Strategic Warning: The Problem of Timing

problem of predicting timing,
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week prior to the first contact with Chinese forces, the US national warning committee (then known as the Joint Intelligence Indications Committee, the predecessor of the Watch Committee) actually went on record as stating that there was an increasing probability that a decision against overt intervention had been taken.
Once the Chinese forces had actually been engaged, there was an interval of a month before they became militarily effective and launched their massive attacks in late November. Thus in this period the intelligence process again was confronted with the problem of assessing the timing of any future Chinese operations, as well of course as their scope. The four-week period produced many hard indications, both military and political, that the Chinese in fact were preparing for major military action. But there was virtually no available evidence when such action might be launched, and even those who believed that the coming offensive was a high probability were somewhat perplexed by the delay and were unable to adduce any conclusive indications of when the attack would occur. As is well known, tactical surprise was indeed achieved.
Even in retrospect, we cannot be sure whether the Chinese delayed their intervention and their subsequent offensive because of political indecision, the need for more time to complete their military preparations, or as a tactical device to entrap as many UN forces as possible near the Yalu. I believe that military rather than political factors probably delayed the initial intervention and that both preparedness and tactical considerations accounted for the delay in the offensive, but I cannot prove it. Others may argue-and they cannot be proved wrong-that the Chinese may not have decided inevitably on intervention by 3 October, and/or that negotiations with the USSR and North Korea may have delayed the intervention as much as military factors.
The Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, June 1967    
There were many indications of the coming of this conflict. From 22 May, when Nasser closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping, tensions had been mounting, and the possibility of war was universally recognized. Both sides had mobilized and taken numerous other military preparedness measures. Before 1 June US intelligence was on record that Israel was capable of and ready to launch a preemptive and successful attack with little or no warning, and that there was no indication that the UAR was planning to take the military initiative. The US predictions of the likelihood and probable success of an Israeli


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Posted: May 08, 2007 09:01 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 09:01 AM