The MegaMilitary Project | Online Edition #343
Write a comment

Military Intelligence Blunders (1999)

"Military Intelligence is a contradiction in terms"

TK Tim Kirsten Updated
0 0 1
Military Intelligence Blunders - 1999 - "Military Intelligence is a contradiction in terms"

The Falklands, Yom Kippur, Tet and Pearl Harbor? Avoidable intelligence blunders or much worse? Altogether a compelling read from someone who knows the business. "Military Intelligence", runs the old saying, "is a contradiction in terms". This weary old joke has about the same impact on professional intelligence officers as jokes about striking oil have on drilling dentists. It is a commonly held view, however, because history is littered with disastrous intelligence mistakes. From the earliest recorded times down to the Gulf War, soldiers of all kinds have been taken by surprise. How could the military be so stupid?

This is a book that tries to tell the story of some recent events, all within living memory, from a different angle: intelligence. Most of us have read press accounts and books about the events that unfold on these pages. But very few of us have seen the events from the inside. The inside implies knowledge: and knowledge means power. By 'inside", I do not mean the views of politicians or other self-satisfied classes like those senior civil servants or even very grand journalists who write memoirs on the lines of, ''Well, as Margaret said to me ... The real "inside knowledge" is always the intelligence available at the time. It was that secret intelligence that shaped events and made the people who took the decisions heroes or villains.

This book tries to lift the veil on what really happened behind the scenes in the intelligence world during some of the most well-known military events of the last half-century. It tries to show why decisions were made, for good or ill, by several famous and not so famous characters, based on the intelligence and the secrets they had to work with at the time. This book concentrates on intelligence mistakes and blunders for the simple reason that they are more interesting than the far more numerous successes of intelligence, and in many cases the intelligence disasters have often been concealed from the taxpayer who funded them.

The Author

Colonel John Hughes-Wilson retired from the British Army's Intelligence Corps in 1993 after a career of thirty years as both a commander and a general staff officer. His service included the Falkland Islands, the desert, NATO's political and intelligence staff and the jungles of Whitehall. Co-editor with Andre Piontkowsky (Russia) and Mel Best (USA) of Strategic Stability in the Post-Cold War World, since leaving the army he has been a lecturer and leader of specialist military history tours.

Contents of the book

  • On Intelligence (1)
  • The Misinterpreters - D-Day, 1944 (16)
  • "Comrade Stalin Knows Best" - Barbarossa, 1941 (38)
  • "The Finest Intelligence in Our History" - Pearl Harbor, 1941 (60)
  • "The Greatest Disaster Ever to Befall British Arms" - Singapore, 1942 (102)
  • Uncombined Operations - Dieppe, 1942 (133)
  • "I Thought We Were Supposed to be Winning?" - The Tet Offensive, 1968 (165)
  • "Prime Minister, the War's Begun" - Yom Kippur, 1973 (218)
  • "Nothing We Don't Already Know" - The Falkland Islands, 1982 (260)
  • "If Kuwait Grew Carrots, We Wouldn't Give a Damn" - The Gulf, 1991 (308)
  • Will It Ever Get Any Better? (353)

Maps and Diagrams

  • The Intelligence Cycle (6)
  • An Intelligence Collection Plan's Essential Elements of Information (11)
  • Dispositions June 1944 (22)
  • The Allied Deception Plans for D-Day (30)
  • Operation Barbarossa (45)
  • Pearl Harbor - Japan's Grab for Empire, 1941/2 (75)
  • Malaya and Singapore, 1942 (112)
  • Disaster at Dieppe, 19 August 1942 (153)
  • The Vietnam War, 1956-75 (182)
  • The Tet Offensive, South Vietnam, 30-31 January 1968 (199)
  • "Greater Israel", 1967-73 (232)
  • Yom Kippur, 1973: Suez and Sinai (255)
  • The Falklands War, 1982: relative distances (276)
  • The South Atlantic, 1982 (293)
  • A Threat Curve (306)
  • The Gulf War, 1990-91 (324)
United Kingdom
  • WWII (1939-1945)
  • Cold War (1947-1991)
  • Vietnam War (1955-1975)
  • Yom Kippur War - October War (1973)
  • Falkland War (1982)
  • Gulf War (1990-1991)


Preview: Military Intelligence Blunders - 1999
Preview: Military Intelligence Blunders - 1999
Preview: Military Intelligence Blunders - 1999
Preview: Military Intelligence Blunders - 1999
Preview: Military Intelligence Blunders - 1999
Preview: Military Intelligence Blunders - 1999
Preview: Military Intelligence Blunders - 1999
Preview: Military Intelligence Blunders - 1999


  • File Description
    File Size
    File Type
  • Military Intelligence Blunders (published 1999)
    "Military Intelligence is a contradiction in terms"
    34 MB
Say something here...
symbols left.
or post as a guest
All comments MUST be in English and will be moderated before publishing.
They will appear below within 24 hours.
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.

Be the first to comment.

Latest Video...

Dark Secret of the Lusitania - National Geographic Documentary

Dark Secret of the Lusitania - National Geographic Documentary

A German torpedo hit the RMS Lusitania on May 7, 1915. Shortly after, a substantial second explosion shook the ship. Within 20 minutes, the vessel known as the "Greyhound of the Seas" had sunk to the ocean floor, resulting in the deaths of almost 1200 individuals. A new two-step investigation...
Submitted by: Tim Kirsten
22 March 2024

Latest Content...

Jan Christiaan Smuts

Smuts was born near Riebeeck West (near Malmesbury), Cape Colony on September 24, 1870.…

Long Reads...