WRSA just posted a link to a great article about special ops planning. After initial consultation with relevant experts, we’ve borrowed heavily from this process for our own intelligence gathering and administrative warfare process in our local battle over an out-of-control city government. An important part of the linked article is the claim that often, intelligence is operations.
Our intelligence gathering comes in two major forms: elicitation and document analysis. Each of these feeds the other in a continuous cycle, adapted from the F3EAD process described in the article linked by WRSA. There are other components including various forms of traffic analysis, but these two are the primary means. At this point, we have collected so much raw information that we have had to prioritize future targeting, and this means prioritizing operations to make sure that we exploit the highest-value targets.
The cyclical nature of the process is important. Often, we’ll start a specific operation, such as a series of records requests or targeted interviews, with a defined objective, such as “evaluate the validity of unconfirmed information A”. This information may have been obtained through a variety of sources, perhaps as a suspected bit of disinformation planted by a mole. Disinformation will often contain at least one true component, to establish validity, and at least one untrue component piggybacked onto the true component(s). Sometimes, a mole will attempt to goad friendlies into reacting to a salacious bit of untrue information, resulting in claims of defamation by hostiles, for one example, or wild goose chases, for another. Efforts at disinformation can also indicate an unintentional consciousness-of-guilt reaction to stress, such as that of having to maintain a web of lies in the face of a deliberate fact-finding effort. This kind of out-of-the-blue disinformation often provides the most valuable leads.
By slicing all claims into portions, we can independently assess each slice, spawn additional operations to verify those slices as needed, and prioritize those operations based on the perceived value of each anticipated result. Often, elicited information will be known as untrue from the start because of previously collected information. In these cases where verified untrue information has been presented, it becomes easier to focus on the prospective true carrier slice, as well as open a new folder on a source who has revealed themselves to be either deceptive or deceived. The results of each of these operations then feed into new intelligence requirements, in a never-ending cycle in which our operations uncover progressively more useful and valuable information, allowing us to more efficiently use our limited resources (all resources are limited).
In the early stages of a new campaign, the little threads which first caught your attention may not have very much perceived objective value. This process helps organize all those little details and begin the process of prioritization. Soon, the large amount of more useful detail which comes pouring in will feel like the proverbial haystack. Without a process for managing these details, important clues can be overlooked in the rush of information. You will also learn what kinds of operations bear the best fruit, and improve those operations over time. For example, after many cycles, our open-records requests have become more finely tuned, making it more difficult for officials to slither around the cracks and avoid essential answers.
At first glance, all of this may be seen as just plain common sense. However, by taking a step back and seeing the cycle as a deliberate process, and the interconnected nature of operations and intelligence, you will soon be in a position to prioritize operations (and in our case, this means targeted legal actions against misbehaving public officials), and not be distracted by a fog of details. Then, when the truly important nuggets come in, you will be ready to exploit them to their fullest.