Tasks of the Hungarian Military Intelligence Office
after NATO Accession
Military Intelligence at the Turn of the Century
General Laszlo Botz
Director General, MIO
The purpose of this
article is to discuss the changes in the tasks and roles
of the Hungarian Military Intelligence Office (MIO). The
introductory paragraphs give a short view of the historical
roots of Intelligence, then go on to cite milestones of
MIO history, and end with an outline of the organization
of the MIO, stressing its strong link to Intelligence
gathering and decision making.
The major parts of
the article explain first, how the MIO has adapted and
responded to the challenges facing modern-era Intelligence
agencies; and, second, its proposed restructuring, the
result of Hungary's NATO accession. The concluding portion
contains a summary of the MIO's goals.
gathering is old business
Old Testament Book of Numbers contains a narrative of
description Moses' sending men to gather information about
the land of Canaan; i.e. the customs of the people, their
military strength, fortresses and towns.
hundred years ago in China, Sun Tze wrote The Art of War,
considered a masterpiece of military science. One chapter
(of 13) states that "Intelligence is the most important
branch of military science, because there can be no effective
military planning without ample information about the
enemy. Organizing Intelligence is therefore one of the
most important preconditions for victory."
The History of the Development of War Sciences (1895),
the Hungarian author, Oszkar Barczay, calls Ghenghis Khan
the greatest military strategist of all times, primarily
because of his excellent Intelligence organization, mentioning
also that this "important branch of warfare"
was entirely neglected in Europe.
Short History of Hungarian Military Intelligence
national Intelligence has existed in Hungary since the
collapse of the Hapsburg Monarchy in 1918. Between the
two world wars, Intelligence was run by a department of
the general staff VKF-2 (G-2). Its organization
followed similar structures within the Austro-Hungarian
Army. Hungarian Intelligence then was largely determined
by its first director, Dome Sztojai, a staff colonel,
later Prime Minister.
the Second World War, before the political changes in
the late eighties, the 2nd Directorate of the General
Staff of the Hungarian People's Army was responsible for
1995, the Parliament approved the CXXV Act about the National
Security Services, which defined their legal status and
task. Thus the MIO of the Hungarian Republic (MIOHR) was
created in its present form.
law directs that the MIO promote the national security
interests of the country through open and covert information
gathering. Its main emphasis is placed on the military
elements of security policy (military policy, military
industry and armed forces). Utmost attention is given
to the early warning of emerging crises in the region
and to the events in existing conflict zones. Together
with other domestic national security services, the MIO
participates in uncovering threats to the security of
the country; e.g., terrorism and the illegal trade of
arms and internationally controlled goods and technologies.
to the law, the specific tasks of the MIO are as follows:
analyzing, and disseminating information on foreign
targets or of foreign origin, necessary to government
decisions, on the military elements of security policy,
including military policy, military industry and armed
hostile intentions against the Hungarian Republic;
the activities of foreign military secret services directed
against the sovereignty and defense interests of the
information about illegal arms trade endangering national
security and terror organizations whose activities are
directed against the security of the armed forces;
taking part in uncovering and preventing the illegal
trade in internationally controlled goods and technologies;
availability of information necessary for the strategic-operational
planning activities of the Joint Staff of the HHDF;
Hungarian military organizations, installations and
national security protection and vetting of personnel
under its authority.
addition to the main tasks defined in the Act,
MIO conducts acquisition, research, development and
training in the application of technical devices that
are necessary to fulfil its missions and co-operates
with other national security services in this field;
its obligations associated with the extraordinary and
emergency states as separately defined by the law;
the framework of the national security law, fulfils
the tasks designated by the Government and the Minister
tasks of internal security and crime prevention; and
professional training for its officers, NCOs, and civilian
Government, the parliamentary committees, and the state
and military leaders may request special information from
direction and parliamentary control of the national security
MIO of the Hungarian Republic is a military-type national
security service; it is a government institution directed
by the defense minister and concerned with strategic Intelligence
parliamentary committees control the MIO and the MSO.
In addition, certain secret information gathering methods
require the permission of the Minister of Justice.
structure of the MIO
Director General is head of the MIO. The professional
and support activities are conducted by directorates.
Functionally, the organization is divided into information
and data collecting, analysis and assessment, and support
activities are conducted in different, but linked phases.
The process starts with the formulation of requirements
that govern planning, organizing, and directing of collection
activities. The data obtained are registered, managed,
and processed (evaluated, analyzed and assessed) and then
submitted to decision-makers. They formulate new requirements,
and the cycle starts again.
in MIO activities
changes in our activities (continuous from 1990) partly
reflect the new developments of the last two decades of
the 20th century. What follows is an analysis of four
factors (challenges) that shaped our profession and determined
its unavoidable reform.
are the consequences of the social changes that
occurred as a result of the Information Boom,
which affected Intelligence gathering considerably;
for example, the relationship of modern telecommunication
(mass media) and Intelligence, its competition as well
as its co-operation. Emphasized here are the importance
and requirements of minute professional analysis of
are the immense and traumatic political changes of the
end of the century, which transformed the relationship
between diplomacy and Intelligence.
is NATO's new Strategic Concept, and what it
means to the changing roles of Intelligence, especially
to transnational risks and peace support operations
outside the framework of the V Article defense missions.
paralleling the changes in the political and geo-strategic
environment is the revolution in military affairs,
driven mainly by technological innovation, especially
feature of our age for the decision-maker is not the lack
of information. Mass communication, the written and electronic
press, the new media channels, satellite television and
the Internet, all are a challenge to Intelligence. They
compete for the attention of the state and military leaders
and influence public opinion. Politicians, wrestling with
strategic problems, need Intelligence support, including
military assessments and long term projections, but this
can not be done within the old framework. The content,
the medium, the tasks, and the professional nature of
Intelligence are in transition. Intelligence is no longer
primarily information collection. The flood of information
must be harnessed, filtered, and selected. Useful information
must be arranged, organized, assessed and tailored to
support the decision-makers. The "collectors"
are replaced by "finders," "browsers,"
"surfers," and scientific researchers. This
military revolution changes the professional nature, tasks,
and methods of Intelligence.
The most important social challenge is how to handle the
ubiquitous "CNN-effect." Intelligence offers
accuracy and professional analysis as an alternative to
the quantity and sensationalism of the mass media. A new
kind of Intelligence is OSINT (open source Intelligence),
which is a partial answer to the "CNN-effect";
i.e., the competition of the professional news producers
all attempting to gain the favor of the decision makers.
This competition is won by Intelligence; because of its
professional qualities, it can provide deeper, more reliable,
objective, factual, tailored, specialized and processed
information than the media, which are less controlled,
more sensationalist, more manipulative, and potentially
manipulated. The key phrase is "all source Intelligence",
which is based on evaluated, analyzed, and assessed data,
as contrasted to the reports of "single source"
correspondents, who provide quick, but at the same time
unchecked and unreliable information. The modern situation
centers of the Military Intelligence services process
a complex of incoming information; immediately, task data
collection agencies evaluate and analyze news, register,
store, and manage data, and then communicate on secure
channels with the customers, informing them in real time,
if necessary. These information centers are capable of
electronically processing and transmitting written, graphic,
voice, photo and/or video data, and thus provide better
decision support and almost as rapid news coverage as
CNN. And this concerns only "current" Intelligence;
other Intelligence disciplines, such as basic research
and estimative Intelligence, also support strategic decisions
with long term projections, analysis, and assessments.
Multiple and rapid political changes in the last two decades
have reshaped the relationship between diplomacy and Intelligence.
The result of global and strategic shifts has been an
increased uncertainty in world affairs. Political
decision-making thus becomes an ad hoc reaction to unexpected
crisis situations; the main reaction of decision-makers
is permanent surprise.
spite of armed forces reductions, the tasks of the Intelligence
services are numerous and constantly increasing. The western
countries spend 3 to 10 percent of their defense budgets
on Intelligence. The US and the UK, in fact, spend more
on national security services than on diplomacy. Usually
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs co-ordinates the complex
tasks related to national security (with the participation
of the Defense Ministry), so the link between foreign
policy and Intelligence becomes stronger.
British Strategic Defense Review considers defense
diplomacy a new, separate task and defines it as the
support given to foreign policy by the armed forces (i.e.
conflict prevention, confidence building, military co-operation,
and development programs). Confidence building is impossible
without reliable information on the other party's position,
capabilities, and intentions, as the main source of distrust
is ignorance of the facts.
present strategic environment provides conditions for
even more distrust. We must be able to manage conflicts
and crises, or, better yet, prevent them. The international
community recognizes that it needs a bolder approach.
Lord Robertson of Britain (now NATO's Secretary) called
the conflict prevention activities of the armed forces
"defense diplomacy," and he said its purpose
was "the demilitarization of thinking." Although
these are primarily diplomatic tasks, and require non-military
means, an effective diplomatic campaign also demands current
and reliable information, presented in a military context,
about the violations of arms control regimes.
The main element of the new European defense diplomacy
is "bridge-building". Recent conflicts in Bosnia,
Kosovo, and Chechnya prove that security is not guaranteed
on the continent. European countries recognize that their
security depends on the stability of the surrounding regions.
Consequently, Intelligence now concentrates more on local
conflicts and matters affecting regional stability, instead
of being preoccupied with "target countries."
Defense diplomacy complements classical foreign policy;
it possesses a well-organized methodological and organizational
framework and has the harmonious co-operation of various
ministries. On-site military representation may be necessary,
and this may be in the form of a defense attaché office,
a liaison group, or a program office. Military attachés
play a key part in defense diplomacy, for they can assure
that the sending country is aware of the interests of
the receiving country. Intelligence is again significant,
for the attaché offices (representing the supreme commander
(president), the Defense Ministry and the General Staff)
are usually run by Intelligence organizations, and for
reasons other than tradition
complexity of defense diplomacy demands co-ordination
between the various ministries - especially with the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs. Co-operation between diplomatic and
military representations is assured, for the defense attaché
offices usually work within the embassy system, and the
defense attaché is the military advisor of the ambassador.
diplomacy, run by the MIO, is only a part of the broader
defense diplomacy, usually providing information and technical
working in defense affairs abroad is an ambassador of
peace and security in the world.
Defense diplomacy is but one element in NATO's response
to contemporary challenges. After the end of superpower
rivalry, the onset of new threats, dangers, risks and
challenges obliged the Alliance to participate in preventing
crises, and, if they occur, to reduce their negative impact.
To support this task, it is imperative to get the facts
first, to assess their relationship to allied values,
and then evaluate their impact on the interests of the
member countries. Allied Intelligence, therefore, faces
the task of answering these challenges.
A key element in the New Strategic Concept is the
legality and feasibility of the out-of-area, non-article
V crisis prevention operations. There will certainly be
a debate on the theoretical aspects and the preconditions
of such activities; however, the Alliance cannot wait
for the outcome of these debates. The intervention in
Yugoslavia happened before the new Strategic Concept was
officially adopted. Practice thus overtook theory, and
NATO answered the challenge. Operation "Allied Force",
besides being a morally justifiable aid to the Albanian
minority in Kosovo, was a most severe test of NATO's decision
making mechanism, the organization's international acceptance,
its credibility, and military-political aptitude.
operation also subjected Intelligence organizations of
the Alliance and its member countries to a severe test.
Before the intervention, the situation had to be analyzed,
the options uncovered, their impact assessed, and their
probable outcome inferred. During operation "Allied
Force" we had to support the allied forces directly
and indirectly, but we also had to analyze the effects
of international public opinion.
Strategic Concept of April 1999 states that a new Euro-Atlantic
security structure is emerging with NATO at its center.
This is shown by its handling of the Balkan crisis and
of new, complex security risks, such as oppression, ethnic
conflicts, economic decline, the collapse of political
regimes, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
It is notable that the Concept mentions mainly those dangers,
in which case it is difficult to differentiate between
internal and external political implications. This phenomenon
reinforces the necessity of intervention and questions
the absolute supremacy of the principle of national sovereignty
and the spirit of non-intervention. The Concept underlines
collective defense as the main task of the Alliance, but
it adds the responsibility of defending common security
interests in an unpredictably changing environment.
follows, then, that the NATO countries' Intelligence organizations
must preserve their traditional capabilities and tasks;
they should not, however, concentrate only on military
threats presented by selected target countries. They should
emphasize more the events in crisis regions, determining
the causes of conflicts, warning of their outbreak, assessing
the legal and political conditions of intervention, and
describing the risk and resource requirements for a peace
support operation (peacekeeping, peace-making, peace-enforcing).
Thus Military Intelligence not only serves to support
NATO defense operations, but can also support intervention.
transition from own area defense to crisis management
and conflict prevention in the neighboring regions means
a paradigm change for Intelligence. So instead of concentrating
on the military capabilities of potentially hostile countries,
the emphasis should now shift to the complex interplay
of economic, political, and social factors that lead to
regional instability and its spillover effects.
of NATO accession
NATO accession expanded the geographical boundaries of
its military Intelligence; it also limited its scope,
in a certain sense. The shift is from its immediate surroundings
to the European crisis zones and to the developments just
on (or outside) the periphery of the continent. This means
that Hungary has moved from a narrowly interpreted national
interest to a comprehensive approach more in line with
the allied requirements and our own. Unfortunately, one
European crisis zone borders on Hungary's south. Thus,
the meeting of allied and national interests is obvious
Hungary is a politically and economically open country,
it is vulnerable to the ups and downs of global politics
and economy, not only in the Euro-Atlantic area, but also
in far away continents. It hopes to promote relations
with Asia, South America, and others. But this does not
mean that Hungarian Military Intelligence will also have
global outreach (although in an era of globalization,
it must be familiar with these other regions). NATO, being
a Euro-Atlantic organization, does not require that its
member states conduct Intelligence activities outside
the regions described in the Strategic Concept. The direction
of Intelligence is a sovereign matter for each country
and depends on its national interests and capabilities.
security should also be considered in a global context.
NATO may be affected by risks that have no territorial
boundaries or national limits; terrorism, for example,
or organized crime, the disruption of critical materials
and energy, and mass migration of war refugees. Intelligence
thus must deal with transnational risks of a non-military
nature which cannot be handled by military means. But
if solving such problems is delayed, crises occur which
are usually solved by military means. Russia's Chechnya
war is the benchmark example.
Intelligence uncovers and reports all developments, analyzes
every tendency related to the proliferation, export, and
import of weapons of mass destruction, the delivery means,
and other high-tech weapons and dual-use technologies
(e.g., high-end computers used for military purposes).
Also of interest are violations of international arms
control regimes and other agreements controlling technology
flow from country to country.
affairs (RMA) is also changing, prompted mainly by new
technologies: i.e., genetic modifications, nano-technology,
and robotics. The military and civilian applications of
these technologies are risky, because they are self-replicating;
small groups, even individuals, can access and use them
for terrorist purposes, with catastrophic consequences.
The biggest trend, however, is the spread of technologies,
which can lead to information dominance.
cannot be conducted as in Biblical times, with Moses sending
agents to a likely theatre of future operations; for there
are new, technological aids to Intelligence, without which
the services of this and the next century could fail.
uses electromagnetic spectrum to gain information. COMINT,
a part of SIGINT, eavesdrops communications signals; ELINT
captures and analyzes unintentional electromagnetic emissions,
such as the electromagnetic radiation of computers. IMINT
uses pictures derived from optical, infrared, radar, and
"spacial" mapping technologies, mounted on land,
sea, air, or space vehicles. MASINT studies the physical
properties of weapons and other military technology; TELINT
(telemetric Intelligence) does the same from long distance,
detecting and analyzing nuclear blasts or missile lift-offs.
These Intelligence disciplines are characterized by a
high degree of automation, computerization, direct integration
with command and control systems, and electronic communications.
This enables commanders to view the battle as if it were
"televised news coverage." One application,
for example, is automatic indirect fire control, using
data transmitted from unmanned aerial vehicles (reconnaissance
the reform, Hungary can obtain parity with other NATO
countries' Intelligence organizations, but it should not
be a "copycat" organization. In fact, it should
strive to "overtake" some of its model examples.
So what defines national security services in the NATO
most of the member states, there is more than one service;
structure of the system is usually based on subordination,
and not on activity profiles (the divisions are mainly
along the civilian-military line, not along the difference
between Intelligence and counter-Intelligence).Military
Intelligence/counter-Intelligence is always separate,
and directed by the defense ministers;
between the various services is characterized by a "community"
approach; that is, co-ordination, cooperation, and task
sharing. In most countries, co-ordination and advisory
bodies play an important part in the system;
on the constitutional provisions, the services are controlled
by the prime minister or his/her designate; sometimes,
the head of state has special responsibilities;
oversight is usually strong;
by civilian organizations is rare and very limited.
national services are run by the same principles, they
can more easily co-operate within the Alliance, understanding,
however, that NATO has no "spying" organization
or Intelligence collection agencies. But the Alliance
does have an integrated Intelligence system. How is that
possible? This is only possible because the national Intelligence
communities have combined into a broader, allied Intelligence
community, and are voluntarily associated with each other
on a multilateral basis.
respected friend and colleague, General Gerard Bastiaans
(former chief at SHAPE Intelligence Division) said that
the services form a "cartel", an informal association
to regulate key intelligence matters and elements among
themselves. Such co-operation is based on mutual trust;
its strength is the sharing of evaluated information and
assessments. Contributing to this system benefits all
nations; for this is the way to influence allied decisions
and build a consensus view on the challenges facing the
Strategic Review aims at reshaping the armed forces, making
them smaller and cheaper, but also more effective and
more professional. Hungary shares these goals. The products
of MIO are of a high importance to the leadership of Hungary,
for a rational distribution of the resources is based
on long term vision and the knowledge of probable risks.
Therefore, the MIO intends to modernize, using technological
advances, improving bilateral and multilateral co-operation,
and achieving comprehensive integration within the Intelligence
system. Giving quality work, the MIO can prove indispensable
to the decision-maker.
an Intelligence Community is a future imperative.
This informal body could eliminate the overlapping of
tasks among the different national security services;
it would also do away with possible rivalries among the
services, would result in cost-effective sharing of tasks
and responsibilities, harmonize information exchange and
flow, and create a high-level discussion forum for the
heads (or representatives) of the services. In this decision
support committee, run by the government, there would
certainly be a prominent place for the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, representing the major information-gathering-and-providing