Term Paper: Intelligence After World War II

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intelligence after World War II and during the emergence of the Cold War. Specifically, it will discuss the changes in mission, scope, organization, resources, and technology to address perceived national security concerns in the Cold War. U.S. intelligence gathering underwent a reformation after the end of World War II. New technologies made intelligence gathering more efficient and differences with the Soviet Union and others made in even more necessary. All of this combined to make U.S. intelligence more effective, more accurate, and more powerful, a trend that continues today. The Cold War helped create the modern U.S. intelligence system, and so, in effect, the Cold War helped give the intelligence agencies the scope of power and technology they have today.

The modern intelligence gathering agencies as we know them today have their roots at the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. In 1947, President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act, which "established the National Security Council to advise the president on foreign affairs and defense policy; created the Central Intelligence Agency to gather and analyze foreign intelligence and conduct covert operations; and created a Department of Defense to coordinate the activities of the branches of the U.S. armed forces."

In 1952, he created the National Security Agency, which was supposed to engage solely in cryptology, which would seem to separate the agencies even more.

Of course, intelligence gathering and spying took place early in American history, before the American Revolution, in fact. However, the modern intelligence gathering agencies as we know them today have their roots in the National Security Act as a reaction to the growth of the Cold War around the world. The agencies we know today were very different from what Truman created in 1947. Author Amy Zegat notes, "Conforming to his military's wishes, the president sought a small central intelligence agency that would coordinate, evaluate, and disseminate intelligence, but not collect it. The original CIA was never supposed to engage in spying."

Clearly, the mission of the intelligence agencies when they were created was far different from their eventual evolution. Their scope was far less than they are today, as well. The scope then mainly concentrated on the Soviet Union and other Communist nations, and sometimes, the lack of attention to other areas proved costly. Intelligence was slim on Korea and Vietnam, for example, and that helped lead to discrepancies in intelligence regarding the nations, their intent, and the eventual onset of conflicts in these areas.

The superiority of American intelligence did not begin as soon as the agencies were created in 1947. Author Christopher Andres notes, "The U.S. intelligence community had not a single agent capable of providing a serious insight into Soviet policy, no ability to penetrate current high-grade Soviet cipher systems, and no aerial reconnaissance of more than the fringes of the Soviet Union."

It took time to build a competent system of agencies who could gather intelligence effectively, but over time, the agencies did become more effective and accurate. However, they continued to provide poor intelligence during some of the conflicts during the Cold War.

Their lack of coherent intelligence continued through the Korean War and the Vietnam War when the agencies were plagued with misinformation and lack or coordination, and the scope of their operations was small. It took years to coordinate efforts and gain the technologies that would help make them more effective, and to understand the scope of what was necessary to protect the country from foreign invasion and nuclear war. Much of this protection was based on technology, and some of those technologies arose directly out of the Cold War, however.

Technologies rapidly improved after the end of World War II. The Germans and the British had utilized the jet engine during the War, and it was perfected after the war. That led to development of jet fighters, and high-altitude jet spy planes, such as the U-2. The U-2 came on board in 1956, and "flew too high for Soviet anti-aircraft… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Intelligence After World War II.  (2006, November 16).  Retrieved July 22, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/intelligence-world-war-ii-during/31079

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"Intelligence After World War II."  Essaytown.com.  November 16, 2006.  Accessed July 22, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/intelligence-world-war-ii-during/31079.