Open source intelligence observers gain growing role in how war is viewed

Citizen intelligence analysts are spotlighting the Russian navy’s role in its war on Ukraine, using publicly available information to report on missile launches, blockades and other actions in the Black and Mediterranean seas.



The information gathered using open-source intelligence, or OSINT, offers a glimpse into Russia’s maritime war activities and sometimes challenges information released by government sources.

Dozens of private citizens are parlaying their prior military experience, specialized knowledge of the Russian navy and online information-mining skills into robust, almost-real-time coverage of Russia’s full-scale invasion, which began Feb. 24.


OSINT relies on public information such as satellite images, video and photographs, documents, databases, news stories and social media posts about a particular event or topic.

It’s painstaking work — usually unpaid — involving hours-long searches for information, verification of its authenticity and accuracy and then contextualization of events before analysis is posted on social media or a blog.


The work finds its roots in early government efforts by the U.S. and other countries to monitor news and other reports as part of intelligence gathering.

Not everyone has the skill set to parse the meaning of all this information, but those who do now have relatively easy access to satellite images and quality imagery recorded by increasingly sophisticated phones, experts say. Read the full article here.

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