Operating Environment Information vs. Intelligence

Originally published on Sparks31’s Signal Corps Blog(and a big Tango Mike to Sparks for getting my feet in the door)


Information and Intelligence…same thing right? Wrong. Information is just that…info. Intelligence is collected, processed, analyzed, and briefed to the guy calling the shots. All too frequently in the “Patriot Movement” an account of this that or the other gets thrown out there, with little to no verification, and then cemented as fact. The problem is for starters, most of it is false, has little to no value to begin with, and most importantly, is not in any way actionable. By actionable, I mean, you and your merry band o’ bubbas can do something to stop it. So the State of Texas is the OPFOR for Jade Helm…so what…my QTH in NC is part of the OPFOR area for Robin Sage. It makes no difference to me, I’m not going to stop it, neither are you and I don’t care. Believe it or not the bulk of them are on your side once you get your act together. What could very well be actionable however, if say, if a III% group living in St Louis observes a large group wearing Nation of Islam symbology getting organized it might be a good idea to start offering protection to local businesses and getting elderly family out of town, because these folks are pot stirrers and real world violence follows their activities. That’s the good time to break out that SALUTE/SALT report and get to work.
SALUTE/SALT is the best format I’ve found yet for sending information. I don’t care how the XYZ militia may do it…my way works in the real world and is used by professionals. I keep calling what’s frequently referred to as intel, info. Because as I said, it’s info until it’s developed into something someone can read and make a decision based upon. The more information you can send with your report(also known as a product among LRS types) the better. A great example would be their radios, antenna types, and using a handy dandy commo receiver, what frequency they’re on and what the encryption sounds like(if being used). An analyst can process this, give it to a higher echelon, and later develop a better method of collection to narrow down the finer details. Working with our radio example, if they’re using several different models of radios, it might be a good idea later on to figure out what each is for. This will give an idea of what force multipliers are being employed or what level of coordination the OPFOR actually has. It also gives those of a devious mind a possible avenue of attack. There’s a world of difference between a NG patrol responding to civil disturbance and NOI using a couple Baofeng radios to coordinate chaos. But observing and reporting both might just be pretty darn important.
I’ll pause here to say that macro-level information should not be ignored totally. We’ll keep with the Jade Helm meme. It’s good to know it’s going on, and a good idea to be actively listening and observing using all of the open sources available to you. But pontificating and posturing does absolutely nothing, as does sitting on your fourth point of contact and panicking. Look at what else is going on…perhaps what may be brewing in your back yard. These days a tiny, insignificant event can escalate to a national crisis in the span of one news cycle, so it’s good to be aware of what’s going on in your AO. Worry about what you can actually do something to better vs. what may or may not be disinformation…which leads me to my next point.
Verify everything! Your operators in the field should each be given a means of authentication, so that you know who’s sent what. An operator who sends bad info over and over…should be cut loose as that agent is no longer reliable. It goes without saying that information absolutely must be verified or else it’s thrown out. Knowing the difference will make the difference.