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The Evolution of US Army HUMINT: Intelligence Operations in the Korean War

By John P. Finnegan

This article originally appeared in Studies in Intelligence Vol. 44, No. 2 (2000). The author was a US Army historian. He died suddenly in 2002.

The traumatic experience of the Korean conflict was a watershed in the evolution of Army intelligence. Within six months, the Army found itself facing two major intelligence disasters: it was caught unprepared by the initial North Korean invasion of June 1950 and by the massive Chinese intervention in November of that year. In response, the Army hastily improvised a clandestine human intelligence (HUMINT) organization, building on a small existing intelligence unit, the Korean Liaison Office (KLO). By the end of the Korean War, the Far East Command (FECOM) had fielded a large Army-controlled clandestine collection apparatus, closely linked with similarly large operations in the fields of partisan and psychological warfare. More important, the Army had begun to take steps to create a permanent and professional HUMINT service that could carry out positive intelligence collection operations.

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All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this article are those of the author. Nothing in the article should be construed as asserting or implying US government endorsement of an article’s factual statements and interpretations.

Posted: Jul 06, 2011 07:02 PM
Last Updated: Jul 06, 2011 07:02 PM