Intelligence and War

Paul Lever

in The Oxford Handbook of War

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199562930
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

 Intelligence and War

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Success can be achieved in a number of ways: through predominance in numbers or in equipment, better organization and tactics, superior morale and leadership, or surprise. But a crucial element in the planning and execution of any military operation is information: information about the terrain and the weather conditions, but above all information about the enemy's force numbers, dispositions, and intentions. This is why, both in the real world of war and in the portrayal of it in films and in novels, every military mission begins with a so-called intelligence briefing. The terms ‘intelligence’ and ‘information’ are often used interchangeably. In war there is particular value in information which is not readily or openly available. So the word ‘intelligence’ tends to be employed to connote information some of which at least falls into this latter category. Today most serious intelligence agencies recognize the value of open source material and seek to maximize their capabilities for accessing it. There are far more analysts behind desktop computers than there are spies in the field.

Keywords: intelligence; information; war; military operation; intelligence briefing; intelligence agencies; analysts

Article.  6465 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations

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