Intelligence: "analysts" Or "sythesists?"

Marauder06

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In a recent classroom discussion a question arose as to the true nature of intel work. Are the people we refer to as "analysts" truly doing "analysis," or are they performing "synthesis"?

Your thoughts?

anal·y·sis

noun \ə-ˈna-lə-səs\
plural anal·y·ses
Definition of ANALYSIS

1
: separation of a whole into its component parts
2
a : the identification or separation of ingredients of a substanceb : a statement of the constituents of a mixture
3
a : proof of a mathematical proposition by assuming the result and deducing a valid statement by a series of reversible stepsb (1) : a branch of
mathematics​
concerned mainly with limits,continuity, and infinite series (2) : calculus 1b
4
a : an examination of a complex, its elements, and their relationsb : a statement of such an analysis
5
a : a method in philosophy of resolving complex expressions into simpler or more basic onesb : clarification of an expression by an elucidation of its use in discourse
6
: the use of function words instead of inflectional forms as a characteristic device of a language
7
: psychoanalysis
See analysis defined for English-language learners »


syn·the·sis

noun \ˈsin(t)-thə-səs\
plural syn·the·ses
Definition of SYNTHESIS

1
a : the composition or combination of parts or elements so as to form a wholeb : the production of a substance by the union of chemical elements, groups, or simpler compounds or by the degradation of a complex compoundc : the combining of often diverse conceptions into a coherent whole; also : the complex so formed
2
a : deductive reasoningb : the dialectic combination of thesis and antithesis into a higher stage of truth
3
: the frequent and systematic use of inflected forms as a characteristic device of a
language​

syn·the·sist noun


 

Scotth

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Synthesis, at least for me, suggest that you are melding information into something new. It suggests that all the information presented would have to be true and accurate and only needs to be brought together to complete picture.

I would think intel analyst is more about the sorting through a mountain of data to find the few important nuggets of truth. You need the analyses of the data to sort out the noise from the needed information.
 

Brill

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Analysis. That's why we have the separate INTs and why each one is an art form. Example: Zimmerman Telegram.

Synthesis, by the definition above, indicates COMBINING outside stuff to make things. This is what I call MSU: making shit up.

Sir, I believe you just proved that 35F "wizardry" is not in fact analysis!!! (just kidding my Foxtrot brothers)
 

x SF med

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Intelligence workers use both anlaysis and synthesis to accomplish their goals of providing timely and accurate information.
Multiple raw sources and broken down into component parts, patterns and processes, compared to and measured against known items and other unknown items, where other patterns emerge, the overlapping areas of the 'new' information grid are then combined into a grid to discern where the overlapping patterns lead, using both the original patterning variables, and the new patterning variables. In some cases (most) the antithesis is also used to exclude the distractors in the overlap of the data sets, but that antithesis may lead to newer sytheses of formerly believed 'null items' from the exclusion matrices of older analysis. The use of thesis, antithesis, synthesis is advanced by thesis, anlysis, antithesis, synthesis, union of facts for multivariate sources.
therrefore, my short answer to your question is "Yes".
 

Teufel

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I think we would like our military intelligence professionals to do analysis but I don't think many are properly trained to do so. Analysts do exist but I think there is a lot more synthesis than analysis. To be honest, I think that a lot of the analysis done with separate ints is really synthesis. I haven't seen many people using analysis techniques to come up with and weigh their hypothesis. There is a lot of powerpoint carbon copying and logo swapping going on as well.
 

Marauder06

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There are a lot of really good posts in this thread.

I don't have a very well-thought-out opinion on this topic, but at first blush it seems to me that while many times what we do in intel is "analysis" by the definitions above, what our consumers really need is "synthesis."

Analysis is breaking things down into its individual parts- the nine different -INTs (until I get EXINT added and then there will be ten :) ). Providing analysis alone runs the risk of not providing the "so what" that synthesis (again using the above definition) gives.

I see analysis as breaking out all the pieces, and synthesis as putting it all together into a useful product to enable operations decision-making.

I guess I would see analysis as the science of intel, and synthesis as the art. The finished product that it is our goal to provide would in my opinion be better described as a "synthesized" product vs. an "analyzed" one.

That said, I don't want to be called a "synthesizer," I'm not a musical instrument from an '80's band...
 

Marauder06

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Sure- depending on who you ask the intel disciplines are...

The Army: (9) all-source, HUMINT, SIGINT, IMINT, GEOINT, OSINT, MASINT, TECHINT, and CI.
(FM 2-0, March 2010) http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm2-0.pdf

In the Joint community: (7) HUMINT, SIGINT, GEOINT, OSINT, MASINT, TECHINT, and CI.
(JP 2-0, June 2007) http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/jp2_0.pdf

And in MaraWorld, (10) all-source, HUMINT, SIGINT, IMINT, GEOINT, OSINT, MASINT, TECHINT, CI, and EXINT (EXINT not currently supported by doctrine)
 
J

JJ sloan

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Interesting subject. Honestly, this question eluded me. Personally, I think that the answer lies with the end user. Analysis is subject to the requirements and stipulations of those who request it. An analyst can locate, extract, summarize, collate and produce an end product but if the consumer is not interested in a final product then it seems to make little sense to "synthesize". Often what the consumer is most interested in is summarized facts, which will help their organic analyst reach a conclusion. In that sense, it seems that analysis has become a form of collaboration (not a bad thing). As Teufel stated "[t]here is a lot of powerpoint carbon copying and logo swapping going on as well." True. But what is the issue with this practice? If the product is useful to the consumer, who cares where it came from? That is part of analysis, extracting information and determining its veracity. I have no issues when I see my writing in someone elses report, in fact it fules my massive ego!
I think it depends on the particular mission of the analyst in question. Many of us are simply "birddogging" information and providing that information to the consumer (a collaborative effort). Others are involved in the full spectrum of analysis and production, which, by definition, seems to include synthesis. That seems to be the reason that the intel cycle includes both analysis and produciton in step 4, rather than including production as part of analysis. They are two seperate efforts within the same step. Just my immediate thoughts on the subject and now I am starting to ramble. Let me know if I am off base here.
 

DA SWO

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Less analyzing today because we have automated so much.
Synthesis is a more accurate description, but there needs to be a word that describes both functions combined. The end product is a combination of mathmatical/analytical/experience- similar to weather, except we get to blame the Chaplain.
 

Florida173

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Sure- depending on who you ask the intel disciplines are...

The Army: (9) all-source, HUMINT, SIGINT, IMINT, GEOINT, OSINT, MASINT, TECHINT, and CI.
(FM 2-0, March 2010) http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm2-0.pdf

In the Joint community: (7) HUMINT, SIGINT, GEOINT, OSINT, MASINT, TECHINT, and CI.
(JP 2-0, June 2007) http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/jp2_0.pdf

And in MaraWorld, (10) all-source, HUMINT, SIGINT, IMINT, GEOINT, OSINT, MASINT, TECHINT, CI, and EXINT (EXINT not currently supported by doctrine)


I was very critical at the 35F school instructors for teaching that all-source is it's own INT, and I am very hesitant to agree with it. Because most school houses are stuck on lowside, the students are not given proper training in most of the other INTs and will end up being OJT to learn it. Which is only as good as the analyst's motivation to learn other INTs and the mission.

I like Lindy's MSU reference.
 

Florida173

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I think we would like our military intelligence professionals to do analysis but I don't think many are properly trained to do so. Analysts do exist but I think there is a lot more synthesis than analysis. To be honest, I think that a lot of the analysis done with separate ints is really synthesis. I haven't seen many people using analysis techniques to come up with and weigh their hypothesis. There is a lot of powerpoint carbon copying and logo swapping going on as well.


"Plagiarism is the best form of flattery."

At least that is what I am told... :)


or maybe it was imitation.... whatever..
 

Marauder06

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I was very critical at the 35F school instructors for teaching that all-source is it's own INT, ....

I can see that. I could agree with all-source as an -INT being redundant, since it's really just fusion (or is it synthesis?) of all the other -INTs.
 

Florida173

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I can see that. I could agree with all-source as an -INT being redundant, since it's really just fusion (or is it synthesis?) of all the other -INTs.


Weird I didn't catch my use of "it's," but anyway.

I would say that it isn't the fusion of other INTs, although "fusion" is a big buzz word with all the "Fusion Cells." A good analyst must only know what they are looking at when they put analysis behind a product. I don't want an analyst to be able to do an IRR or a KL, but be able to use all the products from INTs to produce a valuable product.
 
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