Intelligence requirements for peacekeeping operations

Posted in NATO | 11-Feb-04 | Author: John Nomikos| Source: RIEAS

The parties to a conflict in wider peacekeeping environment will be suspicious of all intelligence related activities. They are likely to regard the gathering
of intelligence itself as a hostile act."
Lt. Col. Charles Dobbie

At the end of the Cold War the relevance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization came into question. There was no longer a risk of conventional war in Central Europe against a Soviet invasion. The issue arose as to whether NATO might take a lesser role to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the developing European Union. By 1994 the Alliance had reasserted itself thanks to British and American support and enthusiasm from the new democracies to the East. This reassertion involved a number of sharp diplomatic disputes with other nations and institutions. The shape of these debates, and the prominent place that the language of peacekeeping took in them, provides the political framework for the peacekeeping policies analyzed in subsequent sectors.

Peacekeeping was originally intended to be a service to the international community as a means of maintaining peace. Since the end of the Cold War, peacekeeping has increasingly become applied to the traditional military and political policies of nation states. Peacekeeping itself is becoming, as much a source of instability as it is an attractive new label of old-style intervention.
Even more paradoxically, the new peacekeeping order seems to be leading to a growing unwillingness to intervene effectively, in instances where an impartial military presence could make a difference to the fate of countless innocent civilians.

In the last decade, United States used NATO as a security instrument providing all the necessary intelligence requirements for the success mission of the peacekeeping operations in the Gulf, Somalia as well as Yugoslavia conflicts. The U.S. is capable to supply the logistics, air support, satellite information to its own armed forces in order to be used on the battleground.

This article deals with the intelligence requirements for peacekeeping operations. The first unit shortly describes the role of intelligence (analysis, methods of collection). The second unit briefly analyzes the NATO-US intelligence instruments as well as the steps that European countries need to achieve if they seriously wish to pursue a European Security and Defense Identity which will assist them to participate efficiently in peacekeeping operations. Last, the conclusion is that intelligence sharing is one of the most decisive elements of timely, informed, and well-developed decision-making in the exercise of peacekeeping operations.

What is Intelligence?

There is no shortage of definition of intelligence. Webster's dictionary defines it as "the gathering of secret information, as for military purposes." Jeffrey T. Richelson has defined it as "the product resulting from the collection, evaluation, analysis, integration and interpretation of all available information which concerns one or more aspects of foreign nations or of areas of operation which is (sic) immediately or potentially significant for planning" [1]. In turn, Robert Bowie has defined it simply and elegantly as "information designed for action" [2].

While Richelson's and Webster's definitions are too narrow, Bowie's may be too broad. Intelligence needs do not involve secret information exclusively. Nor does it, as Richelson's definition suggests, refer only to products as opposed to raw data. And though Bowie's definition underscores an essential aspect of intelligence, purposefulness, it does not distinguish intelligence from advertisement, propaganda, or advocacy, all forms of information "designed for action."
Intelligence is best defined as information collected, organized, or analyzed, on behalf of actors or decision-makers. Such information may include technical data, trends, rumors, pictures, or hardware. In books and manuals of intelligence, the basic intelligence cycle is usually depicted like this: [3]

………..>>> Collection……>>>> Analysis…….>>>>>

More often than not, the use to which the intelligence is to be put is missing from the intelligence cycle, as is the end-user himself. There are much too elaborate models of the intelligence cycle in the literature. These models will add stages to the cycle of acknowledging the fact that the circular nature of the process might be complex or elusive. Jordan and Taylor describe such a cycle and include the user in their diagram - but only as an external node whose involvement is only in setting requirements and receiving the finished report [4]. Arthur S. Hulnick, in an article devoted to the consumer-user relationship, criticizes the Jordan and Taylor diagram and proposes a much more elaborate scheme which does not exclude the user. But even he fails to show much interest in what happens to the intelligence once it is delivered to the decision-maker [5].

Similarly, information collected on behalf of a decision-maker but not organized or analyzed for him, is also intelligence. Obviously, National Security Agency (NSA) may retain raw data that has not been organized or analyzed for the consumer but that fits the expressed needs of the consumer and is accessible on request (6). Objectivity, in intelligence analysis, demands a certain distance and a willingness to consider all variables - not just the ones the analyst or his consumer has deemed most important in the past [7].

National intelligence involves the collection, organization, or analysis of information solely on behalf of national actors or decision-makers. A National Intelligence Service, in its most efficient form, will handle only that portion of the intelligence process that requires the security and secrecy such a service affords. Secrecy is necessary if the sources (national technical means, spies) or the policy areas (defense and security issues, trade negotiations) are sensitive [8].

NATO and Europe

As a part of its new mission, NATO has invented a new term: "Peace Support" to describe its policy [9]. This has been agreed by the highest military body of NATO, the Military Committee, which consists of military representatives of member states. However, peace support is a policy which has not been discussed or endorsed by the legislatures of NATO states. This undermines NATO's expressed commitment to civilian control of the military.
The term applies to conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, peace enforcement and peace building.

Because peace support operations are seen as a continuum, NATO planners are required to be prepared for the possibility of peacekeeping and conflict prevention operations turning into peace enforcement. Thus, there will be contingency planning for war wherever NATO embarks on peace support missions. Intelligence sharing, and perceptions of impartiality will be affected from the outset. NATO's approach to peace support can therefore be seen to contain substantial structural problems at just the moment when the Alliance is becoming more influential in these types of operations.

A central problem for the success of NATO-led peacekeeping is NATO's refusal to share intelligence produced for its integrated military command.
NATO planning for peacekeeping operations reveals this starkly: [10]

"Under normal circumstances nearly all NATO intelligence is supplied to the Alliance by nations for the exclusive use of the Alliance as a whole and for its constituent nations. Intelligence provided on this basis cannot be given by NATO to a non-member nation or any international organization containing non-member nations. Whatever different requirements emerge for peacekeeping operations this fundamental principle must be upheld."

NATO planning assumes a continuum of peacekeeping operations. A low intensity monitoring operation may become a high intensity peace enforcement operation. The intelligence requirement to plan for peace enforcement from the beginning creates an additional tendency to gather and guard intelligence from the start of the operation.

Problems related with access to intelligence are not only something to look out for the future. Difficulties have already erupted concerning intelligence sharing in the Yugoslavia crisis. Belgian General Briquemont, former UNPROFOR commander in Bosnia, complained that there was no way he could gain intelligence [11]. In addition, in 1992 when coming fire, despite "UN control" of weapons, suggested both sides were cheating, Canadian General Mackenzie complained that 'there was no way we could know -- we had absolutely no intelligence" [12].

Unfortunately, NATO's 'fundamental principle" regarding not sharing intelligence is at odds with other principles to which it also seeks to adhere.
Three of the more important are: the need for impartiality and transparency of operations; the requirement that political control be exercised by an accepted international authority such as the UN or OSCE; and the desire for effective military and political command and control in peacekeeping operations which will by their nature be multilateral. [13] These requirements
imply an openness or sharing of intelligence in situations, which are very different from classical warfare. Since ad hoc coalitions with non-NATO partners may become the norm for peacekeeping operations -- and these coalitions will doubtless need the "unique capabilities" of NATO intelligence instruments -- the problems outlined here need prompt attention from governments.

The tension between needing to inform coalition partners and international authorities on the one hand, and keeping information secret on the other, is recognized but not resolved in the NATO planning document. NATO insists on its inability, as an international organization, to give away any sovereign state's military information. Nevertheless, it emphasizes that member nations are at liberty to authorize sharing of information: "Where military information is supported from national sources, the degree to which that information is shared will depend on the policy of the nations involved and must be handled with great sensitivity" [14]. U.S. Army recognizes that "in some cases we have existing arrangements which discriminate between allies with the multinational force. For example, our standardized exchange systems with NATO nations may create friction where we have new NATO members
(Poland, Czech, Hungary) as well as Partnership for Peace (PfP) members which need a long time to make the necessary readjustments in order to participate successfully in peacekeeping operations.

The dominance of NATO as the principal security organization in Western Europe during the Cold War and the dominance of the U.S. within NATO (as analyzed earlier) explains, at least in part, why the space-based command and control assets in place in the western European theater at the end of the Cold War were almost exclusively American. NATO member states (including France) were reliant on the U.S. for early warning of missile attack through the American Defense Support Program (DSP), Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) and Integrated Operational Nuclear Detention Systems (IONDS) systems; reliant on the U.S. for tactical and strategic military intelligence from global American intelligence-gathering satellites; and to some extent dependent on the U.S. for communication systems, of which the most important was the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) [15]. Whatever pretensions Europe has about an independent and distinct security and defense identity, they at some point founder on this dependence on the U.S., a dependence exposed all too clearly by European participant military operations in the 1991 Gulf War [16].

France reacted to the U.S. intelligence predominance by launching, on July 7th 1995, the Franco-Italian-Spanish Helios 1A imaging reconnaissance satellite from the Kourou space center in French Guiana. This has been characterized as "Europe first major step towards building an independent intelligence-gathering capability in space" [17]. The launch is a significant move to end Europe's dependence on the U.S. for space-based military intelligence and as such it can be seen as a key, and arguably pivotal, element in the construction of a genuine and distinct European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI).

At the present time it is unclear which and how many of the French space-based assets (beyond Helios) will eventually be deployed and which, if any, of the other European states will join France in the development and deployment of these systems. Exactly how these programs develop will itself be an indicator of European sentiment and seriousness on the issue of a distinct security and defense identity and the willingness of European states to undertake the redefinition of the military relationship with U.S. which the program imply. The emerging evidence, however, is that a momentum for the satellite systems is building up at least amongst a core of European states.

European states which stay outside the satellite procurement process discussed above will find themselves weakened as a consequence, unless they are prepared to match the deployment by some other means - either through national systems, which on cost and technical grounds seems impractical, or through continued reliance on the information of allies (such as the UK's reliance on the U.S.). The latter of course necessarily implies a continued and probably persistent dependence, particularly as the momentum of technological change moves forward.

Tentative Concluding Remarks

The World Wars of the twentieth century led the great powers to set up organizations having the potential for organizing collective security systems, first in the League of Nations, then in the United Nations. This analysis indicates that the major powers are on the brink of endorsing a de facto return to reliance on collective defense arrangements able to act with and without the sponsorship of the UN.

However, the vital national interests of the member states of NATO are likely to restrict NATO's involvement in peacekeeping operations. Conflicts merely threatening to become international will be subject to peacekeeping through NATO or NACC, while conflicts endangering NATO's members' vital interests will be more likely to become subject to peace enforcement by NATO, or in some areas WEU. Conflict containment will continue to be NATO's basic interest in situations similar to the current one in former Yugoslavia; conflict resolution by military means may well be the NATO's intention in Gulf-War type conflicts.

In Europe, a "quiet revolution" is taking place with the introduction of a range of military satellite systems which have the potential to significantly influence many of the core issues in European security including the U.S. -European defense relationship, the development of a distinct European defense and security identity, and the relationship of Europe with its regional neighbors, particularly in the Maghreb and Middle East.

In the longer term it has also been argued that the satellite deployments can be seen as an early phase in the European development of military information technologies which seem destined, at least in the minds of some writers, to take participating states in new directions in the application of military power with profound implications for the power and influence of information dominant states.


1. Jeffrey T. Richelson, (1995), "The U.S. Intelligence Community" in the Dictionary of U.S. Military Terms for Joint Usage", p.2, Department of Navy, Army, Air Force, May 1955, USA.

2. Ernest May, (1984), "Knowing one's Enemies", p.3, Harvard University, USA.

3. Amos Kovacs, (1997), "Using Intelligence", pp.145-164, Intelligence and National Security Journal, Vol.12, No.4, October 1997.

4. Ames A. Jordan and William J. Taylor, (1981), "American National Security Policy Process", Baltimore and London: John Hopkins, UP, 1981, USA. In a similar vein, John A.Jenny, in his "The Need for System Analysis in the U.S. Intelligence Community, Center for International Security and Arms Control (Stanford University, 1984), includes "action policy makers" in his diagram of the intelligence cycle on p.7, but in the text explaining the diagram he, too, has very little to say about the use or the user except for "if the policy maker is satisfied the process is finished", as though satisfaction and not effect is what is being sought."

5. Arthur S. Hulnick, (1986), "The Intelligence Producer-Policy Consumer Linkage: A Theoretical Approach", pp.212-233, Intelligence and National Security Journal, No.2, May 1986.

6. Abram Shulsky, Deputy for Asia and Defense Strategy (Office of the Secretary of Defense) and Jennifer Sims, Professional Staff Member, (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence), "What is Intelligence", Working Group on Intelligence Reform (1993), - Consortium for the Study of Intelligence, Washington, DC, USA.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. "NATO, Peacekeeping, and the UN", (1994), pp.22-23, Published by the Berlin Information Center for Transatlantic Security, Germany.

10. Ibid.

11. Atlantic News, (1994), "General Briquemont is Bitter", 7 March 1994, No.2612, p.3.

12. General Lewis Mackenzie, former U.N. Commander in Bosnia, speaking in a BBC Radio Interview on 11 February 1994.

13. "NATO, Peacemaking and the UN", op.cit., p.53.

14. Ibid.

15. NATO invested heavily in dedicated theater communication systems including the NATO Integrated Communication System (NICS) and the SATCOM satellite network which is part of NICS. The Gulf War of 1991 showed the theater limitations of these systems and raised questions about the ability of European states to participate in new roles (for example "out of area"- operations) without US assistance. See also Bruce G. Blair, Strategic Command and Control, Brookings Institution, 1985, as well as Jeffrey Richelson, The US Intelligence Community, Ballinger Press, 1985.

16. Shaun Gregory, (1991), "Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence in the Gulf War", Working Paper, No.238, Strategic and Defense Studies Center, Australian National University, September 1991.

17. Lewis J. A., (1995), "Europe makes giant space intelligence leap", Jane's Defense Weekly, 15 July 1995, p.4.