Surveillance and intelligence has become a predominating factor in law enforcement and military operations throughout the world. With the advancing sophistication of society it is only natural that the enemies of mainstream society have also adapted to technological changes in the world. This leads to an ever increasing heightened sense of emergency for many nations as they struggle to combat drug smuggling, organized crime and the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Covert operations are generally the most effective use of resources in winning these types of conflicts.
Although there were several elements of covert operations in ancient history, the majority of these relied on the assassination of leadership members. The most effective covert group in ancient history is comprised of the ninjas that arose in feudal Japan. During its time the samurai were the predominant class which waged war and believed in an honor system which stigmatized covert actions. Because of this ninjas were often seen as cowards and untrustworthy and remained in the shadows as an elite organization throughout the history of Japan.
Although nothing can replace the need for having a large and well armed army, the use of covert operations has proved to be a much more effective method of influencing changes in a battle or long engagement of war. The effectiveness of a small and highly trained group of individuals was realized throughout WWII where the birth of modern special forces came about.
Intelligence has become one of the most valuable assets in combat in modern times. Surveillance allows organizations such as the CIA, FBI, law enforcement and special forces to obtain data and evidence against specific targets of interest in a discrete manner. On the battlefield, surveillance is used to get a better view of the battle field and pinpoint enemy positions for air strikes or ground force intervention. Surveillance from the air in the form of unmanned drones has become the latest military technology to become the highlight of the battlefield. In many cases these unmanned drones can acquire a target, relay information, shadow the target, and if necessary strike the target with precision weapons.