Recruiting Intelligence Assets with RASCLS

When collecting sources of HUMINT (Human Intelligence), the common acronym MICE has been used in the past to describe the factors that may influence someone to cooperate with you to provide information.


First it is necessary to define MICE. MICE stands for Money, Ideology, Coercion/Compromise, Ego/Excitement. Some spies like Robert Hanssen spied only for monetary reward.

Ideology is another common element; Sergei Skripal believed in democracy and settled in England after his career with the Russian intelligence service ended.

Coercion/Compromise describe situations where individuals spied because they were forced to, or to avoid some worse punishment. Mathilde Carré was captured by the Nazis and forced to become a double agent during World War II.

Finally, Ego/Excitement. Frank Nesbitt defected to the Soviet Union in 1989 in order to get some excitement in his life, he claimed.

Criticism of MICE

Burkett (2013) argues in his article that MICE is outdated and fails to capture the complexities of human motivation. Below you will learn a new framework called RASCLS that can be used instead.

Six Weapons of Mass Influence

Robert Cialdini is a Psychologist and expert in the field of influence and persuasion. He defines what he calls his “six weapons of mass influence”, that are much more useful for recruiting individuals.

These elements are summarized with the acronym RASCLS, Reciprocation, Authority, Scarcity, Commitment/Consistency, Liking, Social Proof.


When meeting a source, always provide amenities like coffee. It is a natural human nature to repay in kind, which can begin the process. A small gesture, like help with a visa, employment, or another minor problem can create a sense of obligation that can be exploited.


Look the part. Suits help convey authority and control. Once recruited, agents should become more productive as you give them specific information to collect, but also more cautious as a result of your training them.


Presenting intelligence collection as a fleeting opportunity to capitalize on their access can help influence individuals to participate.


Develop mutual agreement to work together. If an asset provides a small bit of nonpublic information (e.g. internal telephone directory), they can be encouraged to increase the type or amount of information they share (foot in the door technique.) Highlight your past agreement to share information.


We like people who are like us. Be sure to identify similarities (interests, relationships, outlook) that can be highlighted in this way. Flattery is useful; we all want to feel desirable and important.

You may also identify areas of low self-esteem, or feelings of being under-valued. This can be fixed with their cooperation.

Social Proof

Other individuals who have participated can encourage the individual to participate too. Identify past successful techniques and continue to utilize these where possible.

Agent Recruitment Cycle

This information comes straight from the article, describing the six steps of recruiting an intelligence agent or asset:

  1. Spotting (or identifying) individuals who can meet intelligence needs as identified by analysts or policymakers
  2. Assessing whether the spotted individuals have the placement and access to provide desired information as well as beginning the process of determining their motivations, vulnerabilities, and suitability
  3. Developing a relationship with the individual to further assess the factors above and to explore whether they will be responsive to initial tasking for intelligence information
  4. The actual recruitment
  5. Training and handling meetings with the agent including taskings and debriefing
  6. Either turning an agent over to another case officer or terminating the relationship


Burkett, R. (2013) An Alternative Framework for Agent Recruitment – From MICE to RASCLS. Studies in Intelligence. 57(1). 7-17.

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