Principles of Joint Intelligence: The Case of Kosovo


Generally, the so-called ‘principles of joint intelligence’ refers to principles which guide the preparation of intelligence and the subsequent provision of intelligence or its equivalent to provide assistance to military forces of two or more services in some coordinated action. Upon US entry to the Second World War, the JIC (American Joint Intelligence Committee) was established to provide significant intelligence estimates and policy papers during and after the war. The policy papers created by the JIC were utilized by the US government in evaluating potential external threats (such as the case of Cuba in the early 1960s). The governing principles of ‘joint intelligence’ were formalized in the early 1960s – a period of increasing political tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The British Model was the most preferred ‘joint intelligence’ in the Western world. The model was responsible for the breaking of the enigma code during the Second World War. It also provided sufficient and vital information both to US and Soviet forces fighting in the Western and Eastern fronts respectively. The British model was relatively simple. The so-called ‘Intelligence Committee’ was subordinated to the Staff Planners. Representation was very limited as a means of securing the integrity of the intelligence data. The Staff planners reported directly to the Chiefs of Staff.

During the crisis of the late 1990s, the British model was used to assess the extent of political violence in Kosovo (as well as the degree of threat posed to the EU). Its initial finding was fairly accurate. However, it lacked one element. In its political equation, it failed to take into account ethnicity as the main cause of the conflict. Much of the intelligence gathered focused more on the movements of troops and materials, and the build-up of militia units.

Both the economic and psychological aspects of the conflict were neglected, as such the demographic movement of people and the objectives of President Milosevic. In short, intelligence assessment during the Kosovo crisis was limited to: 1) simplistic analysis of arms supply, 2) army strength, and 3) level of political violence. The British model simply failed to make the assumption which states that the war in Kosovo was generally the work of a single personality. When EU members sent troops to the region, they were able to realize the impact of faulty intelligence reports.

It was found that a fairly good assessment of the Serbia army was insufficient to determine the extent of the conflict in the region. Tony Blair, the British prime minister, supported a general reform on joint intelligence ventures. The Intelligence Committee was tasked to report directly to the Chiefs of Staffs, in cases where sound information seemed to deviate from its normal course (as in the case of Kosovo). In short, a more direct communication between the planners and the decision-makers in the army would invariably lead to efficiency.