Military Review

Stepping on the same rake ...


Winston Churchill once remarked: “America always finds the right path, but ... only after it has tried everything else!” The thorny path of the formation and development of US military counterintelligence can serve as an example to a certain extent.


British theoretician of special services R. Rowan, widely known in the first third of the twentieth century, formulated a brief but very capacious definition of counterintelligence activity: “This is the most skillful form of intelligence; spying on the scouts themselves! "

In the United States, there is an opinion that is reflected in the views of some specialists and, accordingly, in reference books that the American military counterintelligence appeared in a relatively separate and relevant criteria of today in the first years of World War II. In principle, it is.

However, to be more precise, it should be remembered that counterintelligence is a constant and accompanying element of intelligence, and they formed almost simultaneously. Therefore, there is every reason to assert that the United States military counterintelligence appeared simultaneously with the intelligence service of the “fighters for independence” settlers of the British colonies in North America during their “Revolutionary War of Liberation” against the “Imperial Albion” in the 1776 – 1783 years.

It was during this period that the rebels were confronted with the need to confront the British agents, who were striving not only to identify the places of concentration of the "rebels" detachments, but also to disorganize their economic ties in every way.

The emerging North American state had to seriously engage in the organization of counterintelligence, including "anti-terrorist" activities. To this end, it was decided to combine the seemingly opposing functions - intelligence and counterintelligence - and combine them under the “one roof”, forming a single, formally designated as “intelligence” service. This is not surprising, since by the standards of that time it was considered absolutely legitimate that the methods, forms and means of work in both directions are almost identical. Looks paradoxical in terms of European military storiesbut quite “typical of American history” and the fact that after the end of the War of Independence and another clash with Britain in 1812 – 1814 (Second War of Independence), the US military counterintelligence (as well as military intelligence) was abolished. as useless. ”

After the aggravation of the domestic political situation in the United States, which grew into a civil war of 1861 – 1865 between the northern and southern states (the war between the North and the South), the leadership of the northerners was forced to organize a fight against numerous saboteurs and confederate spies ”(southerners) who were actively involved in the work to destabilize economic life in the enemy’s territory and to obtain information about its military potential. Significant assistance to the northerners in organizing the counter-intelligence service was rendered by that time already well-known detective Allan Pinkerton, who, taking advantage of the fact of personal friendship with President Abraham Lincoln, ensured the involvement of agents from his private detective bureau in this work.

On the recommendation of General Winfield Scott, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton appointed the well-established as an experienced intelligence officer Lafayette Baker head of the National Detective Police, autonomous subordinate of the Intelligence Service of the Union (northern states) (RCC), assigning him the title of captain. In this position, Baker developed turbulent activity, creating, according to the researcher of the intelligence services of the American specialist Michael Sulik, “an atmosphere of universal suspicion and, in fact, terror on the territory controlled by northerners”. Baker agents detained and arrested hundreds of people on suspicion of espionage, among whom only a few were in the service of intelligence of southerners. However, the northerners achieved their counterintelligence: the activity of espionage and sabotage in the areas under the control of northerners sharply declined. For his services in ensuring the internal security of the state, US President Abraham Lincoln at the end of the Civil War awarded Baker the rank of colonel. Nevertheless, the paradoxical situation with military intelligence and counterintelligence of the United States, which had already taken place after both wars of independence, repeated itself again: both services again began to eke out a miserable existence, not considered by the country's military-political establishment as “relevant”.


After the end of the Civil War and up to the beginning of the 20th century, Washington didn’t care about the development of the armed forces (VS), and, accordingly, he was little concerned about the problems of the structures supporting the armed forces — intelligence and counterintelligence. The US leadership was completely absorbed in rebuilding the war-torn economy and the problems of integrating the southern states into an actually re-organized federal state. During this period, substantially reduced armed forces and insufficiently combat-ready national guards were used only to perform punitive functions to suppress Indian uprisings and intermittent frictions with the southern neighbor, Mexico, around the issue of inclusion / non-inclusion of new territories into the US. By the decisions of the congress, the Secret (Intelligence) Service (SS), which was significantly curtailed and poorly funded, gained experience in intelligence and counterintelligence work during the Civil War, was subordinated to the Ministry of Finance without any “linking” to the military department. Its functions at that time were limited to the fight against financial crimes, smuggling, drug trafficking, etc.

However, from the beginning of the 19th century 80, Washington had moved away from the isolationist foreign policy and began to actively intervene in the struggle for the redistribution of territorial possessions beyond its state borders. For the time being, US military actions were limited only to the Western Hemisphere (“Monroe Doctrine”) and at the turn of the XIX – XX centuries “weaning” Spain’s possessions in the Pacific Zone (Philippines), as well as sending a small contingent of troops to China to participate in suppressing Boxing rebellion. For these actions, it was thought in Washington, it does not make sense to have a powerful military intelligence service and, even more so, counterintelligence, with an extensive apparatus and agents on the ground. At the same time, reconnaissance support of military actions took place, but only by the forces of the American troops that participated in these actions.

During the Spanish-American War (1898) and during tensions with Japan (1907), the leadership of the US Armed Forces made the first attempts to engage members of the Secret (Intelligence) Service to investigate cases of espionage in favor of the enemy. In the Philippines, in the course of the suppression of rebellions that repeatedly broke out, the command of the American contingent deployed on the islands by their own forces organized a system of measures for counterintelligence and the fight against saboteurs.

1908 is a landmark year in the history of US intelligence - a special Bureau of Investigation (BR) was created (the prototype of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - the FBI). However, this service, the main concern of which, in accordance with the approved provision, was “monitoring the implementation of state laws on the protection of property”, but also resolving issues of combating espionage and sabotage, for various reasons, was unable to organize full counterintelligence work and only occasionally, at the special requests of the military and maritime ministries, was involved in investigations in this area. The fact that the need for the detention of suspicious persons was underway was what the BR agents had to ask for help from the local police authorities. At the same time, according to American researchers, it was from 1908 that counterintelligence work in the United States as a whole "gained a serious foundation" and impetus for further development.


By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, the contours of two opposing coalitions of European states emerged more and more clearly, which already in the summer of 1914 entered military operations unprecedented in terms of territory and then in numbers drawn into the Great War. The United States until a certain point officially adhered to the policy of neutrality. However, Great Britain, which played the first violin in one of the European coalitions - the Entente, made considerable efforts to draw the “related Anglo-Saxon country” into the war, so as to take advantage of not only the unlimited financial and material resources of the United States, but also ultimately achieve from Washington direct participation on its side in the bloody battles that unfolded on the European continent. It should be recognized that the military-political leadership of Germany, who led the coalition of the opponents of the Entente, showed clearly insufficient skill and flexibility, in fact, not without the "help" of the British, prompting the US to participate in the war on the side of the opponents of Berlin and its allies.

In addition to Germany’s numerous provocative attempts to interrupt Washington’s military-economic ties primarily with London, which resulted in attacks and even the destruction of American civilian ships, brutal attempts to set South Americans at their powerful northern neighbor, etc., the Germans practically sabotage the sabotage and propaganda activities in the United States, first mainly in the resettlement areas of German immigrants from Europe, and then among the “sympathetic Ger mania "of other layers of white and color (mostly Hispanic) population of the country.

The serious concern of official Washington was caused by the activity of the officers of the military and naval attaches at the German embassy in Washington, headed by Franz von Papen and Boi-Edom, respectively. After the outbreak of hostilities in the European theater of war, von Papen closed the leadership of German agents in the United States. In particular, he personally organized with the help of his agents, most of the sailors of German ships, detained in US ports, mass sabotage in military enterprises. As a result, even before the rupture of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the German military attache was expelled from the United States. However, sabotage actions at US industrial sites continued. Thus, a large-scale sabotage was carried out by German agents in January 1917 to destroy an ammunition factory in Kingsland - 17 workers were killed, and the damage was estimated at 4 million dollars.

Under these conditions, the BR took unprecedented measures to uncover cases of sabotage and sabotage, especially at the enterprises of the military-industrial complex, as well as attempts to “neutralize” the so-called revolutionary movement that was significantly intensified, especially on the east coast of the country. Meanwhile, the weakness and even the actual absence of a legislative base relating to the regulation of actions of agents of the BR, led only to the fixing of shares of “anti-state elements” and the accumulation of information about the persons involved in these actions.


With the official entry of the United States into the war on the side of the Entente 6 on April 1917, the situation with counterintelligence activities in the country has noticeably changed. Initially, military intelligence and the military counterintelligence traditionally locked in on it were in the “support service” position, whose leadership did not have access not only to the first persons of the state, but also to military leadership. However, after a short time, thanks to the “advice” of the Allies on the Entente, primarily the British, the status of the Military Intelligence Division (IAD), formed at the US Military College and mainly engaged in providing information to the Army, was raised to a level equivalent to that of the military department. Accordingly, the American leadership, as the basis of the national military intelligence service, including military counterintelligence, adopted the British model as opposed to the French one, which implied practically “united military intelligence and counterintelligence structures”. By the end of 1917, the Department of Military Intelligence (a bit later - the Directorate) included five fully equipped departments, including two fully oriented counterintelligence tasks: MI-3 - military counterintelligence (12 subdivisions) and MI-4 - counterintelligence (civil sector ; 8 subdivisions). The tasks of counterintelligence officers who were subordinate to IAD (OIA) included control over the entire counterintelligence pyramid, which began with the recruitment of “operational officers” (“silent observers”) in each company formed to be sent to Europe for unreliable servicemen.

In parallel with the organization of a full-fledged military intelligence service in the Center and in its composition of the military counterintelligence service, it was decided to organize a similarly centralized military intelligence service in the American Expeditionary Forces (NPP) deployed in France, and within its framework the special counterintelligence service. The intelligence service of the headquarters of the nuclear power plant - G2 - included four departments, including the Secret Services Division (G2-B), which included the counter-espionage unit, that is, the counter-intelligence unit, B-2. However, by the middle of the summer of 1917, after the Americans had truly felt themselves in a combat situation, the head of the ISI, Colonel Ralph Van Deman, and the head of the G-2 department, Colonel Denis Nowlan, concluded that American counterintelligence in American forces in Europe should be urgently strengthened. The allies, anxious about the carelessness of the US military and their “excessively free” behavior in the combat zone, also pushed for this. In August of the same year, a decision was made to form the Intelligence Police Corps (PKK), an organization that closed on a B-2 subdivision with a staff in 50 specially selected in the United States from among mostly police detectives and trained at appropriate courses by specialists with assignment of the noncom rank -the officer. Subsequently, the staff of the corps was significantly expanded and already amounted to about 600 posts.

Following the recommendations of the allies, American military counterintelligence in the United States immediately launched a campaign to identify suspicious elements among those who were called up for service in the Armed Forces and underwent training before being sent to Europe. At the same time, with the assistance of British and French counterintelligence, American soldiers from the formations and units transferred to Europe were subjected to even more stringent checks. At the same time, a “Instruction on the procedure for organizing and conducting counterintelligence work in the army” was prepared, published and sent to all units in Washington.

In January 1918, the head of military intelligence in Washington, Ralph Vam Deman, initiated (and then received full support from the military ministry) a campaign to analyze the state of affairs in all areas of American society, one way or another connected with the Armed Forces, and especially issues of providing military operations. To this end, on his initiative, the "core" (related to industry, trade, transport, etc.) counterintelligence units in OIA in Washington were significantly expanded. Corresponding tasks were also assigned to G-2 units at the headquarters of nuclear power plants in Europe. The intensive work of the American military counterintelligence bore fruit. According to data provided by intelligence researcher James Gilbert, during the war, and especially in its final segment, the military intelligence units conducted more than 4,5 thousands of investigations, which resulted in a military court or were dismissed from the ranks of the Armed Forces of the 100 military, approximately the same the number was transferred to positions not related to secrets, 12 military personnel were detained and convicted as foreign spies.

For you, Deman personally organized interaction with a number of patriotic non-governmental organizations in order to get help from them to solve the tasks of military counterintelligence. So, for example, thanks to the assistance of the “patriots”, a very large number of almost 300 thousand servicemen who deserted from the Armed Forces or who had evaded conscription were found and detained. Employees of the US military attaches, who carried out their activities in neutral states, were also involved in such work. With all of this, many intelligence researchers emphasize, because of the very liberal legislation in the United States during World War I, there was only one episode in which the convicted spy, whose conscience included several murders and attempted murders, was sentenced to death. . However, he was then pardoned. Unlike the allies of France and especially of Great Britain, where they did not stand on ceremony with foreign spies and saboteurs.

It should be noted, and the fact that the quickly trained US military counterintelligence could prove not only in the United States and Europe. For example, thanks to their efforts, it was possible to prevent the German agents from flooding more than 20 German ships in the Bay of Manila (Philippines), when their inevitable capture by the Americans became apparent.

By the end of the war, 452 people served in the PKK - only 40% of the original plans. This was due to the suspension of the call in the US and the high standards set for those who wish to join this service. Initially, as was emphasized above, the staff of British and French counterintelligence was engaged in the preparation of the Americans, but in the final segment of the war the leadership of such training was completely transferred to representatives of the United States.


About one third of the PKK employees were in the zone of direct contact between the American troops and the enemy. In particular, at the headquarters of the 1 Army, there was a division of the PKK, headed by Colonel L.А. Seago In the front-line zone, the US military counterintelligence had two main tasks: organizing mobile checkpoints and working on them and helping French colleagues to ensure the security of state borders with allied and neutral countries.

In the backcourt, the PKK staff also had a significant amount of work. The subordinate head of the logistics division of the PKK, Colonel Cabot Ward, numbered 58 officers, 305 enlisted men and 72 civilians. Ward's office was located in Paris with the aim of maintaining constant contact with the French and British military counterintelligence. Colonel Ward and his staff were able to establish strong business contacts with six French organizations involved in counterintelligence activities. At the same time, the Americans were strictly forbidden to “wedge in” into the sphere of activity of the British counterintelligence.

In addition to the aforementioned US counterintelligence units, a small division of the PKK was also deployed in London, whose main function was to assist the British in providing comprehensive security at ports and military docks. For example, in every British naval base or port that the US Navy took advantage of, two officers from the US naval intelligence and the 12 representatives of the PKK were serving. Important from a military point of view, transport hubs, including railway stations in the UK, and especially in France were in the sphere of activity of the American PKK. Usually there were up to three American counterintelligence officers, whose powers, however, were significantly “curtailed” and consisted only of the right to detain and interrogate only US military and civilians.

The volume of counterintelligence work by the end of the war had increased so much that Colonel Ward had to quickly form a mobile unit that included service veterans and intended to assist less experienced officers in the investigation of complex cases. The PKK’s tasks also included the protection of important persons, including the commander of the nuclear power plant, General Pershing.


In parallel with the participation of American troops in hostilities in Western Europe, Washington, with the instigation of their French and British allies, had to closely “get involved” in the intervention on the territory of formally allied Russia, both in the north of the country and in its east.

But the essence of the problem lay not only in the "compliance" of Americans with the pressure of London and Paris, but historically, beginning in the second half of the 19th century, Washington was shaping and targeting take-over of "orphan" Russian territories, especially Siberia. This time, the “opportunity” presented itself, caused by the “Bolshevik coup” of 7 in November 1917 of St. Petersburg (Petrograd) and the refusal of the new authorities of Russia from its participation in the war on the side of the Entente. The situation was aggravated by the disruption by the Bolsheviks of the peace treaty (“Brest Peace”) with Germany and the widespread offensive of the Germans on the Eastern Front launched on February 18. 15 of March of the same year in London at a conference of prime ministers and foreign ministers of the Entente countries, it was decided to send allied expeditionary troops to Russia so that "weapon and food, once intended for the Russian army, and now stored in the north of Russia and Siberia, did not fall into the hands of the Bolsheviks, and then they were not transferred to the Germans. " The true immediate goal of the "allies" was to assist the anti-Bolshevik forces in Russia to organize a change of power in the country.

At the end of spring 1918, the military attache at the US embassy in China left for Vladivostok to clarify the situation there and report back to Washington on optimizing the deployment of American troops into Russia in the east of the country. On the whole, in his decision on military intervention, US President Woodrow Wilson relied entirely not on his intelligence data, but on information from the British intelligence services, who allegedly carried out a set of measures related to intelligence support of forthcoming operations in the north and east of Russia.

As the first action in this direction in the spring – summer period 1918 of the year, landing troops in the amount of 10 thousand foreign troops were landed in the Russian north. In total, about 29, thousands of British and 6, thousands of Americans landed in the north of the country during the intervention period. 3 August of the same year, US Secretary of War Newton Baker ordered to send units of 27 and 31 infantry divisions stationed in the Philippines to Vladivostok, totaling about 9, thousand people, commanded by Major-General Major William S. Graves .

Already on the spot, the invaders had to organize a joint reconnaissance and counterintelligence group of the contingent, in which the main role was played by representatives of the British special services. Starting from the first days of being in enemy territory, the emphasis in the work of the group was shifted to counterintelligence activities to the detriment of intelligence. Despite the first successes in advancing the occupying forces deep into the territory of the enemy (the former ally - Russia), they were increasingly fierce resistance. The morale of the US military, as the researchers emphasize, was constantly under pressure from Bolshevik propaganda, as a result of which cases of refusal to execute orders (13 insurgency in the American contingent) and even desertion began to be noted. Under these conditions, the tasks of reconnaissance were reduced only to the formal provision of local hostilities. But the counterintelligence of the British and Americans had to make very significant efforts to protect their military contingents from "Bolshevik influence" and to reveal in advance the plans of the partisan attack. As a preventive measure, the invaders began to urgently create concentration camps to which all suspects were sent. By the end of the occupation, in these camps, inhuman conditions, there were about 52 thousand people, that is, every sixth inhabitant of the occupied lands. During the occupation, more than 4 thousand people were executed, a significant number went missing. And the representatives of the American military intelligence and counterintelligence had the most direct relation to this kind of punitive measures.

In April 1919, General of the Wilds P. Richardson, who arrived in the occupation zone with his headquarters, took command of the troops in the north of Russia. Captain U.N. was appointed the head of the intelligence department of the headquarters. Thomas. However, the success of the new head of the American military intelligence and his subordinates was not achieved due to the soon followed decision of Washington to evacuate the Americans from the north of Russia.

The headquarters of the American forces in Eastern Russia almost immediately formed a reconnaissance department consisting of 5 officers and 30 sergeants and privates, headed by an experienced officer, Lieutenant Colonel David P. Barrows. The lieutenant colonel immediately organized the work of the department in three directions: intelligence work, encryption and decryption, as well as counterintelligence. As in the north of Russia, gradually the main emphasis in the work of the American special services in the occupied zone of eastern Russia was placed on counterintelligence, the priority in which was given to the fight against Bolshevik influence. Here, too, the Americans clearly overdid it: their tough methods of struggle caused powerful opposition from the local population and only multiplied the supporters of the Bolsheviks many times over. Intelligence activities have limited themselves to providing local combat operations for the Americans and their allies in the region, mainly the Japanese contingent of the occupation forces. In many ways, Barrows’s plans to expand intelligence activities in the east of Russia were hampered by his disagreements with General Gravas, who was only concerned about the security of the military contingent entrusted to him.

However, such a “limited” method of reconnaissance work clearly did not suit Washington. After some time, the leadership of the OIA sent a group of 16 officers and 15 servicemen of non-commissioned officers to Vladivostok. As the main task, she was given an analysis of the current situation along the Trans-Siberian Railway and reports on the state of food and raw material resources of Russia. For more optimal organization of intelligence and counterintelligence work in the region, in November 1919, Colonel Benjamin B. MacCrossi arrived in Vladivostok as the personal representative of the head of the US military intelligence, General Marlborough Churchill. However, he failed to "turn around", because soon the entire contingent of American troops was evacuated.

At the beginning of 1919, the internal political situation in the USA itself changed significantly. Under the pressure of the public, both the executive and especially the legislative branches of the government were forced to impose certain restrictions on the conduct of their foreign policy and sharply reduce their military presence abroad. In the summer of 1919, the withdrawal of American intervention forces from the North of Russia began. By April 1920, all American troops were withdrawn from the Far East. During the intervention, the Americans lost about 150 in the North of Russia, and more than 200 soldiers in the Far East. The losses of Russia from the intervention, for which the United States is also responsible, amounted to many thousands of people.

In the first months after the end of the Great War, the central military intelligence apparatus in Washington was reduced almost six times and by the middle of 1919, there were already about 300 people. The structures of the American military counterintelligence were even more reduced. In December of the same year, the staff of the relevant department consisted of only 18 military and civilians. Most of them dealt with cases of fraud and corruption as a result of acquisitions of weapons and military equipment during the war, did not reach the hands of the spies.

Subsequently, Washington, taking into account the experience of numerous "transformations" with a negative connotation, finally managed to create a sufficiently powerful system of special services, the so-called Intelligence Society, in which military counterintelligence officers occupy a very worthy place.

Subscribe to our Telegram channel, regularly additional information about the special operation in Ukraine, a large amount of information, videos, something that does not fall on the site:

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. s.melioxin
    s.melioxin 1 November 2015 05: 46
    "America always finds the right path, but ... only after trying everything else!"
    The exception method is called. If it doesn’t help, we are looking for another way. Zadornov M. is a thousand times right. Well stupid. The problem of this world is that educated people are full of doubts, and id .... you are full of confidence.
    1. Boris55
      Boris55 1 November 2015 08: 24
      Quote: s.melioxin
      Zadornov M. is a thousand times right. Well stupid.

      Not. They are not stupid. It is their lifestyle to live at the expense of others. Living at the expense of other countries, at the expense of a stairwell neighbor.
      Zadornov, calling them stupid, as if justifies them - well, they say they’ve taken from them, they are like small children, not rational ... This is not at all like that - they are not stupid. They are parasites and any justification for them is the encouragement of parasites for their reproduction.
  2. The comment was deleted.
  3. ARES623
    ARES623 1 November 2015 11: 18
    Life at the expense of others is the philosophy of the Anglo-Saxon world. All my life I’ve been engaged in robbing all the neighbors and those worlds that they discovered. From there, and funds for science and technological superiority. And the United States, in general, is a pimple on the ass of humanity, except for any harm. If the entire North American continent is drowned with the population, then the rest of the world will breathe a sigh of relief. There will be an opportunity to agree on conflict issues. Today it is almost impossible. The USA is a fundamentally non-negotiable country, it has megalomania, it is a disease, and incurable. Historical experience does not teach her; rake dance is endless.
  4. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 2 November 2015 14: 53
    "In the first months after the end of the Great War, the central
    military intelligence apparatus in Washington was reduced by almost six
    times and by the middle of 1919 already totaled about 300 people "///

    This is an American freak - to immediately cut government employees, whether or not it is necessary.
    So it is now: with a population of 320 million people, the number of state. employees - only 1 million

    Interesting article - thanks.