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Hardcover Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda Book

ISBN: 0375400532

ISBN13: 9780375400537

Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

From the preeminent military historian of our time comes an unprecedented study of the influence of intelligence on war operations. of photos.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A candid study that takes the reader through a compendium of military campaigns.

John Keegan's Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda is a must read, based on case studies, for anyone seriously interested in the relationship of intelligence to war-fighting. Strategic, operational, and tactical manifestations are considered. * Muslim fundamentalism is profoundly unintellectual; it is, by that token, opposed to everything the West understands by the idea of "intelligence." The challenge to the West's intelligence services is to find a way into the fundamentalist mind and to overcome it from within. P 319. * The challenge will cast the agencies back onto methods which have come to appear outdated, even primitive, in the age of satellite surveillance and computer decryption ...far superior to any holder of a Ph.D. in higher mathematics ...better adapted to the future world of espionage than any graduate student in regional studies. Pp 317-318. Distinct by impressive research, this progressive study debunks the myths heralded by modern pundits as to the "fix-all" reliance associated with intelligence, clearly articulates both its uses and limitations, and the nexus between intelligence and its customer/s. * Results in war, in the last resort, are of body, not mind; of physical force, not plans or intelligence. P 219. * The outcome of the Atlantic battle, seen in perspective, suggests that intelligence, as in so many other operational circumstances, was, though significant, secondary to the age-old business of fighting the issue out. P 256. * Allied bombing not only wrought terrible devastation on German homes and factories, and on German's cultural heritage, and terrible disruption as well as termination of ordinary Germans' everyday lives; it also directly attacked Hitler's and his Nazi party's claim to be the protectors of the German people. P 262. While the majority of case studies are maritime oriented, this is a masterful book that will appeal to students, scholars, policymakers, and lay readers alike. I recommend that it be read in conjunction with Admiral McRaven's SPEC OPS for full effect.

A wonderful book

This enlightening military history analyzes a series of battles to see how important intelligence is in war. Keegan's assertion is that intelligence is important but fighting ability and other factors are perhaps more so. Without intelligence one is sure to lose probably but even with it one may lose. He cites examples. The first two are naval, Nelson searching for the French fleet in the mediteranean in 1798, and finally finding and destroying it but too late. Von Spee's crusier squadon in the Great War in the Pacific defeats the British and then is destroyed. At the battle of Crete the British had intelligence and still lost. At the battle of Midway intelligence may have saved the day but not at Pearl Harbor. These are only some examples. The set piece narrative is engrossing and a wonderful read and the question of intelligence is almost lost in the background as one is drawn in to these great conflicts of old. A great read. Seth J. Frantzman

A very important book

This line from his book says a lot "Intelligence is necessary but not sufficient means to victory. Willpower counts for more." The need for a will to fight for a nation or army is absolute. The United States did not lose in Vietnam because are intelligence was good or bad, we lost because we lost the will to continue fighting. John Keegan goes on to outline what intelligence can do, reduce the price, identify weakness, reveal defects, give warning, unveil treachery, disclose enemy strategy or unlock the world. But it is " factor among many". Current intelligence is over estimated he says because, espionage and counter espionage are being confused with operational intelligence and operational intelligence is being confused with subversion (i.e. covert operations). Mr. Keegan is saying the "Information Dominance" Emperor has no clothes and all the lackeys rush to the Emperor's defense!

Fantastic and engrossing study of military intelligence

_Intelligence in War_ by John Keegan asks a basic question; just how useful is intelligence in warfare? There is he wrote a great deal of literature that seems to suggest that it is of enormous importance but Keegan sought to show exactly just useful it really is. First, Keegan defined intelligence. There are five fundamental stages in intelligence practice, the first being acquisition. While the data gathered may include published and publicly available information, generally information that is useful in a military situation is gathered through clandestine means, the main types being spying with human agents (human intelligence or humint), the interception of an enemy's communications, a method generally requiring decryption (signal intelligence or signit, the main type of intelligence discussed in the book), and visual imaging or surveillance, through aerial photography provided by aircraft and satellites. Throughout the book Keegan discussed the pros and cons of each type of intelligence and their relative importance over the years. Second, there is delivery (something nontrivial especially for the transmitter of humint). A major problem for centuries was the difficulty in sending collected intelligence to a potential user in a timely fashion, in "real time" (a major problem before the telegraph). The third stage is acceptance of the gathered intelligence, of either accepting the source or believing instead that the information is wrong or in fact is an example of enemy counter-espionage. The fourth stage is interpretation, the art and science of weaving together a picture from the many scraps collected to produce a useful picture of an enemy's capabilities and intentions. Finally is implementation of this intelligence. The bulk of the book is a collection of case studies, examples that Keegan took from history to illustrate various points about the collection and use of intelligence and how these points are still applicable to the modern policymaker. He began in the age of sail, when the main difficulty in the intelligence field was in the struggle to acquire useful information and deliver it to intelligence officers at such a speed so it wouldn't be out of date, and ended near the present, when there is such a vast wealth of information of all sorts - "frustratingly rich" as Keegan put it - that the volume threatens to overwhelm the minds of those seeking to evaluate its worth. The cases Keegan chose were extremely interesting and very well-told stories, ranging from Admiral Nelson's chase of Napoleon's fleet in 1798 that culminated in the Battle of the Nile to the use of intelligence in the 1982 Falkland Islands War, each case study well illustrated with photographs and excellent maps. Though each case study could simply be read as a detailed and well-written historical account, they also served to illustrate various points Keegan was making about intelligence in war. For instance, the German airborne assault of Crete in May 1941

Keegan Analyzes the Value of Intelligence in Winning Wars

Does intelligence win wars? No, but it helps, according to Keegan. What ultimately matters most are: will, numbers, and material. That is an honest conclusion, which obviously won't resonate too well with intelligence organizations like the NSA, CIA, MI6, FSB, Mossad, etc. However, it should make political/ideological leaders and defense contractors happy. Keegan examines the effect of intelligence in several campaigns/battles throughout the past 200 years - Nelson's pursuit of Napoleon in the Med, Jackson's Shenandoah Valley campaign, the Royal Navy hunt for Von Spee's squadron and for the Emden, Crete, Midway, the Atlantic U-boat campaign, and the search for Hitler's V-1 and V-2 weapons. In conventional battle, the importance of intelligence lies in locating the enemy, determining his dispositions, and unveiling his intentions. However, intelligence of itself doesn't win battles - even the best informed but outnumbered force will often be defeated by a stronger foe. Keegan demonstrates that time and again. Intelligence outside of battle, however, plays a more significant role. It can provide users with orders-of-battle, advance warning of new weapons technology, the internal situation of one's enemies (or even allies). And today, its value has increased dramatically thanks to modern electronic telecommunications, which can send info instantly across the world. (However, this has proven to be a double-edged sword to commanders on the ground who must now also cope with continual - often counterproductive - interference from anxious superiors.) In addition, the ease of electronic eavesdropping (signals intelligence - sigint) has caused Western intelligence agencies to rely almost exclusively on sigint to the detriment of human intelligence (humint). In conclusion, I understand Keegan to say that intelligence is overrated as a tool to win battles. Furthermore, Western intelligence agencies are perhaps dangerously over-reliant on sigint. In their battle with al-Qaeda, they have been frustrated by an organization which has recognized this weakness and hence largely refuses to use modern telco technology. Overall, an interesting book, but what I just wrote above largely summarizes its findings.
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