Describe two different forms or methods of Intelligence Collection. Essays

Describe two different forms or methods of Intelligence Collection. Essays

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The concept of Open Source intelligence (OSINT) has been placed in too high regard within the intelligence community and to the detriment of the value of other forms of collection, such as Signals Intelligence (SIGINT). While useful in the Analysis function of the intelligence cycle, OSINT, as it has become known, is not and should never be the only form of intelligence collected. In order to be of use in achieving a comparative advantage for decision makers, OSINT must be combined with covert sources like SIGINT. Effective collection of OSINT enables prioritized and efficient SIGINT collection requirements.

OSINT is largely provided by the Open Source Branch within the Office of National Assessments (ONA), while SIGINT is the exclusive domain of the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD). SIGINT, in the Australian context, is “intelligence obtained by eavesdropping on electronic communications”. The definition of OSINT however is more difficult to describe. The Australian Government expects Intelligence to be “covertly obtained information” according to Flood. This goes against the publicly available nature of OSINT as described in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) publications and adopted in Australia. While both Flood and NATO definitions allow distribution of information that is usually restricted, such as diplomatic reporting, OSINT is generally considered to be freely accessible. Treveton neatly describes the difficulty in defining OSINT compared with SIGINT and other collection methods as “everything else equals open source”. Effectively OSINT is the collection method of the gaps, the collection method that contains other methods not easily categorised. The argument regarding the nature of intelligence and whether...


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... Scott and Jackson (eds). Routledge, New York, 2004.

Flood P, Report of the Inquiry into Australian Intelligence Agencies. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2004.

Hunlick A, ‘The Downside of Open Source Intelligence’. International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, vol 15 issue 4, 2002, pp 565-579

NATO, AAP-6(2009) NATO Standardization Agency. Brussels, 28 April 2009.

Dr Rathmell A and Valeri L, ‘Implementing Open Source Intelligence’. Jane’s Intelligence Review, vol 9 issue 11, 01 Nov 1997.

Scott L V and Jackson P, Understanding Intelligence in the Twenty First Century. Scott and Jackson (eds). Routledge, New York, 2004.

Todd P and Bloch J, Global Intelligence: The World’s Secrets Today. Zed Books, London, 2003.

Treverton G, Reshaping National Intelligence For An Age of Information. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003.

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