Requests for Intelligence

RFIs. Formalised-questions that drive operational decisions.

Anyone who's worked in intelligence agencies will know what a Request for Intelligence (RFI) is. It's basically a formal way of asking and answering questions.

The answers to these questions will help inform decision-makers so that they can make...well, informed decisions.

If someone wants to know something, they complete a formal RFI. That could be in the form of an email, filling out a form on a website, or just chatting with someone about what it is they need. It doesn't really matter too much about the method in which the RFI is received, but it should usually have the following parameters:

  • Time frame: when does the requestor need the finished product by?
  • Classification: should it be super top secret? or something less sensitive that can be shared with random people?
  • Format: do you need a document or a presentation or something else?
  • Sources of interest: has the requestor seen something that they want analysed in detail?

This isn't an exhaustive list. The two things I recommend you always push requestors for is a time frame and a format. The purpose of this is so that you can fully answer the person's question and save a lot of headaches down the line.

The RFI will be handled by an RFI manager, who will dish out the task to an analyst that will be responsible for completing the task.

The analyst will task collection assets to collect raw data and information and/or they'll go and collect information themselves. There are lots of collection assets:

  • Human intelligence (HUMINT)
  • Signals intelligence (SIGINT)
  • Imagery intelligence (IMINT)
  • Open source intelligence (OSINT)
  • and many more.

Some RFIs can be completely within a day, others can take months.

Some are 'standing' RFIs that happen on repeat. Think: "Every Friday I want to be briefed on enemy activity in the Sangin Valley." That's a standing RFI.

It might sound over engineered, but when intelligence teams are getting asked a few dozen questions a day, you NEED a formal process for RFIs.

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