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Military intelligence


Military espionage , or military intelligence(MI), is a military discipline that focuses on information gathering, control, anddissemination about enemy units, terrain, and the weather in an area of operations.

Most armies maintain a military intelligence division, section, or corps. Officers and enlisted men assigned to militaryintelligence are selected for their analytical abilities and the ability to keep secrets. They receive formal training in thesedisciplines.


The general method of military intelligence is to package information to support decisions by a policy maker (or 'warfighter'). Often, the military organization is swimming in unalayzed data. However, unless the right bit of data gets to theright person at the right time, the mass of data is useless.

In military organizations, a policy maker is nearly always a trained expert in military affairs and therefore usually needs notraining in best practices. Almost always, once the relevant information is available, standard procedures provide a very goodset of tactical options. The value that expert policy-makers add is their ability to neutralize opponents' decisions andadvantages by anticipating them.

The chief duty of an intelligence officer is therefore to discern the problems that confront a policy-maker, and anticipate,find and present the data that will be relevant to the policy-maker's decisions. For this reason, a good intelligence officer isoften quite annoying to a commander, insistently questioning the commander about the commander's intentions and desires withregard to tactics and strategy.

Another major goal of military intelligence analysts is to reduce the time that decisions take, so that their organization canoperate "inside the decision-action cycle of the enemy." By responding more quickly than an opponent, the opponent simply cannotrespond quickly-enough to mount an effective resistance.

Military policy decisions come in two basic forms: tactical and strategic.

Over short terms, tactics concerns utilization of existing resources. For example, an analyst in a battle is primarilyconcerned with locating the enemy, and providing information to help decide which tactics, units and weapons will most contributeto victory over that part of the enemy.

In modern automated battle-management, an analyst usually organizes data collection, data logistics and presentation, and maydirectly command combined battle forces to carry out some parts of this mission.

Over longer terms, strategy includes the construction of new tactics, resources and types of resource to counter anticipatedor actual new threats.

Strategic intelligence therefore usually proceeds by assessing or anticipating changes in world society. Relevant changes maybe scientific, technical, tactical, diplomatic or technical, but these changes are analyzed in combination with known facts aboutthe future, such as geography , demographics and industrial capacities.

Strategic intelligence is usually packaged as simulations or games based on particular scenarios. These games letpolicy-makers test new types of tactics and forces against the anticipated abilities of possible future enemies.

United States

The U.S. military refers to the military intelligence officer as the J-2 , G-2 or S-2 , depending on whether his orher assigment is with a joint service staff, a general officer's staff, or the staff of a unit commanded by an officer who ranksbelow general. In infantry battalions, this post is usually held by a captain, with a first lieutenant as a deputy and a mastersergeant (pay grade E-8) or platoon sergeant (pay grade E-7) as staff NCO .

The United States Army trains military intelligence officers at Fort Huachucha,Arizona .


In Britain the MI abbreviation is used by MI5 and MI6 ,but neither organization is a military intelligence group - the use is a historical vestige relating to their origins. Theintelligence group of the British Army is the Intelligence Corps .


  • "Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms." -- Groucho Marx (attrib.)

Related topics

scenario planning , propaganda , disinformation , military secrets , doublespeak

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