Secret Agents & Voluntary Informers – 1940 Small Wars Manual


The ability to collect Human Intelligence (HUMINT) information is greatly needed in any kind of conflict; especially in the low intensity conflicts like the ones we’re most likely to face domestically.  It goes to support not only an understanding of the adversary (red) and local security forces (green; perhaps red), but is also greatly needed towards the ends of targeting and force protection.  If we can find out where Leroy Jenkins, the leader of a local violent gang, “stays”, then we’re much more likely to be able to kill/capture him.  Alternatively, if we can gain access to the Leroy Jenkins Gang through an individual who’s even marginally affiliated with them — who has placement and access through, say, familial or friendly relationship — then we may be able to provide our community or leadership with early warning threat Intelligence.  (It’s this early warning Intelligence that should be our production priority.)

Here are three options we have, as described by the Small Wars Manual (1940).  Enjoy.

Secret agents, hired from among the inhabitants in the theater of operations, have proved valuable collectors of information in the past.. They must be carefully selected and, once employed, a close watch should be kept on their activities. Usually such agents have been politically opposed to the native forces whose activities have resulted in the intervention. If they attempt to use their position for their own aggrandizement or to embarrass personal enemies, they are useless as sources of information and handicap the intervening force in gaining the confidence of the population. However, when reliable agents have been obtained in past operations, they have provided extremely valuable information. It is often advisable to pay them low regular wages and to reward them with bonuses for timely and accurate information.

The major portion of the information obtained from voluntary informers is often false, grossly distorted, or too late to be of value unless the informer has personal reasons for making the report. Liberal cash payments for information that proved correct and timely have sometimes brought excellent results. Hired agents and informers have been of assistance in the past in uncovering the hostile sources of supply. The source of the information must be kept inviolable in order to protect the informers and to insure an uninterrupted flow of information. The universal tendency of even reliable hired agents and voluntary informers is to protect anyone with whom they are connected by politics, business, or blood.

It is not improbable that high officials of both the party in power and the opposition may secretly support insurrectionary activities in order to insure themselves an armed following in the field in case the intervention should be ended suddenly. Such a condition increases the difficult task of securing agents who will report impartially on all disturbing elements.

Excellent results have been obtained through the cooperation of business establishments which maintain branches or other contacts throughout the occupied areas. For financial reasons, the central office of such concerns must have timely and impartial knowledge of actual or prospective conditions throughout the country. In many cases they are dependent upon the intervening forces for protection of their personnel and property, and it is to their advantage to restore peaceful conditions as rapidly as possible. In seeking to establish such a contact, the intelligence officer should look for a business establishment with which the force normally does business. Liaison should be maintained through members of the command who visit the business house in the routine course of duty and who are publicly known to do so. It is unfair, as well as poor intelligence technique, to risk the life or the business career of a man in his community through carelessness or loose talk. Many companies have accurate and detailed maps or surveys on file which may be obtained and reproduced to supplement the small-scale maps available to the force.

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Thanks for the good article, and for your operation! It’s hard to find out what’s going on in our country, nevermind specifics. Too much false information or suppressed news. I wish more people would look around and see.

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