Intelligence and Design: Thinking about Operational Art.




Uncertainty is an inescapable part of war that stems, in part, from war s wicked problems and the complex, adaptive systems that produce them. While uncertainty in war is chronic, both operational intelligence and operational design endeavor to mitigate it on behalf of the commander. Operational intelligence strives to make sense of past and current circumstances to inform future action; operational design tries to shape the future based on what is learned from the past and known or suspected about the present. Operational intelligence collects and analyzes information to build understanding of a complex situation; operational design translates understanding into an approach for achieving operational aims and strategic outcomes. Without uncertainty in war, there would be no need for operational intelligence or operational design; because of uncertainty, they become two sides of the same coin. This paper is about intelligence at the operational level of war. It is also about operational design and the 1948 60 anticommunist counterinsurgency known as the Malayan Emergency. Using a dialectic approach, the paper evaluates how operational intelligence should be influenced by emerging concepts of operational design. It analyzes the essence and practice of operational intelligence, considers the commander s role in operational intelligence, and assesses intelligence contributions in the Malayan Emergency. Next it examines operational design, including a design-based reassessment of the Malayan Emergency. Finally, the paper synthesizes studies of operational intelligence and operational design to produce insights and suggestions for commanders and intelligence professionals on performing, educating, training, and equipping operational intelligence. The project concludes that operational intelligence is more than tactical reconnaissance written large. It suggests ways to balance the inherent tensions of operational intelligence, those between the strategic and tactical and between collection and analysis that will improve the effectiveness of the joint force. The project also concludes that operational intelligence and operational design are complementary cognitive processes that, together, can enrich operational art in the information age.



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