Peacekeeping Intelligence – Emerging Concepts for the Future, and Training of analytical skills

More than ever, intelligence services are expected to be permanently vigilant and fulfil the role of alarm bells. These expectations can only be met if the “Indication and Warning” process is performed in a professional way. This includes, among other things, the monitoring of not just conventional political and military indicators, but also less common parameters like cultural, sociological and other tailor-made indicators that have to be regularly reviewed, reassessed and updated. (Renaud Theunens, Chief Joint Mission Analysis Center (JMAC), HQ UNIFIL)

renaud theunens
Reynaud THEUNENS (left), Chief Joint Mission Analysis Center (JMAC), HQ UNIFIL

Although written already in 2002 Renaud Theunens’ article on “Peacekeeping Intelligence – Emerging Concepts for the Future” is of high actuality today. Renaud Theunens points out that against the backdrop of decades of a remarkable increase in the number of peace support operations, the lessons learned from the UNAMIR, UNOSOM and UNPROFOR operations have shown that peace support operations require a dedicated intelligence support and should, preferably, have an integral intelligence capability. More than ever, intelligence services are expected to be permanently vigilant and fulfil the role of alarm bells. These expectations can only be met if the “Indication and Warning” process is performed in a professional way. This includes, among other things, the monitoring of not just conventional political and military indicators, but also less common parameters like cultural, sociological and other tailor-made indicators that have to be regularly reviewed, reassessed and updated. Instead of focussing on purely military information and intelligence, peace support operations require a much broader span of information: political, economical, geographic, ethnic, linguistic, social, sociological, cultural, religious, demographic, biographic, ecological intelligence, etc. In addition, the fact that the potential area of responsibility has become much larger has an immediate impact on the size of the area of intelligence interest.

In concrete terms, this means that the intelligence organisation and its personnel during a peace support operation do not operate in a ‘military information environment’, but in a ‘global information environment’. It is obvious that this new situation imposes particular demands, not the least on the collectors and the analysts, and on their intellectual flexibility. They have to be able to handle a much larger amount of information, dealing with a much wider range of issues, in much less time. Most importantly, much more than was the case during conventional military operations, analysts will have to be able to get out of the paradigm; “get out of the box!” and think in a more unconventional way.

This situation imposes a new and maybe unorthodox approach to recruitment and training of analysts. There may be a need for the temporary hiring of people (academics, NGO workers) with particular backgrounds or relevant experience, not available in the military. Some of the work may have to be outsourced to specialized research institutes or think tanks, etc. Analysis techniques have to be reviewed too. Link analysis, supported by specialised software has become a very important technique, although over-reliance on electronic tools (that should in fact only assist the analyst) could lead to erroneous conclusions.

Read full article.

Leave a Reply