Political and Military Intention Estimation Technical Memorandum 80-1

The necessity for accurate intelligence as a vital element to the successfulness of a state actor’s offensive and defensive military contingencies need not be belabored. In 1973, an Egyptian-led coalition of Arab states launched a coordinated surprise attack on the nascent state of Israel in what is known as the Yom Kippur War. Despite intelligence reports provided to Israeli leaders on Arab troop mobilizations and other signs signaling a possible attack, Israeli leaders were were caught off guard as a result of unclear and ambiguous intelligence analysis on Arab military intentions. With precedents such as the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, the need for improved and accurate analysis of military “intentions” by the intelligence community is important given the rapidly evolving and fluid nature of today’s conflicts, especially when considering potential future conflicts with states such as Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Frank Stech’s 1980 monographic report examines why intelligence analysis has succeeded and failed by highlighting the methodological and procedural problems inherent in intelligence analysis and the intelligence community overall, as well as the imperative for clear and distinct definitions of the term “intentions” for adversaries as opposed to motivations, goals, and capabilities in order to formulate successful foreign policy and security contingencies.

Stech writes:

“Intelligence: Intelligence on a foreign nation differs from information; intelligence is evaluated and interpreted information which is significant to a nation’s plans, policies, and operations. Intelligence is subordinate to the formulation of policy and plans, it helps determine feasible policy objectives with respect to other nations and provides a basis for developing methods to attain them. Intelligence in the most general sense is evaluated, policy-oriented information on another nation.” [section 2, page 8]

This report was released to the Nautilus Institute under the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

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