Providing OSINT analysis on the evolving conflict in Israel and Gaza

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This is a podcast episode titled, Providing OSINT analysis on the evolving conflict in Israel and Gaza. The summary for this episode is: <p>In this podcast Janes analysts Lewis Smart and Elliot Chapman discuss with Harry Kemsley and Sean Corbett how they have supported Janes' timely analysis and insight on the evolving situation in Israel and Gaza and how this supports the intelligence gathering required by intelligence and defence organisations.</p>

Speaker 1: Welcome to the World of Intelligence, a podcast for you to discover the latest analysis of global military and security trends within the open source defense intelligence community. Now, onto the episode with your host, Harry Kemsley.

Harry Kemsley: Hello, welcome to this edition of World of Intelligence here at Janes. Sean, as always, welcome to the podcast.

Sean Corbett: Good to be here in person as well.

Harry Kemsley: In person for a change, yes. So, obviously, the events that have been going on in the last few days in Israel and the Gaza Strip are in everyone's minds. I thought it'd be an opportunity for us to have a conversation about how do we look at a situation like this, a current intelligence situation in a hotspot like this, and how do we use open source intelligence. And to help us with that, I am delighted to invite back, Lewis. Hello, Lewis.

Lewis Smart: Hi there. Good to be back. Thank you for having me.

Harry Kemsley: And Elliot.

Elliot Chapman: Hello there. Hi, Harry. Good to be here.

Harry Kemsley: Thanks for coming. Lewis Smart is the manager of the Janes Country Intelligence Middle East and North Africa MENA team. And given his background as a CBRN analyst, you may remember we previously discussed with him the nuclear program in Iran, Lewis also covers CBRN issues across the MENA region. Elliot Chapman is a research analyst in the Janes MENA team where he focuses on the close monitoring and analysis of Israeli security operations and Palestinian military activity. Before working at Janes, Elliot worked in a political risk analysis role and has also served in the British Army Reserves. Welcome to you both. Okay, so let's get to what's going on. Elliot, give me a brief synopsis, please, of what you're seeing, what we've uncovered already with what's happening around Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Elliot Chapman: So, events really started basically in the morning of the 7th of October in Israel and Gaza. We saw effectively an incursion by Palestinian militants from Gaza into the area around Gaza Strip. And preceding this, we saw attempts to neutralize Israeli surveillance systems and preparing operations going on whilst rocket barrages, which we normally see from Gaza during conflict, occurring as well. That incursion went quite a long way and ended up, there are different estimates and there's still a lot of information to be confirmed about exactly which communities were ultimately overrun with militants, but in the region of 20 to 25 different communities in Southern Israel. The immediate, it would seem, IDF posts around the Gaza Strip were overrun. And what we saw was this quite extensive incursion that then Israel struggled it seems to respond to immediately. Whether or not that's a matter of preparedness or a matter of the efficacy of the militants is unclear. But we did see fighting continuing for a long time after it began on the 7th of October. And in fact, we've only just had this morning the IDF confirming that they have secured the area around the Gaza Strip, and all of the communities in the adjacent communities to the Gaza Strip have been evacuated.

Harry Kemsley: Right. So, Sean, let me come to you on this because when we get to talk about in a moment the power potential of open source intelligence, one of the things I'm going to be looking to establish with help from the guys here, who are open source intelligence analysts, is how that can help the people in the building who are currently looking at this situation and being asked questions. So, I want you to go back to your time, sat behind that desk and something like this just happened, what's going on inside the intelligence agencies in NATO countries, neighboring countries, in UK? What's happening right now? What are the analysts struggling with right now?

Sean Corbett: So, to start off, I'd say within the context would be the fact that this came as a massive surprise to everybody, I believe, which is quite unusual because normally, there are indicators and warnings and there's actually a matrix which will trigger people to start looking at it. But in this case, it didn't happen. And we might be able to discuss that later in terms of OPSEC, communication, security, all the rest of it. But if you are in an intelligence organization, particularly as it always does happen in the weekend, you are likely to have the watch team on there who are pretty much generalists, who will be covering the whole world. And then when something like this happens, it always takes time to get up to speed in terms of what's happening. And of course, that's augmented by the fact that almost instantly, the media is starting to put things out. And as I always say, the first report is always wrong. So, what they would be trying to do is triage and actually get a baseline understanding of what's happening. Now, not in every case, that is going to be possible. And with everything that's happening in the world right now, I suspect there'll be slim resources looking at this. So, in terms of open source intelligence, quite often, surprisingly often, that will be the first result of what is happening, say what you see. Now, as I said before, it is not always right. And so, the analyst, what they're trying to do is do all the things that we do in the open source world in terms of assuring the information, trying to get multiple sources to make sure that, A, there's no circular reporting and we're getting as close to the truth at the start as possible. And that's where open source intelligence comes over.

Harry Kemsley: So, let's just go there then. Let's talk about that situation where the analyst sat at their desk and they are suddenly faced with a situation that's blown up in their face and they're being asked questions. You had that situation on Saturday morning. So, how do we deal with that?

Lewis Smart: Yeah. So, as with everyone, you wake up on, I think it was on Saturday, half 7: 00 expecting a nice weekend. And then immediately, you've got news streaming in for your phone, from people at work, et cetera, saying, " Have you seen what's going on?" Now, for me personally, and Elliot can maybe give you his account, but it was a case of, " Okay, just woken up, haven't had my cup of tea, but let's look at this situation." And I'll go on to explain why there is context surrounding this. So, we'll get into that and how we have been looking at that for a while. But this event that was raised on that Saturday morning, my first instinct was to look at the news, quickly look at social media, look at what's being reported, and to make an assessment of, okay, is this like previous events that we've seen with Gaza and Israel? Because we've seen many previous events. And within the first five minutes of looking, even though some sources were conflicting, some were quite sporadic and maybe not as accurate as they need to be, it was quickly made by myself that this is a situation of some significance, and that Israel has been caught off guard quite significantly. So, that's the assessment I made. And then it's a case of making a judgment that customers will probably need a current intelligence picture over the day of what's transpiring. And it's my job and my team's job to try and get that together. So, I messaged Elliot. He told me to go away, first of all, but no, no, he was very keen and we decided. I got a structure in place. I said, " Right, Elliot's our Israel analyst, and he'll explain some stuff in a minute, but he'll start looking, start triaging, start collecting sources. Try and get yourself up to date, first of all, because if we're not up to date, we're behind." So, while he did that, I tried to work with a template report for how we're going to cover this. What elements do we want to cover? At the moment, we don't need to worry about, I'm already seeing stuff about Iran's involvement, don't need to worry about that quite yet. We need to worry about bringing ourselves up to date on what actors are involved, what's the attack, where is the attack, and to what extent. And then that report is something we were collecting and then we transpired over the day. We were then in constant communication about, okay, where are we seeing militants? Where are we seeing the attacks? What's the IDF reaction, et cetera?

Harry Kemsley: Just before we go to Elliot, I'm going to be curious, Elliot, to know what your reaction was, where you went for your background information, how you started to build your situational awareness. Just before I come to that though, Sean?

Sean Corbett: Yeah, just two points there. Very, very good. Matter of fact, this is what we did because this is what we do. But don't underestimate the fact that you could only do that because both of you have a deep understanding in the subject to start with. So, you can, what I would call, triage the information and go, " Right, okay, this is what we're seeing here." And the other thing not to underestimate is the fact that you are at home and you're able to do that from home instantly as opposed to getting on a uniform or not, or going all the way to a higher headquarters, and then going behind, what I call the, the green base door and starting to collect all the big stuff. So, there is a timeliness issue here that you're in a position to support.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, thanks, Sean. Great point. So, Elliot, you're woken up at 7:30 in the morning by Lewis and he's just told you something's going on. And you've, of course, been looking at this situation this part of the world a great deal. What are your first actions? What are you deciding to do at this point?

Elliot Chapman: Well, the first thing is, how significant is this event? Is it different?

Harry Kemsley: Is it fair to say that this immediately struck you as being very different? Because then what you described earlier about what you'd seen previously and then looking at this, this feels out of sorts in terms of scale and complexity.

Elliot Chapman: Yeah, I think the immediate headline of Hamas militants fighting with Israel is not something that is uncommon, I think it's fair to say. But as soon as the reports of militants inside Israeli communities started coming out and they started coming out thick and fast from credible sources, that was the point where you say, " Okay, this is very-

Harry Kemsley: It's different.

Elliot Chapman: ...very different. I've never seen this before."

Harry Kemsley: Right. So, let me just take this to the next step then. So, you're both now aware something different is happening. You're seeing it from open sources. One of the major concerns a lot of organizations have who are very used to exquisite intelligence capabilities and top secret, therefore, " definitely true" intelligence, is they look at open source as being a poor cousin, less reliable. How do you start to sift out? Because you're getting bombarded left, right and center. Social media, you talked about news reports, et cetera. How do you start to sift that out?

Lewis Smart: This is where it's, Elliott and I were talking before this podcast actually, there's a big role for the analyst's own knowledge and perception here. That's where I think in terms of trade craft, again, there's the biases, there's the subjectivities, all that involved. But I think in terms of what we're hearing, if there had been reported that a 1000- pound bomb had been dropped on Tel Aviv by Hamas, we know that's probably not credible. We know that capabilities from our foundational intelligence doesn't suit that description. So, for us, when we hear these first preliminary events, it's going, " Okay, that's possible. We considered that maybe everyone did, highly unlikely to begin with, but it's possible." And you have to take many different sources from as many different accounts as you can, and then start to triage that probability and assessment when it comes to the fact that, okay, we've seen enough to say that actually this is where these militants are in the town closer to-

Elliot Chapman: Sderot.

Lewis Smart: Sderot. That was something we quickly came to understand was a site of significant Hamas militants, and that what we were seeing there from online imagery, video, cross- referencing that, that was a highly likely place. That's where they had got to and infringed. So, for us at that time, catching up, that's probably our process to begin with. Then there is no... You can't underestimate-

Harry Kemsley: Sorry, how long is this? Now, you woke up at half past 7: 00. You're now getting to the stage where you're starting to triage and get a feel for what's happening and you're starting to believe what you're seeing. Where are we in the day now?

Lewis Smart: I would say 9:00 to 10: 00.

Elliot Chapman: Yeah, nine o'clock.

Lewis Smart: Yeah.

Harry Kemsley: In a couple of hours you've gone from wake up to increasing situational awareness.

Lewis Smart: Yes.

Harry Kemsley: Right. And how much of that, sorry to interrupt your train-

Lewis Smart: No, please, please.

Harry Kemsley: How much of that is because you have been looking at understanding this territory, these conflicts? And how much of that is probably what you'd find in those open sources?

Lewis Smart: I would say it's a case of, it's a bit of both. I mean Elliot was in Israel and in the southern part of Israel on the border with Gaza three weeks before, getting briefings as part of his trip there on security measures in place. And again, we can talk about this and how that may actually can lead to an overestimation of security capabilities, but Elliot has been tracking the situation and the capabilities of actors, their dispositions, the relationship these actors have for quite a long time. And I think having that stock of foundational intelligence and knowledge of the current picture, who's on the ground three weeks before, helped to give us the ability to launch off from that, to make current assessments and to update the informations coming in. So, for sure, Elliot was quickly in train telling me actually, " This is actually quite likely, not likely, et cetera," and using his knowledge to do that.

Elliot Chapman: I think your question is actually quite hard to answer because I don't know how much I know almost-

Harry Kemsley: Good point, good point.

Elliot Chapman: some respects, because it's very easy for me to assert that we have done a lot of research on Hamas and its capabilities at Janes, and we have a lot of information, a lot of understanding. So, when we see things like militants breaking into communities, we have an innate understanding of what that might mean in perhaps a rather morbid sense, rather than, oh, there are people running around with guns. We have a level of understanding of the capabilities of this group, of the intent of this group, that helps us contextualize otherwise seemingly chaotic events in an efficient way.

Harry Kemsley: So, Sean, turning to you, we've just heard the guys describe process over two hours where they went from standing start to reasonable situational understanding, which we've agreed is probably built on prior knowledge, contextual understanding, deep expertise in the area and the issues. Two hours later, they're feeling pretty good about what they're starting to see in terms of understanding it. How's that comparing with your own experience with a more generalist analyst sitting in a military intelligence organization faced off with an emergent situation? A couple of hours seem fair or is that something that can take a lot longer generally?

Sean Corbett: I would say a couple of hours is not bad, but they would not likely to have that same baseline understanding. So, it is very much a case of say what you see, which could be bad reporting. It could be misinformation, disinformation, all of which are quite rife in this particular case, but you've got to go with what you've got. So, it will depend on what we call the battle rhythm when the boss wants to come in and get a briefing on it as to how much detail it can go into. Now, what I don't want to say is that the intelligent community will not be able to cope because that's not true. It just takes time for that huge beast to get running. So, in tens of hours maybe, the specialist teams will be in there and they'll be starting to look at it, but they need that triage as we've just called it, that baseline to start going, " Okay, this is what we've got. That validates what we know as well." So, similar to yourselves and then they're going, " But it's probably not as agile as you guys could be."

Harry Kemsley: Lewis?

Lewis Smart: And I think what's really helped us in the first few days is asking the right questions. So, immediately, or probably three to four hours, now we start seeing after these, accusations of Iranian involvement already that's flying. The press and the noise around how big a intelligence failure is this, and the associated questions around that, Hezbollah and stuff. And again, those are factors that we are now looking at and assessing. But for us, the first question was the defense and security operation and situation on the ground from this attack. I think it quickly ballooned because of the political nature of this area of the world into big, more nebulous questions that we still don't have evidence. And we'll go into the Iranian involvement maybe later, but immediately, a lot of social media was asking those questions. For us, it was being focused on what's going on the ground and how can we best provide and get that up to date and track that. And we can talk about people on the ground we had there and stuff we were also a part of during that day.

Harry Kemsley: You just talked to us about the questions that we started to ask ourselves being focused more on the military and the defense nature of what was going on. To what extent are you now starting to stretch out of that? Where is it going for you in terms of the open source intelligence inquiry?

Lewis Smart: For me, as the lead CBRN analyst at Janes as well, I've taken the Iranian side of this question. So, we published an assessment yesterday in our daily report addressing where our assessment is on Iranian involvement based on the reports we've seen from the Wall Street Journal, for example. But it's very much used as we're bringing in our foundational intelligence here and our knowledge. So, in the report, we say, " Look, there's a reasonable probability here that Iran may have had some involvement." But we caveat it with the fact that there's a pre- existing Iranian relationship with Hamas that involves financing, UAV development, missile development. So, we know that already. That's fairly well established that that's something we know. Now, okay, yes, there is a realistic possibility that that could have gone beyond that, but one, we have no evidence to confirm that. There was reporting that Hamas leaders or press people had said that there was Iranian involvement. So, that's a primary source. We have to take that in consideration, but as part of our judgment is that Hamas right now has a political bias to try and bring in external involvement to ensure it's viable or to complicate the picture. So, yes, okay, we know Iran has a previous existing relationship of X, Y, Z. We know this statement has been made in the last 24 hours. That's why we're saying there's a realistic probability. I don't think it's likely, but we have to take that into consideration until there is conclusive evidence. So, that's how we've made our assessment on Iran recently.

Elliot Chapman: I'd also like to add as well that we have a pre- existing framework for the way that we tend to look at things in our country profiles and the way we approach stuff. And that, it's maybe on an instinctual level has ended up feeding into our daily reporting so far. Because to give an example, we're giving analysis on economic factors that are happening, oil prices, Israeli economy, this kind of thing, as well as infrastructure issues as well. We've noted that the Tamar offshore gas operation has shut down, which is about 15 kilometers offshore. So, obviously, there are infrastructure and security and energy concerns as well that we are instinctually going for information on these subjects to try and build out maybe a broader picture of, rather than just what's happening tactically on the ground, which there is a degree of-

Harry Kemsley: Rather than being myopically focused on just the defense and military aspects, you're looking now wider.

Lewis Smart: Yeah, it's a multilayered, full... What we'd like to do and what we do at this company is a multilayered, full spectrum analysis across the national security sphere. To begin with, it was a security operation, a security military operation. It is now, in response, likely going to be an Israeli security and military operation, but it's inherently political. It's inherently economic. It's the full spectrum of national security. So, now, that we've got into the next week from the weekend, we have higher confidence now from our sources that the Southern Israel has been cleared of Hamas militants. Although there may still be residual pockets, that is moving into a new stage in our analysis. Therefore, needs to encompass a broader perspective.

Harry Kemsley: Right, right. So, I'll come back in a minute to you, Elliot, in terms of how your access to foundational intelligence enables you to start moving through that spectrum of things and questions. Sean, coming back to yourself, what are the questions being asked, likely to be asked right now in the building?

Sean Corbett: So, I was just going to reinforce initially what Lewis said in terms of where you focus depends on who is asking the question. So, initially, everybody will be interested in what's actually happening, where is the ground truth? But very quickly on that, after that, depending on who you are, if you're in a military context, what are the military options? What are the threats? And just having a look at what's happening on the ground. But at the strategic level, they're going to really want to know, okay, what is the significance of this from a regional perspective, from a global perspective and at that strategy level? So, it very much depends on who you are. If I was at operational headquarters, very quickly, I'd want to know ground truth in terms of what's happening now, what did happen very briefly, but what's going to happen next? It's that predictive piece that's at the operational level as I'll call it the operational level. But also very quickly, if you're a strategic commander who is also going to be briefing the political level, what does that mean? What does this mean? What is the so what? What do we have to do as a nation or even as an alliance to either support a political process potentially and hopefully not in the case for a military operation? So, it really is that what if and that so what, depending at the level that you're operating.

Harry Kemsley: Elliot, just going back to that question I prefixed a moment ago, when or have you yet started to reach into the foundational intelligence that is around you, available to you, in the organization? Have you started to do that, or has that already started to influence the analysis you're doing?

Elliot Chapman: Yeah, it's been really useful having access to a lot of information on militant organizations, probably first and foremost. We have a huge amount of information readily available on capabilities, things like personnel and strengths, political backgrounds, motivational stuff. It's all very in- depth and very, very easily referenceable in our-

Harry Kemsley: Presumably that's true then for the perimeter of this area. Around it, there are nations with their own military strengths and capabilities. And if they're going to become involved, if we were to suggest they're going to become involved in some sort of scenario in the future, our ability to reach into the various content that we've got available to us would also strengthen those analyses of different scenarios.

Lewis Smart: Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's those trends as well, pre- existing trends, I think Elliot's been tracking a lot of the militant activity in the West Bank, not directly related to this. But the West Bank is actually an area of concern that we're monitoring because if Israel is going to be conducting ground operations in Gaza, while the West Bank at the moment is relatively calm, it doesn't mean it's going to be the case going forward. And does that require Israel police presence, counterterrorism presence there, maybe reservists are called up to guard that, especially if Hezbollah is starting to look like it may come in from the north. And Elliot's been tracking the West Bank militancy this year because that, funny enough, before the outbreak of the attack on 7th of October was where the violence was this year. It was in a trend of violence, in the rise of groups like Lions' Den and attacks on Israeli civilians. So, that pre- existing trend analysis that we've done can help us to inform where things may go from here and what security concerns there might be.

Elliot Chapman: And just to add on to that, the levels that we're looking at, things in the immediate neighborhood of Israel in particular, in this case, it's a lot of sub- state actors and activity that we're looking at. So, yes, we can look at capabilities from conventional militaries, but in the immediate what next, right now, the large concern is what about what comes next with Hezbollah? What comes next with militant groups in the West Bank?

Lewis Smart: Iranian from Sudan and Syria.

Elliot Chapman: In Syria, on the border with Israel up there as well.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, yeah. Sean?

Sean Corbett: So, what we're seeing, exactly you've just said, is a move from the, okay, what's happening now tactically on the ground and operationally to, this is a far wider strategic issue. And of course, whilst mentally, I've been focusing on the defense side of things, the other IC elements will be working very hard at the strategic level to inform the very highest decision makers. But very quickly, a huge subset of the IC and intelligence community are going to be involved, because as you both said, what's the Iranian angle? What does it really mean for the region and even for the globe? What is the potential contagion points, and where can we see hotspots emerging? And politically, this is a very, very political thing what's happening. What are the major implications for policy?

Harry Kemsley: Yeah. All right, so to try to summarize what we've said so far, so we've got you out of bed at 7: 30 in the morning. By nine or 10 o'clock, you both are fairly up to speed. So, there's a timeliness aspect about what you can contribute to colleagues and customers. You've managed to reach into a foundational intelligence set that's around you, and prior experience, trend analysis, event tracking, et cetera, which has all enabled that speed of response. From the customer's perspective in the military intelligence organizations and national security organizations around the world, they're now receiving insights that might have taken them a great deal longer to gather. They are moving further forward. They're accelerating their own analysis. And that foundational level of support is the first thing that we've done that's of great value in this partnership between the commercial and the government organization in that sense, in this particular scenario. Where do we go next? What's the next? I know we've got everyone up to the same level of general understanding. For some, that will be a significant step. Others, it'll be a smaller step. What next? What else does the open source environment do to help?

Lewis Smart: That's a great question. I think that question will lead a lot to a question of resources. So, it's a question of how do you keep your current intelligence picture up to date, by what means? Through daily reports, half- day reports. What can you achieve? And then it's a case of updating your foundational content and your foundational intelligence picture because there'll be a dialectic between the two. As the current develops, the foundation will be impacted. So, as we've seen already that Hamas and also... So, there's those two elements within Janes. And within our team, we're now looking at scenarios for what may happen from here. And I think that element of those three enables you to start making scenario analysis and predictions, because what's happened with the foundational capabilities of Hamas might mean and affect their capabilities in the current picture of defending an Israeli ground invasion. So, it's about that kind of interaction over the days between those three elements. And as analysts, making sure we've got each of those updated, we're happy, we're bringing in other views, we're getting our analysis broadly together so that we can provide that picture from those three elements that we're discussing.

Harry Kemsley: So, Sean, we've discussed a couple of times in the last few minutes about what the questions are going on inside the building, what the analyst might have faced when they first walked into work, if they were on watch or whether there were the relief crew coming in. What you've just heard from Elliot and Lewis about where their thinking is going, where do you see the partnership? Because initially, the partnership might've been, we could provide for you a foundational understanding of what's happening and why that's happening the way it is based on our background and context. But now, they're moving towards scenarios. They're moving towards the, so what, what's next? How much of that is likely to be still as useful as the first support, which is around foundational?

Sean Corbett: So, I would say that the benefit actually of those will then quickly change. I was going to use the word or the phrase" law of diminishing returns," which would be unfair, but the huge, huge effort of the intelligence community now will be swinging that way. And in terms of what additional value you can add, I would suggest it's slightly more peripheral. So, the fact that you're getting this from open sources means it's different sources from they're using. So, there's a little bit of, okay, we haven't quite got those atmospheric sentiment analysis. I know that will be going on within the community as well, but just different sourcing, a different way of looking at it, but also intelligence sharing. So, very quickly, there's going to be a coalition of people that need to know. So, using the open source intelligence to say, " Right, okay, that actually corresponds with what we're thinking. We can just share that as open source intelligence, so we don't have to give out the good stuff." But also keeping the mainstream media honest. So, they're not going to be able to go to the community in terms of, what's happening here. But if your assessments are proved correct, which they certainly are right now, then people are going to go, " Right, that is assured. Therefore, we can use those on the talking heads," which you may well have done already to say so that the big media are, you're keeping them honest and you're keeping the ground truth. So, that, I see is the real value once you've done that initial, get you in triage stage.

Harry Kemsley: So, when you look at scenarios then for the next stage of the analysis that you're doing, maintaining foundational intelligence, maintaining and understanding what's happening in current, but now, looking forward, how do you go about doing that? What's your methodology for that?

Lewis Smart: So, at the moment, it's as simple as getting analysts together. Elliot and I, especially Elliot has a certain level of expertise and fields of expertise, but it's important to note that we're not military equipment analysts or we don't know exactly, we have a broad idea, but not an in- depth analysis of how a Merkava tank might do in the Gaza Strip itself. What are the defenses of that against a UAV drone as we've seen now in Azerbaijan and Armenia and now, in Ukraine, the asymmetrical advantages there? So, it is as simple as getting analysts to begin with to talk to each other because as every bureaucracy has had since time immemorial, the bureaucratic stovepipes and balkanization of analyses, everyone can get out their quota of what they need to get done, but it's bringing that holistic picture together. And I think that's where our country intelligence and defense insight is giving us at least that ability to talk about scenarios. And I think, for us, that's so far been the way. And we are working on a report of more formalizing that report into scenarios as we speak right now. But yeah, that's how we start.

Harry Kemsley: Do you check your sources' change at all as you're moving from this foundational situational awareness, getting that grip on what's happening to now thinking about going in the future and getting some foresight? Do your sources, your analytical skills change at all? Is there anything different that's happening now in terms of how you're approaching it? Or are you essentially doing the same thing but just now looking forward rather than around you?

Elliot Chapman: Yeah, I think that the pattern right now is much the same in many ways except for what Lewis has noted, is that now the research and analysis is more focused on integrating it with other expertise in the business and speak to people about urban warfare, and like Lewis mentions, armored vehicles or equipment or whatever it is, and taking that same process and then linking it into all of these other aspects to create a more rich picture.

Harry Kemsley: Sean, isn't that really another example of where foundation and intelligence becomes important? Because the analysts that we've talked about inside the building behind the, we call it the green base-

Sean Corbett: Green base door.

Harry Kemsley: ... door,they may not have access to all the equipment, intelligence, capability, all that, et cetera, et cetera. They may not have those readily available. Isn't that the next level of support from an open source environment?

Sean Corbett: Yeah, that's that foundational level that everybody needs and everyone accepts is always going to be there, but no one really thinks about where it's sourced from.

Harry Kemsley: And it will become really, really valuable to a guy who's desperately trying to work out what Israelis might be able to do. But then if you know what their equipment is or how it can operate, how can one-

Sean Corbett: Particularly when you've got modified versions of all sorts of equipment as you do out there, as you guys know. So, it's not quite your standard.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, whatever it is. Well, look, I think what we should do with this conversation is we should come back in a week or so's time and pick up the journey that you've started. You've been doing it for three or four days now. In a week's time, you'll have had even less sleep than you've had already. And we need to track how open source continues to be relevant and useful. The potential for open source, we talked about, Sean and I, many, many times, but this is a real world situation where we're seeing the work that you're doing going straight out to customers, helping them build that foundational understanding as we talked about a great deal in this last few minutes. But equally, we've got a whole series of things that are now about to happen that we need to start mapping and understanding, so we can actually continue with that support. So, from where I'm sitting, sorry to break the news, gents, but this isn't the last time we have this conversation. Let's pick this up again in a week or so's time and see where this journey's gone from an open source perspective. But as ever with these podcast episodes, let's pick up the one takeaway that you've taken from your experience in the last four or five days running up to and then through the event. What's the one takeaway that you would like the audience to remember about your experience, the power of open source or the-

Lewis Smart: Yeah. Listen, that's a really good question. I think initial shock does not mean you don't know anything. Again, once you've got over and you've calmed down and assessed, the analysis and assessment and the usual methods do work and they can work. It's getting over that initial shock.

Harry Kemsley: I was waiting for you to say that you wouldn't answer the telephone ever again at 7: 30.

Lewis Smart: Yeah, yeah. Also that, yeah.

Elliot Chapman: I think, for me, and this is just going to sound a bit corny, but the reality is, is that this is not a product of Lewis and I by any measure. We weren't the only ones online on the phone on Saturday morning. And that no analyst has an understanding of everything. No one understands everything. And that what you can do is you can do your best and you can collaborate. You can work with other people to synthesize things. And having that shock, having that sense of maybe not being 100% certain what's going on is entirely normal, but you follow the process. You keep doing what you're doing, and you can produce, obviously, as it sounds like from feedback that we're getting, that you can produce something that's very helpful to people.

Harry Kemsley: Absolutely, absolutely. Thank you. Sean?

Sean Corbett: I would reprise a theme that I've used many times before when you've asked me this question, and that is the absolute need for partnership between open source intelligence and the community from a classified. And this is a great case where you can actually triage and then hand it over. But I'd go even deeper than that now, saying that are we approaching the perfect storm? There are so many bad things happening in the world right now, which we can't go and talk about. I mean, you name it, it's happening. And there's other things about to happen, which we talked about earlier, which maybe for another podcast, that you can't ignore the open source intelligence. And unless you start federating and partnering, we're not going to be able to cover the whole world, and the bad things that are happening in great enough detail. So, this is absolutely imperative.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, I completely agree. For me, I think just to crystallize that point, even one degree sharper, for me, the fact that you guys can, within two hours, put together a very cogent and sufficiently complete foundational and intelligent packet that you can put out to customers who will need that because they're desperately trying to get their head around what's going on, for me, is the first timely and complete response from the open source community. But developing that and seeing where that goes, that's the bit that I'm really, really interested to find out where that goes over the next few weeks with this developing situation, because as Sean has just said, to not have a partnership between the commercial and other publicly available sources and those that are behind the green base wall is almost negligent because there's way, way too much available out here that could be of use. And if we're not using it, we're not having that partnership, that we're missing an opportunity.

Elliot Chapman: Yeah. I mean, everyone in this room, particularly you two know just as well as anyone, that intelligence isn't just a linear, produce something and disseminate it. It's a cycle that involves a feedback loop from consumers'-

Harry Kemsley: Absolutely. Absolutely, yes.

Elliot Chapman: ...process.

Harry Kemsley: So, as I said a few minutes ago, standby for further. We'll come back to this topic again, but Elliot, Lewis, thank you so much for joining us today, and thank you in advance for joining us again for the next episode of this as the situation in Israel develops.

Lewis Smart: Thank you.

Elliot Chapman: Brilliant, thank you.

Speaker 1: Thanks for joining us this week on the World of intelligence. Make sure to visit our website, janes. com/ podcast, where you can subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Podcasts, so you'll never miss an episode.


In this podcast Janes analysts Lewis Smart and Elliot Chapman discuss with Harry Kemsley and Sean Corbett how they have supported Janes' timely analysis and insight on the evolving situation in Israel and Gaza and how this supports the intelligence gathering required by intelligence and defence organisations.

Today's Host

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Harry Kemsley

|President of Government & National Security, Janes

Today's Guests

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Sean Corbett

|AVM (ret’d) Sean Corbett CB MBE MA, RAF
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Lewis Smart

|Country Intelligence Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Team Manager, Janes
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Elliot Chapman

|Research Analyst, Middle East and North Africa team