Intelligence & the Korean War


Haas, Michael E. [COL/USAF (Ret.)]. "The Clandestine Services in Korea: 1950-1953." Intelligencer 14, no. 2 (Winter-Spring 2005): 97-103.

The author surveys the problems and ultimate failure in the use of unconventional warfare in Korea.

Haas, Michael E. [COL/USAF (Ret.)] In the Devil's Shadow: U.N. Special Operations during the Korean War. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2000.

Clark comment: In the interest of truth in reviewing, I should note that I was one of the prepublication reviewers for this work and am quoted on the dust jacket thereof. That said:

Haas provides a cautionary tale of why unconventional forces under the control of conventional leadership can be a mix deadly to the unconventional participants, especially if they are non-Americans. The same panoply of political-military problems that Haas so clearly details as plaguing unconventional planning and execution in Korea was revisited when the United States tried to mix conventional and unconventional warfare in Vietnam.

While a number of recent books have taken readers inside the tactical aspects of specific unconventional warfare elements operating during the Korea War, Haas gives us a broader picture that places on-the-ground activities within their political-military context. His efforts to address the "why" questions alongside the "what" -- to dig deeper than mere description -- advance our understanding of the Korean War as a whole.

For Sinnett, NIPQ 16.4, the author "follows the actual experiences of [the various allied special forces] in a very informative and interesting way.... This book ... should be of interest to anyone trying to understand what we were doing in Korea." Boose, Parameters, Summer 2002, finds that Haas "vividly describes the daring operations and the problems of organization and coordination" in special operations in Korea. Although it has "some repetition and chronological confusion," overall the work "is a readable account and ... the most thorough single-volume description of Korean War special operations to date."

Mercado, I&NS 15.4, says that In the Devil's Shadow "has much to recommend it. The author offers in a single volume an accounting of the various organizations, officers, and operations involved in special operations. While one risks losing one's way in the book's jumble of military acronyms and organizations, the book offers a compact description of each major player in the bureaucratic competition."

To Stewart, JFQ 119 (Spring-Summer 2001), the author gets "the most out of available evidence. He has put together a lively and readable book that helps fill one of the largest voids in the history of the Korean War.... Where the account is found wanting, it is often from lack of data rather than lack of effort or failure in interpretation.... In the Devil's Shadow should be read if for no other reason than for its account of the bureaucratic backbiting and its operational consequences."

Lint, Military Intelligence 30.2 (Apr.-Jun. 2004), notes that the author "discusses both the intelligence and the partisan insertion operations and problems. He points out that both operations used the same techniques; however, the doctrinal lines were not clear on operational coordination, actual location of partisan operations, and the relationships between the G2 and G3. He also brings to light the organizational bickering between the new Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Army, and General MacArthur’s headquarters."

Hallion, Richard P. The Naval Air War in Korea. Baltimore, MD: Nautical & Aviation Publishing Co., 1986.

The author discusses air strike intelligence received from covert collection activities.

Handleman, Howard. "Did Communist Spies Lead to American Disaster in Korea?" Pacific Defence Reporter 9 (May 1983): 68.

Hastings, Max. The Korean War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987.

Hastings covers U.S. efforts, codenamed JACK, to insert covert operatives into North Korea.

Hatch, David A., with Robert Louis Benson. The Korean War: The SIGINT Background. Ft. George G. Meade, MD: National Security Agency, Center for Cryptologic History, 2000. []

From the "Introduction": "This short summary of the cryptologic background to the Korean War is intended to provide only a general overview of the conflict from a cryptologic perspective and give initial answers to some of the more important questions about intelligence support. This paper has been cobbled together from summaries prepared during or immediately after the period of hostilities, some original documents, and the memories of some of the participants." See also, Laura Sullivan, "Spy's Role Linked to U.S. Failure on Korea: NSA Report Shows Why 1950 Invasion Came as Surprise," Baltimore Sun, 29 Jun. 2000.

Hermes, Walter G. Truce Tent and Fighting Front. United States Army in the Korean War Series, U.S. Army Center of Military History. Washington, DC: GPO, 1966.

As one of the U.S. Army official histories of the Korean War [see also, Appleman, Disaster in Korea (1989) and Schnabel, Policy and Direction: The First Year (1972)], the focus of this work is not on intelligence; but intelligence issues are addressed within the broader context of coverage of the war.

Hitchcock, Walter T. [COL], ed. The Intelligence Revolution: A Historical Perspective. Washington, DC: U.S. Air Force Academy/Office of Air Force History, 1988.  Washington, DC: GPO, 1992.

Clark comment: This book contains the proceedings of the Thirteenth Military History Symposium held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1988. The "revolution" is of intelligence collection and cooperation, particularly during World War II. This is a scholarly, not operational, work. Seymour says that the work "[p]rovides information on the origins of modern intelligence, intelligence during World War II and the Korean War, impact on postwar diplomacy, etc."

Holober, Frank. Raiders of the China Coast: CIA Covert Operations during the Korean War. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1999.

Clark comment: The author, who served with Western Enterprises Incorporated (WEI) on Quemoy in 1951-1952, details the activities of CIA-sponsored anti-Communist guerrillas along China's southeastern coast in the early 1950s. Except for an annoying tendency to use made up conversations from the past to advance some of his story, Holober provides a good read. This reader even guffawed several times. Ever the instructor, Holober provides little snippets of Chinese along the way. Nevertheless, you need to be interested in learning about this little-known covert action to get full enjoyment from this book.

Sulc, CIRA Newsletter 23.2, comments that Raiders of the China Coast "should be greeted with great interest by historians.... Holober has done a very good job" in his writing about "the forgotten war within the 'forgotten war.'" Similarly, Copper, IJI&C 13.3, says that "Holober is to be credited for telling a story that needed to be told." For Jonkers, AFIO WIN 35-99 (3 Sep. 1999), this book "can be read as a rousing story or as history, celebrating an exceptional cast of American characters involved in these clandestine operations.... Highly recommended."

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