Mark Collins – What’s Wrong With US Intel?

Pretty scathing piece, this:

The Ignorance of Intelligence Agencies

over the next five years [during World War II], the British assembled impressive intelligence capabilities that broke the Wehrmacht’s supposedly unbreakable enigma codes, deceived German intelligence as to Allied intentions throughout the war, and alerted Allied commanders as to emerging German technological threats such as the V-1 and V-2 weapons. It was indeed an impressive achievement that substantially shortened the war and saved innumerable Allied lives. Much of the credit rests on the fact that the British reached out to experts outside the government: mathematicians, German linguists, historians, and scientists. Age and profession represented no barrier. One of the foremost analysts of the Kriegsmarine was a twenty year-old Cambridge undergraduate history major; one of the foremost scientific analysts was a zoologist. The foremost analyst of the Battle of the Atlantic was a barrister, crippled by polio who could barely stand. 

It is worth contrasting the culture and make up of Britain’s intelligence organizations with what passes for intelligence agencies in the United States today. The Washington Post recorded several years ago that less than 20 percent of the CIA’s analysts speak a foreign language. A general ignorance of history and culture characterizes much of the personnel who make up the American intelligence effort…

Williamson Murray serves as a Minerva Fellow at the Naval War College. A widely published historian and former Air Force officer, Murray was educated at Yale and taught there before moving on to Ohio State University as a military and diplomatic historian. In 1987, he received the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award. He retired from Ohio State in 1995 as a professor emeritus of history.

Related:

Why the Pentagon Needs its Own Humint Service–Because CIA Sucks

The Limits of Intelligence, or, POTUS and ISIS (and June 22, 1941)

Pentagon’s (DIA) HUMINT Service Beefing Up

The Digital CIA: New and Improved?

And here’s a good early attempt at a comprehensive history of US intelligence: William Corson–The Armies of IgnoranceThe Rise of The American Intelligence Empire (1977).

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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