US intelligence-gathering capabilities between 1919 and 1945?

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Futurist
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US intelligence-gathering capabilities between 1919 and 1945?

Post by Futurist » 13 Jan 2021 23:28

What were US intelligence-gathering capabilities between 1919 and 1945 like? Just how did they compare to US intelligence-gathering capabilities both before 1919 and after 1945?

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Re: US intelligence-gathering capabilities between 1919 and 1945?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 17 Jan 2021 22:10

There were enourmous changes. Capabilities of 1919 were very different from 1929 or 1939.

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Re: US intelligence-gathering capabilities between 1919 and 1945?

Post by Thumpalumpacus » 17 Jan 2021 23:25

SIGINT drastically changed American intelligence capabilities.

I know little of our HUMINT capabilities of that era though; finding resources is pretty hard. Either they were damned good (good enough to stay buried for decades), or damned bad (bad enough to not warrant much mention), I figure.

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Re: US intelligence-gathering capabilities between 1919 and 1945?

Post by OpanaPointer » 18 Jan 2021 00:34

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Re: US intelligence-gathering capabilities between 1919 and 1945?

Post by Richard Anderson » 18 Jan 2021 02:32

For the War Department prewar, intelligence gathering was the role of the military attaché stationed at embassies around the world, augmented, occasionally by volunteer civilian and military intelligence gatherers (Paul S. Dull, Japanese linguist and later author of The Imperial Japanese Navy while a professor at the University of Oregon, was one such for the Navy. He traveled extensively in Asia prewar, was held briefly in Japan by the Kempeitai, who he complained tortured him by twisting his teeth with pliers. By 7 December 1941, he was a Reserve Marine 2d Lieutenant newly arrived at Honolulu.) Assessments based on the intelligence were done by the Military Intelligence Division of the War Department, which was generally comprised of military attachés on rotation back to D.C.
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Re: US intelligence-gathering capabilities between 1919 and 1945?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 20 Jan 2021 06:25

A few examples of US military intelligence gathering inter war.

Stilwell did a stint as intelligence officer of the 15th Infantry Regiment, when it was stationed in China. He later described wandering around the Chinese country side observing the local warlord 'armies' & practicing his Mandarin & Cantonese dialects. Future US Marine general Krulak while a Lt with the 4th Marines in China observed Japanese amphibious ops near Shanghai. He got a look at the Daihatsu landing craft the Japanese had designed and built from the 1920s. His report on those observations may have gotten him his later assignment as liaison to the manufacture of the Higgins boats. A field artillery Captain who's name escapes me published a account of his observations of the Japanese artillery in the 1920s. If memory serves me correctly he was attached to the Japanese army as a observer or exchange officer. Cody Wedermeyer attended the Kriegsacademe as a Lt Col. This later influenced his work at the US Army War Plans Division.

I suspect, but only have circumstantial evidence that Maj Brewer & his peers were influenced by 1920s French artillery doctrine & techniques in their experiments seeking effective methodologies for rapid massing of multiple artillery battalions. That influence would have come via exchange or liaison officers between the US and French officers.

A USMC Major Ellis spent some time in the early 1920s helping update the Marines portion of War Plan ORANGE. His study and proposals for landing operations on Pacific islands deeply influenced Navy/Marine planning thought the 1930s & 40s. Then Ellis disappeared on a still mysterious one man reconnaissance of the Japanese mandate islands in the Central Pacific. The Japanese government reported he had "died" on one of the islands. Later a USN Petty officer died after taking custody of the remains of Major Ellis and both corpses were reported cremated in the aftermath of the Tokyo earthquake of 1924.

The biographers of 'Wild' Bill Donovan describe how he was retained as a Army reserve officer into 1920 & was acting in a intelligence capacity for the US Army expeditionary unit accompanying the Japanese Army on its occupation of the eastern end of the Trans Siberian railway.

Singer/actor Edie Albert Enlisted in the Coast Guard January 1942 & transferred to the Navy later. In 1943 he earned a Bronze star organizing the rescue under enemy fire of 73 wounded Marines off the reef surrounding Betio island. Prewar in 1941 he had toured Mexico with a road show. War Dept records show he was in the employ of Army intelligence, providing photographs a a German submarine in a Mexican harbor, and reports relating to a search for German organizations based in Mexico for activities in the US.

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