Often the best response is a prepared response!
So the concept here might seem a little abstract. But I want to explore the idea of having ‘Intelligence Checklists’.
Recently I was watching a series on Netflix called ‘Designated Survivor’, if you haven’t seen it you should check it out. There’s a scene in the first episode where the FBI character begins the investigation into the terrorist bombing (first episode – no spoilers :p).
Her direction to staff made it sound like she knew the precise actions to take in the heat of the moment and had dealt with this type of incident before.
…This got me thinking.
Intelligence professionals should establish a set of ‘go-to’ Intelligence Checklists. Factors to help us in a similar crisis or when dealing with an incident.
Personally, I’m a huge believer in checklists. And my work is no exception.
I recommend all Intelligence professional should develop their own ‘go-to’ checklists to help prompt the important tasks or guide the jobs that need to be performed in the event of a threat or issue.
In our fictional example above, the character tells other agents to search the local area and record the details of all vehicles in the immediate area, then check the registration details against the names on Terrorist watch lists…
…But what if your analysts/agents aren’t as experienced?
What if you have never dealt with this type of threat before?
In essence, the Intelligence checklist theory is a distant cousin to an Emergency Management Plan, something that’s enacted on incident to help best deal with the situation. Any given situation.
So…how do we develop our Intelligence checklists?
Step 1: Identify the scenarios you (as an intelligence professional) are likely to be involved in.
Step 2: Break each of those scenarios down into their distinct parts, actions and entities.
Step 3: Now when you look at each aspect of the incident, information of intelligence value may be available to help satisfy intelligence requirements.
Step 4: Identify how you might be in a position to answer these intelligence requirements, what sources, agencies and resources are available and begin to build your understanding of the situation to be able to provide intelligence advice.
Let’s say you are a criminal intelligence analyst working in the field of organised crime. Some of the incidents you might experience could include assaults, kidnapping, a territorial dispute between rival groups, in-fighting and violence between group members or potentially homicides.
So, if one of these incidents occurs, let’s take a kidnapping, for example, having an intelligence checklist provides you with a quick ‘action list’ to generate intelligence leads and provide value to the volatile situation.
- Who is the victim?
- Why were they chosen?
- Victims Family,
- Who are the victim’s family?
- What are they involved in?
- Were they identified for a particular reason?
- Location (last known)
- Where was the victim kidnapped from?
- Where were they last seen?
- Is there CCTV in the area?
- Did anyone witness the kidnapping?
- Did anyone see the victim prior to the kidnapping?
- Was there anyone with the victim prior to the kidnapping occurring?
- Individuals Responsible
- Who might be involved in the incident? Why?
- Were there any aggravating circumstances, such as drugs, criminal affiliations, or debt?
- Method of Kidnapping
- What happened at the point of kidnapping?
- Was a vehicle involved? If so, what make, model, colour or registration details are available?
- Did the vehicle drive through areas with CCTV and traffic cameras?
- Did the vehicle use any toll roads?
- Is the party responsible known? If so, what is their motivation?
- Has this happened before? What was the outcome?
- Is the party responsible seeking a financial outcome?
- Has there been a ransom? If so, how was this delivered?
- What is known about the victims’ condition? Are they at risk?
- Other Information of Intelligence Value
- Has the victim’s phone been used to call or text anyone
- Has the victim’s bank cards or bank accounts been accessed recently
- Have there been any purchases with the victim’s credit cards?
- Has the victim’s train/transport card been used?
Developing Checklists Provide the Intelligence Professional with the following advantages:
- Mitigate the risk of important matters being overlooked
- Simple and cost-effective method of ensuring things are not forgotten or overlooked
- Useful for handover of responsibility and training new staff
- Helps limit complacency
- Are good for managers to ensure their intelligence staff are doing what is required
Using this process and developing these checklists for yourself will provide you with a quick ‘go to guide’ to begin the intelligence collection process when required.
Here are some quick tactical questions I ask myself to gain an immediate understanding of the situation, and to inform my Intelligence Requirements:
- What has happened?
- Who or what was the target/victim of the incident – and why?
- Who was responsible?
- How did they do it?
- Why did they do it this way?
- What is the immediate threat?
- What is the Capability of the threat?
For an ADDED BONUS, here’s a little handwritten checklist I keep beside my computer at work to prompt me when I need to respond to an incident. It allows me a quick guideline to follow to kick start the intelligence response and helps to keep me focused when there’s often a lot going on.
Incident Action’s On:
- Notify supporting intelligence assets and units of the incident
- Identify who needs to know what, and when?
- Develop and promulgate Intelligence Requirements (CCIRs / PIRs)
- Task / Request available sources and collection agencies
- Make information available to all those who need it.
So, in summary, the best response, is often a prepared response. Developing your intelligence checklists will allow you to react to situations in a prepared and considered manner.