Intelligence at all levels is an art form. Sources, corroborating or contradicting information, unknowns, and delays in time all result in varied levels of analytical confidence. Information coming from different means, methods, and areas requires a functioning structure to ensure senior national leaders have the best information to make the decisions. While strategic intelligence drives operations and national goals, military decision-makers—especially in combat zones—rely on tactical intelligence to help win battles. For the Department of the Navy, “tactical intelligence support is the primary focus of naval intelligence.” Marine Corps intelligence also focuses almost exclusively on the tactical level to support Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) maneuvers since tactical intelligence is, “the level of intelligence Marines need, generate, and use most often.” When strategic missteps occur, tactical intelligence can provide a needed capability to keep front-line forces winning, creating breathing room for new strategic plans. A functioning intelligence structure encompassing all levels of intelligence is needed to enact this goal.
As the U.S. and China compete to innovate in this domain, the relative trajectories of U.S. and Chinese advances in artificial intelligence will impact the future military and strategic balance. China’s ability to leverage these national strategies, extensive funding, massive amounts of data, and ample human resources could result in rapid future progress. In some cases, these advances will be enabled by technology transfer, overseas investments, and acquisitions focused on cutting-edge strategic technologies.
If you are invested in defending torture on the basis of its potential utility, it would be prudent to frame the issue by claiming that the torture of captured extremists has led to useful intelligence. That way, your detractors will respond either by arguing that torture did not lead to useful actionable intelligence, or that torture is ethically unjustifiable even if it is a useful method of information gathering. Either way, the pro-torture argument comes out ahead — because given this way of framing the issue, the worst-case scenario is that torture is ineffective and unethical. But, in fact, that is not the worst-case scenario. There is a scenario far worse even from the most utilitarian point-of-view — a scenario involving bad intelligence.