Intelligence and AAF Operations in the CBI



CBIVA Sound-off
Fall 1997 issue

Extracted from "THE PIERCING Fog" - Intelligence and AAF Operations in World War II, by the Air Force History and Museums Program. A 500-page book for sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D.C., $31.00. Extraction by Joseph B. Shupe.

The Tools of Intelligence

Secretary of State Stimson warned that "gentlemen do not read other gentlemen's mail," notwithstanding this admonition, nations traditionally have done so, and WW II was no exception.

The revelation in 1974 that the Allies had been reading the most secret German messages has come to be called ULTRA (the most closely guarded secret of the war). The British wouldn't trust the Americans with that system until early 1943 when we had an important bargaining chip (when we broke several of the major high level Japanese military ciphers).

Our Navy began its Japanese code breaking efforts as early as 1927, but regular breaking of their military ciphers continued to be a lengthy process. Our code breakers during the 1930's focused their efforts on Japanese naval and diplomatic traffic because they could not penetrate their Army's cipher system.

As a consequence, our code breaking efforts were better developed in a diplomatic (Code word MAGIC) rather than a military context. The result was an imperfect reading from a military standpoint. Whatever military warnings concerning Japanese planning for the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines that American analysts might have gleaned from MAGIC intercepts in November and December 1941, were funneled through diplomatic channels. Little wonder they were badly interpreted for diplomatic noise overrode military intention.

After Pearl Harbor, the US Navy's efforts to penetrate Japanese naval ciphers were the basis for the standoff in the Coral Sea, blocking the Japanese advance on Port Moresby, and the victory at Midway.

During WW II, our air leaders drew upon a full range of intelligence sources. These included photo-intelligence (operational missions to take photos, and the interpretation of the results); elaborate networks of informants (agents); and analysis of aircraft components.

Signals intelligence (SIGINT) became the primary source of air intelligence, but this came about gradually. ULTRA and MAGIC were not the only elements of SIGINT which also included interpretation, deciphering, translation and analysis of enemy low grade ciphers, unencoded radio transmissions, and direction finding (location of enemy transmitters). What follows is how the Air Force used intelligence in planning for operations in the CBI Theater of Operations.

Intelligence and Army Air Force Operations in CBI T/O

American air involvement in the CBI came to initially divided between the 10th Air Forces China Air Task Force (CATF) under BGen Claire Chennault, and the India Air Task Force (IATF) under BGen Clayton Bissell. The IATF and its parent, the 10th AF, became part of the region's very complex Anglo-American command structure. Later, the CATF became the 14th Air Force.

In China, the application of tactical air power could be effective only if valid information about the enemy was available. This came by radio from special teams sent to infiltrate Japanese-held territory.

More sophisticated intelligence gathering later came to be used in China and Burma as AAF ferret aircraft* scouted and mapped Japanese radar stations. This gave aircraft crews the opportunity to escape or to minimize damage. By August 1945, the AAF commanders had extensive knowledge of the enemy based on the flow of information that had been increasing for several years.

(* This type of aircraft was first used in the Mediterranean (in modified B-17s) which were designed to carry equipment to analyze radar capabilities.)

The logistic problems in the CBI were matched by a command structure so complex and so beset with military and political difficulties and personal conflicts that commanding it was a vexing task. Chennault was an abrasive character, very much disliked by the old Army Air Corps. Bissell, too, had numerous detractors.

When, in August 1942, Bissell assumed command of the 10th, problems immediately arose between him and Chennault. The Theater Commander, LGen Joseph Stilwell, no amateur when it came to making caustic remarks and holding sharp opinions, maintained a prickly {at times bitter) relationship with Chennault. Stilwell also despised and distrusted Chiang Kai-shek and was suspicious of the relationship between Chiang and Chennault. The latter reciprocated the bitterness in his feelings toward Stilwell. The CBI Theater Commander was also impatient with the British military authorities in India; while Chiang suspected that the British had designs on China; so Chiang rarely cooperated with them.

This convoluted command and and vituperative relationship among the air commanders had relatively little impact on their relationship between intelligence and air operations. Some overlaps, however, did occur.

Both air forces defended the HUMP route, but different interpretations of enemy activities and subsequent differences over where to employ limited resources marked the real break between Chennault and Bissell. Early air intelligence was handicapped by lack of trained personnel.

Chennault's first A-2 was Col. Merian C. Cooper who was highly respected by many in the AAF, a man who served in WW I in France and who fought in Poland. Later Cooper went to Hollywood as a producer (The Four Feathers and King Kong). Cooper for some time had only two assistants, 2d Lt. Martin Hubler and 2d Lt. John Birch. The latter was a resident missionary who had helped some of the Doolittle raiders to safety and was later commissioned in the AAF.

In China, the AAF had to depend almost entirely on Chinese forces for their intelligence. In India, similarly, too few trained intelligence specialists were initially on hand.

In 1942, this threadbare air intelligence function did not adversely affect air operations. The 10th AF role was defensive - protect the HUMP route and defend the air bases in Assam. The force was rather small (105 fighters, 12 medium bombers, and four reconnaissance planes). The inadequate intelligence staff became a bone of contention between Chennault and Bissell. Chennault's isolated position made it difficult for him to find alternative intelligence sources, and he was vulnerable to attack by the Japanese. Not until the end of 1942 did AAF Headquarters authorize more intelligence personnel for CATF.

Chennault's CATF (and later the 14th AF) drew intelligence data from Chinese sources, from its own reconnaissance activity, and the unusual but highly effective Air Ground Forces Resources and Technical Staff (AGFRTS) organization. That activity was a joint 14th AF-OSS organization. In India and Burma, duplication between the various Allied air forces was of concern to MGen George E. Stratemeyer who succeeded Bissell at 10th AF. He later took action to eliminate some of that duplication.

Signal intelligence played a growing role, especially from 1943 on. SIGINT came in several forms and found varying uses. The MAGIC diplomatic decrypts told the Allies of Japanese intentions to expand Burma's railroad system, of changes in the Japanese command, and of the movements of Japanese troops. Knowing the enemy's plans was one thing, but finding appropriate targets for attack was another matter. For target information, airmen turned first to HUMINT (human intelligence) in the form of agents to provide precise data on locations, and then to follow up with damage assessments.

Low level radio intercepts and reading of commercial telegraph traffic gave some indication of the effectiveness of air raids on Rangoon, Bangkok, and other major Japanese occupied cities.

Much information was obtained by photo-reconnaissance, flight reports, and POW interrogations. Agents or contacts in enemy occupied areas occasionally provided supplemental data, but this source was not substantial until later in the war. SIGINT assumed greater importance when the first ULTRA representative (British) arrived in New Delhi in December 1943.

Interception and decoding of Japanese low-level radio messages played a part as early as May 1942. About that time we learned of Japanese plans to move air units from Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies northward. On October 5, 1942, Chennault's B-25s raided Hong Kong in one of his heaviest strikes at the time. The MAGIC system reported much Japanese shipping in the harbor. Targets in Hong Kong, Canton, and Hanoi were plentiful.

On September 25, 1942, Chen-nault's B-25 and P-40s raided Hanoi; beforehand intelligence warned of substantial enemy fighter strength there, so he sent along extra fighters for protection; this proved wise when 10 Japanese interceptors had to be driven off; we suffered no losses on that mission.

While targeting Japanese shipping and airfields, Chennault pursued his primary mission - defense of HUMP traffic. Acting under instructions from the 10th AF commander, Chennault's air reconnaissance photographed and observed Japanese airfield construction in North Burma. That information, supplemented by some from the RAF in India, allowed Chennault to assess Japanese regional air capabilities late in 1942. Based on that data, both Chennault and Bissell believed the Japanese threat to be increasingly severe, with Japan having as many as 350 aircraft in the area. Bissell, on October 8, 1942, warned Stilwell that his air reconnaissance fleet was too small to preclude a surprise attack on his ground forces.

To plan early missions, our air commanders relied on a variety of intelligence sources. During 1942, it was mainly from cooperation with the RAF. The British also provided the maps. In China, the US War Department provided the maps, until we developed a photo-reconnaissance capability. In early 1942, the British trained our intelligence personnel, but a lack of adequate intelligence was a handicap in offensive operations.

Even by early 1943, the 7th Bomb Group commander complained that they were sent to bomb three oil fields and three towns for which no photos were available. Later on though, the 10th AF kept its subordinate commanders advised of enemy airfield construction and their methods of camouflage and dispersal.

Early on, little information on technical capabilities and tactics of Japanese air forces was available. The only source was from AVG records. Technical data suggested structural weaknesses in enemy bombers (absence of self-sealing fuel tanks, and poor wing fuselage joinings). This data was good target information for fighter pilots and gunners to aim at.

The aerial mining of the Rangoon River was an example of the use of alternative sources of intelligence. This operation, with the RAP providing the mines, help retard river traffic and the movement of Japanese supplies. The ocean approaches to Rangoon were open, with ships difficult to intercept by bombers. So, our planners realized that the shallow Rangoon River was a natural funnel; closing it held promise of cutting supplies to Japanese forces in the north. Within days, B-24s flying up the river dropped 40 mines. Photo-reconnaissance later showed a sharp reduction in river traffic. Similar flights renewed the planting of mines periodically.

Elsewhere in Burma and Thailand, visual aerial reconnaissance and aerial photography provided the bulk of information needed for mission planning through 1943. Analysis of the Burmese transportation system revealed that a handful of roads and railways carried most of the Japanese supplies from Rangoon to the Burma front. So, the 10th AF targeted bridges and railroad tunnels.

It was noted later that cutting the railroads main line north of Rangoon virtually stopped traffic until repairs were made. Then, the Allies concentrated on destruction of railway repair facilities, locomotives and rolling stock.

In March, 1944, Col. John R. Sutherland, 10th AFA-3, proposed bombing of targets such as bridges and long stretches of single-line track with well-spaced bombs. He intended to use all his P-51s, P-38s, B-25s, and B-24s to cut the railway in at least 329 places along 411 miles of track. He estimated that such an effort would require the enemy to move 312 tons of rails to make repairs.

Differing goals of the British created frequent problems. To improve cooperation, the Eastern Air Command (EAC) under Gen. Stratemeyer was created on December 15 1943. This brought the RAF Bengal Command and 10th AF into one organization. A combined Photographic Interpretation Center (CPIC) SE Asia, was later established on May 1, 1944. The XX Bomber Command controlled by Gen. Arnold in Washington, however, retained its own photo-interpretation capability.

As the Allies became more efficient in the intelligence gathering, they made greater use of agents in Burma. These included the British Special Operations Executive Force 136, and Det. 101 OSS.

In September 1942, the OSS sent about 20 agents to East India; that was the beginning of an increasingly important OSS operation that became the locus of AAF air intelligence collection, both in India-Burma and in China. By agreement between the OSS Commander Wm. J. Donovan, and the British, most of the OSS's work occurred in North Burma, China and Indochina. From mid-1944, OSS had over 400 Americans in Burma supervising some 6,000 Kachin tribesmen. Reports from this widespread organization came by radio. This data detailed targets with such refinements, that pilots carrying photographs of the area could spot the intended target with ease. The agent reports pinpointed the location of equipment and supplies camouflaged in villages, jungles, or fields that were otherwise hidden from aerial observations and photos.

In September 1944, the 10th AF Intelligence Officer (LtC Emile Z. Berman) estimated that at least 80% of all his information on Japanese camps, dumps, movements, etc., came from Det. 101 OSS.

In escape and evasion operations, the Allies cooperated closely despite their own differences. In Burma, the AAF set up such a program soon after the 10th AF arrived. Almost from the beginning, the sheer number of British and American agents helped the rescue and recovery of downed crewmen. Det. 101 provided regular information on towns and regions that were pro-Allies or pro-Japanese, the locations of OSS agent teams, covert OSS airstrips and other places where rescue would be possible.

Once known to be down, the air commander would notify the general location to the OSS Headquarters. They, in turn, would dispatch agents to begin the search. Occasionally, trained OSS agents would parachute into the jungle to guide lost airmen to safety.

By mid-September 1944, Det. 101 had assisted in the return of more than 180 10th AF men. For better cooperation, the Allies combined their escape and evasion functions into the E Group, which had its roots in the area going back to men who escaped from Hong Kong in 1942. The new organization kept close liaison with Det. 101, Force 136, and air-sea rescue; they also arranged for contacting or effecting the release of POW's or evaders in enemy territory.

Allied airmen also paid attention to Japanese air defenses. From existing intelligence sources, they found out locations of gun sites, and radar locations. By October 1944, they had networks that intercepted Japanese air traffic control radio messages. Through these means, Gen. Strate-meyer at EAC Headquarters and subordinate commands could readily anticipate Japanese reactions to our operations.

Y-Service radio intercept collection in India-Burma was mainly an RAF responsibility. This function included the interpretation and handling of low grade codes, as well as plain language radio traffic. The AAF's 5th Radio Squadron, by late in the war, had a sizable SIG1NT analysis center in Delhi. In October 1944, a Tactical Air Intelligence Center (TA1C) was created to eliminate duplication by the various Allied units.

The constant Allied air attacks in Burma, supported by a well-organized intelligence system, placed mounting pressure on the Japanese, which reduced their air operations. By May 1945, Gen. Stratemeyer reported to Gen. Arnold that so far into the year, there had been no escorted daylight enemy bomber missions against Allied targets, and that attacks on our forward fields and positions have steadily decreased.

China and the 14th Air Force

The Allies fought a different war in China; mostly air operations, but the U.S. Navy also had a substantial presence in the form of guerrilla teams and a far flung intelligence operation. The 14th AF had an intelligence organization that usually complemented the Navy's.

Unlike in India and Burma, air intelligence was not fragmented; all of it flowed to Gen. Chennault. From the very beginning, he faced two problems that affected his use of intelligence; his air force was and remained very small, and logistics was such a problem that he often could not have ordered air strikes no matter how lucrative the target.

The enormous Japanese presence in China offered a plethora of targets. The enemy had airfields in abundance, and as they laid out new ones, word of their locations filtered back to Kunming. Harbors and shipping were always available to strike, as were enemy troops, supply columns and barracks.

In the last half of 1942, and in early 1943, Chennault's problems concerning the sorting out of the best targets. The old AVG, had been a defense force, using P-40s largely to shoot down Japanese aircraft. In the fall of 1942, Chennault began to receive B-25 bombers, and he increased the use of P-40s as dive bombers. Better intelligence analysis was needed, but he lacked trained personnel in that area.

When Chennault's organization joined the AAF in July 1942, there came with it a widespread and effective air-raid warning net. It was devised by Chennault between 37-41, and patterned after the British observer system in WW I. This net comprised hundreds of Chinese all over occupied China, who, when they heard aircraft, reported the fact by radio or telephone. By plotting these calls, the AAF was able to track the enemy's approach. This allowed our pilots to take the necessary action. With 10th AF approval, the warning net became a special fighter control squadron and an integral part of CATF, however, it could do little to influence offensive missions.

Early in 1943, Chennault's A-2 noted the need to make intelligence analysis supportive of air operations. Aerial photography continued as the primary source, but the A-2 needed trained U.S. Army intelligence officers assigned to Chinese forces along the Burma and Indochina borders to sort out good reports before requesting air support. Also, he needed more staff to prepare adequate target information.

Some of the problems Chennault faced were simply not amenable to solution. Air technical intelligence, for example, suffered because when Japanese planes crashed, they were too distant, and the local natives would carry off aircraft metal almost as soon as it cooled.

The enemy was aware that as early as the April 1942 Doolittle attack, that Allied airfields in China were a threat. Shortly thereafter, they took over bases in Chekiang and Szechwan that could be used by Americans, and they took away railway equipment that they needed elsewhere. That operation was mainly in Chekiang Province, but shortly thereafter, the enemy withdrew to conserve strength needed in the SW Pacific.

Renewed Japanese advances began again in February 1943. during both campaigns, Chennault's men fought interdiction and counterair missions, whenever enough gasoline and spare parts were available. At the end of 1943, the Japanese again withdrew to more defensible positions. In both these efforts, the Japanese did not intend to hold all the territory they took. China was much too vast for the Japanese air force to offer stiff resistance everywhere. Chennault's men, then, had the advantage of picking the place of attack. So, selecting the targets required better intelligence. In Chennault's eyes, better use of air intelligence would come with a separate Army Air Force in China.

In the Spring of 1943, Chennault heard that his operation was to become a separate command (the 14th AF). He would become a major general, no longer under Bissell's control. Much of the reason for this, was due to Chiang's insistence on independence for Chennault. When Bissell returned to Washington, Stratemeyer became the India-Burma air commander with advisory authority over Chennault's operations, but he had no real power to directly influence the 14th AF. Chennault now began to make use of the growing interservice intelligence capability in China. This ultimately benefited both the AAF and the Navy.

Chennault had long sought to strike enemy shipping, but lack of gas and spare parts limited his efforts. To make best use of his B-24s and B-25s, they needed to be directed to an area with reasonable probability of success. The 14th AF A-2 office and Commodore Milton E. Mile's US Naval Group, gave Chennault this capability. Early in 1943, Miles detailed two men to the 14th AF staff to perform photo-interpretation work. In return, the 14th seeded harbors and waters along the China and Indochina coast with mines supplied by the Navy.

In October 1943, such a raid closed Haipong harbor by sinking a fleeing ship. It remained at least partially closed for the remainder of the war. By May 1944, Miles had 98 men forking on various intelligence functions. This was in addition to rescuing downed or imprisoned airmen. The latter operation was in cooperation with the Sino-American Cooperative Organization (SACO) teams.

Chennault's A-2 received data about merchant ships by aerial reconnaissance, from the SACO coast watchers, and from teams of the Fleet Radio unit at Kunming. Between October 1943 and May 1944, the 14th claimed the sinking of 83,100 tons of shipping. When they got a squadron of B-24s equipped with sea-search radar, the 14th did even better; they claimed 248,665 tons of shipping between May 24 - October 31, 1944. This was a better record than that of the 5th and 13th AF's in the SW Pacific areas. Much of the credit for this was due to artful ULTRA intelligence analysis that sent the bombers to the most lucrative targets. On February 22, 1944, the SW Pacific Command reported that Japanese shipping along the China coast was rerouted 100 miles off shore. This confirmed the success of 14th AF and Miles anti-shipping campaign.

By September 1943, Japanese leaders knew that they had to deal with American airfields supporting the 14th AF. So, they targeted airfields at Kweilin and Liuchosien (Operation ICHO-GO). Chennault knew of the enemy's plan but seems to have overestimated the ability of the Chinese Army to defend his bases. The Japanese were also wary of the possible use of these airfields by long range bombers.

Chennault's 68th Composite Wing's bases came under increasing danger early in 1944. Even if Chennault miscalculated Japanese intent it is difficult to see how he could have acted differently. To have withheld the 14th from the fighting was not Chennault's nature, nor would it have been acceptable in the eyes of Arnold or Roosevelt.

As the enemy moved toward Chennault's bases, he made good use of the intelligence gathered by the 5329th AGFRTS (the joint AAF-OSS venture), and the Naval Group China. The latter had radio direction finding teams across much of occupied China, which also provided weather reports, target information, and helped in the rescue and return of downed Allied airmen. Using that information, the 68th Composite Group launched frequent attacks on enemy columns nearing our bases, as well as on enemy supply bases.

Later they began systematic destruction of roads and bridges to delay the enemy. The bombing of Hanghow by the 20th AF B-29s supplemented the 14th's efforts to deflect the Japanese drive. By mid-November 1944, however, most of the major air bases in East China had fallen to the Japanese. Even before then, changes were made in the Theater's command and intelligence structure. In October 1944, Chiang rid himself of a long festering sore when he succeeded in getting President Roosevelt to recall Stilwell, replacing him with LGen Albert C. Wedemeyer. This was when the CBI was separated into the India-Burma, and the China Theaters. With that came a change in the OSS's (and AGFRTS's) position.

Previously, Stilwell, to keep peace with Chiang, allowed Chiang and Chennault to go about their business more or less undisturbed. It was then logical that AGFRTS should be a part of the 14th AF.

Wedemeyer prepared for a move of the 10th AF to China later in 1945, and he decided to take greater control of military operations, so he had his staff supervise AGFRTS's functions and those of the Naval Group China in January 1945. The next month, he established an air intelligence section in his headquarters at Chungking, staffing it partly with Chennault's people, but generally excluding Miles Navy Group. Both Miles and Chennault objected.

Miles believed this was devised so as to force his operation out of China. Despite these troubles, Chennault continued to channel intelligence to his units, as he had alternate sources of information. For example, he had information from Washington which indicated that the Japanese used large areas of China as a source of raw materials, and for troop movements. So, then, he concentrated on railroad interdiction. The resulting fighter sweeps, early in 1945, destroyed 145 locomotives, plus a good number of bridges, railway lines, and rolling stock. But, lack of gasoline and too few aircraft stymied the 14th AF as it had so often since 1942.

Despite the supply problem, the 14th had hit rail targets successfully. This became the basis for some of the discussion at Potsdam in July 1945, at the Allied Tripartite meeting. Gen. Marshall told the Soviets of the AAF's destruction of railroads in China as he encouraged the Soviets to draw up plans to enter the war in Asia. He noted that the bombing and sabotage had by that time substantially reduced Japan's ability to move troops from China to counter Soviet moves in Manchuria. Also, he told of the estimated 500,000 Japanese troops in Kyushu, and pointed out that Naval and AF mining of Japanese waters had reduced their ability to move these troops from the home islands to the mainland.

Several factors affected the way Chennault used intelligence. His A-2 planners went about doing their thing as was done by other AAF commands, but without as much ULTRA information until well into 1944. Agent teams, though, reporting from occupied areas in China were far more effective. The reason for this was because of the porous control by the Japanese of their occupied areas. That made the work of the teams more productive to the 14th AF than to other major AAF units worldwide, including the 10th AF in Burma.

Retrospection

The most crucial difference between air intelligence operations in the European and Pacific theaters lay in the fashion with which American society, specifically its military, judged and estimated their potential enemies, Germany and Japan, both before and during WW II. We were more familiar with German society, yet prewar Japan remained a society that even Westerners who spoke the language found difficult to penetrate. Result was a general ignorance of Japan, its society, and its military; that ignorance coupled with a general sense of racial superiority, led Americans to belittle Japanese capabilities and potential. This arrogance carried into the post-Pearl Harbor period.

Luckily, in one area, cryptanalysis, American intelligence had made significant strides before the war. Even here, difficulties abounded in language competence and in understanding enemy capabilities and intentions.

The Pearl Harbor disaster resulted not from a lack of intelligence, but from a general unwillingness to understand or to recognize its import. Intelligence analysts and operational commanders simply assumed that the Japanese would not (or perhaps even could not) attack the Hawaiian Islands. Such fundamental misconceptions would have been hard to shake until the bombs began to fall.

The intelligence situation confronting American airmen in the Pacific was radically different from that which existed in Europe. In the Central and South Pacific, AAF units remained under the control of the Navy; in the Southwest Pacific under the control of the Army. In the CBI, the American effort involved considerable interallied difficulties with the British and a clash in strategic goals between American interests that aimed in keeping open the link to China and the British interests that aimed in regaining the Southeast Asian empire they lost. American airmen in China waged a valiant effort to support a weak and corrupt Chinese nationalist regime as they prepared the base for long-range strategic bombing attacks with B-29s against Japan proper. Within China, a nightmare of conflicting interests, the incapacity of the nationalist government to work with Gen. Stilwell, unseemingly squabbles between Stilwell and American airmen, and Japanese capabilities combined to make this theater one of the least successful American undertakings of the war.

The problems in the CBI reflected three distinct difficulties:

1. British and American war aims were so divergent as to make military cooperation difficult. The common need to defeat the enemy, however, meant that, at lower levels, useful cooperation occurred.

2. The organization of the theater left much to be desired.

3. Finally, one can only note the lack of geniality and level of trust among senior commanders - Chiang, Stilwell, Wavell, Chennault, and Bissell - that made relationships in the Allied high command in the European theater appear to be problem free.

Within the CBI, intelligence was critical. In particular, the nature of the terrain in Burma and India made HUMINT particularly important. The clandestine organizations (American OSS, and the British Special Operations Executive) proved crucial in passing useful intelligence to airmen. Allied intelligence officers did an effective job in analyzing the geography of the theater (the mining of the Rangoon estuary on the basis of an analysis of Burmese landforms and railways). As in other theaters, all other sources of intelligence proved helpful (Signals intelligence and photo-reconnaissance).

In China, an enormous philosophical difference existed between Stilwell and the Chinese leadership, the latter being supported by Chennault. Stilwell regarded the creation of a well-trained and disciplined Army as necessary for effective operations, but that demanded substantial reform of the nationalist regime, something Chiang either would not allow or could not accomplish.

In effect, Chennault offered a shortcut to defeat the Japanese, that would allow Chiang to husband his strength for the coming struggle against the communists. That involved the supposed use of air power to redress the deficiencies of the Chinese ground forces. Chennault believed that his air units could beat the Japanese first in China with his 14th AF, and then in the home islands by B-29 raids launched from Chinese bases.

Events proved Stilwell right and Chennault wrong. Chennault overestimated the ability of his air units to carry the load for China and underestimated the Japanese Army's capacity and intent for a sustained drive aimed at his eastern China airfields.

When the Japanese recognized the threat of B-29 raids from bases in China, they simply captured the air bases in a great land campaign. The result reflected a considerable intelligence failure at the level where intelligence was the most difficult to perform: strategic and operational assessment. Strategic assessment at the highest levels demanded a real knowledge of one's own allies and one's opponents that involved far more than a simple counting of enemy units; it demanded a knowledge of the language, history, cultures, and politics involved in complex situations.

The last significant air intelligence area in the Pacific was the great strategic bombing campaign launched against Japanese home islands by the B-29s. Here the prewar American ignorance of Japan came to play. Virtually no aerial photo reconnaissance of the home islands existed until late in 1944. The initial conceptions of the campaign reflected the flawed pfewar precision bombing doctrine. Lack of information was a major obstacle to careful target selection. General LeMay's decision to abandon the initial precision bombing campaign for an approach reminiscent of the British bombing campaign resulted from the operational realities confronting American airmen. Precision bombing attacks could not be made to work in the face of intense operational realities confronting American airmen. Precision bombing attacks could not be made to work in the face of intense operational problems and the lack of current target and weather information.

Aside from operational demand, the AAF leadership was under constant pressure to prove the worth of the B-29 and to justify the creation of an independent service after the war.

In conclusion, intelligence clearly played a crucial role in the Allied victory, and contributed to the shortening of the war. The American military did an impressive job in creating effective intelligence organizations out of minuscule cadres. First, the British provided considerable support. Second, with two notable exceptions, weaknesses in intelligence did not lead to any serious failures early in the war (except for Pearl Harbor and the Philippines). Luckily we had two years to prepare for conflict, while our allies bore the brunt of battle. Had the U.S. not shortchanged its intelligence organizations before the war, it might have lessened the problems in building up the intelligence units under the pressures of wartime. Also, had allied intelligence capabilities and those of the Axis been reversed, the road to victory would have been far more costly and difficult.


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