A Compendium of
Analytic Tradecraft Notes

Summary

Below is a brief characterization of each of the 10 Tradecraft Notes presented in this volume.

Note 1. Addressing US Interests in DI Assessments

PES launched the tradecraft series with a note on the various ways analysts can assure value added for their important clients in the world of policymakers, warfighters, and law enforcement officials:

Note 2. Access and Credibility

Demonstrates how the nine evaluation criteria used by PES work together to enhance access to and credibility with the US officials who count most on the analyst's substantive agenda:

Note 3. Articulation of Assumptions

US officials who must make their policy decisions amidst uncertainty about developments abroad are more likely to rely on DI assessments when the assumptions supporting the analysts' estimative judgments are made clear.

Tradecraft tips cover techniques for:

Note 4. Outlook

The outlook sections of DI assessments must address not only what analysts believe to be the most likely course of developments but also important alternative outcomes that could confront US officials:

Note 5. Facts and Sourcing

What the analysts know and how they know it are central to their credibility not only with policy officials asked to rely on DI assessments for designing and taking action, but also with the managers who are asked to place the Directorate's authority behind the memorandum or briefing.

The two evaluation standards at play here - the handling of facts and of sourcing - were combined in one note that sets out guidelines for analysts and illustrates "best practices" for explicit and tough-minded depiction of information derived from reporting and research. For example:

Note 6. Analytic Expertise

Analytic expertise establishes the DI's authority to speak to an issue on which US national security interests are at stake. This note addresses the several facets of analytic expertise and provides tradecraft tips for effectively conveying authority in DI assessments.

The aspects covered include:

Note 7. Effective Summary

An effective summary makes the distinctive DI value added stand out for the intended consumers within constricted space limitations. For example:

Note 8. Implementation Analysis

Implementation Analysis is one of the techniques for extending customized intelligence support to policymakers and action takers outlined in Note 1, Addressing US Interests. When the DI provides an assessment of tactical alternatives available to the United States for pursuing opportunities and averting dangers, the role of the analyst complements but is distinctive from the role of the policymaker:

Analysts calling upon their expertise on foreign cultures - identify and evaluate alternatives for implementing objectives.

Policy officials first set the objectives and then make decisions about which tactics to adopt.

Note 9. Conclusions

Analysts must be precise in conveying their level of confidence in the conclusions of a DI assessment; that is, their findings based on organizing, evaluating, and interpreting all-source information:

Note 10. Tradecraft and Counterintelligence

Guidelines for countering deception efforts to distort analysts' understanding of what is going on abroad build on the advice for rigorous evaluation of information contained in Notes 5 (Facts and Sourcing) and 9 (Conclusions).

For issues where analysts suspect the presence of deception and for all assessments on which policy officials may directly rely in making decisions on whether to take military or other action to defend US interests, we recommend a structured effort to validate the integrity of key information.

On these suspect and sensitive issues, we urge analysts to answer a blunt question:

 

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