Decision Advantage and the Nature of Intelligence Analysis

Jennifer E. Sims

in The Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780195375886
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Decision Advantage and the Nature of Intelligence Analysis

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This article discusses intelligence analysis and the importance of an analyst equipped with critical thinking and sound reasoning in producing good intelligence analysis. Producing good intelligence analysis requires reasoning and critical thinking on the part of the analysts. In addition, they are also tasked with recognizing and coping with deception as well as influencing decision-makers without conveying preference on the choices available. This restraint in conveying preference should not, however, prevent the intelligence analyst from caring about his side of success or the outcomes of the policies they are supposed to inform. Successful intelligence provides advantages to decision-makers they would not otherwise have, so an analyst must know the frame of mind of the decision-maker and the strategy to help the policymaker to succeed. Intelligence is a building of the relationship of trust and collaboration between partners seeking wins for their team. Good intelligence is both subjective and objective and herein lies the essence of the analyst's conundrum: to be an expert and critical thinker, targeted for manipulation, legally denied relevant knowledge, responsible for advising, but prohibited from judging. The practice of intelligence analysis, the collection of information, the anticipation of an opponent's moves, the conveying of knowledge through assessments and estimates, and the collaboration and trust in the analyst and policymaker's relationship forms the focus of this article.

Keywords: intelligence analysis; critical thinking; good intelligence analysis; reasoning; analysts; relationship of trust; collaboration; intelligence; collection of information; anticipation

Article.  6750 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations

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