Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin

Project Pathfinder

Breaking the Barriers to More Effective Intelligence

by Timothy B. Hendrickson and Major Michael G. Knapp, USAR

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Ground Intelligence Center, the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

In early October 1994, Iraq moved Republican Guards Forces Command units to the Kuwaiti border. As the crisis develops, U.S. decisionmakers attempt to judge whether Saddam Hussein will order his forces into Kuwait again, as he did in the summer of 1990. A small team of National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) analysts applied new analytical software technology to the problem in an attempt to predict possible Iraqi intentions. Within hours of receiving the short-fuzed tasking, team members conducted a detailed comparison of information from 1990 and 1994. Based on that comparison, the team made some key conclusions on Iraqi intentions (more on this later).

Before this technology was available, such analysis of thousands of disparate pieces of multisource information would have been done manually, unable to keep pace with rapidly changing situations, and would not have provided the desired results to decisionmakers in time. Moreover, the comparative analysis would have been next to impossible without this software innovation because of the serious limitations in the human brain's ability to assimilate large amounts of information at one time.

Challenges and Constraints

A working environment that is difficult and demanding as never before confronts today's intelligence analyst. The nature of the threat has changed significantly with the end of the Cold War; the rise in regionalized, smaller-scale conflicts; and the increasing proliferation of highly destructive weapons and related critical technologies. This environment has brought about a corresponding change in organization and employment of the U.S. military. Our forces are now predominantly based in the United States and employed on short notice as joint and combined service teams with a broad range of missions from conventional combat to operations other than war. Each of the Services must remain ready to support two major conflicts simultaneously, yet must also continue to downsize and reorganize!
The defense and national intelligence communities have also had to evolve in this atmosphere of increased tensions and uncertainty. Analysts must be able to work faster and smarter but with fewer resources while continuing to provide effective and timely support to their many customers. Today's analytical environment is characterized by a number of dynamics that affect how the analyst can operate. These include-