29 November 2011


You've got intel to gather -

... put people on the ground, go covert, and hope they can get word back to you before they get popped?

... put intercepts on the wires, drones in the air, and radar all around and look for 'indicators'?

Both have advantages, both have problems. Stake your claim to one or the other and sound off below!

By: Brant


Brian said...

HUMINT, for choice.

Here's why:

Matt Purvis said...

Oh, those HUMINTers are a bunch of wankers that all think they are James Bond incarnate. ;)

I'm biased, but TECHINT is where it is at. People lie, massive troves of data can't defy statistical analysis.

In the end, the right answer is both are necessary. Well trained and experienced eyes and ears on the ground are necessary to confirm all the intel gathered from afar by more technological means.

Good question.

Anonymous said...

HUMINT is harder, but gets you better answers about specific things

TECHINT gets you big picture trends but isn't likely to give you actionable details

Matt Purvis said...

Oh, i've seen SIGINT provide plenty of actionable intelligence. Many times in Afghanistan and Iraq, missions hinged soley on SIGINT.

Brian said...

Matt, I am not saying TECHINT is not necessary - as you point out, both forms of intelligence are, for different reasons.

Brant sets up a lot of false dichotomies in these "Sound Offs!"; the answer is almost always, "it depends." But then again, it's the discussion the topic provokes that's the important part.

Matt Purvis said...

You're right, Brian. All forms of intel serve to corroborate each other. I think the biggest intel failures I've experienced were when a single source was relied upon too heavily.

Brant said...

Brian is right that a lot of these can be seen as false dichotomies. But he's also right that the point is to generate discussion rather than set any sort of absolute rule. As a former BN/BDE S2, there's no way I'd ever limit the tools available to me. But I was very, very fond of my HUMINT guys, because they could give a lot of on-the-ground context that the tech systems never could.

Even a scout on the hill can give me a better headcount of type/quantity/quality of a mass of vehicles than a UAV overflight. Is that a big assembly area of a task-org'ed unit, or a UMPC of broken ash-and-trash that looks big in aggregate on film, but not so impressive to a scout with bino's?

Brian said...

Brant, I did not mean to sound dismissive of your Sound Off column; again, it's the discussion of the (non-exclusive) alternatives that's the important part.