This is likely not of much interest to most people, but it’s something I noticed while reading a book…
I’m reading Keegan’s Intelligence in War right now, and noticing an interesting trend: Many militaries, but the American military more than most, tend to disparage intelligence work, on the mindset that it’s all well and good, but it’s force and valor that win battles, and the intel branches are where to stuff people who couldn’t hack it at traditional warfare.
Keegan seems to implicitly share this judgement; his book is trying to argue that intel is less valuable than it first seems, essentially since even in battles where one side had an intelligence advantage, that advantage alone was not enough to guarantee victory.
I’m having trouble wrapping my head around this. It’s clear that intelligence alone doesn’t guarantee victory, and that all the “traditional” military abilities, not to mention the usual chaos and vagaries of battle, are fairly significant determinants. But there’s a systematic pattern by which intelligence, properly gathered, well-analyzed and systematically deployed, can grant a commander in the field both an element of surprise and a much better initial deployment of resources. Even in cases where intelligence was insufficient (Keegan cites the German invasion of Crete during WW2, against which the British defenders had excellent intelligencce), the good intel was still a major advantage to the defenders. (The British did, after all, cut all of the attacking Nazi paratroop divisions to ribbons)
Yet the pattern persists – “traditional” warfare officers and their adherents, military historians included, seem completely determined to describe intelligence as an almost unnecessary backwater, despite the visible increase in its significance and importance in the age of SIGINT.