Threat prediction is a vital pre-requisite of strategy development. It can, however, be a difficult and problematic task if the intelligence analysts as well as the planners and strategists do not have accurate intelligence at hand, do not understand the historical trends that have manifested over time, and do not understand the political strategies of their own government and those of the target country or target grouping.
If the intelligence services do not utilise all available resources at their disposal, and cultivate new resources where intelligence gaps exist, they will directly contribute to intelligence failures. Intelligence failures can, in turn, lead to misjudging the enemy, doctrinal failures and faulty or disjointed threat predictions and subsequently poor, unrealistic or irrelevant strategies.
The value of threat prediction and its analysis is that it provides benchmarks and indicators that can be used to constantly assess and re-adjust the overall military strategy. The need for flexibility in the developing military strategy is vital in order to prevent a tunnel-vision view of the threats a government may be facing.
The nature of modern warfare and, more broadly, armed conflict has changed dramatically from the classical or historical perspective of war. The days of two opposing armies meeting one another on an open field to engage in a classical conventional battle are, for the time being, long gone.
Although the ever-present threat of a conventional land, sea and air battle will always remain very real, modern war and/or conflict may be characterised by many different concepts such as religious fanaticism, ethnic hatred, radical ideologies, resource grabbing, xenophobia, mass mobilisation of the disadvantaged, a breakdown of law and order, a perceived weakness of the opposition, a growth in power by armed organised crime syndicates and so forth. These factors, more than ever, require detailed investigation – something that can only be achieved by means of a strong, dedicated and aggressive intelligence gathering and analysis capability.
Whereas modern military technology, if correctly applied, can prove to be a force- multiplier on the battlefield, strategists and planners cannot rely on technology alone, as technology is prone to failure, often at critical times. Over-reliance on technology may, therefore, present several serious disadvantages to the user. Correctly used as a battlefield support system, technology can play a valuable role in locating, confusing and even overcoming the enemy. Technology, however, needs to be balanced against the operating environment, the threat and the ability to maintain and apply the technology correctly. It remains a secondary weapon and not the primary weapon of an armed force.
Intelligence analysts, along with military planners and strategists furthermore need to consider a host of different and varying factors that may lead to political tension and thus negatively influence the security of the state, its citizens and the operating environment.
Political tension, on the other hand, may be the result of economic tension, natural resource distribution, border disputes, perceived political sabotage, ethnicity, religious differences and so forth.
Therefore, from a strategic planning point-of-view, several factors need to be closely assessed in terms of how they can be used to the advantage of the armed forces and how they can be successfully exploited thus denying the enemy from gaining an advantage.
Additionally, these factors need to be viewed in terms of the disadvantage they may hold for the political- and the military machinery. Of equal importance is the fact that the opposing forces will be assessing the same factors of the state or grouping they view as an aggressor.
The advantage will thus lie with the strategists and planners who are able to accurately predict the threats facing the state and identify the weaknesses and exploitation possibilities in order to develop realistic options that can be implemented.
PS: I have been travelling as well as ill and have therefore been unable to regularly update the blog. My apologies...