Frontline Intelligence: The Importance of HUMINT

Last month, I started reading Frontline Intelligence (1946), a guide for the new S2 — the military’s term for the intelligence officer.

What I like about these old intel books and manuals is that they paint a picture of what intelligence looks like without electricity and modern technology. (This manual is still talking about using gas lamps.)

It basically answers the question: How do people like you and I perform the work of the Neighborhood S2 in a worst case scenario?

If you’re reading this email, I presume one of two things: You actually ARE your neighborhood’s S2, or you’re interested in learning the skills.

Frontline Intelligence gives us a glimpse of what rudimentary Human Intelligence (HUMINT) looked like during World War II.

If you are operating in a friendly foreign country there will be, in addition to the organized allied forces, partisan groups, guerrillas, underground movements, and other sorts of patriots… Despite the fact that most textbooks ignore them, these people are extremely useful…

The author then tells the story of a group of Melanesians who later became pivotal for U.S. Forces in the Pacific.

The Japanese had impressed the island-fairing people into slavery to build fortifications. Over the course of two months, a small group of the Melanesian slaves secretly built a canoe, which they hid in some bushes, with the intention of escaping back to Allied territory.

Three of them managed to escape and, at the end of their 135-mile canoe trip, finally ran into Australian forces. The Australians quickly linked them up with an American Marine S2, where the escapees provided information to produce a detailed map of Japanese fortifications along the islands’ coasts.

It seems the same slaves that had built the Japanese system of fortifications were also the ones with some of the most detailed intelligence information about them!

So my question for you, the Neighborhood S2:

What human assets do you have in your community?

What individuals are willing or, with some coaxing or development, could become willing to share information with you, your preparedness group, your community security team, neighborhood watch, etc?

Let’s start with this simple step:

Identify what you don’t know but need to (intelligence gaps), and identify who can provide that information (potential sources).

We can build HUMINT skills indefinitely, but the basic process really is a simple as this.

I do encourage you to begin thinking, if you aren’t already, about what your local HUMINT network would look like during an emergency.

If you’re like me and believe the clock is ticking, then start this effort right away.

Until next time, be well.

Always Out Front,

Samuel Culper

P.S. – This year is going to continue to be disastrous. If you want to stay ahead of the curve and find out what’s next, sign up for a Forward Observer Warning subscription. I spell it all out in my daily newsletter and podcast. Check it out here: https://members.forwardobserver.com

Samuel Culper is a former Intelligence NCO and contractor. Iraq(x1)/Afghanistan(x2). He now studies intelligence and warfare.

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