Introduction to the Intelligence Cycle – Forward Observer Shop

Introduction to the Intelligence Cycle

“If I always appear prepared, it is because before entering on an undertaking, I have mediated for long and foreseen what may occur.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

We’re always going to have limiting factors in a conflict. There will always exist factors beyond our control which constrain us.

We’re going to be limited by our time, by our manpower, and by our resources. The key to winning a conflict – whether that’s stopping gang activity in your area, navigating your way through a volatile situation, or defeating violence with a greater application of violence – is effectively prioritizing the resources you have to overmatch the threat.

And what can inform us on how to prioritize our resources against the threat? Intelligence.

In the rest of this lesson, I’m going to introduce and take you through the Intelligence Cycle. It’s the cycle around which we build our Area Intelligence products.

Five simple phases take us from nothing to intelligence:

  • Phase 1: Planning, Requirements, & Direction
  • Phase 2: Collection
  • Phase 3: Analysis & Processing
  • Phase 4: Production
  • Phase 5: Dissemination

Mike Shelby is a former military intelligence NCO and contract intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.


  1. Is there a hyperlink for the video? Here is what I see where the video should be: “Sorry
    Because of its privacy settings, this video cannot be played here.”

    1. Is anyone else having this problem? It plays for me and has 198 plays on it already. I just re-checked the settings and they look good.

      1. I found that it is my web browser settings that made this happen. Change to a different browser ( I used Chromium).

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