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The intelligence cycle is
|“||[t]he process by which information is converted into intelligence and made available to users.||”|
|“||an iterative process in which collection requirements based on national security threats are developed, and intelligence is collected, analyzed, and disseminated to a broad range of consumers. Consumers sometimes provide feedback on the finished intelligence products, which can be used to refine any part of the intelligence cycle to ensure that consumers are getting the intelligence they need to make informed decisions and/or take appropriate actions.||”|
Steps in the cycle Edit
The intelligence cycle has six steps, each of which drives the next step in the process.
- Step 1: Planning and direction. The planning and direction step sets the stage for the Intelligence Cycle. It is the springboard from which all Intelligence Cycle activities are launched. Oftentimes, the direction part of the step precedes the planning part. Generally, in such cases, the consumer has a requirement for a specific product. That product may be a full report, a graphic image, or raw information that is collected, processed, and disseminated, but skips the analysis and production step. Given the customer's requirement, the intelligence organization tasked with generating the product will then plan its Intelligence Cycle activities.
- Step 2: Collection. Data collection is performed to gather raw data related to the five basic intelligence sources (Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT), Human Intelligence (HUMINT), Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT), Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT), and Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)). The sources of the raw data may include, but are not limited to, news reports, aerial imagery, satellite imagery, and government and public documents.
- Step 3: Processing and Exploitation. The processing and exploitation step involves the use of highly trained and specialized personnel and technologically sophisticated equipment to turn the raw data into usable and understandable information. Data translation, data decryption, and interpretation of filmed images and other imagery are only a few of the processes used for converting data stored on film, magnetic, or other media into information ready for analysis and production.
- Step 4: Analysis and Production. The analysis and production step also requires highly trained and specialized personnel (in this case, analysts) to give meaning to the processed information and to prioritize it against known requirements. Synthesizing the processed information into a finished, actionable intelligence product enables the information to be useful to the customer. Note that, in some cases, the Intelligence Cycle may skip this step (for example, when the consumer needs only specific reported information or products such as raw imagery).
- Step 5: Dissemination. The consumer that requested the information receives the finished product, usually via electronic transmission. Dissemination of the information typically is accomplished through such means as websites, email, Web 2.0 collaboration tools, and hardcopy distribution. The final, finished product is referred to as "finished intelligence." After the product is disseminated, further gaps in the intelligence may be identified, and the Intelligence Cycle begins all over again.
- Step 6: Evaluation. Constant evaluation and feedback from consumers are extremely important to enabling those involved in the Intelligence Cycle to adjust and refine their activities and analysis to better meet consumers' changing and evolving information needs.
- ↑ Operational Terms and Graphics, at 1-101.
- ↑ Homeland Security Intelligence: Perceptions, Statutory Definitions, and Approaches, at 2 n.5.
- Steps in the cycle section: National Intelligence: A Consumer's Guide-2009, at 17-19.