Role of Counterintelligence Support

Role of Counterintelligence Support


Counterintelligence refers to information gathering and actions taken to identify, exploit, neutralize and protect against multidiscipline intelligence activities, espionage, sabotage, and assassinations authorized or done on behalf of adversaries, enemies, foreign powers and international terrorist activities. CI focuses on detection, identifying and neutralizing adversary intelligence gathering activities without the official consent of the designated US authorities. CI takes action against illegal intelligence activities that target information, operations, plans, facilities and equipment both classified and unclassified for use in ways that may damage or adversely affect the US national security interests. It combats adversary intelligence activities that targets the army personnel, plans, operations, critical information, activities and infrastructure.

Role of counterintelligence support

CI investigations

CI investigations are conducted to counter the adversarial intelligence activities targeting the army interests. CI investigations provide intelligence information on questions such as: Who are the adversaries? Which part of US security is being targeted? What are their current operations? Counter intelligence investigation activities are purposed to support and protect, security programs, technology, and infrastructure and information assurance from being sabotaged by adversary intelligence activities. Counterintelligence investigations is the first priority of CI in countering and disrupting enemy and foreign intelligence activities that pose a threat to the national interests, military personnel, operations, installations and technology. The defense science board recognizes that the best way to counter terrorism is to identify and understand the terrorist organizations and the magnitude of threat they pose to the national security. CI investigations plays a vital role of resolving known or suspected acts that are considered as threat to the national security under the US law. Counterintelligence investigates all foreign and adversary intelligence activities because these activities sometimes are indicators of possible threat to national security. Having intelligence information about possible terrorist activities is a prerequisite for disrupting and mitigating the risk of attacks. Through investigations of such allegations CI promotes national security vigilance hence ensuring that the safety of the US army and other individuals is not compromised. Through CI investigations systemic security problems are identified hence CI protects the army operations and national security interests against damaging repercussions that may arise as a result of the unauthorized intelligence activities of enemies such as terrorists. CI investigations focuses on identifying and resolving allegations and systemic security problems that have significant impact on army operations. Effective counterintelligence could have detected, identified, exploited and neutralized the threat posed to the army personnel in the USS Cole before the bombing.

CI operations

CI activities that do not specifically fall under the category of production, investigation, analysis and collections functions are under the CI operations. CI operations counter adversary intelligence activities through support operations or sensitive operations. CI operations neutralizes adversary and foreign intelligence activities that poses a threat to the national security interests. The operational function of counterintelligence ensures protection of CI investigations, CI collection and counterintelligence analysis. CI operations enable the military force to not only know about the US adversaries and their installations but also take action against them. Counterintelligence measures of neutralizing foreign and adversary intelligence threats plays an essential role of protecting national secrets, army personnel and their families, installations, technology and operations. Counterintelligence operations supports the military force protection measures that helps mitigate attacks against the US army. CI operations help the US military to map the enemy intelligence operations hence weakening the enemy operations. An example being the mapping of Iraq intelligence operations weakened the Iraq operations making them ineffective. Force protection refers to the defensive operations against deliberate attacks such as the terrorist attack on the USS Cole. Counterintelligence is essential for an effective force protection measures. Therefore, strategic counterintelligence techniques such as the counterintelligence force protection source operations that provide antiterrorist human intelligence are used for predicting terror attacks. Investigations by the official department of defense on the bombing of the USS Cole revealed that the military officials failed to anticipate the attack. The main reason was lack of antiterrorist human intelligence. Counterintelligence force protection source operations uses human intelligence that is essential in prioritization and determination of the credibility of the terrorist threats. The lack of antiterrorist human intelligence made the military vulnerable hence the attack on the USS Cole.

CI support operations involve defensive counterintelligence to support force, army security programs and technology. CI defensive operations looks at the US security organizations to assess areas within the organizations that may be exploited by terrorist groups and foreign intelligence services.  Counterintelligence defensives operations conducts strategic assessments and analysis of terrorist groups which help counterterrorism operations. Information from the assessments is used in preparartion of tactical options for any ongoing investigations or operations. The defense science department emphasizes the best defense against act of terrorisms such as the bombing of the USS Cole is taking active counterintelligence measures. Special operations are offensive counterintelligence operations that aim at detecting all threats against the army and other personnel and preventing damaging repercussions from such kind of operations. Offensive operations engage the hostile intelligence adversary or terrorist group directly or indirectly with the aim of preventing the attack or turning the attempted act back to its originator such as terrorist groups. Counterintelligence defensive operations provide risk assessments that enable counterterrorism units to take calculated risks and choose an effective tactical operation that will mitigate the threat to national security.

CI collection

Counterintelligence collection activities are conducted to gather intelligence information through the use of multimedia or human sources, official contacts and assets. CI collection function gathers information that impacts on the US forces such as the in transits forces in the USS Cole. CI collection facilitate counterintelligence units to exploit the enemy intelligence activities by turning the events to their advantage. Accurate and timely intelligence information collected facilitate elimination of threats from adversary intelligence activities such as terrorist activities. CI collection is not a substitute for the US army HUMNIT operations but set of activities that are designed for collecting specific information and exploiting emerging leads to determine the capabilities, operations and structure of the adversaries who pose a threat to the US military forces and their families. CI collection promotes antiterrorist human intelligence by enabling penetration of adversary operations without the knowledge of the enemy. This allows collection of real time intelligence operations of the adversary hence enabling the military to prepare for the best tactical options to defeat the enemy. However, despite the intelligence information collected on the security threat at Yemen no countermeasures were in place at Yemen to prevent the attack on the USS Cole. A survey conducted after the bombing revealed that much intelligence was available but lack of coordination between analysis and reporting of the intelligence information led to no counterintelligence measures being taken.

Sims et al., postulates that the counterintelligence should be improved to ensure that the information collected is easily analyzed and reported in a clear and understandable manner that allows the designated officials to prioritize and prepare counterintelligence measures to deter and mitigate any terrorist attacks on army installations, operations and the transit forces. Counterintelligence collection may collect information on adversary intelligence activities that may prompt the military officials and other intelligence agencies to start CI investigations or operations. The availability of accurate and timely information on the threat to the army personnel in the US Cole from terrorists would have enabled the department of defense to take counterintelligence measures to prevent the bombing or neutralize the severity of the terrorist actions. Counterintelligence collection activities and source operations (CASO) conducts the activities of collecting information on adversary intelligence activities or terrorist groups that poses a direct threat to the US forces personnel, installations, information, organization and activities. Its purpose is to identify potential leads and initiating CI investigations.


Counterintelligence analysis uses techniques such as single source and all source analysis and IPB analysis to examine the enemy intelligence activities. Through this function the counterintelligence role of assessing the enemy intelligence activities is performed. Through analysis of intelligence activities of adversaries, partners and allies CI analysis provides intelligence information on their plans, purposes and interests and countermeasures to defeat them. CI analytical work provides refined intelligence information which is incorporated in the national and joint intelligence assessments and databases to support operation planning of the military forces. CI assessments of the enemy or allies intelligence activities impact on US ability to counter various challenges such as global terrorism, protecting national security interests, improving security policy frameworks and promoting economic growth.

Intelligence analyzed provides recommendations that are used by military force commanders to effect the best countermeasures to deter and disrupt the enemy activities that pose a threat to the national security interests. CI analysis enable commanders to choose the best tactical options to neutralize and exploit the adversary efforts and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the CI teams. CI analysis focuses on threats targeting US military personnel, information, operations, technology, and activities to neutralize them. CI analysis analyzes open source materials, data and finished intelligence products. CI analysis of the previous intelligence information on the attack of the USS The Sullivan (DDG 68) would have prepared the USS Cole on what to expect at Yemen. However, the USS Cole commanders were not prepared of the attack indicating of the failure of the counterintelligence function units. Lack of coordination on the analysis of the intelligence information collected about possible terrorist attack resulted to inactions of the commanders since the information failed to raise a flag.


These are the output information generated from the CI activities. Such information include but not limited to CI estimates, investigative reports, target nomination and intelligence reports. Production is a critical function as it provides actionable intelligence information collected in all the other CI activities. It’s only with CI products that the commander of the military force or any other designated intelligence officials can take actions to counter any threats to the national security or army interests. All finalized intelligence information are incorporated into the national and joint data bases to provide support to the army operations. CI strategic products are assessments that support US military operations and programs, an example being assessment of terrorist’s intentions. The first attempt to bomb the USS The Sullivan before the bombing of the USS Cole that year indicated the terrorist intentions of bombing the ships at Yemen. However, the counterintelligence failed to detect and identify the threat. The commander of the USS Cole and the DOD lacked the support intelligence products to establish countermeasures for any future attempts. Lack of support intelligence products on the intentions of the terrorist organization Al-Qaida rendered the commander of the USS Cole and the Navy criminal investigation service incapable of anticipating the attack.

Technical services

Counterintelligence organizations should be equipped with CI special agents with special technical skills to augment the counterintelligence operations, investigations and collections. The technical abilities of these CI special agents are to support the traditional CI activities of neutralizing the intelligence activities of US adversaries. These agents offer assistance to the force protection intelligence. They provide human intelligence and technical expertise that assist in detection, identification and investigations of alleged threats to the US interests. However, based on the findings of the DOD investigations the USS Cole lacked the required technical support. Counterintelligence programs being an integral part of the force protection intelligence failed to provide the technical human intelligence at Yemen.  In foreign ports such as Yemen the National Criminal Investigation service provide support to the force protection intelligence. however, there were no personnel from the organization assigned at the port of Yemen hence the counterintelligence activities lacked human intelligence which could have uncovered the terrorist plans before the attack.


Intelligence information without an effective counterintelligence measure is useless. Counterintelligence helps the US security organs to identify, assess, exploit and neutralize the enemy or foreign intelligence activities that impact of on security, military personnel, installations, information, technology and operations. The best method of deterring, disrupting and mitigating risks against the US army installations is through counterintelligence. Through counterintelligence security organs have been almost effectively thwarted all threats from foreign and enemy intelligence activities. Coordination between security organs is essential in analyzing and reporting of intelligence information collected because lack of coordination will lead to inability to anticipate terrorist attacks such as the bombing of the USS Cole. Human intelligence is vital and is augmented by counterintelligence which together result to successful countermeasures. However, without human intelligence security organs lacks authentication of the reality of any threat to any military installations and personnel.


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