¶ … Covert Navy Tactics and Strategies: Naval Intelligence
The history of naval espionage runs as complicated as the conflicts that sparked the very need for it. As world powers began to develop highly specialized naval forces, these navies began to play a crucial role in the collection of intelligence and covert actions that took place both during wars and during times of peace. In lieu of German and Japanese naval threats, British and American naval forces began to work in the intelligence fields, eventually establishing naval intelligence agencies that were crucial in collecting and acting on information during World War II, the Cold War, and beyond.
Navies were not always associated with intelligence gathering and covert strategy. The move into intelligence was a long one. Early on in the United States' Navy's history, there was a development of covert tactics in order to maneuver around stronger naval forces. "The United States Navy could deal effectively with a superior naval force […] by avoiding battle on the open sea, fighting instead in bays, sounds, and interior waterways," but also through the use of covert tactics as well.[footnoteRef:0] Such thinking eventually led to the official formation of an intelligence unit under the control of the U.S. Navy. In 1882, the Navy "issued General Order No. 292, which established an office of intelligence within the Bureau of Navigation."[footnoteRef:1] This was an official creation of a purely naval intelligence unit, aiming to use the Navy's resources for intelligence gathering purposes. This unit remained active for over sixty years, well into World War II until it was later replaced by the Office of Naval Intelligence. During this time period, "Strategic and technical information on foreign navies was collected by from either open sources like newspapers, magazines, and public radio broadcasts or from the intelligence reports made by naval attaches, confidential agents, and the occasional account of American travelers."[footnoteRef:2] Early strategies were often much less innovative than what is being used today, but were still quite cutting edge for the time period. Such intelligence gathering kept the American Navy informed about other countries' naval activities. [0: G.J.A. O'Toole. Honorable Treachery: A History of U.S. Intelligence, Espionage, and Covert Action from the American Revolution to the CIA. Grove / Atlantic. 2014. P 78] [1: Delta Green. A History of the Office of Naval Intelligence, 1882-1942. Delta Green Partnership. 1999. Web. http://odh.trevizo.org/oni.html] [2: Delta Green 1]
Yet, the United States was not the only nation developing intelligence units within the context of the Navy's power. In fact, Germany is also notorious for its Navy's intelligence and espionage activities that spanned from the beginning of the twentieth century into World War II. German espionage took a center role in World War I and World War II with the German Navy's use of covert submarine warfare tactics. Germany had a long history of well developed naval strategies that dates back to the nineteenth century. In fact, German naval technology had far outweighed American technology for years in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Under the leadership of Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the once small Prussian Navy became the Imperial Navy, which dominated the Atlantic from the 1870s to the end of World War I in 1919.[footnoteRef:3] During this time, the German Navy developed highly sophisticated naval vessels, including the notorious u-boats, submarines that would dominate the Atlantic during World War I. German naval officers often focused on "strategic studies [that] traditionally considered hypothetical wars with Britain," but by 1897, "the emerging naval power of the United States prompted German naval staff officers to shift their focus to contingency planning for an American War."[footnoteRef:4] Not long after, Germany would have its chance to test the strategies crafted against both the British and American navies. German naval intelligence was highly sophisticated and included a vast network of spies around the time of World War I.[footnoteRef:5] Their efforts targeted the British Navy in an attempt to evaluate the threat level but also to sabotage British and American naval opposition to German interests in the Atlantic. In fact, a total of 31 German naval spies were arrested in Great Britain during the context...
U-Boats of the Kaiser's Navy. Osprey Publishing 2012 P. 23] [4: O'Toole Honorable Treachery P. 135] [5: Jeffrey Verhey. "Review of Boghardt, Thomas, Spies of the Kaiser: German Covert Operations in Great Britain during the First World War Era." H-German, H-Net Reviews. September, 2006. P 1] [6: Verhy "Spies of the Kaiser" P. 2]
During this time, the German Navy was conducting covert missions in the Atlantic with the use of submarines. German U-boats were a huge danger to British supply lines, as well as boat traffic in the Atlantic. Due to the aggressive tactics of the German Navy, "under extreme political pressure, Germany was forced to offer guarantees that U-boats would not endanger neutral shipping and would not attack passenger liners, even if they flew the flag of a belligerent nation."[footnoteRef:7] However, despite such guarantees, aggressive u-boat activity continued to plague ships in the Atlantic. German naval activity was so strong at the time; it posed enough of a threat to lure the United States into the European conflict. In fact, it was the bombing of the RMS Lusitania in May of 1915 that really angered American forces and prompted public opinion towards joining the war in Europe to fight against Germany.[footnoteRef:8] [7: Williamson U-Boats of the Kaiser's Navy P. 38] [8: Williamson U-Boats of the Kaiser's Navy P. 39]
The Germans continued to use their naval resources for intelligence and covert operations well into World War II. The German Navy was heavily reduced after World War I, almost entirely dismantled by war treaties that required Germany to reduce its standing army dramatically. Still, the country began silently rebuilding its once-great navy during the 1920s as officers "secretly purchased new naval vessels and weaponry" from Spain, Japan, and Sweden.[footnoteRef:9] As Hitler and the Nazi Party seized power, there was again a renewed vigor to increase the power of the German Navy. By the outbreak of World War II, the German Navy was again a strong threat to allied forces. Part of this threat was the highly sophisticated naval intelligence unit, headed by Lieutenant Martin Braune. The unit had over 500 officers and 24 posts engaging in gathering communications intelligence throughout the Atlantic.[footnoteRef:10] Additionally, "there were also intelligence officers aboard every German warship," that helped expand Germany's naval intelligence capabilities dramatically.[footnoteRef:11] [9: Christer Jorgensen. Hitler's Espionage Machine: The True Story Behind One of the World's Most Ruthless Spy Networks. Globe Pequot. 2004. P 26] [10: Jorgensen Hitler's Espionage Machine P. 23] [11: Jorgensen Hitler's Espionage Machine P. 23]
Still, there were developments that allowed for European and American powers to combat the powerful and secretive German Navy. One major breakthrough just before the outbreak of World War II was the British acquisition of Enigma codes. According to the research, "the British anti-shipping campaign against the Herman naval operations could not have been a success without the employment of five types of intelligence: photographic, agents, diplomatic, ordinary SIGINT, and Enigma."[footnoteRef:12] The Enigma was a coding machine used by the Germans in order to encode crucial and strategic messages. British intelligence officers acquired an Enigma machine from Polish cryptologists working with the Polish Cypher Bureau in 1939.[footnoteRef:13] Ultimately, this helped the British and American navies fight back against the incredibly powerful and cunning German Navy during World War II. [12: James D. Calder. Intelligence, Espionage, and Relate Topics: An Annotated Bibliography of Serial, Journal, and Magazine Scholarship, 1844-1998. Greenwood Publishing Group. 1999. P. 84] [13: Gordon Welchman. The Hut Six Story: Breaking the Enigma Codes. M&M Baldwin. 1997. P 289.]
During World War II, the American Navy was busy at work conducting covert actions in the Pacific, as well as the Atlantic. The Office of Naval Communications actually began operations spying on Japanese communications as early as 1920.[footnoteRef:14] Actually, the breakthroughs in understanding Japanese codes during this time was ultimately one of the catalysts of the Navy entering into espionage and covert intelligence, which it solidified during the next coming decades. In fact in 1920, navy intelligence officers had acquired what is now known as the Red Book, a codebook that was revolutionary in breaking Japanese codes. According to the research, this would not only help break Japanese codes for the coming years, but also start "a slow chain of events that gradually moved the navy into the communications-intelligence business, a field in which it had very little experience."[footnoteRef:15] Even with the codebook, understanding Japanese messages was a very complicated task because messages were enciphered after they were encoded. This again prompted the Navy to invest resources and manpower into developing communications-intelligence that was capable of uncovering highly complex coded messages in Japanese communications systems. [14: O'Toole Honorable Treachery P. 156] [15: O'Toole Honorable Treachery P. 171]
As naval intelligence kept tracking Japanese activities, it played a crucial role in combating the encroaching Japanese…
Bibliography of Serial, Journal, and Magazine Scholarship, 1844-1998. Greenwood Publishing Group. 1999.
Delta Green. A History of the Office of Naval Intelligence, 1882-1942. Delta Green Partnership. 1999. Web. http://odh.trevizo.org/oni.html
Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Orange Juice Cartoons and Rubber Hoses: A Spy Story." A Byte Out of History. 2006. Web. http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2006/may/lemonaid_bye051906
Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Stopping a Dangerous Insider Threat." Naval Espionage. 2014. Web. http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2014/march/naval-espionage-stopping-a-dangerous-insider-threat/naval-espionage-stopping-a-dangerous-insider-threat
Hoffman, David. The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and its Dangerous Legacy. Knopf Doubleday Publishing. 2010.
Porterfield, Richard B. "Naval Intelligence: Transforming to Meet the Threat." The Naval Institute: Proceedings. 2005. Web. http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,NI_0905_Naval-P1,00.html
Prados, John. "The John Walker Spy Ring and the U.S. Navy's Biggest Betrayal." U.S. Naval History Magazine. 2010. Web. http://news.usni.org/2014/09/02/john-walker-spy-ring-u-s-navys-biggest-betrayal
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