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Military Intelligence

Updated on December 12, 2009

Military Intelligence is evaluated and interpreted information together with the conclusions based on the information. It may be concerned with an actual or possible enemy or with an area of the world that is an actual or possible scene of military operations.

Information is evaluated to determine its accuracy. It is then interpreted to determine its significance in the light of what is already known. The conclusions that are drawn may include an estimate of the military capabilities of the enemy. They may also include a determination of the effect on military operations of certain characteristics of the area studied. Such details as climate, terrain, population, and resources are important to the determination.

Military intelligence is of two general types: combat intelligence and strategic intelligence. Combat intelligence is produced in the field after the outbreak of hostilities. It is the responsibility of the intelligence section of the headquarters of tactical units. All headquarters, from the battalion upward, include an intelligence section. It is headed by a staff officer who is responsible to the unit commander. He collects information about the enemy and the area of operations. He then produces and disseminates the resulting intelligence throughout the command.

Strategic intelligence differs from combat intelligence primarily in scope. However, it is also different because it is produced in time of peace, as well as during actual hostilities. It must therefore include as. complete as possible coverage of every nation and area that might become a theater of military operations. In the United States strategic military intelligence is at the top level the responsibility of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The agency was established in 1961. It assumed the functions formerly carried on by the intelligence branches of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The director of DIA is a military officer of the rank of lieutenant general or vice admiral. He is directly responsible through the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense. He furnishes all current military operations intelligence. He assembles, integrates, and validates all military intelligence requirements and prepares a single overall Department of Defense intelligence estimate. The DIA also supervises the collection of combat intelligence. However, responsibility for the actual process of collecting combat intelligence remains with the three military departments. The director of the DIA represents the Defense Department at meetings of the U.S. Intelligence Board. The board operates within the framework of the Central Intelligence Agency to coordinate all intelligence activities of the U.S. government.

Military intelligence diagram of defense positions during the Battle of Okinawa, 1945
Military intelligence diagram of defense positions during the Battle of Okinawa, 1945


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