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Intelligence in Public Media

Defence Intelligence and the Cold War: Britain’s Joint Intelligence Bureau, 1945–1964

Huw Dylan (Oxford University Press, 2014), 256 pp., index.

Reviewed by Ryan Shaffer

Huw Dylan examines the Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB) under Major General Kenneth Strong during the Cold War. Using declassified records from around the world and private papers from important intelligence figures, Dylan explores internal British debates about centralizing intelligence and the JIB’s role until it merged with the Service Intelligence and created the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS). Tracing the Joint Intelligence Bureau’s mission to acquire accurate maps of the Soviet Union to its new mission of analyzing Soviet atomic bombs and missiles, the book follows the JIB’s expanding role and broader impact on international intelligence during the Cold War. While not as well-known as Britain’s Security Service or the Secret Intelligence Service, the Joint Intelligence Bureau was significant in acquiring intelligence about Soviet military and economic weaknesses.

Following the Second World War, the British military and political establishment saw the need to keep the wartime intelligence structure in peacetime. To properly do this, the Joint Intelligence Committee argued that “first class” intelligence would mean less financial investment in war preparations. Several reforms were instituted, including better “efficiency” and “preparedness” under the Joint Intelligence Bureau, which was “designed to collect and collate economic, topographic, and operational intelligence.” (10) In contrast to the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) that continued its wartime role coordinating interdepartmental intelligence and drafting reports, the Joint Intelligence Bureau was created for assessing economic, scientific, and topographic data. Dylan finds that shortly after the war the JIB proved those “who believed that central, more civilianized organizations could perform certain tasks previously assigned to military intelligence had gained a degree of ascendancy.” (38)

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Posted: Feb 08, 2016 12:09 PM
Last Updated: Feb 08, 2016 12:09 PM