American Military and Intel, Planning and Operations; Knowledge of Post-Soviet and Russian Cultural Geography—Priceless

Paper Value Russian affairs specialists were among the first people in the Intelligence Community’s (IC) to experience an impact of post-9/11 environmental change. It began immediately in the fall of 2001. Almost overnight their expertise became obsolete.  They became dinosaurs with resumes whose value was equal to that of the paper they were printed on.  Hardly anyone in Washington D.C. area was hiring people with regional expertise in the post-Soviet geographic realm.  Many, however, were opening an inordinate amount of

The Flagellants and the Black Death: Intelligence Community’s Zeal for Human Geography

Definition and Application Geography, and for that matter one of its sub-disciplines, human geography, is not a scientific discipline defined on the basis of the content of analysis. Geography—human and physical—is a scientific discipline defined on the basis of the method of (spatial) analysis. What separates geographers, a small group within the Intelligence Community (IC), and their tradecraft from others is how they study and analyze topics and regions, not what they study. The effectiveness of a skilled geographer correlates

“Fixing” Intel (Or Manipulation with Maps)

When military, civilian, and business intelligence organizations rely on maps as an encyclopedic collection of facts (for inductive reasoning), instead using them as a medium that assists us to conceptually grasp the processes occurring within spatial systems (for deductive reasoning), they can be exposed to intentional or accidental manipulation. After I heard the news about the revolt of military analysts at the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM)—because they claimed that their reports have been altered by higher ups to fit

Making Maps and (Not) Understanding Geography: Implications

There is a big difference between making maps and having an ability to understand cultural geographical systems, which maps depict, and articulate that information to a customer. Unfortunately, the current trend in business, government, and society overall is a notion that no difference exists between map making and geographical analysis; that is, a widely held belief that a map maker and a geographer are basically one and the same and do identical work. “They may know where things are, but