I enjoy history for the fact that it is a road map showing us how we got here from there. Military history and the effect of intelligence gathering are at the top of my list. Think of the battle of Midway and the efforts of Joseph Rochefort & his team decrypting the Japanese military codes.
Of course you can have intelligence that is 100% accurate, but you need military commanders who believe it and act on it – thank Adm Nimitz & Adm Spruance for taking that intelligence and changing the Japanese Navy from an offensive to a defensive posture all at Midway.
Lest I completely lose my focus tonight, I was reading a fascinating article on Bletchley Park in the BBC History Magazine.
Bletchley Park was wartime Britain’s equivalent of the NSA (perhaps minus monitoring Angela Merkel’s conversations to her husband on what to get at the supermarket) and I learned that they did a lot more there than “just” cracking the Enigma, the code generated by that German machine that was considered by many to be impossible.
The knowledge of this code is said to have cut the war in Europe’s duration by 2 years, according to some.
The biggest surprise for me was learning that Bletchley Park was more than just a place that housed math geniuses like Alan Turing .
It went from a population of 200 in 1938 to over 10,000 in 1944, and became an ‘Intelligence Factory”. It was highly segmented and efficiently organized. One of the funnier stories was learning that until declassification in the 1970s, some spouses found out that the other worked there only when meeting each other at reunions.
More surprising facts?
It was more than a code breaking operation but evolved to becoming an integrated signals intelligence entity.
Because it was centralized, there was a lot of co-operation and knowledge sharing. (this I read elsewhere was the also main reason for focusing the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos)
It was the size of the operation that allowed the success of the code breakers.