Piercing the Fog

Piercing the Fog : Intelligence and Army Air Forces Operations in World War II

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Creating the Army Air Forces' (AAF's) intelligence organization in World War II proved a complicated undertaking, requiring new skills and technologies to meet a host of demands. Fashioned and completed within four years, the novel enterprise helped shape the conduct and outcome of that conflict. Beginning the war with a handful of people pursuing information in Washington, air intelligence ended the war with thousands of men and women processing enormous amounts of data and analyzing millions of photographs for what would soon become America's newest and most technically oriented armed service. Finding that his service had an inadequate understanding of potential enemy air forces, in May 1939 Maj. Gen. Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, Chief of the U.S. Army Air Corps, began establishing personal contacts with those who might help provide it. That month Arnold met unobtrusively at West Point with Charles A. Lindbergh, the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic and recently returned from a celebrated tour of Germany. During the meeting, Arnold later noted, Lindbergh provided more information about the German Air Force's "equipment, apparent plans, leaders, training methods and present defects" than Arnold had as yet received from any other source.' The Army Air Corps began studying its intelligence requirements that summer, but it had hardly defined them before America entered World War II. Once in the conflict, in conjunction with other services and in different regions of the world, the AAF greatly increased its ability to collect, analyze, and disseminate the information and material that came to be called air intelligence. Defining intelligence as it affected air operations was one of the first steps in creating an intelligence system. Air intelligence included all the information about an opponent and his military, air, and naval forces that could reduce risk or uncertainty in planning and conducting air combat operations. Commanders have always sought such information, but for the AAF the demands of intelligence gathering and analysis in World War II were beyond the ken of most of the officers who had served between the wars. When America formally entered the war, air intelligence was needed for two types of air warfare: tactical and strategic. Tactical, or operational, air intelligence analysts working in the war theaters had to locate opposing enemy forces and attempt to define their size, combat capability, technology, and tactics. Analysts had to locate targets for the tactical air units that would support the plans of the joint air-ground or air-sea operations commander. Strategic intelligence, similar in principle to its tactical counterpart, also required seeking, analyzing, and disseminating information beyond that needed to support the direct clash of opposing forces. In pursuing the Allies' World War II military aims, strategic air intelligence analysts attempted to identify German, Italian, and Japanese national war-making resources that could most effectively be attacked by a limited strategic bomber force. These intelligence studies also attempted to establish priorities to guide destruction of target groups as diverse as petroleum refining and distribution, transportation, aircraft assembly, and steel production. Despite the substantial and growing effort that airmen applied to this problem, target categories and priorities could not always be clearly defined, or agreed upon; uncertainty over what was critical to the enemy's wartime economy could never be completely eliminated.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 510 pages
  • 178 x 254 x 26mm | 875g
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1514772523
  • 9781514772522