Review: Intelligence Collection – How to Plan and Execute Intelligence Collection in Complex Environments

4 Star, Intelligence (Commercial), Intelligence (Government/Secret)
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Wayne Michael Hall, Gary Citrenbaum

4.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Brilliant, Eye-Glazing, 505 Pages of Straight Text, 10 Micro-Slides, December 2, 2013

You could read this book a hundred times and learn something new every time. I have taken off one star because the book is too dense by far, with a tiny handful of graphics (no more than 10) all eye glazers that should have been simplified and printed to a full page — 550 pages, pure text. What needs to happen, plain and simple, is a complete do-over — this book needs to go to 620 pages at least, with 60 added graphics, tables, or lists.

What I love most about this book, and its companion, Intelligence Analysis: How to Think in Complex Environments (Praeger Security International) are the following two attributes:

01: Among all the books I have read on intelligence, these two books are among the most detailed, structured, critical, and relevant I have read. Both books share the same flaws, flaws that superior editing and a graphics team could easily fix for a second edition, which I would strongly recommend. BEFORE the books go to paperback, they need to be redone. As they are now, the books are too overwhelming for 98% of those who might otherwise benefit.

02 Buried within each chapter are absolute gems of blood-letting romping stomping criticism of the US Intelligence Community at every level (tactical to strategic) across every mission area. This book is startling in its depth and breadth of understanding. The authors are articulate but dense, and I dearly hope they will redo both books to make them more accessible to the vastly larger audience that needs this level of detail, but served up as a quiver of “open” chapters instead of one really dense baseball bat that clubs you to death with compounded words.

Although I am troubled by the book's emphasis on unilateral and largely military-oriented collection (as opposed to making full use of full-spectrum human and open source intelligence (fifteen slices) across the eight tribes and mulitnationally, I whole-heartedly recommend this book for every library on intelligence (decision-support), and I sincerely hope the authors will re-do both books to open them up — more graphics, more white space.

Below, for this particular book, I list the collection contradictions from chapter 4:

01 Connecting national support to tactical IW operations
02 Judging the quality of collection
03 Collection synergy
04 Capability to borrow collection time
05 Local human collection
06 Virtual Knowledge Environment (VKE)
07 Small concealable ground MASINT devices
08 Point persistent surveillance operations
09 Analytic guidance to collection
10 National and tactical level collection interaction
11 Paradox of specificity
12 Clash of perspectives

The book ends with a discussion of philosophy and tools for collection. The book over all has an excellent focus on insurgency and counter-insurgency intelligence needs. In 1992, roughly, I described the US Intelligence Community as consisting of one super-highway between DC and Moscow, with several heavy Cadillacs going back and forth. I articulated the need for 1,000 jeeps, 10,000 motorcycles, and 100,000 bicycles (to which today I would a million pedestrians). The secret world HAS NOT CHANGED. NSA is a massive waste of money that has also managed to alienate every political and corporate leader on the planet with its idiot intrusiveness (NSA's dirty little secret is that its keeps the money moving for pork, and does not process more than 5% of what it collects). Certainly advances have been made, but they continue to be incoherent. Localized air-breather imagery and signals collection appear from open source descriptions to be completely separate from one another, and neither is properly processed in the field. In human and open source collection, where I have spent several decades, we are broken beyond repair. While DIA and DoD clandestine have a tiny sliver of possibility under General Flynn, I scared the pants of his predecessor, when I was interviewed to be DISL for HUMINT, by suggesting that we not only needed to recruit mid-career US and foreign nationals far removed from active duty service, but that we should also sponsor multinational field stations (clandestine hubs).

There is ample room for radical improvement in US intelligence today, and I would venture to say that cutting the technical budget by 50% and doubling the HUMINT budget, would be a good place to start. We also need to rip the Open Source Center out of CIA, where it is the runt of the litter, the step-child stuffed in a closent with a sock in its mouth. They need to be integrated into the Open Source Agency I have fought for with a handful of other patriot professionals, an agency that will also fund Military Information Operations Support Task Forces (MISTF) for each regional command and whole of government campaign plan.

I regret I cannot keep this book, it is in the library of the J-2 for a special operations unit in Afghanistan, and deservedly so. Below are nine other books I recommend in the collection domain:

Denial and Deception: An Insider's View of the CIA from Iran-Contra to 9/11 (Nation Books)
Beyond Repair: The Decline and Fall of the CIA
The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture
Still Broken: A Recruit's Inside Account of Intelligence Failures, from Baghdad to the Pentagon
Very Special Intelligence
Deep Black: Space Espionage and National Security
The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America
Traitors Among Us: Inside the Spy Catcher's World
Merchants of Treason America's Secrets for Sale from the Pueblo to the Present

There are others, but Amazon's limit is 10 links per review. For my long list of intelligence related reviews, search for Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Intelligence (Most), with all reviews as published at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog leading back to their respective Amazon pages.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
Kabul, Afghanistan
ON INTELLIGENCE: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World (2000)

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