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Fighting for Intelligence: The Design of Intelligence-Led Operations

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Master's thesis

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Achieving the level of learning, understanding, and systems thinking necessary to cope with modern, complex rivals and operating environments requires a reciprocal and carefully designed relationship between operations and intelligence. A paradigm shift in the joint force approach to understanding modern adversaries is long overdue. Learning and understanding the ever-changing structure and relationships of rival systems requires active interaction rather than a pursuit of actionable intelligence through periodic sampling with passive collection. Significant elements of our operations must now be directed towards creating conditions for learning and understanding. Joint doctrine requires subordination of intelligence to other forms of operations, making it difficult for the inverse to occur when necessary. To cope with uncertainty and complexity, a new paradigm for understanding the adversary and operating environment must emerge. Intelligence-led operations -- the purposeful interaction to gain awareness, understanding, and leverage over rival systems -- should be the foundation of this new paradigm. Intelligence-led operations should originate from the operational art and design of a campaign. By applying the heuristics of systems thinking and operational design to this problem, an intellectual foundation for the continual design of intelligence-led operations can be established. In modern campaigning, fighting for intelligence is as necessary as fighting with it. We have to interact with rival systems and learn from that interaction if we are to succeed. Intelligence-led operations create the necessary reciprocal relationships that allow for such success. The purpose of intelligence-led operations is to increase understanding of rival systems, an outcome that ultimately benefits all lines of operation. Operational design provides the framework to develop and guide intelligence in the pursuit of systemic awareness as well as campaign goals and objectives.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Military Intelligence
  • Unconventional Warfare

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