Improving intelligence analysis through training and education
The purpose of both training and education is to increase the knowledge and expertise of the analyst, and therefore indirectly improve the quality of the finished intelligence product, since the more knowledge and expertise the analyst has, the higher the quality of the product. In terms of intelligence analysis, the term “training” is usually associated with government programs intended to provide the intelligence analyst with specific instruction to implement job-related tasks, while the term “education” is normally associated with academic courses or programs geared to provide the student with knowledge along with conceptual and theoretical frameworks useful for understanding and exploiting that knowledge. Education provides the foundation for improved performance over the longer term, while training is intended to have a more immediate improvement on performance. There are three distinct kinds of expertise: substantive, disciplinary, and process-oriented tradecraft. Intelligence analysts must possess all three kinds of expertise in order to produce quality intelligence analysis. In general terms, substantive expertise can be described as the knowledge about the adversary, threat, or issue that the analyst must possess in order to be able to describe, explain, evaluate, and forecast effectively. In foreign intelligence analysis, substantive expertise could be country-specific and consist of knowledge regarding the country’s history, culture, and language. The most effective way to acquire substantive expertise is in an educational context providing the student with the opportunity to acquire depth of knowledge over time. Disciplinary or functional expertise, on the other hand, consists of the theoretical perspectives used to interpret the substantive information. At the CIA this disciplinary expertise ranges from political science for political analysts, economics for economic analysts, military science for military analysts, and political psychology for leadership analysts. But other kinds of disciplinary frameworks do exist, such as those in sociology that might help an analyst understand, for example, the dynamics of a criminal organization or gang. Again, the most effective way to acquire disciplinary expertise is in an institution of higher education. As for process-oriented analytic tradecraft, that consists primarily of the mechanisms and methodologies used to produce intelligence analysis. It is specifically in the area of process-oriented tradecraft that the lines between government and academia are beginning to blur.