Intelligence Challenges In The 1990's
CSC 1993
SUBJECT AREA - Intelligence
                     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Title:  Intelligence Challenges of the 1990's
Author:  Major Rhonda LeBrescu, U.S. Marine Corps
Thesis:  The intelligence community must focus on several
specific areas:  the development of a low intensity conflict
indications and warnings program; an increased emphasis on
human intelligence collection; and the ability to provide
timely and accurate intelligence to tactical commanders.
Background:  For almost half a century the world focused on
the threat of global nuclear war, to be fought primarily on
the European continent. That world no longer exists.  The
Soviet Union is now a collection of independent states each
with its own political, economic, and ethnic agendas. As
these new nation-states struggle to find their own identity,
the world's stability is at risk.  The economic and
population stresses in the Third World add to the global
Recommendations:  As a result of this instability, the U.S.
now faces the challenge of re-defining its national military
strategy and defense posture.  The intelligence community
must meet the challenge by re-defining the paradigm for
intelligence support.  This new paradigm must include; an
indications and warnings system responsive to low intensity
conflicts, an increased emphasis on human intelligence
collection, and the ability to provide timely and accurate
intelligence to tactical commanders.
Thesis:  The intelligence community must focus on several
specific areas:  the development of a low intensity conflict
indications and warnings program; an increased emphasis on
human intelligence collection; and the ability to provide
timely and accurate intelligence to tactical commanders.
I.     Introduction
       A.     Global instability
       B.     Regional instability
II.    Understanding the threat
       A.     Conventional
              1.     Former Soviet/Warsaw Pact
              2.     Quantitative collection and analysis
       B.     Emerging
              1.     Third World/Low intensity conflict
              2.     Qualitative collection and analysis
III.   Expeditionary environment
       A.     Stability operations
       B.     Limited objective operations
IV.    New intelligence paradigm
       A.     Indications and Warnings
              1.     Conventional I&W
              2.     Low intensity conflict I&W
       B.     Human intelligence collection
              1.     HUMINT/TECHINT
              2.     HUMINT as sole collector
       C.     Tactical intelligence support
              1.     Forward presence and crisis response
              2.     Lessons learned
     Dramatic changes are taking place in Eastern Europe,
Russia, as well as in the increasingly volatile Third World.
The former Soviet Union dissolved into a number of separate
independent nation states.  Communist Eastern Europe,
without the stability provided by the military might of the
Soviet Union, degenerated into a conglomerate of countries
that are now bickering among themselves over age-old
territorial and ethnic differences.  The Third World nations
of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, beset by economic and
over-population problems, are beginning to emerge as the
primary threat to area stability and world peace.  All three
of these areas of the world can erupt at any time into an
internal conflict that can easily escalate into a
confrontation requiring U.S. military intervention.  This
intervention ranges from peacekeeping duties to full scale
military operations.
     As a result of these changes it is apparent that the
1990's will be a period of sweeping, global challenges for
the U.S. armed forces and the intelligence organizations,
both civilian and military, that support them.  These
organizations, collectively known as the intelligence
community, must recognize that a distinctly different
approach is needed to collect and analyze intelligence.  The
intelligence community will no longer enjoy the luxury of
dealing with the relatively static threat posed by the
nuclear and conventional forces of the former Soviet Union
and its allies.
     The intelligence community must shift from its previous
myopic view of the world to a broader perspective of the
international political, economic, and security environment.
Although the threat poses uncertainty, several factors
remain clear.  First, the Soviet/Warsaw Pact alliances
forged over the past forty years will either crumble or take
on new characteristics.  Former Communist Bloc nations will
increasingly take military action to further their own self-
interest.  Second, the rise of Third World nationalism will
continue to engender terrorism.  Third, the growing
population in the Third World will
create added stresses on an already overburdened economic
and social system.  Low intensity conflicts, sometimes
referred to as conflicts short of war, will increase
dramatically in the short term.
     Having established the environment within which the
intelligence community will operate in the 1990's, a new
paradigm for intelligence support must be defined.  The
traditional methods of determining the threat should be
complemented by new or revised doctrines of intelligence
collection and analysis.  This is not a call for a
dissolution of the current intelligence support apparatus- -
but a warning that the intelligence community must re-focus
their direction in intelligence collection and analysis in
order to adapt to the new challenges presented in the post
Cold War threat environment.  The intelligence community
must focus on several specific areas:  the development of a 
low intensity conflict indications and warnings program; an
increased emphasis on human intelligence collection; and the
ability to provide timely and accurate intelligence to 
tactical commanders.
     Before examining these three specific areas, the new
paradigm of the changing threat and the expeditionary
environment in which the Marine Corps will contribute to the
national military strategy, must be discussed. The national
strategy and defense posture of the U.S. will be derived, in
part, by the intelligence community's ability to accurately
gauge and forecast fast-breaking political, military, and
economic developments in the Third World.  General A. M.
Gray, former Commandant of the Marine Corps, stated that the
Marine Corps " the nation's 'force of choice' for
expeditionary operations, must be extremely concerned and
vocal about global intelligence challenges in the
1990's. (3:37)  Balanced intelligence coverage world-wide
will allow Marine air ground task force (MAGTF) commanders
to understand the type of threat they face and the actions
they must take to overcome that threat.  The focus on threat
orientations must change from the previous  Soviet/Warsaw
Pact order of battle and organizational and doctrinal wiring
diagrams, to a more balanced look at the political,
economic, and social elements that exist in the new threat
     Today the U.S. finds itself in a multi-polar and multi-
dimensional environment. A critical distinction must be
drawn between the conventional threat and the emerging
threat.  General Gray compared the two threat environments
in the following manner:
Conventional                        Emerging
Governmental                        Non-governmental
Conventional/nuclear                Non-conventional
Static order of battle              Dynamic or random
Linear development over time        Non-Linear
Rules of Engagement                 No Rules of Engagement
Known doctrine                      Unknown doctrine
Strategic Warning                   Unlimited 5th column
     The distinction is straight forward.  The conventional
threat was generally associated with a recognized government
and its conventional or nuclear military forces.  The threat
used a static order of battle, was linear in the development
of its capabilities, and deployed along well-established
doctrinal models.  The emerging threat, by contrast, is non-
governmental, non-conventional, dynamic or random, non-
linear, with no rules of engagement or predictable doctrine.
Moreover, the conventional threat lent itself to
conventional intelligence collection capabilities that
included a strong reliance on stand-off technical collection
capabilities and methodical analysis.  However, the emerging
threats cannot be easily seen, assessed, and fixed by
existing technical intelligence collection capabilities.
     In order to provide the best possible support to the
MAGTF commanders, the intelligence community must re-focus
and cultivate a better understanding of the developing
global situation.  Currently a vestige of the Cold War mind-
set blurs the community's picture of actual threats.  The
lack of established encyclopedic intelligence databases,
operational collection assets, and analysis capability of
Third World countries, highlight the inattention to
potential crisis areas.  Reliable intelligence collection
and analysis capabilities that afford both warning and
understanding of emerging threats in the increasingly
volatile Third World must be developed.
     Since the end of World War II, the U.S. Marine Corps
was the force of choice in eighty percent of the nearly
three hundred crisis and conflicts that occurred in the
Third World.  This trend is likely to continue.  While
remaining prepared for general war and conventional combat
operations, the Marine Corps must also focus its attention
at the low end of the warfare spectrum, particularly in the
protracted conflicts that are expected to occur in the Third
World.  Over the past few years the widespread pattern of
low intensity conflicts, coupled with acts of terrorism and
drug trafficking, posed a major threat to U.S security
drug trafficking, posed a major threat to U.S security
interests worldwide and are expected to be the most common
type of conflicts in the future. (6:T-3)
     MAGTFs must be prepared to respond quickly to a variety
of mission assignments.  MAGTF employment in low intensity
conflicts may range from stability operations using a
combination of civil and military resources to support host
nation governments, to limited objective operations,
characterized by significant restrictions on the type and
scope of force used.  The complexity of the operational
environment in the Third World is illustrated by the
following specific MAGTF missions--
Stability Oparations (Civil-Military Operations)
Presence/Amphibious Ops
Humanitarian Assistance
--Deliberate ops
--Disaster Relief
--Civic Action
Mobile Training Teams
Internal Security Support
Peacekeeping ops
Counternarcotics ops
Counterinsurgency ops
Limited Objective Operations(Short of General War)
Peacetime Contingences
--Non-combatant Evacuation
--Amphibious Raid
--Seizure of Advance Bases
Counterterrorism ops (3 : 40)
     Accompanying the need for a shift in the intelligence
community's focus from the traditional Cold War mind-set to
the Third World centric view is the requirement for a new
intelligence support paradigm.  First, the intelligence
community does not have an indications and warnings (I&W)
capability that is focused primarily against the new types
of threats that are emerging in the Third World.  Low
intensity conflict I&W is an area of high interest to the
Marine Corps.  There is clear concern over the lack of
warning capabilities on de-stabilizing events including non-
military trends and occurrences.  A report from a recent
Technology Initiatives Wargame recommended the development
of low intensity conflict indications and warnings
intelligence collection methods and data elements for
analysis.  The report further stated that "....warning
capabilities needed to trigger reconstitution of forces for
Third World regional wars do not exist and will take years
to build."(5:16)  Many non-military crisis missions of the
expeditionary environment require a commitment of military
resources for stability or humanitarian interests.  It is
essential that a methodology for studying the preconditions
and precipitants of the emerging threats be developed.
     Indications and warnings are based on the enemy's
likely preparations for an armed attack.  Conventional
indications and warnings include several identifiable
events:  mobilization of reserves; forward movement of
military forces; and changes in communications patterns.
Once observed, these events are then referred to as
"indications".  Analysts determine how imminent the threat
is by the totality of indications and issue warnings at
various threshold levels. (9:56)  However, indications and
warnings is normally a methodology restricted to the
strategic and operational levels of war.  The new threat
environment requires the development of a low intensity
conflict indications and warnings system that is responsive
to the forward presence and crisis response missions of the
     The next area that the intelligence community must
focus on in order to meet the challenge of the new paradigm
of intelligence is the increased emphasis on human
intelligence collection.  The intelligence community is not
comfortable with intangibles, and is even less comfortable
with abstract concepts.  Therefore, it is much easier to
"count beans" than to attempt to accurately analyze or
forecast implications of ethnic conflicts and political
unrest precipitated by economic plight. The intelligence
community must resist its propensity to depend heavily on
technical and quantifiable issues, while ignoring the less
tangible human factors surrounding today's threat.
     In recent decades, technology revolutionized
intelligence collection, making routine what was previously
unthinkable.  Technical intelligence (TECHINT) collection
methods are unrivaled for answering quantitative and
material questions:  How many tanks?  Where are the tanks
located?  TECHINT is critical for compliance with strategic
and conventional arms treaties.  However, it is much less
useful in answering the "why" questions:  Why are the tanks
moving?  Why are the tanks located there?
     While human intelligence (HUMINT) and TECHINT can serve
complementary roles,  TECHINT will never be capable of
assessing or predicting intent.  HUMINT collection can
provide the essential first indication that something of
interest is occurring or will occur at a given location.
The technical systems can then target that location for
intelligence collection.  Without such clues, the technical
systems could be less efficient and might miss important
     A HUMINT source can also provide the clues to interpret
the raw data gathered by a technical collection system.
Even with a good photo of a building, an intelligence
analyst may not be able to determine its function.  A human
source familiar with the building may be able to explain
that the presence of a certain detail, not otherwise
discernible, was designed for a specific purpose.  Without
the human source, it is unlikely that any noticeable detail
or any special significance would be understood.  But once
this "signature" is recognized, photos of similar buildings
can be examined to see if the same detail is present.(9:33)
     HUMINT is critical in providing information that cannot
be satisfied by TECHINT.  For example, HUMINT is necessary
to collect crucial information about non-governmental
targets, such as terrorist organizations, that lack the
fixed facilities or communication networks vulnerable to
technical collection.  Intelligence collection against such
groups depends heavily on the ability of HUMINT to
infiltrate the group or to recruit its members as
     The third specific area the military intelligence
community must focus on is the provision of timely and
accurate support to tactical commanders.  The emphasis is
shifting away from fighting the conventional European land
war against Soviet nuclear forces, to a more low intensity
conflict environment.  The Marine Corps' forward presence
and crisis response missions necessitate a global
intelligence perspective with a focus on potentially
volatile regional situations.  Contingency operations
include responding to regional instability and various forms
of terrorism, and performing peacetime missions such as
humanitarian assistance and counternarcotics operations.
Accurate and timely intelligence support to MAGTF commanders
must be provided by the military intelligence community in
order to meet the challenges of the new threat
     A study that examined the effectiveness of intelligence
support during Operation Desert Shield/Storm concluded that
intelligence support did not fulfill the needs of tactical
commanders.  The study identified two major shortfalls:  the
processing and dissemination of tactical intelligence and
imagery support. (7:2)  These two shortfalls still exist in
today's new threat environment and the solutions must be
found to overcome the deficiency.
     During Desert Storm, MAGTF commanders received a
staggering amount of information but they had insufficient
communications assets to adequately process and disseminate
the information.  As was often the case during this
conflict, there was intense competition between the
component commands as well as with national-level agencies
for the use of secure communication links.  This environment
was not conducive to timely intelligence support.
     Since the Marine Corps does not have an organic imagery
collection capability, MAGTF commanders were forced to rely
entirely on national and theater assets.  This created
difficulties in both tasking and receiving intelligence
derived from these assets.  Theater and national systems
were also limited in their ability to provide timely, high
resolution imagery required by tactical commanders.  The
MAGTF needs the capability to electronically receive
national or theater imagery, process that imagery into
usable reporting and disseminate it throughout the task
force using secondary dissemination means.
     In examining lessons learned from six other recent
Marine Corps expeditionary operations ranging from the non-
combatant evacuation operations to humanitarian assistance
operations, insight is provided into the type of
intelligence support that was required at the tactical level
but was not provided.  The below listed themes emerged
across the entire spectrum of expeditionary operations
Mapping Charting and Geodesy (MC&G)
     Maps needed for the expeditionary operations were not
available, either because they were not disseminated to
forces afloat or because they did not exist.  The Marine
Corps Expeditionary Study 1-89 stated that "Of all the
mission planning factors, MC&G emerged as the most serious
for the employment of Marine Corps forces in the
Linguist Shortfalls
     Linguist shortfalls existed, both in terms of
individuals with security clearances able to complete
intelligence tasks in a foreign language, and in terms of
individuals able to speak various languages and perform non-
intelligence tasks such as evacuee screening and civil
affairs coordination.  This shortfall prevented tactical
commanders from deriving time-sensitive, perishable
intelligence information that was not otherwise available
from conventional intelligence collection sources from the
local populace. (12:91)
     The political and economic changes that are evolving in
Russia, the eastern European countries and in the Third
World are creating serious challenges to the U.S.  The need
exists for the U.S. to re-examine its national military
strategy and defense posture.  As the U.S.' "force of
choice", the U.S. Marine Corps, stands ready to respond to
the challenge by providing forward presence and crisis
response support.  At the same time, the intelligence
community must meet this challenge by re-defining the
paradigm for intelligence support.  This new paradigm must
include an indications and warnings system responsive to low
intensity conflicts, an increased emphasis on human
intelligence collection, and the ability to provide timely
and accurate intelligence to tactical commanders.  The
intelligence community must shift its focus for intelligence
collection and analysis away from the Cold War mind set
presented by the former Soviet Union and its allies to the
more dynamic Third Word low intensity type conflict.
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3.  Gray, Gen. Alfred M.  "Global Intelligence Challenges in
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4.  Jenkins, MajGen Harry W.  "Tactical Intelligence and
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5.  Marine Corps Trip Report.  "Technology Initiatives
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6.  Marine Corps Expeditionary Study 1-89:  "Overview of
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11.  Steele, Robert D.  "Intelligence in 1990's:   Recasting
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12.  Steele, Robert D.  "Intelligence Lessons Learned From
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