Ask Molly: Five Eyes

September 1, 2023

Dear Molly,

What is this “Five Eyes” thing? I know it has to do with who you can share information with, but what is it and why is it a thing?

~ Jack

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Dear Jack,

Today is the anniversary of when many historians consider the end of World War II—September 2, 1945—when Japan formally surrendered to the United States. I thought it was the perfect time to answer your question because “Five Eyes” was born out of WWII.

“Five Eyes” refers to a special group of countries—the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—that formed an agreement to share intelligence between their respective agencies. This agreement, or alliance, developed out of WWII-era agreements between the U.S. and U.K. to share signals intelligence (information gathered from electronically transmitted signals), but now it includes all different types of intelligence. In 1955, the alliance was expanded to include Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Cooperation among the Five Eyes has provided the U.S. with significant intelligence benefits in all our mission areas, including: counterterrorism, counter proliferation, cyber, regional challenges, and global coverage.

Like all alliances, our relationship with our Five Eyes partners is mutually beneficial. Our work together and the intelligence we share helps us and our partners to not only fill information gaps, but also to develop all of our capabilities to better pursue mutual threats.

After all, “two eyes are better than one,” as the saying goes. Just imagine what we can do with five.

~ Molly


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