Sources and Reliability

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    • #77044
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)

        Continuing on with Articles from Samuel Culper at Guerrillamerica.

        …we’re discussing sources and their reliability. Who are we looking for? Where do we find them? How do we know that our source is being truthful; or what he’s saying is true? In any future conflict, the ability to recruit, task, and collect from sources is going to be a critical part of the overall targeting and security strategy.

        I will post some additional thoughts and sources to follow this up.

      • #77045
        Joe (G.W.N.S.)


          Current intelligence collection doctrine utilizes HUMINT as one method of gaining information of intelligence value on a high value target (HVT). An HVT is simply someone who plays a critical role, and is therefore of a high value, in a network that we want removed.


          HUMINT for security purposes is typically referred to as Counterintelligence (CI). CI collectors are working against the adversary’s intelligence collection assets.

          The ideal source.

          If I had to describe the “ideal” source, he or she would be or have three things: be responsive to tasking, be motivated to provide accurate information, and have placement and access to satisfy the information requirement.

          By “tasking”, I mean that we utilize the individual; therefore, if someone is responsive to tasking, then he or she is willing to be tasked (literally, given a task). Sources should be motivated to provide you the information you’re looking for. That motivation can be monetary or ideological; you can pay them or they can provide you information because they are working toward the same goals as you. Finally, the source should have placement and access.

          Source selection.

          Right now you can be practicing these skills. Worst case you will have just learned new a skill set, however there is a very good chance these sources may be of use in the future. The civilian term is networking and it can be useful in many practical ways right now. These kinds of previous contacts can make future use far easier.

          How to store this information? First choice is “contact list software” there are many suitable for this purpose that accept photos, biographies, known associates, family members etc… Of course back it up digitally and hard copy. Some of this software even provides interconnection graphic charting of associations.

          Who should be on this network list, almost anyone! (please don’t assign some uber military/super secret squirrel name to this, if for some reason you are arrested/investigated the last thing you need is some Targeted, OPFOR, Informant, etc…list :wacko: ) You never know who could be the key person in the future. Some priorities could include, LEO’s, Active/Reserve Military, Politicians, Public Employees, Bureaucrats of any flavor, Bartenders, Barbers, Hairstylist’s, nail salon workers, Doctors, Airport employees, Emergency Management, well you get the idea. I put in bold some that can provide incredibly valuable information.

          Here is the pertinent information from FM 2-22.3 (FM 34-52) HUMAN INTELLIGENCE COLLECTOR OPERATIONS.


          12-45. HUMINT source selection involves identifying, researching, and actively locating a specific group, organization, or individual for the purpose of collecting information in response to intelligence requirements. The HUMINT source selection process includes the C/J/G/S2X, the HOC (HUMINT operations cell), the HAT (HUMINT analysis team), the OMT (operational management team), and the HCT (HUMINT collection team). The source selection process allows the HUMINT team leader to identify the most likely source of information, eliminating the uncertainty of the access and placement of sources. Source selection also helps optimize the HUMINT collection effort. Any individual, group, organization, or agency that can be approached for information regarding intelligence requirements is a potential source. Sources are chosen according to their reliability, level of cooperation, and placement and access. Selection is particularly important in stability and reconstruction operations where the HUMINT collectors have access to a large potential source pool. Source selection establishes which current sources can best answer requirements and establishes source profiles to support the screening and selection of new sources.


          12-46. The establishment of local databases, target folders, and personality files is normally the responsibility of the OMT. This is done in coordination with the supporting ACE (analysis and control element) or analysis control team (ACT). Databases are required to manage the information. By using databases one can identify gaps in the information. The HCT and OMT access higher databases through intelligence reach to share and deconflict locally maintained data with higher level databases. Local databases can be created and used to help track source production, knowledge, reliability, and accuracy, and they simplify cross-reference data that is of primarily local interest. It is ideal to review and update databases at least weekly.

          12-47. A target folder provides the collector with up-to-date intelligence information about details of the target. It includes anything of HUMINT value including biographies, descriptions, photographs, and previous information reports. The information can be gained from the ACE or ACT, past reports, INTSUMs (intelligence summary), and databases; it can then be organized into easily accessible automated folders. Information on people is categorized and recorded in a personality file. The file serves as reference material for collectors. Information on key military and civilian figures can be of significant value when establishing unit or group identification, tactics, and combat effectiveness. The file should not only provide information on cultural, religious, tribal, political, military, criminal, and governmental background but also contain specific personalities for collectors to focus their collection effort on. This allows the collectors to concentrate on mission planning and to conduct their mission rather than to research information.


          12-48. As target folders are compiled, a list of high-value sources will emerge. It is a simple matter to compare the source list with the PIRs (priority intelligence requirement) and/or SIRs (specific information requirement). This will lead to efficient and time-saving missions for the collectors. Rather than spend time meeting with sources who may have information concerning certain subjects, the HCT is able to tackle the collection process with foresight. Upon receipt of the mission, the OMT conducts mission analysis to determine the optimal way to meet mission requirements. Proper mission analysis enables the collector to properly focus his assets (sources) to gain the maximum amount of intelligence from those sources most likely to possess the highest quality information.

          12-49. The following products, which will focus the HCT’s collection efforts, can be prepared in conjunction with the ACE and joint intelligence centers:

          •Time event charts.
          •Source coverage overlays or matrices (see Figure 12-7).
          •Link analysis diagrams.
          •HUMINT portions of OPORDs and situation reports.

          12-50. The source coverage overlay or matrix helps tie in the source coverage to the requirements. It also helps identify gaps in collection. A collection matrix serves the same purpose. It supplies a quick reference when answering intelligence requirements. The matrices must cover both the geographical area and the placement and access of the source. A demographic overlay helps to identify ethnic groups in an area and to track events and patterns based on religious or ethnic differences. The overlay and matrix are examples of how source coverage can be tied to intelligence requirements.

          12-51. Source profiles are vital to screening sources for HUMINT collection operations and to identifying personnel that might be of interest to other agencies such as CI (counterintelligence) and TECHINT (technical intelligence). As the situation changes, the HCT might be tasked with new collection requirements that cannot be answered by the current sources. The HCT is constantly looking for new and better sources. When presented with new requirements, the OMT develops a source profile of the type of individual that would most likely be able to provide the information required. This profiling can include placement, access, age, ethnic type, gender, location, occupation, and military specialty. The OMT first searches through existing local databases to try to get a source match. If not, it passes the profile to the HCTs along with the requirements to facilitate their screening of potential sources.


          If you’re running sources or collecting information in a situation where your safety depends on it, it’s going to be absolutely critical that you compile your reports for cross-reference. Equally critical is how to determine what weight you give to a certain piece of information. For instance, who do you trust if you have three sources reporting different information? Similarly, who do you trust when three sources are reporting one way but a fourth is reporting the opposite?

          The military has reliability ratings that I’ll provide below (open source) but I have an abbreviated methodology to determining veracity that I’ll include after that.

          Source Reliability

          Rating Description
          A Reliable No doubt about the source’s authenticity, trustworthiness, or competency. History of complete reliability.
          B Usually reliable Minor doubts. History of mostly valid information.
          C Fairly reliable Doubts. Provided valid information in the past.
          D Not usually reliable Significant doubts. Provided valid information in the past.
          E Unreliable Lacks authenticity, trustworthiness, and competency. History of invalid information.
          F Cannot be judged Insufficient information to evaluate reliability. May or may not be reliable.

          Information Reliability

          Rating Description
          1 Confirmed Logical, consistent with other relevant information, confirmed by independent sources.
          2 Probably true Logical, consistent with other relevant information, not confirmed.
          3 Possibly true Reasonably logical, agrees with some relevant information, not confirmed.
          4 Doubtfully true Not logical but possible, no other information on the subject, not confirmed.
          5 Improbable Not logical, contradicted by other relevant information.
          6 Cannot be judged The validity of the information can not be determined.

          The best sources are going to have an A rating, the worst are going to have a D rating, and almost always, new sources are going to be rated F. These ratings can be upgraded (or downgraded) after an established pattern has emerged. If they repeatedly report information that can’t be confirmed or denied, then they should continue to be rated as an F source, still unknown.

          As for rating information reported by sources, use your best judgement if no other data can confirm or deny the information.

          Abbreviated information reliability.

          The formula:

          F – is it feasible? A – is it apt? C – is it consistent with other information? T – is it timely? S – is it suitable? FACTS!

        • #77046
          Joe (G.W.N.S.)

            OK we have identified various Sources and we are just trying to get to know them. For what purpose?

            MICE/RC factors, what motivates the Source.

            Material, Ideology, Compromise, Ego, Revenge, Coercion, or MICE/RC.

            More to follow.

          • #77047
            Joe (G.W.N.S.)

              One thing to note, Sam’s articles are written from the standpoint of an event has already taken place.

              I am looking at it from the perspective of laying the ground work to both train/practice these skills and have a comprehensive database already in place pre-event.

            • #77048
              Joe (G.W.N.S.)

                So you have identified a potential Source and researched his/her motivations.

                If you are ready; not just building lists, it’s time to actually attempt to Recruit said Source.

                Read Source Recruitment Cycle from Samuel Culper at Guerrillamerica.

                Source recruiting takes a lot of planning and expertise. We know this because it can be dangerous work and because recruitment still fails. Just like with every other topic on this blog, we need a methodical and rational way to approach sources, which is presented in the Source Recruitment Cycle (SRC).

                In judging responsiveness, we need to identify the potential source’s suitability, motivations, and vulnerabilities. Is this person suitable for the task of collecting information for us? Is he mentally able to deal with the added stress; is he competent enough to acquire and deliver the information; and is he trustworthy enough to justify the risk of our meeting?

                Bolded portion is an often forgotten part of recruiting a Source, it is easy to get so caught up in the situation we ignore this basic fundamental. It will not be helpful if person falls apart and makes mistakes, lives are at stake.

                Once the potential source has agreed to collection information for you – you’re collecting Human Intelligence (HUMINT) – comes the much harder part: tasking, developing his tradecraft and communications security (COMSEC) skills, ensuring security (both for him and you), and meeting without being identified or followed.

                This is a very complex task, prepare accordingly.

                If you need more elaboration on specifics, just ask.

              • #77049
                Joe (G.W.N.S.)

                  The Cut-Out

                  Read The Cut-Out from Samuel Culper at Guerrillamerica.

                  The important thing about Cut-out’s they are not a perfect shield, but at least provide a delaying action that could provide for mitigating action that would not be possible without them.

                  …keep looking over that Source Recruitment Cycle, and think about how you can develop your own small information network in your community. Then look over the MICE/RC factors and identify which factors might apply to your list of potential sources. The rest is building rapport and planting seeds.

                • #77050
                  Joe (G.W.N.S.)

                    Source Handling

                    Read from Samuel Culper at Guerrillamerica.

                    Once we’ve recruited our first source – the guy who’s agreed to give us information in return for whatever combination of MICE/RC factors we’ve identified – we have to ensure that a) he stays safe; b) we stay safe while we’re meeting with him; c) we develop him to make him a more efficient collector for us; and d) that we maintain rapport and control with him.

                    One of the best ways we can maintain rapport and control with our source – because an unpredictable or unresponsive source, or the proverbial loose cannon, becomes a liability for us as source handlers – is to remember and apply RASCLS, or Reciprocation, Authority, Scarcity, Commitment and Consistency, Liking, and Social Proof. This list of factors was developed by Dr. Robert Cialdini, psychologist and author of the book Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion.

                    There has been a lot of work to get to this maintenance phase, keeping the right balance in this relationship, building up when required or even knocking down a few notches. The more you know of human behavior the better. The use of sales type strategy books is very helpful.

                    Learn now when the power curve isn’t so steep.

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