U.S. Intelligence Community

How is “Intelligence” defined?

“Intelligence includes the organizations, capabilities, and processes involved in collection, processing, exploitation, analysis, and dissemination of information or finished intelligence. Intelligence products provide users with the information that has been collected and analyzed based on their requirements.”

23 October 2013 Edition of Joint Pub 2-0, Joint Intelligence


Who is the United States Intelligence Community?

The Intelligence Community (IC) is a coalition of 17 U.S. agencies and organisations that work both independently and collaboratively to gather the intelligence necessary to conduct foreign relations and protect national security.

The IC’s primary objective is to collect and provide essential information to key stakeholders including the President of the United States, and members of the policymaking, law enforcement and military communities, to enable them to effectively perform their duties and protect the U.S. and its interests.

The IC comprises the following 17 agencies and organisations:

  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Department of Energy, Office of Intelligence
  • Department of Homeland Security, Office of Intelligence and Analysis
  • Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research
  • Department of the Treasury, Treasury Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Office of National Security Intelligence
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
  • National Reconnaissance Office
  • National Security Agency (NSA)
  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  • U.S. Air Force, Air Force Intelligence
  • U.S. Army, Army Intelligence
  • U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Intelligence
  • U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Corps Intelligence
  • U.S. Navy, Office of Naval Intelligence


U.S. Intelligence Community Activities

The activities of the IC include the following:

  • Collection of information needed by the President and key stakeholders for the performance of their duties and responsibilities
  • Production and dissemination of intelligence
  • Collecting information about, and helping to protect against, foreign intelligence activities directed against the U.S. (e.g. international terrorist and drug activities)
  • Administrative and support activities


What Intelligence disciplines are used by the U.S. Intelligence Community?

The Joint Counterterrorism Assessment Team (JCAT) consists of first responders and public safety professionals from around the United States, who work with federal intelligence analysts from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to research, produce, and disseminate counterterrorism intelligence.

The JCAT Intelligence Guide for First Responders outlines the five basic intelligence disciplines used by the Intelligence Community:


Geospatial intelligence (GEOINT)

Refers to the exploitation and analysis of imagery, imagery intelligence (IMINT), and geospatial information to describe, assess, and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth.


Human intelligence (HUMINT) 

Intelligence derived from information collected and provided by human sources. This information includes overt data collected by personnel in diplomatic and consular posts as well as otherwise unobtainable information collected via clandestine sources, debriefings of foreign nationals and U.S. citizens who travel abroad, official contacts with foreign governments, and direct observation.


Measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) 

Technically derived data other than imagery and signals intelligence (SIGINT). The data is analysed and results in intelligence that locates, identifies, or describes distinctive characteristics of targets. It employs a broad group of disciplines including nuclear, optical, radio frequency, acoustics, seismic, and materials sciences. Examples include the distinctive radar signatures of specific aircraft systems or the chemical compositions of air and water samples.


Open-source intelligence (OSINT) 

Produced from publicly available information collected, exploited, and disseminated in a timely manner to an appropriate audience to address a specific intelligence requirement. OSINT draws from a wide variety of information and sources, including the following:

  • Mass media
  • Public data—e.g. government reports, official data such as budgets and demographics, hearings, legislative debates and press conferences.
  • Grey literature —open-source material that usually is available through specialized access for a specific audience, such as research reports, economic reports, unofficial government documents, studies and market surveys.
  • Observation and reporting—significant information not otherwise available that is or has been provided for example by amateur airplane spotters, radio monitors or satellite observers.


Signals intelligence (SIGINT) 

Gathered from data transmissions, including communications intelligence (COMINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT), and foreign instrumentation signals intelligence (FISINT). SIGINT includes both the raw data and the analysis of the data.

  • COMINT is the capture of information for the purposes of tracking communications patterns and protocols (traffic analysis), establishing links between intercommunicating parties or groups, or analysing the meaning of communications.
  • FISINT is information derived from the intercept of foreign electromagnetic emissions associated with the testing and operational deployment of non-U.S. aerospace, surface, and subsurface systems including, but not limited to, telemetry, beaconry, electronic interrogators, and video data links.
  • ELINT is information derived primarily from electronic signals that do not contain speech or text (which are considered COMINT). The most common sources of this type of information are radar signals.


Key takeaways

The United States Intelligence Community (IC) comprises 17 U.S. agencies and organisations including the FBI, CIA and DEA. Drawing on five basic intelligence disciplines, the IC collects and provides essential information to key stakeholders including the President of the United States, in order to protect national security.

Nyman Gibson Miralis advises and represents individuals and corporations dealing with international and national security investigations and probes, interviews, administrative decisions and related court proceedings.

Contact us if you require assistance.