In Sid Heal's classic work on tactics, Sound Doctrine: A Tactical Primer, "good intelligence" is properly noted to be the "linchpin for all tactical operations." Heal agrees that Information Access Superiority is crucial, not only on the strategic level, but also the tactical, as it allows the operator to take the initiative from the enemy or suspect, acting first, forcing the antagonist to react, and imposing the operator's will on the opponent.
As a quick review, we break InfAc Supperiority into three components:
1. Environmental Information Access – You know more about the human and natural environment than the enemy knows.
2. Access Relative to Enemy– Your know more about the enemy than the enemy knows about you.
3. Undiscovered Information Access– You have access to information that the enemy isn't aware that you have.
Heal, however, focused most on a fourth element present in all three: timing. To quote, "Anything that decreases the effort of obtaining information automatically increases the value." In other words, information that is easier to obtain, the access component of Information Access Superiority, will be available faster. Information that can be used quickly is automatically more valuable than information which is delayed. Knowing something basic, like, for example, the location where hostages are being , is much more valuable than finding out important operational details like the the building layout and position of the captors a few hours later, and of course finding out either piece of intelligence is more valuable today than tomorrow. Given the fluid nature of tactical operations and the importance of maintaining the initiative, the timing of intelligence may be even more critical than the content.
So how do we decrease the effort of obtaining information? When combating networks like the Mexican drug cartels or terrorist cells, Human Network Operations can be key. When successful, our drones may be able to gather video intelligence on insurgent activity as it's happening, but if you want to know weeks in advance, you need someone at the planning meeting, or at least access to that someone. Cooperative Human Network Operations are also important for ease of access, as it allows, facilitates, and simply speeds up information sharing. Effective HNO means that valuable information from your or affiliated networks does not have to be drudged up and is instead readily available.
By Alex Olesker