Phase One of the Intelligence Cycle

Boiled down, Phase One of the Intelligence Cycle is about a materials list. Think of it this way: before we build a house, we have to understand what’s needed to build the house. We approach intelligence production in the same way. Phase One is the foundation of mission support; we skip it at our own peril.

In Phase One, we identify what we know, what we don’t know, and what we need to know in order to support the mission. Our materials list – the pieces of information that we need to know but don’t – are our intelligence gaps.

This list of Intelligence Requirements guides our collection so that we aren’t trying to collect information we don’t need. You wouldn’t buy materials that aren’t required to build a house, and we aren’t going to waste time or resources collecting information irrelevant to our mission.


Intelligence Requirements are statements or questions. For your community, they might include:

–What gangs are active in my community?

–What crimes are typical in my community?

–What is the ethnic/religious/political makeup of my community?

–Who is supportive of our neighborhood watch/community security program?

–Who is opposed to our neighborhood watch/community security program?

–This list can go on and on, and it should.


ASSIGNMENT: Start a list of your own intelligence requirements. Think about your intelligence gaps: what information should you know, but don’t?

Samuel Culper 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.

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