components of strategic intelligence as an integrated study is also necessary since it promotes the existence of a collaborative environment.29 Such an environment allows for the accessibility, discovery, and regular sharing of information among the data collectors, data analysts, and the end-users with the aim of improving the quality of intelligence products.30


The use of strategic intelligence is vital for every country and organization due to the current global threat environment. It is essential for the world nations and organizations to consider creating more and new intelligence training programs as a protective measure against the increasing global threats. Such new programs should be in a position to train both the current and future leaders on matters relating to intelligence, law enforcement, military, counterterrorism, as well as training the corporate world on the value of proper intelligence collection and analysis. However, such programs can only be successful if they focus on strategic intelligence as a means of training national and organizational leaders to have the foresight for preventing various terrorist threats and attacks.


Bar-Joseph, Uri and Amr Yossef. "The Hidden Factors That Turned The Tide: Strategic Decision-Making And Operational Intelligence In The 1973 War". Journal of Strategic Studies 37, no. 4 (2014): 584-608.

Capano, Giliberto and Andrea Lippi. "How Policy Instruments Are Chosen: Patterns Of Decision Makers’ Choices". Policy Sciences (2016): 218-416.

Marrin, Stephen. "Revisiting Intelligence And Policy: Problems With Politicization And Receptivity". Intelligence and National Security 28, no. 1 (2013): 1-4.

Reamer, Kevin. "The Importance Of Intelligence In Combating A Modern Insurgency". Journal of Strategic Security 2, no. 2 (2009): 295-304.

July 07, 2023


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