Military Intelligence- the collection of information by commanders on the enemy and the battlefield environment they must confront- has existed since the beginnings of armies and of wars. However, the emergence of professional Military Intelligence organizations and the definition of the functions they most appropriately performed are comparatively recent developments. Until the nineteenth century, Military Intelligence was practiced only in wartime; methods of collection were rudimentary; and the conduct of Military intelligence was considered a function of command, one which any professional officer could perform. Furthermore, commanders tended to be skeptical about the reliability of the information they received from spies, scouts, and their own troops. In his monumental treatise On War, Clausewitz commented only that "many intelligence reports in war are contradictory, even more are false, and most are uncertain."1
The powers of continental Europe developed military staff organizations during the nineteenth century and provided a peacetime institutional locus for Military Intelligence organization. Staffs developed an intelligence element that collected maps and military statistics and dispatched attaches. Ultimately, these developments were replicated in the United States, although not without some delay. The U.S. Army was small, it had no general staff, and there were no pressing military threats to drive intelligence collection. And although George Washington had been a masterful practitioner of intelligence while serving as commander in chief of the Continental Army, this aspect of his experience has never become part of the national heritage. A small Division of Military Information was finally set up within the Adjutant General's Office twenty years after the American Civil War had ended. A few years later the Army dispatched its first military attaches abroad to provide general information on worldwide military affairs. When the Army at last gained a General Staff in 1903, the Military Information Division was transformed into the General Staff's Second Section.4
At the time, the Army's fledgling General Staff was groping to define its own appropriate mission, and these beginnings were never fully developed. A subsequent reorganization effectively eliminated the intelligence function of the staff, and it took America's entry into World War I to reverse the situation. To fight a land campaign on the continent of Europe, the Army was compelled to remodel itself along continental lines. An intelligence division was re-created within the War Department General Staff, and staffs that included intelligence officers were introduced at all units down to the level of battalion. Military Intelligence expanded to become a "shield" as well as a "sword," as the Army became heavily involved in counterintelligence.
In the field, technology helped to rationalize intelligence collection at the tactical and operational levels. Under combat conditions, intelligence gathering was accomplished not only by Military Intelligence specialists but also by the line troops themselves. As S. L. A. Marshall later stated, "Infantry . . . is the antenna of the mechanism of combat intelligence. "2 Increasingly, these sources were augmented by what were later called "special information services" that engaged in various types of technical collection activities.3 World War I exposed the Army to a dazzling new array of technological enhancements to the collection process: aerial photography and reconnaissance, radio intercept, and optical and acoustical sensors used to detect aircraft and artillery. One secondary effect was that much of the Army's practical intelligence work was carried out by nonintelligence personnel: the intercept personnel of the Signal Corps; technicians manning artillery targeting devices; topographic specialists in the Corps of Engineers; and aviators. This situation in turn tended to block or delay the further centralization of the intelligence function.
In the long years of peace following the Armistice, Army Intelligence continued to search for an appropriate place within an Army the size of which had again been greatly reduced. A basic problem of Army Intelligence remained conceptual: defining what an intelligence organization should do. Army Intelligence offices, in fact, continued to be regarded as clearing houses for all manner of information functions unrelated to intelligence. During the interwar years, for example, intelligence staffs managed the Army's public affairs programs; later they were tasked with conducting psychological warfare and writing the Army's history It took a surprisingly long time-until the end of World War II- for Army Intelligence to shake off such extraneous functions and concentrate on its primary task, "knowing one's enemies."4 At the War Department level, the Army's intelligence organization tended to act more as a reference library than as
a positive directing force. Not until May 1945 did the War Department's Military Intelligence Division (MID) acquire an organization to establish intelligence priorities and requirements, missions that finally allowed it to put into practice all components of the modern intelligence cycle: determining requirements, collecting the appropriate information, processing the acquired data into finished intelligence, and disseminating the results, a circular process that often generates a new set of requirements, initiating the cycle again.5
Military Intelligence also labored under other handicaps in the years between the wars. Under garrison conditions, unit intelligence officers found themselves with little to do. Battlefield collection mechanisms seemed to have little utility in peace. The Military Intelligence Division maintained a small counterintelligence element and for a time funded a small cryptanalytic unit; but the latter function subsequently passed over to the Signal Corps. Military attaches continued to report, but their purpose was somewhat anomalousgovernment parsimony and expensive representational demands made it impossible for officers without private incomes to serve in overseas posts, and their function seemed more political and social than military.
These factors, along with the perceived absence of any real threat in times of peace, effectively marginalized intelligence work within the Army. Intelligence seemed unrelated to the real life of the Army, and intelligence assignments were viewed as curiosities at best. General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower later commented, "I think that officers of ability in all our services shied away from the intelligence branch in the fear that they would be forming dimples in their knees by holding teacups in Buenos Aires or Timbuctoo."6 At the same time, if intelligence was peripheral, the Army still assumed that any officer could fulfill its functions.7
In World War II these attitudes began to change. Military and political leaders alike recognized that intelligence was crucial to military success. To meet its information needs, the Army was forced to create a large intelligence structure, manned largely by draftees and officers commissioned into the Reserves. Acting through its wartime operating arm, the Military Intelligence Service, the Military Intelligence Division instituted formal training for intelligence personnel in a diversity of disciplines. By the end of the war, various types of intelligence teams and counterintelligence detachments were supporting the intelligence
staffs of all tactical units in the field. Meanwhile, the Signal Corps conducted its own intelligence and security war, entering the field of radar, which was at once a collection technology, a new intelligence target, and a subject of possible countermeasures. More important, the Signal Corps provided cryptologic support to the War Department through its Signal Security Agency and furnished theater commanders with tactical signals intelligence units. The growing importance of communications intelligence ultimately resulted in the transfer of responsibility for the function from the Signal Corps to Military Intelligence. The Army emerged from World War II with an intelligence structure that in some ways prefigured that of the present. Most of the lineages of today's intelligence units trace back to the second World War. However, this structure was departmentally oriented, fragmented, and less than fully articulated. Following the postwar reorganization of the Army in 1946, the Military Intelligence Division again emerged as the dominant institution in the whole architecture, providing overall direction, producing intelligence, and engaging in a diversity of operational activities. As part of its mandate, the Division commanded a vertically organized signals intelligence and security apparatus, the Army Security Agency (ASA), and an administratively centralized counterintelligence element, the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC). Both ASA and CIC were organized into sizable units. However, the Army's other intelligence disciplineshuman intelligence and imagery intelligence-continued to be essentially orphans, their personnel grouped into small teams supporting tactical commanders and their training base neglected. Electronic warfare remained the province of the Signal Corps. The system continued to be manned by a mix of detailed Regular Army officers and reserve officer specialists who chose to remain in uniform when the war came to an end.
During the next forty years, these arrangements were reshaped by several diverse influences. The Cold War, advances in technology, and imperatives of bureaucracy were perhaps the most significant. To meet evolving challenges, the structure of Army intelligence was repeatedly reorganized. Military Intelligence was professionalized, its disciplines integrated, and the scope of its operations enhanced. As a result, Military Intelligence became a branch in the U.S. Army, and Military Intelligence professionals were affiliated with the Army's regimental system through the creation of the Military Intelligence Corps. Intelligence staff sections, present at all Army levels, were supplemented by specialized intelligence units up to brigade level. This book attempts to trace the long and complicated organizational history that characterized this evolution.
1 Karl Von Clausewitz, On War, ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), p. 117.
2 Quoted in Eliot A. Cohen and John Gooch, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War (New York: Free Press, 1990), p. 181.
3 Robert R. Glass and Phillip B. Davidson, Intelligence is for Commanders (Harrisburg: Military Service Publishing Co., 1946), p. 25.
4 This useful definition is taken from the title of Ernest May's Knowing One's Enemies: Intelligence Assessments Before the Two World Wars (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986).
5 Military Intelligence Division, A History of the Military Intelligence Division, 7 December 1941-2 September 1945, unpublished Ms, U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1946, p. 72, copy in INSCOM History Office files.
6 Dwight D. Eisenhower, "Command in War," lecture presented to the National War College, Washington, D.C., 30 Oct 50.
7 The author of one of the earliest books on Military Intelligence in the U.S. Army stated, "If things are not going right between G-2 and G-3 . . . then a switching of the duties of these is recommended. If the G-2 is not competent to be a G-3, he is not competent to be a G-2 and should be retired from the General Staff." Walter Campbell Sweeney, Military Intelligence: A New Weapon in War (New York: Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1924), p. 135.
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