January 10, 2013
By Tristan Reed
Stratfor views the world through the lens of geopolitics, the study of hard, physical constraints on man's ability to shape reality. Political decisions are limited by the geography in which they take place, eliminating many of the options concocted by ideologues and making their human decisions easier to predict. But the study of geopolitics only takes the understanding of global affairs so far: It identifies the geographical constraints but leaves an array of options open to human actors. So when forecasting on a shorter time frame, analysis must go beyond geographical constraints to more specific, temporal constraints. For this reason, predicting the short-term activities of human actors requires an understanding of the constraints they face in the human terrain within which they operate.
As a result, one task common to any intelligence organization is defining the human network of a state, criminal organization, militant movement or any other organization to better determine and understand a group's characteristics and abilities. A human network in this sense is a broad term used to describe the intricate web of relations existing in an organization and within a specific region. For anyone or any organization with interests in a given geographic area, understanding the networks of individuals with influence in the region is critical.
Intelligence and Analysis
People use human networks to organize the control of resources and geography. No person alone can control anything of significance. Presidents, drug lords and CEOs rely on people to execute their strategies and are constrained by the capabilities and interests of the people who work for them. Identifying these networks may be a daunting task depending on the network. For obvious reasons, criminal organizations and militant networks strive to keep their membership secret, and it is not always apparent who gives the orders and who carries out the orders in a political body. To discern who's who in a group, and therefore whether an individual matters in a group, requires both intelligence and analysis to make sense of the intelligence.