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The intelligence function comprises the gathering, evaluation and dissemination of information relevant to decision-making, and may include prediction based on such information, as well as planning for future contingencies. In short, intelligence involves the acquisition of information and planning in exercise of all five of the intellectual tasks required of decisionmakers. The relation between the intelligence function and community goals is particularly subtle: although intelligence operates within the frame of authorized goals, one duty of effective intelligence is to appraise these goals in the context of knowledge and, where appropriate, to bring new attention areas, for the purposes of goal clarification, to the focus of decisionmakers.

Intelligence is a critical function at all levels of decision-making, yet its very ubiquity seems to have obscured it from visibility to scholarly inquiry. There is no dearth of historical examples demonstrating the critical importance of reliable intelligence. Kautilya emphasized to would-be leaders the strategic advantage of knowing the enemy's plans, Joshua used it wisely, if somewhat dogmatically, and Napoleon put the theory to use with devastating effect. Both Stalin and Hitler, in our own day, have shown that the utility of the most accurate and timely intelligence depends upon a decisionmaker capable and willing to use it.

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