Intelligence After the "Great War": Captain John A. Gade, US Navy: An Early Advocate of Central Intelligence

Intelligence After the “Great War”: Captain John A. Gade, US Navy: An Early Advocate of Central Intelligence

By Patrick Devenny

Only the most dedicated pursuers of intelligence trivia will have heard of Captain John Allyne Gade, US Navy. Born in 1875, Gade worked as a naval attaché, author, architect, and financier until his death in 1955. His most notable entry in the annals of US intelligence was his prescient recommendation, made in 1929, to establish a national intelligence organization to coordinate intelligence activities and provide analysis of international developments. Authored at a time when America’s intelligence capacity was poorly resourced and viewed suspiciously by many, the Gade proposal was deemed unrealistic and promptly shelved. Decades later, it became prophetic.

It would be easy to characterize the proposal and its author as inconsequential curiosities with minimal impact. Such a view, however, ignores the extraordinary biography of Captain Gade, whose experiences as a naval intelligence officer in Europe during World War I transformed him into a determined and early advocate of intelligence reform. Additionally, Gade’s tour as a State Department officer on the front lines of the Russian Revolution led him to argue for an escalated campaign of covert action targeting the Soviet Union, a view fashionable at the dawn of the Cold War but unusual in 1919. Finally, as an attaché in Europe during the 1930s, Gade observed the expansion of totalitarianism and sought to improve the intelligence structures of Europe’s democracies before the outbreak of World War II. Gade’s lengthy and diverse intelligence career along and his visionary ideas on US intelligence provide several lessons for those now serving in the profession and justify a more detailed look at Gade’s life.

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Posted: Oct 17, 2012 02:24 PM
Last Updated: Dec 21, 2012 10:18 AM