For College Courses in Intelligence


22 SEPT 93

Academic studies in international relations might usefully be supplemented by a course in intelligence processes.


The transition in the U.S. national posture accomplished during the first half of this century, from a seeking of security in isolation to recognition that our national welfare depends upon active participation in international politics, had its corollary in the academic world. Many non-government organizations, foundations, universities, and colleges have played an important role in increasing the public knowledge and administrative skills prerequisite to effective U.S. action in the international arena. A wide variety of new courses and entire schools have been devoted to foreign affairs and international relations, and additional ones still continue to be established.

The new public interest in global matters has by and large, I however, not been extended to intelligence and the principles and processes by which it is prepared. At the end of World War II there was, to be sure, the debate about Allied intelligence in the Bulge, the congressional inquiry into the Pearl Harbor surprise, and a good deal of general regret for the lack of pre-war interest in intelligence, to which General Eisenhower contributed with comments in Crusade in Europe. But this kind of soul-searching was confined largely to official circles. In the academic world, I believe, U.S. intelligence is treated only in its strictly military aspect, in specialized ROTC courses. There have been academic studies dramatizing business espionage1 and some pedagogical treatment of research methods applicable in intelligence, but no college training in the subject as a coordinated whole.

There are good reasons why this has been so. Intelligence traditionally and for the most part necessarily does its work behind the scenes, and its influence on the national welfare seldom strikes the public eye. Nor does this country have behind it the centuries of international leadership which developed the acknowledged British competence in intelligence and made the British public proud of it. Now that the United States has come to occupy the center of the international scene, the role of intelligence is well recognized among officials of the government; public interest and academic concern have yet to be awakened.

There are signs of a public awakening, however. Commentators showed concern over faltering intelligence on Chinese Communist participation in the Korean War, on the strength of the Ho Chi Minh forces in Indochina, and on the British-French-Israeli Suez venture. More recently a persistent and widespread discussion of intelligence processes has been set off by the Senate inquiry into the "missiles gap." Cartoonist Berryman's J. Q. Public, worried by the intelligence estimates controversy and saying, "I wish someone would explain it to me," seems to represent truly a deep interest and a legitimate requirement of the U.S. citizen. The U-2 incident and its repercussions at the summit are certain to give this interest a new impetus.

It is the thesis of this paper that the awakening public, concern with intelligence offers our universities and colleges an opportunity and a challenge-the opportunity to take advantage of a rising interest and to meet a clear need, and the challenge to meet it effectively and thereby ultimately contribute to improving U.S. intelligence doctrine and competence.

It is suggested that a good beginning could be made by establishing a basic course of study in the meaning of intelligence, its significance as the foundation for policy planning and a guide for operations, how it plays those roles, and the principles and processes by which it is produced and formulated. Such a course should not be narrowed to the specialties of political or military intelligence, but develop broad principles applicable in all fields. It should highlight the concept of intelligence and intelligence processes as a critical far r in almost every form of human social endeavor-economic, scientific, and cultural, as well as military and political-being essentially a processing and use of facts and a making of judgments in a logical program for a specific purpose.

The intelligence course would apply the teachings of many academic disciplines. Specialists in economics, politics, sociology, and logic, in written, oral, and visual presentation could among others be used in the instruction. The program should be framed and guided, however, by a competent teacher with extensive and well-rounded intelligence experience, not merely a few years in some particular intelligence field. The course would need to run through two semesters at three class hours per week, and should be offered to students at the graduate or at least immediately pre-graduate level. Lectures should be minimized in favor of reading, discussion, conferences, and practical exercises. It would not be proposed in this basic course to cover the history of intelligence or to go deeply into special problems involved in the guiding of the intelligence effort by its users and its application in the conduct of operations. Some of these subjects could be incorporated into existing courses in international affairs, others would be left to separate advanced courses as the program developed.

The course in intelligence fundamentals, taken by the student at point of maturity, would have the broad educational advantage of employing and expanding his earlier learning and making it meaningful within a single coordinated, purposeful program. It would be of direct value to students contemplating government service, whether in intelligence or elsewhere, and of cogent interest to the intellectually inquisitive heading for careers in most fields of private enterprise. More importantly, perhaps, since our government is one responsive to the will of informed citizens, it would provide an indispensable ingredient to those studies of the policy-making and decision reaching process which presently loom so centrally in university courses devoted to creating an informed citizenry in the welds of public administration, foreign affairs, and international relations.

All too generally such courses treat only the policies made and the mechanisms through which they are effected. The heart of effectiveness, however, in public administration or the conduct of international affairs is the making of sound decisions, and these must be based on what in broad sense we call intelligence. In present curricula the student seldom has the opportunity to learn what kinds of raw materials are needed or how they are collected and consolidated to give the unitary understanding essential in formulating sound plans and guiding their execution.

Even a prospective business executive should learn not only the principles of economics, commercial and industrial organization, corporate finance, and the other usual subjects, but also what kinds of facts he needs to know in applying these principles and how such facts can be collected, evaluated, and consolidated for use in planning. Study of the intelligence process can bring home to him the need to take into consideration kinds of factors of which he might otherwise not be aware. For the student in foreign relations the study of the production and use of intelligence is of more immediate application, bringing out the importance of factors such as cultural differences, economics, and religion, which present college courses rarely treat in a meaningful way. In short, such study should round out a student's understanding of his chosen field, no matter whether it lies in sociology, politics, or business, and help him to become the kind of citizen demanded by the role this country must now play on the stormy international scene.

1 For example Competitive Intelligence, by students at the Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University, reviewed in Intelligence Articles N 2, p. A46.

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Historical Document
Posted: May 08, 2007 07:30 AM
Last Updated: Jul 01, 2008 10:16 AM