Concepts & Doctrine

Defining CI and HUMINT Requirements

by Chief Warrant Officer Four Patrick J. Foxen

For the purpose of this article, we refer to human intelligence (HUMINT) specifically as the “collection of information for intelligence purposes from humans.” While there are obviously other human sources of information on the battlefield (e.g., scouts and long-range surveillance teams), they are beyond the scope of this article.

During recent stability operations and support operations, the Army has placed a growing emphasis on collecting information for intelligence purposes from the local population. To keep in step with this growing emphasis, our division is assessing our current doctrine on human intelligence (HUMINT) and counterintelligence (CI) operations. Our first step is to develop the Combat Commander’s Handbook on HUMINT and CI Operations in Stability Operations and Support Operations this spring. We then plan to revise FM 34-52, Intelligence Interrogation (possibly retitled HUMINT Collection), and FM 34-60, Counterintelligence, beginning this fall and winter. As we begin this challenge, we need your input. To start, we would like specific thoughts and comments on this article.

CI Does Not Equal HUMINT

Across DTLOMS (doctrine, training, leadership, materiel, and soldiers), there is a tendency to blur the distinction between two very distinct doctrinal requirements, HUMINT and CI. FM 34-1, Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Operations, describes HUMINT as one of the four intelligence disciplines and CI as one of the two multidiscipline functions. There is a tendency to confuse the methodology on information collection and operational intention. This imprecise use and mixing of doctrinal terminology is bound to weaken both the HUMINT and CI efforts. While HUMINT and CI are highly complimentary efforts, even symbiotic, the basic mindsets of both are diametrically opposite by definition. CI is not a subset of HUMINT.

HUMINT is the intelligence derived from information collected from people and related documents. HUMINT is a pure collection discipline and is an essential contributor to the all-source picture of the battlefield. By a “pure” collection discipline, we mean that the purpose of the discipline is to collect information from a specific type of source using a specific skill set. The purpose of and requirement for the collection of this information is irrelevant. That is not to suggest that no one evaluates and analyzes the information. The HUMINT collector responds to command and national collection requirements regardless of the intended use of that information.

 CI, on the other hand, is a multidiscipline function whose purpose is to detect, identify, assess, counter, neutralize, or exploit the intelligence collection efforts of competitors, opponents, adversaries, and enemies. It is the critical means the intelligence community uses to protect the force against espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassination when the activity is conducted for, or on behalf of, foreign powers, organizations or persons, or international terrorist groups. The defining factor in CI operations is not how we collect the information but the purpose of collection. CI agents use HUMINT collection techniques in some aspects of their collection and investigative mission. It is this use of HUMINT skills, particularly in its investigative and source operation roles that has led to confusion.

How Did We Get Here?

How then did this trend to associate CI solely with HUMINT collection and to define HUMINT entirely in CI or force protection terms develop? Two factors have contributed to this trend: insufficient resources and ill-defined mission requirements.

Insufficient Resources. Many recent operations (e.g., Haiti, Somalia, and Bosnia) have been against a relatively unsophisticated foe technologically, but conducted in an environment that is rich in HUMINT collection potential. The forces that we deployed often have lacked the HUMINT capability to meet the collection opportunities. The lack of HUMINT collectors has led to the use of CI agents to perform a primary HUMINT collection job. This creates problems in two areas. First, because they are credentialed CI agents, there are restrictions that apply to CI agents but do not apply to HUMINT collectors (such as CI agents’ use in criminal investigations). Second, when using a CI agent as your HUMINT collector, you are not employing the best tool for the job. The tendency to define military occupational specialty 97E (Interrogator) and to a lesser degree 351E (Human Intelligence Collection Technician) as simply “interrogators” compounds this problem. This narrow focus coupled with a misunderstanding of the term “interrogator” (see the definitions below) has led to a hesitancy to use these personnel.

Poorly Defined Mission Requirements. Our experiences in Bosnia and Somalia, coupled with our need to minimize causalities, have led us to define collection requirements solely in the terms of force protection and hence as CI. First, this is a misnomer, since CI does not equate to force protection and secondly, it ignores the “positive” collection capabilities of HUMINT. CI concerns itself with the threat’s collection capability not necessarily with an analysis of other threat capabilities and plans. The identification of the threat’s organizational structure, capabilities, and plans is a part of HUMINT collection. There is also a tendency to define CI strictly in the terms of HUMINT collection and ignore other “adversary” collection capabilities (e.g. computer penetration). Although some CI agents receive training in this area, most do not.

So what is the solution to this problem? We must clearly define the sets of doctrinal requirements currently needed to meet the HUMINT collection mission and the CI mission. The rest of this article proposes some important doctrinal terms necessary to describe HUMINT collection, CI analysis, and CI investigations.

HUMINT Collection             Activities

HUMINT collection includes “operations conducted using HUMINT collection techniques regardless of the ultimate use of that information.”     HUMINT activities include a great variety of operations, analysis, and liaison duties.

CI Force Protection Source Operations (CFSO). Tactically- oriented, overt collection program that uses human sources (informants) on the battlefield to identify potential and actual threats to deployed U.S. and coalition forces and to answer intelligence requirements. Sources can provide early warning of imminent danger to deployed U.S. and coalition forces and provide information that helps in the decision-making process.

 Liaison. Liaison is the gaining of rapport with and elicitation of information from host country and allied military and civilian agencies. Agents conduct liaison with host nation military and law enforcement U.S., coalition, and host nation law enforcement and security personnel. Liaison can answer collection requirements, coordinate activities, and foster cooperation.

Document Exploitation (DOCEX). The systematic extraction of information from documents to aid in HUMINT collection operations and to obtain information in response to collection requirements.

Surveillance. Observation of a facility, activity, or individuals to answer collection requirements, support the commander’s decision-making processes, or support a CI program.

Screening Operations. Operations to identify sources that may be able to answer collection requirements, serve as CFSO sources, or be a part of a base or area security program. This operation is both a tactical HUMINT and CI operation. Screening operations include:

Interrogation and Detainee Operations. The systematic questioning of large numbers of enemy prisoners of war or detainees in response to collection requirements. This usually occurs at a military police- or other agency-operated collection facility.

Friendly Force Debriefing Operations. The systematic debriefing of U.S. Forces to answer collection requirements.

Refugee Debriefing Operations are the systematic debriefing of refugees and displaced persons to answer collection requirements.

Single-Source HUMINT Analysis. The analysis of information obtained from HUMINT operations listed above.

HUMINT Collection Procedures and Techniques

Debriefing is the systematic effort to obtain information to answer specific collection requirements by direct and indirect questioning techniques of a person not in the custody of the forces conducting the questioning. The two primary categories of sources for debriefing are U.S. and foreign personnel. The U.S. personnel include patrols, military personnel who have been in contact with host nation personnel, and U.S. business- persons who may have worked in the areas of interest. Refugees, local inhabitants, and members of non-governmental organizations are examples of the foreign personnel who may be sources.

Interrogation is the effort to acquire information to answer specific collection requirements by direct and indirect questioning techniques of a person in the custody of the forces conducting the questioning. Some examples of interrogation sources are enemy prisoners of war and detainees.

Elicitation is the direct interaction with a human source to gain information where the source is not aware of the specific purpose for the conversation. Elicitation is the baseline method for initiating source operations.

Screening encompasses the techniques used to identify an individual for further exploitation or investigation. Discriminators used in screening can range from general appearance and attitude to specific questions to assess areas of knowledge and degree of cooperation. You must remember that screening is not an intelligence collection technique (in itself). It is a timesaving measure that identifies those individuals most likely to answer an intelligence or CI requirement.

CI Analysis and Support Operations

Multidiscipline CI (MDCI) Analysis is the analysis of the threat’s signals intelligence (SIGINT), HUMINT, and imagery intelligence (IMINT) capabilities regarding intelligence collection, terrorism, and sabotage to develop countermeasures against them. It involves a reverse intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) process in which the analyst looks at U.S. forces and operations from the threat perspective to assist in friendly courses of action (COAs) development. This analytical tool supports the commander’s force protection program and facilitates the nomination of CI targets for neutralization or exploitation.

CI Support to Threat Vulnerability Assessments provides an assessment of a command or facility’s susceptibility to foreign intelligence collection. Most assess- ments also evaluate threats from terrorist and insurgent groups, as well as susceptibility to sabotage.

HUMINT and CI support to force protection. A commander’s force protection program encompasses many assets designed to help protect the force. HUMINT and CI can use their unique protective and collection capabilities to help a commander safeguard a deployed force.

CI Investigation Operations are those operations requiring CI certification (i.e., counterintelligence agents with badge and credentials).

CI Investigations. CI agents train to conduct investigations into breaches of national security. The average tactical HUMINT and CI team will not spend a great amount of time conducting CI investigations, and will require assistance from operational and strategic CI assets to perform more than basic CI investigations. The areas of CI investigation include espionage, terrorism, treason, subversion, sedition, and automated information systems intrusion.

CI Technical Support. CI elements from the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) bring some valuable technical capabilities to a contin- gency area, to include Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) capabilities and polygraph support.


HUMINT collection and CI are and will continue to become increasingly important as we enter the 21st century. Both efforts are vital to mission success across the entire spectrum of operations. The understanding of the doctrinal distinction between HUMINT collection and CI is fundamental. This distinction drives the doctrinal description of both efforts and our understanding of how they are mutually supportive and intertwined in stability operations and support operations. As we grapple with this issue, we need your input.

Editor’s Note: Look for the July-September 1999 issue of the Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin, which will feature several articles relating to HUMINT and CI.

CW4 Patrick J. Foxen is a Human Intelligence Collection Technician (351E) with 24 years in the military. He is currently working in the Doctrine Division, Futures Directorate, USAIC&FH. Readers can contact him about this article via his E-mail at [email protected] and by telephone at (520) 538-0971 and DSN 879-0971, or E-mail the doctrine staff at http: //