Intelligence cycle is the procedure in which unprocessed data is made into sophisticated data that is of great help to the policy makers. Information refers to a set of unprocessed data from whichever source. This data can be scrappy, conflicting, defective, unclear or deceptive. Intelligence, on the other hand, refers to facts that have been collected, evaluated and analysed. Finished intelligence is a term that is used to describe the final product that is given to the consumer and is useful in any decision making process.
There are various types of finished intelligence. These are basic, current and estimative intelligence. Basic intelligence is one that provides reference material on a country or an issue at hand. Current intelligence is one that reports on any new developments while estimative intelligence makes a judgement on the possible outcome of an issue. The three forms of intelligence work together for a positive result. Basic intelligence is the basis for the establishment of both current and estimative intelligence. Current intelligence informs knowledge while estimative intelligence revises all interpretations.
Intelligence activities date back many years ago. Intelligence is a product of long-term evolution. It has undergone various steps and dynamism to reach the greater heights they are in today. During the time of revolution in the United States, the government depended on personal spies to gather information. Spying was a casual business. The alert given by Paul Revere in 1775 warning the British was a personal decision. Generals in the army used spies as part of their services. This aspect of having a spy saw the beginning of a well-established intelligence unit. Between 1861-1862 intelligence tricks were through the use of spies. Spying then became a systematic occurrence. The US military started the organized form of collecting information immediately after the end of the civil war. In 1866, the first person was sent, on an official mission, to collect secret information (Johnson, 2007).When Roosevelt commanded the Bureau of investigation, there was a dire need for coordination He created an office of intelligence activities in the year 1941 which later developed into a true intelligence organization under the office of Strategic services. When this section was destroyed after World War 2, intelligence services were taken to the war section. After the war, there was a necessity for a more detailed intelligence unit. George, an author on national security, expressed the need for a more sophisticated intelligence unit for peaceful existence. The central intelligence agency was set up in 1947 and it officially began its activities.
In the US, it dates back to the time of George Washington. It has been coordinated on government basis only after the Second World War. It consists of various steps that should be followed keenly to reach a resolution. The course of the intelligence cycle is circular in nature. Although the progress of arriving at a conclusion is progressive, it may require that one go back to an earlier step to verify the newly discovered evidence before proceeding to the next step. The process of an intelligence cycle starts from the collection of all the necessary requirements. This step mainly focuses on the information necessity for the nation. It looks into what is essential in safeguarding the nation. These requirements mainly originate from the director of the intelligence unit, who seeks guidance from the president.
The next step involves the management and direction. This step involves the supervision of the whole process from identifying the need for information to the delivery of the outcome to the consumer. Collection is the next step that involves the gathering of unprocessed information based on the intelligence need. This step involves the use of various activities that aim at arriving at a conclusion. The next procedure involves the processing of the collected data. This step also requires the use of various methods. The information processed is then analysed and produced. It entails the arrival of intelligence information. The reliability, validity and information relevance is evaluated at this point (Johnson, 2007). The information gathered is then disseminated. This is the last step that involves the distribution of the information to the consumer whose needs initiated the call for intelligence to be carried out.
Today, intelligence unit has been divided into departments to ensure its efficiency in collecting information. There are two teams that are tasked with collection of information. The first team is the national clandestine service, which is probably the well-known team. Its employees are often regarded as spies; they go undercover to collect information. They employ human agents who assist in gathering information that is detrimental to the US security. These personnel operate secretly and by themselves to accomplish their task. The other is group is that works through electronic and satellite systems to gather information. They are mainly focused on handling open sources of information such as TV, Radio and magazines. The third group analyse and interpret the information collected. There is the fourth group that aims at providing support. They avail safety, necessary equipment and training, employ new personnel, ensure their health and work on any complicated equipment. The intelligence team consist of these four teams where each has a critical role to play in ensuring that their task is carried out effectively. They have sought the use of technology to meet the needs of the current dynamic society. They are keen on coordinated communication to ensure that terror attacks that are on the rise are curbed. They put forward strategies that predict any criminal acts.