IC Deep Dive: Learn the 6 Types of Intelligence

November 5, 2020

Learn about 6 types of intelligence.

When popular culture depicts the intelligence profession, we see a clandestine spy operating in a foreign country, gathering closely guarded secrets from unsuspecting enemies.

Is it accurate?

Well, yes.

But the bigger picture is much more complex.

Data and information come in many forms, from official foreign government meetings and open source internet articles to satellite imagery and highly technical equipment specifications. The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) gathers information from all these sources and stitches together a picture of what is happening in the world today and what is likely to happen tomorrow.

This flexibility, the capacity to expertly collect information from a variety of sources, is one of the reasons the IC is a highly collaborative team of 17 agencies, each complementing the next. While one agency is an expert in one form, another excels in a different form.

What will always be true, however, is that the IC never relies on a single form of intelligence to draw conclusions. One agency may contribute a piece of the puzzle while another agency contributes a second piece, and so on, until visibility into world events becomes clear.

This collaboration, orchestrated by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), is what makes the IC such a formidable weapon in the U.S. government. The ability to gather information from several sources not only leads to new discoveries, but also helps analysts verify and validate findings, which leads to a higher level of confidence in the accuracy of intelligence reports.

Intelligence Types in the IC

The IC recognizes six major buckets of intelligence. Some agencies use many of these sources, while other agencies excel and specialize in a specific type.

With all types of intelligence combined, the IC develops a picture of world events and reports that activity to the president, policy makers, law enforcement and the military. Accordingly, the IC’s assessments play a major role in shaping public policy and military strategy.

To learn more about the issues at the forefront of the IC’s attention, visit our Protecting America page. Browse our Jobs Listing page for open positions.