The Intelligence War

Introduction to the intelligence, security, communication, investigative and defence services listing

The Problem                                                     | PAGE 2 | PAGE 3 |

Attempting to create a reliable listing of intelligence, military intelligence and related agencies was always going to be a difficult undertaking. In a constantly changing world, and with intelligence gathering largely secret, it’s no small wonder that not all special units created to carry out such tasks have been identified, nor will they ever be. Academics acknowledge that creating an in-depth and comprehensive overview of the intelligence services is not possible. It is possible to look back in time, delve through volumes of historic literature and see who was about a few decades ago, but to establish the “here and now” is problematic. To determine just who will be operating in future years is equally as difficult.

The Project

What we are attempting to do in this archive section is to reference the actual organisation by name, provide a link (where possible) for further researches, and give background on its role, establishment, history and purpose. Take a look at our notes - they have been adapted from original sources - and other literature. Always visit the site because information is constantly being updated. In future months we hope to provide guidance and additional links to topics, news stories and research features on a specific service. It’s a huge on-going project which readers might like to help with. You can drop Eye Spy an e-mail with your comments and notes.

Sometimes you will find agencies, authorities, offices and posts that can’t be called intelligence services. However, some do play a part in the wider intelligence wheel. I have no idea how some of these offices collaborate with each other, or the intelligence services themselves, but if you follow the leads, threads do emerge.

And then there is military intelligence. I’m often asked ‘what’s the difference and do all the services work together?’ Obviously it’s totally dependent on which country the question relates to. There are always mechanisms in place for defence and civilian intelligence services to share material and use each others prowess. Is military intelligence important? Of course it is. Look no further than NORAD. For decades this powerful organisation gathered intelligence on Soviet air manoeuvres, the placement of nuclear silos, the movement on submarines, and the build-up of troops on the East German border. Of course it was assisted by other services - some undoubtedly civilian-based, but the point is, NORAD is more than just a defence service. True - it’s a different type of intelligence to that often gleaned by MI6 and the CIA, but governments consider it of equal importance. But the key point here is that only the military can obtain this type of intelligence. And then there are more complicated areas - take for example the National Security Agency. It’s an agency that employs people from a whole range of services - some civilian-based, others military and a few from obscure or specialist services, including other agencies. Military personnel can be found working alongside civilian intelligence personnel at various NSA-related posts.

It’s one reason why I chose to include defence ministries and civil offices in the archive. All serve a purpose.

Evolving Agencies

To survive, intelligence agencies must also change and reorganise accordingly. This is a nuisance to those researchers intent on creating the “perfect listing”... it’s just not possible!

Agencies evolve, receive ‘makeovers’, fragment, merge and diversify; others fade into oblivion and are rendered defunct: more reasons why many an esteemed researcher has found it difficult to provide an accurate overview of the current intelligence world. To keep abreast of the latest developments, researchers must constantly be alert and monitor some quite dark and shady areas of the world. A political or military drama, a coup d’état, the fall of a dictator or a change in government could all impact the status and survival of an intelligence agency - especially in those countries not too concerned with democracy. And even then, the internal workings of some countries are beyond the reach of the investigators pen and notebook. But it’s not just political situations that force agencies to dissolve, sometimes they just simply run out of steam or cease to serve a purpose. Listing viable and still-functioning services is an unenviable task that even challenges those paid to monitor developments for and on behalf of the intelligence services’ themselves.

It’s wrong to believe intelligence organisations are so historically significant that they are “set in stone” - that they will survive forever - such as Britain’s MI6 or America’s CIA. This is no longer the case. A quick look at how 9/11 changed the face of US intelligence is evidence enough, that to create a listing in 2007, is no guarantee it will be not be outdated or incorrect a few months from now. Other situations can also affect the existence and role of an intelligence agency. The will of “the people”, for example. You don’t have to look too far back in history to see how public opinion brought about the end of communism and damaged powerful institutions like Russia’s famous KGB. With new democracies and multi-party political systems - it’s no surprise that intelligence agencies were one of the first ‘elements’ of government to change. However, it wasn’t just Russian agencies that name-changed, reorganised etc. All nations behind the so-called ‘Iron Curtain’ chose to move on and grasp the benefits of living in a free society. This meant many notable services adopted new policies, changed names and brought in new staff. All seemed keen to shake off their post-WWII historical ties with the USSR. Twenty-years ago Eastern European intelligence services “pulled” in the same direction as their KGB friends - today their allegiance is to the West and most are opponents and utterly distrustful of Moscow.

Many agencies chose to remain in the same offices, some of the ‘old guard’ remained; altering a service name and crest helped create a new image - a public liaison office showed “openness”. These were turbulent times, but for some intelligence officials it was simply too much of a change, and many quietly moved on. For others willing to embrace a new beginning - they at least stayed in the job. Others services simply vanished - like East Germany’s extraordinarily powerful Stasi - together with 175,000 snoopers.

Russia’s KGB (Ministry of State Security) never really disappeared. Now known as the Federal Security Service or Bureau, a few powerful former KGB officials still walk the corridors around the FSB’s headquarters in the centre of Moscow. Though communism has gone - the “ghosts” of high-ranking KGB officials guide new controllers of Russia’s intelligence machine - so too does President Putin, himself a former KGB officer. And as a footnote to the KGB’s transformation, it’s worth pointing out that at its height, the agency employed an astonishing 375,000 staff devoted to internal security, and a further 25,000 engaged in foreign intelligence operations. To put this in perspective, in 2007, MI5 currently has 3,500 employees and MI6 a little over 2,500.

The Eye Spy review of services does not include intelligence agency staff levels - this is a fairly guarded secret.

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