In order to coordinate and analyze the information coming in, you need to set up what is called an "ACE". ACE is your all-source collection element. You could also refer to it as your "fusion" center, seeing as you should be able to fuse together and analyze all of the intelligence you collect and compile it into useful products to drive your missions. All-source, for my current purposes, consists of using HUMINT and SIGINT to the best of your abilities.
HUMINT is human intelligence, intelligence gained by interrogation, elicitation, debriefing, source running, surveillance, reconnaissance, tradecraft, etc. Basically, you're using yourself (your brain, ears, eyes and your words) to collect intelligence.
SIGINT is signals intelligence, and covers a wide array of electronic intelligence collection techniques. This includes things like electronic surveillance, hacking, wiretapping, etc. For our purposes, it involves monitoring radio traffic and listening in on signals using basic AM/FM radio, satelitte radio, shortwave receivers and police scanners and if you're so inclined, CBs and ham.
In order to build your ACE, you need to have some equipment. There is a bare minimum amount of equipment you'll need in order to have what I would call a functional ACE.
- Police scanner. My recommendation mirrors that of several other bloggers. That is the Uniden Home Patrol II.
- A decent AM/FM radio. This is good for open source radio news collection and some weather reports.
- Shortwave receiver. I recommend the GP-5. Credit for that recommendation goes to Brushbeater.
- Topographical and street maps of your AO and any AO relevant to you. 24 inches by 36 inches is a good size. USGS Store and MyTopo are two good sources. You need to know the terrain features and routes in all relevant AOs. Get some Duralar plastic film or something similar to create overlays using dry erase markers so you aren't writing on the maps themselves.
- Get some folders and start keeping files on relevant people, places and things in your AO. A police chief who sees himself as an overlord as opposed to a public servant is a good subject to keep a file on. A nearby neighborhood with a history of drugs and violence would be as well. Don't just keep files on potential adversaries though. Keep files on people who might be sympathetic to your cause and purposes for future use.
- Get a binder and keep track of current and potential sources of information. This will help when you have a specific intelligence gap you need filled, and you can thumb through your sources and see who can provide that information. It's also useful when deconflicting sources. You don't want the same person telling you and your neighbors multiple different stories just to gain favor with everyone.
- Obviously I would recommend a good laptop with reliable internet access. This will enable use of Google Earth and other mapping systems, open source collection via the web, etc. I'm sure no more explanation is required as to why you'd like to have a computer in your ACE.
- Obtain a copy of FM 2-22.3. This is the US Army manual on HUMINT operations. Need I say more?