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Roots of British Intelligence - Essay Example

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Roots of British Intelligence

Also important to note was the fact that the formation of this Intelligence Branch did not create a service-wide acceptance of the contributions of intelligence to war or peace. During the Boer War, Britain was forced to realize the importance of intelligence, as it failed to incorporate intelligence operations in its strategy and implementation. This forced Britain to focus in on how intelligence could be used during both war and peacetime. 1
A main obstacle to the place of intelligence in the 20th century British army focused on the delineation of the objectives of intelligence operations as well as being able to recognize what kind of person would be required to place those concepts into effect. It is important to remember that the concept of peacetime preparation for field intelligence had not been distinguished clearly at this time, and gathering military intelligence during times of peace was very overt as well as ad hoc in approach. Furthermore, other issues stood out as well. Wartime interactions between intelligence officers and soldiers were often filled with feelings of mistrust, and there was also no solid approach or agreement about training different intelligence corps at this time. The time of the Boer War through the beginning of the First World War demonstrated the makings of a commitment to intelligence as a need, and a desire to train professional intelligence officer corps developed. This commitment and appreciation, however, were not adequately translated into policy implementation, and the outbreak of war in 1914 found Britain's military intelligence preparations to be woefully inadequate for the issues that would lay ahead. 2
The military was able to recognize from the start that the type of officer to be involved in intelligence would be that of a different caliber. As far as the proper training of these men was concerned, however, it was open to some argument. It was obvious to see that the purpose of instructions and the lessons learned were not used at the turn-of-the-century War office. A good example of this is the fact that the start of the Boer War actually revealed that British military intelligence was extremely disorganized. It was obvious that the military could not predict of prepare for the start of the war, and the Intelligence Division's efforts here were hurt because they did not have enough training or resources, probably resulting from the fact that the army's leadership was also not interested in making the best use of them. However, as the Boer War came to a close, it became clear that British intelligence was evolving into something that was much more organized and useable, although this certainly did not promise for this concept of intelligence to play a large role in military affairs. Another factor that hurt this development of intelligence was the fact that all of the intelligence work made during the war was de-emphasized after the post-war demobilization. The Royal Commission on the War in South Africa, which reviewed all aspects of the origins and conduct of the war, seemed very happy with the prewar focus of the intelligence department as well as its ability to become more organized. As a result, they suggested that there was no necessity for general departmental reform or a more permanent or consequential peacetime intelligence establishment. The ad hoc ...Show more

Summary

During the end of the 19th century, the British army became more and more professionalized. During this time, the War Office started to standardize intelligence operations with the transformation of the Topographical and Statistical Department, which had been formed following the intelligence problems during the Crimean War, into the Intelligence Branch of War Office in 1873…
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