From the Archives
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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