Preparation is paramount!
When contemplating the concept of intelligence collection being done without the advantage of effective reconnaissance and or surveillance of a target; many may consider not a logical manner in which to conduct “business.”
However some may contend that the bureaucratic nature of both government service and large corporate entities create an environment that is not conducive to efficient communication amongst internal departments. Research on the topic of “evaluating sources of information prior to collection” led to a historical perspective where we find CIA sage Mr. William P. Bundy in the year 1950; eloquently addressing his colleagues within the United States Intelligence Community “the essential problem is of course simply one of communication between human beings. No one who has ever done research on his own will have the slightest doubt that the ideal unit is one-a single person doing his own collecting and producing with no intermediaries whatever.”(1)
It appears that Mr. Bundy may have been eluding to a theory that man is quite simply too self absorbed by nature to work effectively in a group setting. However many could make the argument that intelligence collection like the military as a whole is a “team sport”; thus the challenge of striving for methods that foster unison within all facets intelligence gathering is paramount.
Moving forward we find Mr. Bundy further expound on the issue of obtaining sound and effective source evaluation “any businessman would despair if he tried to get the equivalent of a department by department profit-and-loss statement such as General Motors gets from Cadillac, Buick, and so on; and he would succumb to total frustration if he set out to take a measure of how the whole vast holding company was really doing.”(2) Mr. Bundy clearly recognized that the methodical, synchronized nature of a American Corporate “giant” could serve as a prime example of how “business” should be conducted within the American Intelligence Community.
Fortunately Mr. Bundy was kind enough to offer a glimpse of the type of intelligence officer that possessed the stealth and guile to be a "competent middleman, or Requirements Officer, who can master the possibilities of an asset and then, by some obscure process of osmosis and double-talk, get the consumer to use his imagination and frame requirements that will elicit useful responses.”(3) The aforementioned Requirements Officer would truly be a unique individual; positioned in a vital place within the intelligence collection process. That place being in the center, having a the daunting task of separating what appears to be a sound source of information from what is apparently useless or even possibly mis-information created to deceive.
In closing as I strive to personalize the information on the topic of “evaluating sources of information prior to collection” I find myself compelled to reflect back on my career as a basketball coach. It would have been overly simplistic and in all actuality useless for me to stand in front my team before a game and state “I want you to play tough defense, be unselfish on offense, and rebound aggressively!” In order to prepare my team for victory; I needed to lay out a clear and concise “course of action-(COA)” (4) which included a detailed opposing team scouting report. It would be that opposing team scouting report that would allow me to assign my players to specific players on defense, to formulate a full court press if needed and or press break, how to attack the opposing team’s defense etc.. In other words I needed to “evaluate sources of information” regarding my “high payoff target-(HPT)” (5) well before gametime!