The Best Defense

Military intelligence: a list of essential readings

A young acquaintance of mine due to report to the Army's military intelligence school later this year asked for some reading recommendations to prepare for the classes. Having no idea, I asked some knowledgeable friends. Here are their picks:

Army Reserve Maj. Kyle Teamey, a counterinsurgency expert:

If this is a brand new lieutenant with no previous service experience, he/she should focus first on learning the basics of soldiering, tactics, and leadership .... [and] start with the same books a young infantry or armor officer might read:

  • The Defense of Duffer's Drift, Swinton (and the various knock-offs)
  • Once an Eagle, Myrer
  • The Bear Went Over the Mountain and/or The Other Side of the Mountain, Grau and Jalali
  • Infantry Attacks, Rommel

Retired Army Col. John Collins, who enlisted as a private in 1942, served in three wars, and also is author of Military Geography and Military Strategy :

My top candidate is Sherman Kent's classic, a golden oldie titled Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy."

Carson Morris, a career intelligence officer:

Kent's is very good; hence naming the school after him. I would add:

  1. Roger George & Jim Bruce's Analyzing Intelligence: Origins, Obstacles, and Innovations
  2. Col. John Hughes-Wilson's MI Blunders and Cover-ups
  3. The Army's Recce and Surveillance Handbook
  4. Abe Shulsky & Gary Schmitt's Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence, latest (think is 3rd) edition
  5. Allen Dulles' The Craft of Intelligence
  6. John Keegan's Intelligence in War
  7. Steve O'Hern's Intelligence Wars: Lessons from Baghdad

Retired Marine Col. T.X. Hammes, author of The Sling and the Stone:

Stuart Herrington's Silence Was a Weapon. Amazon has it used for under $10. Obviously good for COIN. For conventional tactical, the Marine Corps republished a small manual called ‘Intelligence for Frontline Units.' Not sure where he can get that one."

Lani Elliott, teaches at the National Defense Intelligence College:

Sandler, Todd, et. al., 'Terrorist Signalling and the Value of Intelligence' (British Journal of Political Science, October 2007), Brian Dunmire's recent article from Military Intelligence, ‘Army Strategic Intelligence,' and Don Hanle's Terrorism: The Newest Face of War, would be my recommendations. The Dunmire article is very helpful on the career field itself and some key issues strategic intelligence faces, especially in the Army. Insightful and informed. Hanle's book provides the most immediately applicable and functional method of analyzing terrorism that I know about. The book is especially valuable when read with T.X. Hammes' The Sling and The Stone."

James Hailer, founder, Hailer Publishing, a specialty house for military classics:

Compton McKenzies' Water on the Brain. a comedy/satire written about rivalry between competing intelligence agencies in England in 1933. It was based on MacKenzies' experience as a MI6 agent during WWI and was his revenge for being prosecuted under the official secrets act for trying to publish his memoir of the war in 1932. He nails the war between bureaucracies better than anyone I have read, and it is one of the few books that I have consistently laughed out loud as I read it. Frankly it should be required reading for any person in a large organization."

Lin Todd, a specialist in counterterrorism in the Middle East:

Richards Heuer's ‘Psychology of Intelligence Analysis' is a classic primer on analysis of intel of all sorts. In addition, Front Line Intelligence by COL Robert Robb and LTC Stedman Chandler, which is an S2 AAR of intelligence from WWII, might be useful."

Shawn Brimley, one of the brains behind the QDR:

Three additional books that have influenced my thinking on this issue are:

  1. Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy -- by Mark Lowenthal
  2. Anticipating Surprise: Analysis for Strategic Warning - by Cynthia Grabo
  3. Surprise Attack: Lessons for Defense Planning -- by Richard Betts."

What would you suggest adding to this list?


The Best Defense

Princeton scores a touchdown for vets

Some vets are Princeton have launched a program to teach other vets how to run for office. This is an explicitly non-partisan effort. It looks pretty good, judging only by its website.

Veterans Campaign was initiated by a group of graduate students and influential professors at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Some of the members have military experience, while others have staffed and managed political campaigns. Members hold different ideological and partisan beliefs, but all share the conviction that having more veterans in public office will benefit the United States.

I agree that having vets in office is a good thing. I'd especially like to see some former enlisted run for office. I think the armed services committees of Congress used to benefit enormously from the skeptical questions of former sergeants who had spent time in the mud, and weren't necessarily awed by generals.