Human Intelligence: How it's Done and the Types of People Who Do It.

Human Intelligence: How it’s Done and the Types of People Who Do It.

HUMINT Collection: What You Need to Know About It.

Human source intelligence, or HUMINT, is a critical part of the Intelligence Community’s mission. It involves the collection of information from human sources – people who know or have access to sensitive information. In this blog post, we will discuss what HUMINT is, how it is collected, and who collects it. We will also look at what makes a good HUMINT collector and some of the challenges they face.

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What is HUMINT Collection?

The purpose of HUMINT collection is to acquire information about foreign governments, organizations, and persons, to support national security objectives. This can include obtaining photographs, documents, and other material; gathering information from people who travel abroad; and having official contacts with foreign entities. HUMINT collection is carried out by a variety of means, including clandestine operations, overt collection by personnel in diplomatic and consular posts, and debriefing of foreign nationals and US citizens.

What is the role of a HUMINT collector?

A HUMINT collector’s job is to gather information from human sources. They do this by talking to people, developing relationships with them, and extracting information from them. This can be done in a variety of ways, including face-to-face conversations, telephone calls, emails, or meetings.

What are the challenges of being a HUMINT collector?

Being a HUMINT collector can be challenging for a number of reasons. One of the biggest challenges is developing relationships with sources who may be reluctant to share information. Additionally, collectors must be able to extract information from sources in a way that does not compromise their relationship or jeopardize the source’s safety. They must also be able to effectively communicate with sources in a variety of languages.

Who collects HUMINT?

The FBI has field offices and resident agencies all over the United States, staffed with agents who are specifically tasked with HUMINT collection within the United States. The Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense HUMINT Service, an element of the Defense Intelligence Agency, are the primary collectors of HUMINT outside of the United States. This type of intelligence is collected by a variety of people within the Intelligence Community, including intelligence officers, case officers, and special agents. These professionals are responsible for acquiring sensitive information from human sources. They may collect this information from individuals who are known to have access to sensitive or classified information, as well as people who may have ties to terrorist organizations. HUMINT collection is a vital part of the Intelligence Community’s efforts to protect our nation and its citizens.

Alphabet agencies collecting HUMINT


The FBI’s Domestic HUMINT Collectors Course is a six-week certification course designed to teach special agents how to collect human intelligence. The first iteration of the course began in 2007 and included 26 participants from five field offices.

Since then, the FBI has worked to build relationships with other agencies within the intelligence community, including the CIA and various military entities. This increased cooperation is aimed at creating a program that leverages individual strengths and supports the goals of the intelligence community. With due regard for the appropriate role of other agencies, the FBI is committed to working with the CIA and Department of Defense to further this goal.


The CIA is responsible for providing overall direction for the collection of human source intelligence by elements of the Intelligence Community. This includes coordinating both overt and clandestine HUMINT collection across the IC. The Deputy Director of Operations at the CIA oversees HUMINT operations.

Operations officers are responsible for identifying and recruiting individuals to be used for the collection of foreign intelligence related to national security issues. They must be experts in foreign languages and cultures and have specific subject matter expertise and knowledge of foreign areas.

Assignments in this career track may include human intelligence collection, counterintelligence, and covert action in areas related to U.S. national security, such as: International terrorism, International crime, International trafficking, Weapons proliferation, Capabilities and intentions of rogue nations.

HUMINT in the military

The three branches of the U.S. military (Army, Navy, and Air Force) all have different roles in HUMINT collection. The Army is responsible for on-the-ground human intelligence collection, while the Navy collects signals intelligence, and the Air Force coordinates human intelligence within the intelligence community. All three branches require personnel who are skilled in foreign language and culture, as well as interrogation and debriefing techniques. These specialists play a critical role in keeping the military informed of potential threats around the world.

The US Army

The US Army oversees HUMINT collection. This responsibility is exercised through the US Army Intelligence and Security Command, which oversees HUMINT collectors. As a HUMINT collector, you’ll collect intelligence about an adversary’s intentions, strengths, vulnerabilities and capabilities. You’ll also share this critical information to help Army leaders better understand the enemy. You’ll debrief and interrogate human intelligence sources, analyze and prepare intelligence reports, and screen human intelligence sources and documents.

U.S. Air-Force

The U.S. Air Force is responsible for collecting and reporting intelligence information obtained from human sources. This is done in response to requirements, which are generated by the intelligence community. The Air Force Intelligence Agency oversees this process and employs personnel who are skilled in English-language screening, assessment, debriefing, and interrogation techniques. These individuals work with developed sources to satisfy requirements and obtain the desired information. The collected data is then published in knowledge level briefs, notices of intelligence potential, and requests for requirements. This allows other agencies within the intelligence community to be aware of potential source leads. Air Force Intelligence personnel also keep up to date on validated requirements so that they can target against them efficiently. In short, Air Force Intelligence is responsible for human-source intelligence collection and coordination within the intelligence community.

U.S. Marines

The Marine Corps Intelligence Director is the Commandant’s principal staff officer and functional manager for intelligence matters. As a Human Intelligence Specialist, you may be tasked to engage in counterintelligence to identify and de-escalate the threat of hostile combatants and intelligence organizations.

CI/HUMINT specialists must learn to be adept in both CI / HUMINT and must grow to have a working knowledge of the organizations, operations, and techniques employed by foreign intelligence services and terrorist organizations. HUMINT is gathered by interrogation, debriefing, and screening. Many 0211s will specialize in a foreign language or use interpreters in deployed to areas that do not speak the language of the Marines. With this skill set of language, they may, in turn, exploit foreign language documents and recordings. MOS 0211’s when deployed must become familiar with the area, the customs and traditions of its people, and the infrastructure of a foreign force. CI/HUMINT specialists share and obtain information by special automated databases, interview/interrogation techniques, liaison, specialized CI techniques, technical support measures, investigative photography, and reporting-writing techniques. The information the 0211 obtains is vital to the planning and mission of air, ground, and special operations troops military wide.

U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy’s intelligence branch is headed by the Director of Naval Intelligence, who oversees the Office of Naval Intelligence – the principal operating arm. The Naval Security Group collects signals intelligence for the fleet and national consumers as part of the national signals intelligence system. As an Intelligence Specialist (IS), you will play a critical role in the operational decision-making process, analyzing intelligence information and preparing briefings and reports for Navy officials. Your deep understanding of global culture and battlespaces will help keep the Navy ready for anything.

One of your main responsibilities will be to gather information for pre-strike threat analysis and post-strike battle damage assessment. You’ll also ensure that reporting meets organizational standards and solicits feedback from consumers of reporting. By doing all this, you’ll help the Navy make informed decisions that could save lives. So, if you’re looking for an exciting and challenging career in intelligence, the U.S. Navy is the place for you.

In conclusion, HUMINT is a vital part of the intelligence community and plays a crucial role in gathering information from human sources. It is important to understand how it is collected and who collects it to appreciate its importance. The challenges faced by HUMINT collectors are significant, but their work is essential to our national security.

Thank you for reading, and be sure to check out our other blog posts for more information on subject such as – Military Intelligence: What You Need to Know, HUMINT side of Military Intelligence (MI), and Emerging biometric surveillance networks may aim to keep track of country’s citizens or foreign operatives.

Photo By: U.S. Army; Soldiers certify during first MI Culminating Training Exercise

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