Military intelligence is defined as information relating to the armed forces of a foreign country that is significant to the planning and conduct of another country's military doctrine, policy, and operations. It is an agency of the armed forces that procures, analyzes and uses information that focuses on gathering information, gaining control, and dissemination about enemy units, terrain, and the weather to protect the country from attack or danger; It is also called the military espionage. In simpler terms, military intelligence is the art of 'knowing the enemies'. Most armies of the world maintain a military intelligence organization, as it provides relevant information on enemy terrain and strategies, based on which tactical operations are chosen to overpower the enemy. Apart from gathering information, military intelligence also reduces the decision making time. Thus, the armed forces can respond more quickly to both offensive and defensive actions. In the US, the military intelligence organization has been extremely useful in policy making and strategic decisions both during peace and war. The military intelligence is a key factor in assessing the power and strength of any country in the world; it would undoubtedly assume greater significance in balance of power between the superpowers.
In general there are two basic forms of military policy decisions, tactical and strategic. Tactics concerns utilization of existing resources (such as when an analyst in a battle locates the enemy, and provides information to help decide which tactical approach to take). Strategic intelligence assesses changes in world society, be it scientific, technical, tactical or diplomatic. Strategic intelligence is usually analyzed with simulations or games based on war scenarios. These games let policy-makers understand and test new types of tactics.
The development of an intelligence organization within the U.S. Army is comparatively recent. The Army did not acquire a permanent peacetime intelligence organization until 1885. A military intelligence office in the U.S. military force is referred as J-2, G-2 or S-2, depending on their assignment such as joint service staff, a general officer's staff, or the staff of a unit commanded by an officer below the rank of a general. Officers and enlisted men for military intelligence are selected for their analytical abilities and the capability to keep secrets. They receive formal training in these disciplines. The chief duty of an intelligence officer is to find and report military and other information that will be relevant to the policy-maker's decisions.
The outcome of war to a great extent depends on the information collected and interpreted by the military intelligence department. Military intelligence is probably as old as the war itself. It is said that 'if you know your enemy, you have won half the battle'. Military intelligence helps win a war by systematically and accurately gathering all possible information about the enemy.
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