Intelligence is a key element in the military strategy of surprise. It is perplexing to many that in today’s high technology environment that intelligence cannot prevent surprises from happening. The very nature of the intelligence, no matter how much or how sophisticated it is, will still permit one adversary to surprise another. It is crucial that the operational commander have a clear understanding of the process of the production of intelligence, the uses of intelligence and how it can affect the strategy of surprise. The dramatic success of the Battle of Midway, coming so closely on the heels of the shocking disaster at Pearl Harbor, demonstrated that Admiral Nimitz gained an appreciation for the value of intelligence. I will examine intelligence and the strategy of surprise in general terms and shows how the battle of Midway was influenced by them. Finally, I want to point out that though today’s operations may be more sophisticated than those of World War II, there are plenty of critical concerns to consider today with regard to intelligence and surprise at the operational level.
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