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Chapter 4


CI collection activities gather the information the commander needs to make decisions in support of the overall mission. CI activities help the commander shape the battlefield. The commander focuses the CI effort by carefully assigning missions and clearly defining the desired results. By orienting the unit's CI capabilities, the commander decides who or what are CI targets for collection activities. This chapter describes sources of CI information, control of sources, CI liaison, and touches on debriefings and CFSO.

CI agents conduct CI collection operations in support of the overall mission. CI agents are augmented by interrogators when they are available. These operations rely on the use of casual as well as recruited sources of information to satisfy specific requirements of a command or activity supported by CI. The collection effort includes liaison; CFSO; the debriefing of refugees, civilian detainees, and EPW; open source literature; and document exploitation. These operations use the techniques identified in FM 34-5 (S). AR 381-172 (S) covers the policy concerning CFSO. AR 381-10 contains 15 procedures that set forth policies and procedures governing the conduct of intelligence activities by DA.

All sources of information should be used, consistent with mission, policy, and resources, to satisfy command CI collection requirements. Several sources of information are discussed below:

  • A casual source is one who, by social or professional position, has access to information of CI interest, usually on a continuing basis. Casual sources usually can be relied on to provide information which is routinely available to them. They are under no obligation to provide information. Casual sources include private citizens, such as retired officials or other prominent residents of an area. Members of private organizations also may furnish information of value.
  • Official sources are liaison contacts. CI personnel conduct liaison with foreign and domestic CI, intelligence, security, and law enforcement agencies to exchange information and obtain assistance. CI personnel are interested in investigative, operational, and threat information. See CI Liaison below.
  • Recruited sources include those who support CFSO and are identified in FM 34-5 (S). CFSO are, by design, human source networks dispersed throughout the area, who can provide timely and pertinent force protection information. See FM 34-5 (S) and CI Force Protection Source Operations below.
  • Refugees, civilian detainees, and EPWs are other sources of CI information. Interrogators normally conduct these collection operations, often with technical assistance from a CI agent. The key to identifying the source of valuable CI force protection information is in analyzing the information being sought and predicting who, by virtue of their regular duties, would have regular, frequent, and unquestioned access to such information.
  • Open source publications of all sorts and radio and television broadcasts are valuable sources of information of CI interest and operational information. When information is presented in a foreign language, linguist support is required for timely translation. Depending on the resources, this support can be provided by interrogation personnel, allied personnel, indigenous employees, or Reserve Component (RC) translators (97L).
  • Documents not openly available, such as adversary plans and reports, are exploited in much the same way as open source publications.


All collection operations require keeping records on sources of information. This holds true for liaison contacts as well as casual or recruited sources. These types of operations require security and maintenance of source information in intelligence operations channels. This helps to preclude any compromise of sources or friendly methods of operation. This type of information, including biographic, motivational, and communications procedures, are best maintained in CI C 2 channels. Control of source information will not preclude passage of this type of information from one echelon to another for necessary approvals.

In handling source information, strictly adhere to the "need-to-know" policy. The number of persons knowing about source information must be kept to a minimum. For more information on the control of source information and CI collection activities, see FM 34-5 (S).


CI agents conduct CI liaison to obtain information, gain assistance, and coordinate or procure material. The nature of CI activities and the many legal restrictions imposed, including SOFAs or other agreements, make the collection of intelligence information largely dependent on effective liaison. CI agents use liaison to obtain information and assistance and to exchange views necessary to understand our liaison counterparts. During transition from increased tension to open hostilities, the liaison emphasis shifts to support the combat commander. CI agents must establish liaison with appropriate agencies before the outbreak of hostilities. Information and cooperation gained during this period can have a major impact on the effectiveness of both intelligence and combat operations. Liaison with foreign organizations and individuals normally requires foreign language proficiency.

Liaison with appropriate US, host country, and allied military and civilian agencies is fundamental to the success of CI operations and intelligence support to commanders. In many cases, full-time liaison officers (LNOs) or sections are necessary to maintain regular contact with appropriate organizations and individuals. In addition to national agencies, numerous local agencies and organizations also provide assistance and information.

A basic tenet of liaison is quid pro quo (something for something) exchange. While the LNO sometimes encounters individuals who cooperate due to a sense of duty or for unknown reasons of their own, an exchange of information, services, material, or other assistance normally is part of the interaction. The nature of this exchange varies widely, depending on location, culture, and personalities involved.

The spectrum of liaison tasks ranges from establishing rapport with local record custodians to coordinating sensitive combined operations at the national level of allied nations. Commanders with CI assets involved in liaison should provide the following guidance:

  • Liaison objectives. Liaison objectives are types of information to be collected, methods of operations unique to the area, and command objectives to be accomplished.
  • Limitations on liaison activities. These limitations include
    • Prohibitions against collection of specific types of information or against contacting certain types of individuals or organizations.
    • Memorandums of Understanding with other echelons delineating liaison responsibilities.
    • Delineation of areas of responsibility of subordinate elements.
    • Director of Central Intelligence Directives (DCID).
  • Administrative considerations. Some administrative considerations include
    • Type, method, and channels of reporting information obtained from liaison activities.
    • Project and intelligence contingency fund cite numbers to be used.
    • Funding and incentive acquisition procedures.
    • Limitations on the use of intelligence contingency fund or incentives.
    • Budget restraints.
    • Source coding procedures, if used.
    • Report numbering system.
    • Procedures for requesting sanitized trading material information.
  • Authority. Authority under which the specific liaison program is conducted and guidelines for joint and combined operations are set.
  • Other. Other SOPs cover related aspects, such as funding, intelligence information reporting procedures, source administration, and areas of responsibility and jurisdiction.

In CONUS, CI liaison provides assistance in operations and investigations, precludes duplication of effort, and frequently provides access to information not available through other CI channels. Agents should maintain a point of contact roster or list of agencies regularly contacted. Agencies normally contacted on a local basis include

  • Military G2, S2, and personnel sections of units in the area.
  • G5 and S5 representatives.
  • MP and provost marshal.
  • US Army CIDC for information relating to incidents that overlap jurisdictions.
  • Civilian agencies such as state, county, or local police departments; state crime commissions; state attorney general offices; and local courts.
  • Local offices of federal agencies such as the FBI, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement Agency, and similar security agencies.
  • Appropriate DOD activities such as Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) and Office of Special Investigations (OSI) of the US Air Force.

The Office of DCSINT is responsible for liaison with the national headquarters of the intelligence community and other agencies for policy matters and commitments. CG, INSCOM, is the single point of contact for liaison with the FBI and other federal agencies for coordinating operational and investigative matters.

Overseas CI liaison provides support to a number of diverse US Government agencies. This support ranges from conducting tactical operations to fulfilling national level requirements generated by non-DOD federal agencies. Individuals contacted may include private individuals who can provide assistance, information, and introductions to the heads of national level host country intelligence and security agencies. Overseas liaison includes the overt collection of intelligence information.

Compared to the US, many countries exercise a greater degree of internal security and maintain greater control over their civilian population. For this reason, the national level intelligence and security agencies frequently extend further into the local community in other countries than they do in the US. Security agencies may be distinctly separate from other intelligence organizations, and police may have intelligence and CI missions in addition to law enforcement duties. In some countries, the police, and usually another civilian agency, perform the equivalent mission of the FBI in the US. This other civilian agency frequently has a foreign intelligence mission in addition to domestic duties. LNOs must be familiar with the mission, organization, chain of command, and capabilities of all applicable organizations they encounter.

Operational benefits derived from CI liaison include

  • Establishing working relationships with various commands, agencies, or governments.
  • Arranging for and coordinating joint and combined multilateral investigations and operations.
  • Exchanging operational information and intelligence within policy guidelines.
  • Facilitating access to records and personnel of other agencies not otherwise available. This includes criminal and subversive files controlled by agencies other than MI. Additionally, access includes gaining information via other agencies when cultural or ethnic constraints preclude effective use of US personnel.
  • Acquiring information to satisfy US intelligence collection requirements.

Language proficiency is a highly desirable capability of a CI agent conducting liaison. It is easier to deal with a liaison source if the LNO can speak directly to the source rather than speak through an interpreter. Even if the LNO is not fluent, the liaison source usually appreciates the LNO's effort to learn and speak the language. This often enhances rapport.

Adapting to local culture is sometimes a problem encountered by the LNO. Each culture has its own peculiar customs and courtesies. While they may seem insignificant to US personnel, these customs and courtesies are very important to local nationals.

Understanding a country's culture and adhering to its etiquette are very important. What is socially acceptable behavior in the US could very well be offensive in other cultures. Knowing the local culture helps the LNO understand the behavior and mentality of a liaison source. It also helps in gaining rapport and avoiding embarrassment for both the liaison source and the LNO. In many cultures, embarrassing a guest causes "loss of face." This inevitably undermines rapport and may cause irreparable harm to the liaison effort.

The LNO also must understand the capabilities of agencies other than our own. Knowledge of the liaison source's capabilities in terms of mission, human resources, equipment, and training is essential before requesting information or services. Information exchanged during the conduct of liaison is frequently sanitized. Information concerning sources, job specialty, and other sensitive material relating to the originator's operations may be deleted. This practice is common to every intelligence organization worldwide and should be taken into account when analyzing information provided by another agency.

The LNO may have to deal with individuals who have had no previous contact with US agencies and who are unsure of how to deal with a US intelligence agent. The LNO must remember that to the liaison source, they represent the people, culture, and US Government . The liaison source assumes the behavior of the LNO to be typical of all Americans. Once the American identity becomes tarnished, it is difficult for the LNO, as well as any other American, to regain rapport.

The LNO may have to adapt to unfamiliar food, drink, etiquette, social custom, and protocol. While some societies make adjustments for an "ignorant foreigner," many expect an official visitor to be aware of local customs. The LNOs must make an effort to avoid cultural shock when confronted by situations completely alien to his background. The LNO also must be able to adjust to a wide variety of personalities.

Corruption is the impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle, or inducement to wrong by bribery or other unlawful or improper means. In some countries, government corruption is a way of life. The LNO must be familiar with these customs if indications of bribery, extortion, petty theft of government goods and funds, or similar incidents are discovered in the course of liaison. When corruption is discovered, request command guidance before continuing liaison with the particular individual or organization. Regardless of the circumstances, exercise caution and professionalism when encountering corruption.

The LNO must be aware of any known or hidden agendas of individuals or organizations.

Jealousy between agencies is often a problem for the LNO. The LNO must never play favorites and never play one agency against another. Occasionally, due to the close professional relationship developed during liaison, a source may wish to present a personal gift. If possible, the LNO should diplomatically refuse the gift. If that is not possible, because of rapport, accept the gift. Any gifts received must be reported in accordance with AR 1-100. The gift can be kept only if you submit and get approved a request to do so. The same restrictions also apply to the LNO's family.

Records and reports are essential to maintain continuity of liaison operations and must contain information on agencies contacted. It is preferable to have a file on each organization or individual contacted to provide a quick reference concerning location, organization, mission, and similar liaison-related information. Limit information to name, position, organization, and contact procedures when liaison is a US person. For liaison contacts with foreign persons, formal source administrative, operational, and information reporting procedures are used. Guidance for these procedures is in FM 34- 5 (S).


Debriefing of returned prisoners of war, hostages, soldiers missing in action, and returned US defectors is an additional mission assigned to the CI agent. The purpose of these debriefings is to

  • Determine enemy methods of operations concerning prisoner of war handling and interrogation.
  • Learn of enemy weaknesses.
  • Gain information concerning other prisoners and soldiers missing or killed in action.
  • Conduct a damage assessment.
  • Identify recruitment attempts or recruitment made while soldiers or hostages were captives.
  • Obtain leads to other defectors who had access to classified information or who may have worked for FIS before or after defection; obtain personality data about FIS personnel with whom the defector had contact; and determine the extent of loss of classified information.


CFSO evolved out of low-level source operations (LLSO), defensive source operations (DSO), and tactical agent operations (TAO). LLSO are still accomplished by non-CI teams charged with these types of missions. See FM 34-5 (S). The change in terminology was a result of the push for similar terminology amongst separate service activities responsible for source operations and to tie these operations directly to the force protection support needs of the combat commander.

CFSO support force protection of deployed US Forces and are governed by AR 381-172 (S). CFSO are conducted when directed by the theater CINC or Army component commander or their senior intelligence officers, and are conducted and supervised by CI officers and agents with appropriate linguist support from HUMINT collectors-interrogators.

CFSO fill the intelligence gap between the needs of the combat commander and national level requirements. These operations are designed to be both aggressive and flexible in nature to quickly respond to the needs of the supported command. CFSO are focused to collect force protection information on local terrorists, saboteurs, subversive activities, and other hostile activities affecting the security of deployed US Forces.

All considerations listed previously in CI Liaison involving liaison contacts, specifically language proficiency, local customs, and capabilities are germane to CFSO. For more information on CFSO, see AR 381-172 (S) and FM 34-5 (S).

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