Intelligence is very important, not only for the purpose of responding to disasters or other types of emergency, but also for predicting or in some cases even avoiding such situations from materializing. This is why the intelligence cycle is so important for effective, efficient disaster response and recovery. The intelligence cycle should be broadly understood as “an iterative process in which collection requirements based on national security threats are developed, and intelligence is collected, analyzed, and disseminated to a broad range of consumers” (Nemeth, 2016, p. 322). Over the course of the history of the United States, there have been multiple episodes that demonstrate how important intelligence is for disaster response, including the California wildfires in 1970. This was a major disaster that resulted in 16 deaths, approximately 800 buildings destroyed, and more than 600,000 acres burned over the course of two weeks (McEntire, 2015).

There were different reasons for the failed response to the wildfires, including insufficient intelligence. According to McEntire (2015), the factors undermining efforts at predicting or effectively managing the disaster through intelligence gathering were the following: “None of the responding organizations were asked to gather information about the size and movement of the fires. Information that did exist was incomplete and late. Expertise was not always available to help make decisions…” (p.. 359). Had there been adequate intelligence, the disaster would have been much less damaging than it ended up being. This underlines the need for intelligence and diligence: “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction” (Proverbs 29:18, NIV). Wisdom requires knowledge and information, which originates in intelligence.


McEntire, D. A. (2015).Disaster response and recovery: strategies and tactics for resilience. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Nemeth, C. P. (2016). Homeland security: An introduction to principles and practices (3rd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis.

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