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Military espionage
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Military espionage

Military espionage, or military intelligence (MI), is a military discipline that focuses on information gathering, control, and dissemination about enemy units, terrain, and the weather in an area of operations.

Most armies maintain a military intelligence division, section, or corps. Officers and enlisted men assigned to military intelligence are selected for their analytical abilities and the ability to keep secrets. They receive formal training in these disciplines.


The general method of military intelligence is to package information to support decisions by a policy maker (or 'war fighter'). Often, the military organization is swimming in unalayzed data. However, unless the right bit of data gets to the right person at the right time, the mass of data is useless.

In military organizations, a policy maker is nearly always a trained expert in military affairs and therefore usually needs no training in best practices. Almost always, once the relevant information is available, standard procedures provide a very good set of tactical options. The value that expert policy-makers add is their ability to neutralize opponents' decisions and advantages by anticipating them.

The chief duty of an intelligence officer is therefore to discern the problems that confront a policy-maker, and anticipate, find and present the data that will be relevant to the policy-maker's decisions. For this reason, a good intelligence officer is often quite annoying to a commander, insistently questioning the commander about the commander's intentions and desires with regard to tactics and strategy.

Another major goal of military intelligence analysts is to reduce the time that decisions take, so that their organization can operate "inside the decision-action cycle of the enemy." By responding more quickly than an opponent, the opponent simply cannot respond quickly-enough to mount an effective resistance.

Military policy decisions come in two basic forms: tactical and strategic.

Over short terms, tactics concerns utilization of existing resources. For example, an analyst in a battle is primarily concerned with locating the enemy, and providing information to help decide which tactics, units and weapons will most contribute to victory over that part of the enemy.

In modern automated battle-management, an analyst usually organizes data collection, data logistics and presentation, and may directly command combined battle forces to carry out some parts of this mission.

Over longer terms, strategy includes the construction of new tactics, resources and types of resource to counter anticipated or actual new threats.

Strategic intelligence therefore usually proceeds by assessing or anticipating changes in world society. Relevant changes may be scientific, technical, tactical, diplomatic or technical, but these changes are analyzed in combination with known facts about the future, such as geography, demographics and industrial capacities.

Strategic intelligence is usually packaged as simulations or games based on particular scenarios. These games let policy-makers test new types of tactics and forces against the anticipated abilities of possible future enemies.

United States

The U.S. military refers to the military intelligence officer as the J-2, G-2 or S-2, depending on whether his or her assigment is with a joint service staff, a general officer's staff, or the staff of a unit commanded by an officer who ranks below general. In infantry battalions, this post is usually held by a captain, with a first lieutenant as a deputy and a master sergeant (pay grade E-8) or platoon sergeant (pay grade E-7) as staff NCO.

The United States Army trains military intelligence officers at Fort Huachucha, Arizona.


In Britain the MI abbreviation is used by MI5 and MI6, but neither organization is a military intelligence group - the use is a historical vestige relating to their origins. The intelligence group of the British Army is the Intelligence Corps.


Related topics

scenario planning, propaganda, disinformation, military secrets, doublespeak

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