Cogadh na Saoirse: British Intelligence Operations During the Anglo-Irish War (1916-1921)

A Monograph
by
MAJ Christopher J. Heatherly
US Army

School of Advanced Military Studies
United States Army Command and General Staff College
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

AY 2009-10

Introduction

“Irishmen and Irishwomen. In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.”1

On Easter Sunday, 1916, a small group of Irish nationalists, led by Padraic Henry Pearse seized the General Post Office in Dublin, Ireland. They stood on the steps leading to the entrance, read that statement and proclaimed an independent Republic of Ireland. Pearse and his supporters expected other Irish nationalist groups would join them and hoped for a general uprising by the Irish population. Their forlorn hopes went unrealized. The British military `responded with overwhelming force, crushed the rebellion and seized Pearse’s group. British Army Captain John Lowe described the battle in his memoirs. “Six day of vicious street fighting followed. 450 Irish died and 2,614 were wounded, another 14 were executed. 103 officers and men of the British Army were killed, and 357 wounded.”2 British firing squads shot several Irish nationalist leaders; the British government imprisoned numerous others. The Republic of Ireland had existed for barely a week. From the British perspective, the rebellion was over, but for the Irish it was only the beginning. Recognizing the utter futility of direct conflict with the British government, the Irish changed their strategy and tactics. The war that followed was unlike any conflict previously fought by either side.

The Anglo-Irish War, fought from 1916 to 1921, was not only an insurgency; it was a war of intelligence. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the British military, to include civilian law enforcement agencies, conducted numerous intelligence operations to gain advantage on the other. With the failure of the Easter Uprising in 1916, Irish leaders recognized that another direct conflict with the British would result in defeat. Accordingly, the IRA opted to conduct an insurgency, heavily augmented by intelligence gathering, to pursue their goal of an independent Ireland.

1 Diary of J. Lowe, Imperial War Museum, London, United Kingdom. 2 Ibid.

For their part, the British government and military recognized that conventional intelligence methods were outmoded and developed new intelligence tactics to combat the insurgency. The conflict ended with the signing of the Anglo-Irish treaty in 1921, although “the Troubles” continue even to this date. Despite the obvious significance of the conflict, the Anglo-Irish War is seldom studied within the US military. The IRA and British intelligence efforts of that war can be carefully studied for possible lessons the US Army may incorporate into current and future counterinsurgency campaigns.

Literature Review

“…the officer who has not studied war as an applied science, and who is ignorant of modern military history, is of little use beyond the rank of Captain.” – Field Marshall Garnet Joseph Wolseley3

Historical study and reflection of the Anglo-Irish War began before the conflict was concluded. Since 1921, innumerable scholars and writers have researched the war and authored hundreds of books and articles. In general, previous research focused on the causes, events, outcomes or impacts. This creates several knowledge gaps worth exploring today. First, the books were written by historians and soldiers, not by trained, professional military intelligence officers. Second, while most touch upon the value of intelligence, no published work compares the actual intelligence methodology employed by the IRA and British military. Third, many historical works consider the Anglo-Irish War as but one period in the larger scheme of events known as “The Troubles.” The events from the Easter Uprising of 1916 through independence in 1921 are rarely considered apart from the more recent violence of the 1970s and 80s.

A fourth knowledge gap arises from the intense emotions that slant or bias historical studies of the era. From the Irish perspective, the Anglo-Irish War was fought to gain independence from

3 “Full text of ‘The conduct of war; a short treatise on its most important branches and guiding rules,” Internet Archive, http://www.archive.org/stream/conductofwarshor00goltrich/conductofwarshor00goltrich_djvu.txt (accessed December 10, 2009).

Great Britain, much in the same way as the American Revolution of 1776-1983. For their part, the British viewed the conflict as a criminal insurgency against a legitimate government that was already embroiled in the Great War of 1914-1918. The Irish were viewed at best as opportunists taking advantage of Britain’s temporary weakness; at worst, they were viewed as traitors and potential allies of the Central Powers. Support for either side within the United States split between sympathy for the Irish people and anger over the methods of the IRA. Previous historical analysis of the Anglo-Irish War has tended to suffer from bias in one form or another. Pro-Irish works portray the events as a romantic struggle against a callous oppressor, while British leaning books emphasize the brutality and criminal nature of the IRA. The British Army spent considerable time evaluating its conduct during the war and published a two-volume study titled, Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It in 1922. Although these books are highly detailed, they are prejudicial in nature. The following quote serves as a clear example of this bias:

“At about 9 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, 21st November, 1920 there occurred in Dublin a series of murders committed by the I.R.A. which, if the rebels had perpetrated no other outrage, would have marked them for ever as the most cold-blooded and cowardly of murderers.”4

The authors were veterans of the war, and their emotional attachment to the events is quite understandable. However, emotions biased their analysis and diminished the record’s overall value to future counterinsurgency operations. Another review of the data, separated by time and distance, is in order.

Although the United States military in general and the Army in particular have spent considerable time and resources studying prior insurgencies, there has been no attempt to review the Anglo-Irish war during the period in question. Sadly, previous efforts have almost exclusively focused on historical insurgencies in the Third World. American officers and soldiers routinely

4 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume I, Operations, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 24 (London, 1922).

study past insurgencies in Malaysia, Iraq, and Columbia whilst scant attention is given to past or current COIN operations with the United States or Europe. This fact is especially surprising given the “special relationship” enjoyed between the United States and UK. Furthermore, British and American forces routinely operate together in peacetime and at war. These forces possess similar doctrine, tactics, equipment and have mutually supporting national interests.

Study of British intelligence methods employed during the Anglo-Irish War is well past due as part of a holistic, global study of insurgencies. Insurgent groups are keen students of history, be they Asian, African, American, or European in ethnicity and location. Successes, or failures, are shared amongst insurgent organizations. The exclusive study of Third World insurgencies from the 1950s to the present leaves numerous lacunae in the overall body of knowledge available. Most Army officers know of T.E. Lawrence. They understand the Maoist model of rebellion. They can speak ad nauseum on insurgency in Iraq. Far fewer are familiar with Michael Collins, or the IRA, or the British military’s counterinsurgency operations in Ireland. This monograph represents an attempt, however isolated, to look beyond the most commonly researched examples.

Unsatisfied with the existing body of knowledge on intelligence matters in Ireland, the author searched the archives at the Irish National Archives in Dublin, Ireland and at the Imperial War Museum, in London, UK for primary sources. In-person research, courtesy of a generous grant from the Command and General Staff College Foundation, allowed the author to glean information from numerous primary references. These sources included the personnel papers and memoirs of senior officers like Lieutenant General Sir Hugh Jeudwine and Major General L.A. Hawes, as well as diaries from the enlisted ranks such as Private J.P. Swindlehurst. The monograph cites Irish sources as well including numerous witness statements given by IRA members after the war.

Methodology

This monograph will use a comparative study of dissimilar systems (insurgency versus counterinsurgency) as the overarching methodology. This study will carefully examine British intelligence methods to determine which techniques were successful and identify those operations that failed. The Anglo-Irish War and subsequent “Troubles” generated entrenched, emotional views and opinions extant today. The author does not attempt to portray either side as the righteous cause. Three primary questions will drive this analysis. How did the British use, or fail to incorporate, each intelligence discipline during the war? What intelligence techniques were successful and which were counterproductive? Finally, what was the role of counterintelligence? This examination will include a detailed analysis to ascertain what lessons learned, if any, the United States can incorporate into current and future counterinsurgency efforts.

Definitions

“Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.” – Groucho Marx5

Intelligence is arguably one of the most misunderstood fields in the United States military despite attempts by the individual service branches and joint force to define it. Prior to the attacks of September 11 th. Army intelligence officers were typically amongst the most junior officers on any unit staff and their work was largely performed in the realms of personnel and physical security. The author personally witnessed a battalion commander order his staff intelligence officer (S2) to “do some of that MI stuff” during a field training exercise in 1997 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Quite obviously, the commander’s guidance was of little use for the S2 to support the commander’s maneuver scheme. It was only with the initiation of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) that the need for timely and relevant intelligence came to the forefront of

5 “Quotation Details.,” The Quotation Page, http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/408.html (accessed November 15, 2009).

operations planning and execution. Despite nearly eight years of persistent conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, there remains considerable confusion on what comprises intelligence and its multiple sub-disciplines.

The United States Joint Staff defines intelligence as the “product resulting from the collection, processing, integration, analysis, evaluation, and interpretation of available information concerning foreign countries or areas.” Intelligence may also be thought of as “information and knowledge about an adversary obtained through observation, investigation, analysis or understanding.”6 A subset of intelligence specific to a nation’s armed forces is known as military intelligence (MI). MI is “intelligence on any foreign military or military-related situation or activity which is significant to military policy making or the planning and conduct of military operations and activities.”7

There are numerous sub-disciplines within intelligence based upon the collection platform and the manner of collection itself. For either side of an insurgency, the most critical discipline is human intelligence (HUMINT) which is “a category of intelligence derived from information collected and provided by human sources.”8 HUMINT could include sources such as collaborators or informants as well as data gleaned from questionings or interrogations of personnel. Of all the various intelligence sub-disciplines, HUMINT is least understood. Mentioning the word HUMINT brings to mind fictional spies such as James Bond or Jack Bauer. Actual HUMINT operations bear scant resemblance to those make-believe characters. However, the perception of HUMINT as an intelligence discipline has forever been colored by Hollywood’s silver screen. Additionally, HUMINT suffered a severe black eye in the fallout from the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003-2004. The facts of Abu

6 Combined Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Publication 2-01 Joint and National Intelligence Support to Military Operations, GL-17 (Washington, D.C.2004). 7 Ibid, GL-21. 8 Ibid, GL-16.

Ghraib are well known and beyond the scope of this study, but the perception of HUMINT operations were forever changed – as was the trusted relationship between unit commanders and military intelligence personnel. For example, the author served as an observer-controller at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Germany from 2006-2008. During that time, the author witnessed more than one brigade task-force commander admonish their intelligence staffs not to “get them arrested” through improper HUMINT operations. No other staff section, or subordinate unit, was given such a stern warning.

A second sub-discipline of intelligence is known as imagery intelligence (IMINT) which is “derived from the exploitation of collection by visual photography, infrared sensors, lasers, electro-optics, and radar sensors such as synthetic aperture radar wherein images of objects are reproduced optically or electronically on film, electronic display devices, or other media.”9 A similar category of intelligence is obtained from “communications, electronic, and foreign instrumentation signals” and known collectively as signal intelligence (SIGINT).10 Essentially, this is a form of eavesdropping onto conversations, transmissions and other audio sources.

A final category of intelligence is derived from a variety of print, visual and audio media sources to include newspapers, unclassified government publications and TV or radio broadcasts. This field, known as open source intelligence (OSINT), is “information of potential intelligence value that is available to the general public.”11 Although it may seem counterintuitive, trained personnel may easily find a surprising amount of intelligence data in published sources.

Given that accurate intelligence affords a distinct advantage in battle, nations and militaries spend significant resources to prevent adversaries from obtaining it. The military defines this specialty of intelligence, known as counterintelligence (CI), as “information gathered and

9 Combined Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Publication 2-01 Joint and National Intelligence Support to Military Operations, GL-16 (Washington, D.C.2004).
10 Ibid, GL-25.
11 Combined Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Publication 2-01 Joint and National Intelligence Support to Military Operations, GL-22 (Washington, D.C.2004).

activities conducted to protect against espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassinations conducted by or on behalf of foreign governments or elements thereof, foreign organizations, or foreign persons, or international activities.”12

This paper is an historical study of the struggles between two peoples who fought very different campaigns against each other. The Irish nationalists, embodied by the IRA, attempted to fight the British along conventional, high intensity conflict lines in all previous campaigns. The Easter Uprising of 1916 was their last attempt to fight “toe to toe” against the British military. The Irish leaders, who survived the battle and British firing squads, recognized the futility of conventional tactics and chose a different path, namely insurgency. For their part, the British government conducted a counterinsurgency campaign, initially with police forces and later with regular military forces. In order to fully understand the context of the associated intelligence methodology, two further definitions are required – insurgency and counterinsurgency. Current US joint doctrine defines an insurgency as “the organized use of subversion by a group or movement that seeks to overthrow or force change of a governing authority.”13 The inverse, counterinsurgency (COIN), is defined as “those military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and civic actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency.”14 Both terms are critical to this paper.

British Intelligence Organizations

“The first lesson we learn therefore is the necessity for a thoroughly good intelligence system so that the Government’s advisers may be in a position to appreciate the situation justly and to put it squarely, fully and honestly before the Cabinet.” – A History of the 5th Division in Ireland15

12 Combined Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Publication 3-0 Joint Operations, GL-12 (Washington, D.C.2004).
13 Combined Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Publication 1-02 Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, 266 (Washington, D.C.2009).
14 Combined Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Publication 1-02 Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, 130 (Washington, D.C.2009).
15 5th British Army Division. A History of the 5th Division in Ireland, November 1919-March 1922. Imperial War Museum Collection, 141 (London).

From the start of the Irish uprising, the British were quick to realize the need for accurate intelligence to combat the insurgency. The British military in particular has a long and storied history of fighting against, and sometimes as, insurgents. During the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, the army fought against insurgents and created insurgent units of their own. Famed British commander Arthur Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington) worked with irregular forces during the Peninsular War of 1807-1814. Queen Elizabeth I and other sovereigns authorized the creation of naval irregular forces that plagued Spanish and French vessels on the high seas during times of war. As recently as 1901, the British military, including Royal Irish regiments, had conducted COIN operations during the Second Boer War.

The government employed numerous military and police organizations in Ireland to generate information on their enemies – very few of which were trained for intelligence work. From the period of 1916 to 1918, the majority of British forces were comprised of existing police and security services to include the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) and British Secret Service. The cessation of hostilities at the end of WWI allowed the British government to redeploy military units from continental Europe to Ireland. Additional RIC police officers were hired from demobilized soldiers seeking employment in post-war Britain. From 1918 until 1921, the British utilized a combination of civil and military units to combat the IRA. Irish Army regiments stationed in Ireland never deployed against the civilian population for obvious reasons. A brief overview of each unit follows.

Royal Irish Constabulary

The most effective British intelligence “platform” was the average Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) officer assigned to the villages, towns and cities of Ireland. RIC police officers were born and raised in Ireland. They spoke the language, and knew the culture. More importantly, they were intimately familiar with, and members of, the population at large. Despite this knowledge, the RIC had one significant weakness that would hamper their overall effectiveness. The RIC lacked the requisite training to identify and rapidly communicate information of value to British military intelligence officers.16

In general, the Irish considered the RIC an honorable profession and trusted the police. Prospective RIC officers regarded employment as “another avenue of social mobility popular among the farming people of Kerry and a further guarantor of the family’s rising social status.”17 Once hired, the RIC enjoyed a “loyalty to the service was also underlined by the tight-knit camaraderie of the men and their families.”18 This mutual trust and respect created a permissive operational environment for the RIC, so much so that officers felt it unnecessary to carry their official issue carbines while on duty.19

Apart from their traditional law enforcement and intelligence duties, the RIC monitored known or suspected subversive organizations such as the Irish National Aid Society and separatist

16 5th British Army Division. A History of the 5th Division in Ireland, November 1919-March 1922. Imperial War Museum Collection, 24 (London).
17 Peter Hart, The IRA and Its Enemies: Violence and Community in Cork 1916-1923 (New York City: Oxford University Press, 1998), 1.
18 Ibid, 3.
19 W.J. Lowe, “The War Against the R.I.C., 1919-1921,” Eire-Ireland: a Journal of Irish Studies (Fall-Winter 2002): 75.

political parties.20 This additional duty proved to be a double-edged sword. Although the RIC were the best asset to collect on local level organizations and persons, they were known quantities in their towns or villages. This necessarily hampered their access to IRA or Sinn Fein supporters. It also placed them in direct confrontation with Irish nationalist movements and thus made them prime targets for elimination.

Black and Tans

By 1919, it became obvious to the British that current RIC structure and staffing were insufficient to combat the IRA and restore peace to Ireland. As the British considered the IRA a criminal matter, the decision was made to increase the RIC’s manpower instead of deploying regular Army units. Recruits were hired faster than the supply system could properly cloth them. “As no stocks of R.I.C. uniform were available for some time, these men were dressed in service dress with R.I.C. caps; hence started the nick-name of “Black and Tans” – a term the accurate definition of which has been much misunderstood” (original emphasis).21

Contrary to popular belief, the British government did not create the “Black and Tans” to act independently of other security forces. In actuality, the Black and Tans were simply new, non-Irish recruits, hired to replace losses within the RIC ranks inflicted by the IRA. Irish applicants were rare, and by December 1919 the British were forced to recruit outside Ireland.22 Most of the men hired were demobilized soldiers and veterans of WWI who were unable to find employment in England. Despite the differences in uniform between the original RIC and the new recruits, the Black and Tans performed the same duties and were subject to the same disciplinary rules.23

20 Michael Laffan, The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Fein Party 1916-1923 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 68, 82.
21 5th British Army Division. A History of the 5th Division in Ireland, November 1919-March 1922. Imperial War Museum Collection, 33-34 (London).
22 307. A Gallant Gunner General – The Life and Times of Sir H. Hugh Tudor, K.C.B., C.M.G., together with an edited version of his 1914-1918 War Diary. Tudor Papers. Imperial War Museum, London.
23 Ibid, 309.

Following training at camps in Scotland and England, the Black and Tans deployed to Ireland in 1920.

The Black and Tans were primarily drawn from men who had extensive combat experience during WWI. Officially, they were RIC policemen involved in combating the IRA’s criminal activities. Unofficially, many of them saw Ireland as simply another battlefield and the Irish people as their enemy. Unlike original RIC constables, the Black and Tans dressed and equipped themselves for high intensity combat, walking “about like miniature arsenals, a brace of revolvers on each hip, bandoleers of ammunition slung around, and a short musket to finish the ensemble.”24

The Black and Tans methods were also far different from those previously conducted by the original RIC. They favored offensive action and were more liberal in their use of violence against the IRA and civilians. Neither their approach, nor their militant dress, engendered them to the Irish population. Many British soldiers were shocked at their behavior, although some favored a more aggressive approach to combating the IRA. Major General L.A. Hawes, who served in Ireland as a staff captain, wrote that the Black and Tans “…were tough. They met the rebels on level terms and beat them at their own game. This was the reason for their extreme unpopularity.”25

Relations between the Black and Tans and the Army were characterized by distrust and friction. Intuitively, one might have expected a more cordial relationship given the shared experiences of military service during WWI. The historical record provides ample documentation on the Black and Tans aggressive tactics and potentially illegal actions. There are also numerous instances of senior commanders citing the RIC’s overall professionalism and conduct in the field. Were the RIC as brutal as some would claim? The actual truth of the matter is irrelevant. In the

24 Diary of J.P. Swindlehurst, Jan. 21, 1921, Imperial War Museum, London, United Kingdom. 25 68. Kwab-O-Kayal (The Memories and Dreams of an Ordinary Soldier). Hawes Papers. Imperial War Museum, London.

eyes of the Irish citizenry, and a number of British soldiers, the Black and Tans were violent, aggressive and brutal. That perception became the reality in the streets of Dublin, Cork and Killarney. The Black and Tans actions isolated the Irish citizens from the British security forces, and drove a wedge between the police and the military. Army leaders went so far as to publish an advertisement in the Irish Daily Mail praising their soldiers restrained behavior, acknowledging the Black and Tans poor discipline and asking the Irish people to avoid “lumping them together.”26

Dublin Metropolitan Police

Similar to, but distinct from, the RIC were the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP). As with the RIC, the DMP was a law enforcement organization that worked for the civil governing body responsible for maintaining law and order within Dublin itself. The DMP worked with the RIC and later the military to combat the IRA. As with the RIC, the IRA specifically targeted the metropolitan police due to their familiarity with the city and its inhabitants. Off-duty officers

26 A Tribute To Our Army in Ireland, Irish Daily Times, June 3, 1921.

were regular victims of IRA assassination teams. These attacks were so effective that, by the end of 1919 the DMP detective division consisted of approximately six men. The Army considered the DMP of little use and assigned them basic security duties rather than attempting to fully integrate them into operations.27

British Secret Service

As a people, the British have a long and storied history of employing agents, dubbed the British Secret Service (BSS), against their internal and external enemies. Their efforts have often been successful, so much so that many nations emulated the English design – the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistani Directorate for Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to name but two. Before delving into the specifics, a distinction must be made between the American and British concepts of secret service. The United States Secret Service (USSS) is not an intelligence organization; it is a federal law enforcement agency “mandated by Congress to carry out dual missions: protection of national and visiting foreign leaders, and criminal investigations.”28 When applied to the British, the phrase secret service means the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly referred to as MI6. This organization “provides the British Government with a global covert capability to promote and defend the national security and economic well-being of the United Kingdom.”29

As such, the British controlled Irish government in Dublin directly managed secret service operations. In late 1919, the Irish government transferred responsibility for the secret service to BSS central headquarters located in Scotland House, London. There were two reasons for this

27 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume I, Operations, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 4 (London, 1922).
28 “Who We Are,” United States Secret Service, http://www.secretservice.gov/whoweare.shtml (accessed December 9, 2009).
29 “Welcome.” The Secret Intelligence Service Website. http://www.sis.gov.uk/output/sis-home-welcome.html (accessed December 9, 2009).

change. First, the Irish government believed it would be more effective to recruit and train prospective agents in Britain proper. Second, it was hoped the transfer enhance the BSS’s operational security (OPSEC) against IRA infiltration and collection efforts. The transfer applied to all agents already present in Ireland, except those belonging to the British Army’s Intelligence Branch at G.H.Q.

From a command and control perspective, the plan to move control of BSS activities from Dublin to London seems counter intuitive – especially in light of the communications systems available during the period. Scotland House recognized the potential pitfalls of the change, namely operational delay and confusion, and assigned a full time liaison officer to Army G.H.Q. in Dublin.

The move to London also raises significant questions as to the depth and degree of penetration of British operations by the IRA. Neither the investigative arms of the RIC, nor the Dublin Metropolitan Police were included in this plan. Officially, these two organizations were not included in the move due to the assassinations of their best detectives.30 One can easily surmise the BSS and military were concerned about IRA infiltration and decided to avoid the issue altogether. Regardless of the rationale for the BSS’s reorganization, the results were less than impressive. The British Army surmised the BSS’ contribution to intelligence as “A small amount of general and political information was collected through this source but none on which any action was possible.”31

Military Intelligence

“One of the great obstacles to intelligence was the almost universal ignorance of all ranks as to what intelligence might be. It was generally regarded as secret service and nothing else, and comparatively few realised that conditions in Ireland emphasised the importance of the words that in war the bulk of all intelligence is, or should be, obtained by fighting troops.”32

30 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume II, Intelligence, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 7 (London, 1922).
31 Ibid, 7.
32 Ibid, 30.

Throughout the conflict, the British Army suffered from a chronic lack of trained and experienced military intelligence personnel. Part of this deficiency is attributed to the British government’s focus on defeating the Central Powers during WWI and considering Ireland a secondary priority. The handful of trained intelligence officers assigned to Ireland were primarily concerned with the capture of German agents known to be fomenting unrest amongst the Irish and supplying nationalist movements with arms. Apart from the RIC, who considered IRA activities a criminal matter, the military gave scant attention to the nationalists.33 During the period from 1916 to 1918, the RIC assigned a police officer to the General Headquarters to act as the head of intelligence operations within Ireland. As with the rank and file of the RIC, this intelligence chief was intimately familiar with the region and the players, but was untrained in staff procedures.34

The signing of the Treaty of Versailles in late 1918 put an end to the Great War, and Britain began to refocus its efforts on the growing nationalist movement in Ireland. Surprisingly, the British did not employ their Royal Irish regiments recruited, trained and stationed in Ireland. Despite these units’ superior cultural awareness, local area knowledge and language skills, it was thought they would be averse to fighting their Sinn Fein brothers. Intelligence overall suffered greatly as there was no office responsible for information management and analysis or collection guidance to the field. One may easily surmise that the British government in Ireland, as well as in London proper, was blind to the actual threat posed by IRA and Sinn Fein.35 Instead, British units

33 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume II, Intelligence, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 4 (London, 1922). 34 Ibid, 5. 35 67. Kwab-O-Kayal (The Memories and Dreams of an Ordinary Soldier). Hawes Papers. Imperial War Museum, London.

redeployed from Europe and the Middle East to quell the unrest. The soldiers were well equipped, trained and experienced – and appeared to be properly suited for operations in Ireland. However, like their civil counterparts in the RIC, regular army soldiers and units were unprepared to conduct intelligence operations in a counterinsurgency environment. The 5th Division, which served in Ireland from 1919 until 1922, was initially allocated one intelligence officer at the division and subordinate brigade headquarters. Above division level, the situation was much the same. While the Army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) did replace the RIC head of intelligence with a trained military staff officer, the staff size itself remained inadequate for the appointed task. In 1919, as military units began to arrive in earnest, the GHQ intelligence staff consisted of just two officers and a clerk. Additionally, the Army assigned an additional officer to cover each of the four military districts in Ireland. GHQ occasionally sent an officer to handle “special military” intelligence duties as the need arose, but these appointments were ad-hoc and temporary in nature.36

Further complicating this situation was the manner in which intelligence officers were selected, trained and assigned duties. Officers initially chosen to fill military intelligence positions were viewed either as assistant operations officers, or directed to retain their original staff responsibilities.37 In either situation, intelligence became a secondary function. As the British still viewed the situation as a law enforcement issue, military intelligence officers were also required to assist with criminal proceedings under the Defence of the Realm Regulations – which was yet another drain on their scare time and resources.38

36 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume II, Intelligence, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 6 (London, 1922).
37 Ibid, 7.
38 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume II, Intelligence, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 7 (London, 1922).

These deficiencies forced the British Army to rely almost exclusively upon the RIC for intelligence.39 The paucity of military intelligence personnel had two direct results. First, it created significant information gaps in the unit’s ability to “see” the battlefield. Second, the IRA increased their attacks upon the RIC to deny the British the intelligence they so desperately needed. Information received from the RIC was a mixed blessing. Whilst the RIC were the subject matter experts of their respective areas of operation, they lacked the ability to identify and quickly provide critical information to the military. As a result, the military often conducted raids on homes and searched persons on the street based upon faulty intelligence. These operations further alienated the military from the Irish people and generated support for the IRA. Adding insult to injury, as neither the RIC nor the DMP could accurately identify IRA members; the Army subsequently released many of those arrested. British leaders quickly recognized the harm from these raids and directed each division and brigade to create military intelligence sections. Accurate intelligence, derived from multiple sources including captured documents and informants, subsequently led to successful raids and did serious damage to the IRA.

Despite the deployment of regular army units to Ireland, the level of violence continued to rise throughout 1919. Accordingly, the British government increased the size and scope of the military’s role in the conflict. Military leaders, keen to the value of accurate information, expanded the size of their intelligence staffs and began to shield them from other, non-intelligence related duties. For the first time, GHQ authorized intelligence officers down to the battalion level, although many of the appointments were based upon inherent ability rather than formal training.40 In many battalions, many MI officers collaborated with “scout officers” who

39 5th British Army Division. A History of the 5th Division in Ireland, November 1919-March 1922. Imperial War Museum Collection, 24 (London).
40 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume I, Operations, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 7(London, 1922).

directed unit reconnaissance and surveillance operations.41 The partnering of intelligence requirements with unit patrols ensure that information gaps were identified and closed – to great effect against the IRA.

Many of the battalion level intelligence officers were energetic young men who possessed more élan than experience. They were also rather poor in manpower resources, especially trained soldiers able to manage HUMINT sources. Consequently, they often conducted intelligence gathering or source meetings on their own, and in uniform, despite the inherent dangers. For example, intelligence officers monitored Catholic Mass ceremonies or public speeches to detect IRA sympathies.42 Information gathered in this manner was no doubt of value to British counterinsurgency efforts, but it presented a mortal danger to the officers performing such duties.

As with the RIC, the IRA realized these MI officers were a growing threat and began systematic targeting of intelligence personnel in the summer of 1920. By the time of the British Army’s intervention, IRA Chief of Intelligence Michael Collins possessed an organization capable of quickly identifying and removing zealous intelligence officers. Even senior personnel, to include the acting head of British intelligence in Dublin Castle, were subject to attack.43 IRA operations against MI officers were most effective in the south where a number of British soldiers kidnapped or murdered.44 The impact of these losses bears some examination in detail. Apart from the effect on unit morale, the death or kidnap of experienced intelligence officer decreased their units’ overall ability to identify and target IRA or Sinn Fein members. Replacement officers

41 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume II, Intelligence, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 10 (London, 1922).
42 Michael Laffan, The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Fein Party 1916-1923 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 141, 148.
43 Ibid, 275.
44 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume II, Intelligence, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 11 (London, 1922).

required time to learn the unit AOR, the enemy and the local populace. HUMINT sources may not trust a new officer, or even be known to the other staff officers.

Throughout 1919 and 1920, GHQ, division and brigade level staffs made numerous changes that improved their effectiveness. First, GHQ reorganized the entire intelligence staff and assigned an additional officer to collate the information flowing to and from each division area of operations (AOR).45 Prior to this reorganization, Dublin Castle was described as “some thirty-six Departments, many of them hardly on speaking terms with each other” and… “honeycombed with spies and informers who cannot be trusted.”46 While seemingly an obvious move, this was the first attempt to centralize the intelligence picture at the GHQ level and afford some sense of the situation on the ground facing the British. Division level headquarters, recognizing both the scale of the problem and the value of intelligence, assigned an additional officer to their respective military intelligence sections.47 In mid-1920, GHQ created a Documents Section and Photographic Bureau, to assist with intelligence duties. Based upon the GHQ model, division and brigade headquarters created similar sections.48

Other changes played a role as well. For the first time, GHQ authorized a special intelligence fund for divisional commanders to use in hiring, or rewarding, informants. Prior to this authorization, commanders had no discretionary funding to entice potential sources and were reliant upon individuals motivated by other means. GHQ requested and received a handful of

45 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume I, Operations, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 9 (London, 1922). 46 Michael Laffan, The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Fein Party 1916-1923 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 292. 47 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume I, Operations, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 9 (London, 1922). 48 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume II, Intelligence, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 11 (London, 1922).

trained dogs to assist with raids and searches.49 Recognizing the inherent inexperience and lack of proper intelligence training amongst its newly selected MI officers, GHQ required all new MI personnel to spend a month working at the central office in Dublin.50 This training requirement ensured that new officers were proficient with staff protocols, thereby decreasing the amount of time they spent on administrative tasks. The time spent at GHQ also familiarized MI officers with the conflict’s “big picture” and the assets available for collection requests once they joined their actual unit. Furthermore, this training period built strong relationships between GHQ and subordinate unit intelligence staffs.

The most important change in the British intelligence organization scheme came almost too late to make an impact. In 1921, the government realized the problems inherent with multiple, uncoordinated intelligence bodies. To correct this deficiency, they created a central intelligence office under the Chief of Police, with headquarters in Dublin Castle, and responsive to the Irish government. For the first time since the beginning of hostilities, information from the RIC and its Auxiliaries, the DMP, the Secret Service and the army was fused into one coherent intelligence picture.51 Now, military intelligence was a tremendous force multiplier to British counterinsurgency efforts and seriously degraded the command structure of the IRA. British raids accounted for the arrest of no less than 19 brigade commanders, 90 battalion commanders and 1,600 company level members. More importantly, the RIC in County Leitreim reported that Irish locals were once again providing them useful information after a long period of silence.52

49 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume II, Intelligence, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 11 (London, 1922).
50 Ibid, 11.
51 Ibid, 13.
52 Michael Laffan, The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Fein Party 1916-1923 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 296-297.

Human Intelligence (HUMINT)

“spies in our midst… they are the eyes and ears of the enemy.” – Eamon de Valera53

British HUMINT

As with most historical insurgencies, HUMINT was the primary intelligence discipline utilized by both sides throughout the Anglo-Irish War. In part, this occurred due to the lack and capability of platforms capable of collecting SIGINT or IMINT available at the beginning of the 20th century. Thus, both antagonists relied heavily upon HUMINT to develop their respective understanding of their enemies.

British HUMINT operations suffered greatly from the government’s failure to collect and maintain regional or national level census data. This knowledge gap led directly to an over-reliance upon the RIC for information on the public at large. Although this may not have been an issue in the early period of the conflict, it became a tremendous liability once the IRA began specific targeting of the RIC. Veteran RIC officers, familiar with all aspects of the local culture and population, were replaced by new members recruited outside Ireland or by former British Army soldiers. These men lacked the requisite knowledge and intimate contacts required to develop, evaluate, task and protect HUMINT sources.

With the end of WWI, the British government was finally able to focus on its campaign in Ireland. Discharged soldiers, unable to find employment in the United Kingdom, joined the ranks of the RIC. Military leaders were quick to identify the lack of reliable and accurate intelligence. Given the RIC’s degraded HUMINT capacity, the Army authorized intelligence officers down to the brigade and battalion level. In lieu of established HUMINT procedures and sources, unit intelligence staffs found success by “getting to know their districts, liaising with the often

53 Peter Hart, The IRA and Its Enemies: Violence and Community in Cork 1916-1923 (New York City: Oxford University Press, 1998), 77.

reluctant constabulary, interrogating prisoners, examining captured documents and building up contacts.”54

The British found that their best HUMINT sources came from within the ranks of the IRA itself. The motivation of these individuals varied, but was often a direct response to the IRA’s methodology. Some informants had disagreements with other IRA members and provided information to the British as a means to handle internal conflicts. Some broke under British interrogation or intimidation. Others were seeking revenge after poor treatment from the IRA, such as kidnappings, theft or property damage. The British made effective use of this information to conduct numerous raids, ambushes and arm seizures throughout the island.55

One glaring HUMINT gap within the British HUMINT system was their failure to place intelligence agents or sources amongst imprisoned IRA members and supporters. This was a highly dangerous proposition, but could have yielded important data not readily available through interrogation or other means. The military had extensive experience with detainee operations from WWI. This can most likely be attributed to the relative inexperience and extensive workload of the newly minted intelligence officers. Brigadier F. H. Vinden, who served with the Suffolk Regiment in Ireland, wrote in his memoirs that “Thinking over our time in the Curragh, I have realized how frightfully “green” we were. We never even thought of putting agents in the cage through whom we could have hoped to get some information”56 Further exacerbating the problem was Britain’s policy of internment without trial, which filled the prison system beyond capacity.57 Intelligence officers were always in short supply, and units in the field were of higher priority than detention facilities.

54 Peter Hart, The IRA and Its Enemies: Violence and Community in Cork 1916-1923 (New York City: Oxford University Press, 1998), 93.
55 Ibid, 307.
56 Diary of Brigadier F.H. Vinden, page 32-33, Imperial War Museum, London, United Kingdom.
57 Ibid, 30.

One of the most critical HUMINT tasks is the interrogation of detained personnel. If performed correctly, by a trained and seasoned examiner, interrogation can be one of the most effective methods to gain intelligence from a prisoner. Unfortunately, like HUMINT in general, interrogation is one of the most misunderstood and misapplied tasks in the military intelligence field. If the British Army had any failing in their HUMINT operations, it was in the field of interrogation. Part of this failure stemmed from the police and military personnel selected to conduct interrogations. Often times the interrogators were the same soldiers or policemen who captured the detainees – and lacked the requisite training for proper questioning. British Army Private J.P. Swindlehurst worked extensively with the RIC during his deployment to Dublin, during which he documented several cases of Black and Tans beating suspects. On 28 January 1921, Swindlehurst recorded the following observation on Black and Tan interrogation methods. “The Black and Tans have their grilling room, they are at it night and day, knocking information out of suspects and prisoners alike, and then carting them off to Mountjoy more dead than alive.”58 Apart from the obvious physical dangers of prisoner abuse, there are several other potential fallout from this type of interrogation. First, given enough punishment, prisoners will lie or make up information to avoid further pain or injury. This may satisfy the interrogators immediate needs but will ultimately create a false intelligence picture for unit leaders. Second, detainee abuse can rapidly turn local, national, or even international opinion against the force employing it. Third, a commander that authorizes, or ignores prisoner abuse, risks losing discipline and control over their units. It appears that British commanders gave little actual guidance to their soldiers on how prisoners were to be treated or interrogated during the conflict. The case of General Sir Henry Tudor, who served in Ireland as a military advisor to the beleaguered security forces, is

58 Diary of J.P. Swindlehurst, Jan. 28, 1921, Imperial War Museum, London, United Kingdom.

instructive on this critical point. Tudor was sent to Ireland to put the RIC back on the offensive whilst simultaneously restoring their morale and discipline. He provided modern weaponry and transportation and made vast improvements to the RIC police stations’ defenses. His memoirs, however, fail to document any orders or regulations regarding prisoners.59

This is not to imply that British leaders were unaware of the potential impact of their operations on the Irish population. Indeed, the historical record proves otherwise – especially amongst the senior British politicians and commanders. England’s Prime Minister Lloyd George ordered the senior Army commander, LTG Jeudwine, to ensure British forces “go out of our way not to be disagreeable to the unoffending inhabitants.” Jeudwine responded by pointing out “in Ireland it is very difficult to distinguish between the offending and unoffending article.”60

HUMINT source operations proved troubling as well, especially in terms of providing security to informants. Consider the following example. In December 1920, the British 5th Division intelligence officer had 45 active HUMINT sources in his employ. That month, the IRA killed a number of suspected informants, although only one person was actually working for the British. Despite the IRA’s rather poor record, many of the 5th Division’s agents stopped their activities altogether.61 This trend held throughout Ireland. County Cork, for example, witnessed over 200 IRA assassinations of accused informants from 1916 to 1921.62

59 319-320. A Gallant Gunner General – The Life and Times of Sir H. Hugh Tudor, K.C.B., C.M.G., together with an edited version of his 1914-1918 War Diary. Tudor Papers. Imperial War Museum, London.
60 Hugh Jeudwine to Bower, Dec. 10, 1920, in General Sir Hugh Jeudwine Papers, Imperial War Museum, London, England
61 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume II, Intelligence, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 12 (London, 1922).
62 Peter Hart, The IRA and Its Enemies: Violence and Community in Cork 1916-1923 (New York City: Oxford University Press, 1998), 296.

IRA Reaction

The IRA quickly realized the danger posed by the RIC and began operations to target policemen. IRA response to RIC support of British operations varied from locale to locale, but always sought to drive a wedge between the police and the community.63These actions included information campaigns in which IRA members placed notices calling for community boycotts of the RIC in public places. Irish citizens who failed to uphold the boycott were likely to be threatened as well.

Although the exact wording and content varied, the intent was always clear. One such boycott poster stated, “The R.I.C. are Ireland’s enemies. Anyone that supplies them with anything, or girls seen with them, are traitors to Ireland. RIP.”64These orders came directly from senior Irish leaders through official decrees. In 1919, Sinn Féin president Éamon de Valera, ordered that the RIC “be ostracized socially and publicly by the people of Ireland.”65 The Irish Dáil Éireann later clarified this rather vague statement to mean:

“that the police forces must receive no social recognition from the people; that no intercourse except such as is absolutely necessary on business, be permitted with them; that they should not be saluted or spoken to in the streets or elsewhere nor their salutes returned; that they should not be invited to nor received in private houses as friends or guests; that they be debarred from participation in games, sports, dances and all social functions conducted by the people; that intermarriage with them be discouraged; that, in a word, the police should be treated as persons, who having been adjudged guilty of treason to their country, are regarded as unworthy to enjoy any of the privileges and comforts which arise from cordial relations with the public.”66

The impact of such an order, couched as an official government order, must have been tremendous upon RIC morale. It effectively removed them, and perhaps more importantly their

63 W.J. Lowe, “The War Against the R.I.C., 1919-1921,” Eire-Ireland: a Journal of Irish Studies (Fall-Winter 2002): 75.
64 W.J. Lowe, “The War Against the R.I.C., 1919-1921,” Eire-Ireland: a Journal of Irish Studies (Fall-Winter 2002): 84.
65 304. A Gallant Gunner General – The Life and Times of Sir H. Hugh Tudor, K.C.B., C.M.G., together with an edited version of his 1914-1918 War Diary. Tudor Papers. Imperial War Museum, London.
66 304. A Gallant Gunner General – The Life and Times of Sir H. Hugh Tudor, K.C.B., C.M.G., together with an edited version of his 1914-1918 War Diary. Tudor Papers. Imperial War Museum, London.

families, from virtually all discourse with their countrymen. Social support would only be found amongst other RIC officers and their families, thereby creating an “us vs. them” situation.

Although other symbols of British power were regularly threatened or attacked, the RIC bore the brunt of the actual violence. From the IRA’s perspective, the singling out of police officers served several purposes. First and foremost, the RIC were the “manifestation of British authority that Irish people encountered most regularly.”67 The IRA ensured its operations were visible to the public, highly effective and exceedingly deadly. In a two-year period between January 1919 and the cessation of hostilities in 1921, the IRA killed or wounded at least 366 RIC officers – and attacked or threatened an unknown number of RIC family members.68 In this early phase of the conflict, RIC officers were Irish citizens and brother Catholics. The Irish people viewed the IRA’s assassination campaign in a highly negative light. This presented a prime opportunity for the British government to regain public support – one the British government failed to use.69

The IRA consciously selected targets outside of the RIC and British military. As part of their extensive information operations campaign to garner support for their cause, the IRA penned songs immortalizing those who stood against the British. Perhaps the best example of this rather unique propaganda tool was the tune “Kevin Barry.” The song commemorates the life, arrest and later execution of the first IRA member charged under the Defence of the Realm Act of 1920. Although ostensibly written to memorialize Barry, and demonize the British, it also served to remind the Irish population as to their duty if questioned. As an aside, the British Army made use of Barry’s execution within their ranks. Military leaders cited Barry’s case not only to

67 W.J. Lowe, “The War Against the R.I.C., 1919-1921,” Eire-Ireland: a Journal of Irish Studies (Fall-Winter 2002): 75.
68 317. A Gallant Gunner General – The Life and Times of Sir H. Hugh Tudor, K.C.B., C.M.G., together with an edited version of his 1914-1918 War Diary. Tudor Papers. Imperial War Museum, London.
69 Michael Laffan, The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Fein Party 1916-1923 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 271.

demonstrate British effectiveness, but also to dissuade their soldiers from exacting what may be termed street justice against the IRA.70

Irish men and women who failed to heed Barry’s example faced the vengeance of the IRA. The organization routinely rounded up Irish citizens suspected of working as HUMINT sources for the British or those that simply provided information to their enemies. In general, Sinn Fein tried suspects in a shadow court martial system that operated outside the legitimate Irish courts. Verdicts and sentences varied based upon the court and evidence, but common sentences included execution or exile from Ireland. Interestingly, IRA rules directed that members suspected of working for the British received trial by courts outside the jurisdiction of their parent unit.71

IRA HUMINT

Throughout the conflict, the IRA and Sinn Fein were masters at infiltrating or developing HUMINT sources within British government and military organizations. IRA informants provided advance warning of surprise raids that not only frustrated the military, but also cast suspicion over all Irish in British employ.73 The British responded by issuing a series of false alerts before and after raids to keep the IRA off-balance as to when they would actually strike. British deception were notably effective in County Cork, where IRA members later testified, “it was pretty hard to get inside the ring” of Army operations.73 This was not the case across Ireland, however, as IRA HUMINT activities in Dublin Castle were so successful that it created

70 Doherty, M.A. “Kevin Barry and the Anglo-Irish Propaganda War.” Irish Historical Studies 126 (Nov 2000): 217.
71 Tim Herlihy. Witness Statement 810, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archives, Dublin.
72 Tim O’Keefe and Jim Aherr. Witness Statement 810, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archvies, Dublin.
73 Tim O’Keefe and Jim Aherr. Witness Statement 810, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archvies, Dublin.

significant mistrust within the British military. The Royal Navy, for example, “felt, justifiably, that Dublin Castle was too leaky to be trusted.”74

The IRA employed numerous people to watch RIC police stations and British Army installations. These observers were tasked to note who entered or left in order to identify informants or secret service personnel and to provide early warning of troop patrols or raids. A favorite tactic of the IRA was to arrange a carefully planned ambush and fire a handful of shots to draw the RIC or military out of barracks. Informants kept the IRA apprised on the unit’s route and progress to the ambush site.75 Although the IRA could only employ this tactic intermittently, it was an effective means for the insurgent to dictate the terms and ground for battle. A similar method was employed against individual RIC officers using unarmed observers who shadowed the target until handing off to the actual hit team.76

Apart from direct surveillance, the IRA attempted to use other means to develop intelligence on their enemies. Michael Collins, the IRA’s Intelligence Chief, actively sought to recruit sources from anyone who might encounter the British or RIC through their normal daily business including waiters, hotel porters, or railway workers.77 Dan Donovan, who was secretary to Michael Collins, even suggested meeting with Irish students at Trinity College in Dublin who had served in the British Army during WWI. Donovan believed these ex-servicemen could provide information on the much despised, if effective, Black and Tans.78 Regardless of their background, the IRA vetted all potential HUMINT sources before tasking them for collection. Apart from

74 Michael Laffan, The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Fein Party 1916-1923 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 37.
75 Tim Herlihy. Witness Statement 810, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archives, Dublin.
76 John (Jack) Ahern. Witness Statement 970, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archives, Dublin.
77 Colonel Charles Dalton. Witness Statement 434, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archives, Dublin.
78 J.N. (Sean) Beaumont. Witness Statement 709, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archives, Dublin.

concern over British infiltration, the IRA’s chief concern with new sources was the danger posed by their enthusiasm.79 Simply stated, an overly eager HUMINT source could easily generate suspicion from the British or RIC.

One of the IRA’s most effective sources, recruited in the manner suggested by Donovan, was a two-man team comprised of brothers Sean and William Beaumont. Their methods of intelligence gathering were simple and effective. William served as the point man, making friends from the RIC Auxiliaries and spending nearly every night in their company. He was a routine guest at GHQ in Dublin Castle and was even shown official intelligence documents by his British acquaintances. William recorded all the information he gathered and passed the notes to Sean, who later transferred them directly to Dan Donovan. Sean had two functions. First, he transferred the information to IRA intelligence officers, thereby eliminating the need for William to meet with them in person. Second, he was a member of the British Officer Training Corps at Trinity College in Dublin, which afforded him a degree of trust and respectability in British eyes.80 The Beaumont brother’s work must have been successful, as they were later introduced to members of the Dublin Squad. Michael Collins, who personally created the Squad, tasked the unit to identify and assassinate key members of the RIC and military. The Squad directed Sean and William to employ a set of pre-arranged signals to alert the IRA when they were in the company of RIC members.81

Railway workers were another favorite IRA HUMINT source given the British Army’s use of Ireland’s rail networks for large unit movements. The British Railway office required advance notice from the army in order to have the requisite number of locomotives, cars and tracks available. From there, it was a simple matter for the IRA to task the railway staff to notify them

79 Colonel Charles Dalton. Witness Statement 434, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archvies, Dublin.
80 J.N. (Sean) Beaumont. Witness Statement 709, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archives, Dublin.
81 Ibid.

of these requests and the train’s destination.82 While the British were certainly aware of the inherent risk posed by railway use, there was little they could do short of taking over the network themselves. Although these operations were directed against entire British units, rail employees also identified individual British army or RIC officers for attacks by IRA hit teams.83

Although the majority of IRA HUMINT sources were relatively low-level people working in everyday occupations, the organization had some success with better-placed recruits. British Army Captain R.D. Jeune was present at a raid in which documents stolen and signed by Assistant Under Secretary A.W. Cope were recovered. Cope, a protégé of then Prime Minister Lloyd George, ostensibly worked for the British government at Dublin Castle, but also sent documents to Sinn Fein. A subsequent investigation revealed Cope had also arranged for known members of Sinn Fein to enter the Castle by posing as electricians. Given Cope’s relationship with the Prime Minister, he was sparred official punishment, but the damage had already been done in terms of information compromise.84

When compared to today’s advanced ISR platforms, the IRA’s system may appear rather crude. In actuality, it provided numerous advantages to the insurgent. First, the IRA could easily use women or children who were less likely to draw suspicion from the RIC or Army. Dan Forde, who served in the IRA as a boy, routinely used his schoolbooks to conceal messages from British patrols without incident.85 The use of unarmed ISR assets provided deniability if caught, and forced government authorities to consider the entire population as possible IRA informants – thereby increasing mutual distrust between the British and Irish peoples.

82 Patrick Crowe. Witness Statement 775, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archives, Dublin.
83 Peter Hart, The IRA and Its Enemies: Violence and Community in Cork 1916-1923 (New York City: Oxford University Press, 1998), 92.
84 Diary of Captain R.D. Jeune, Imperial War Museum, London, United Kingdom.
85 Dan Forde. Witness Statement 810, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archvies, Dublin.

British Response

As expected, the British government implemented laws that further drove the Irish populace into the waiting arms of Irish nationalists – many of whom were already resentful of the threat posed by British military conscription during the Great War. Debate raged in the British Prime Minister’s Office, in Parliament and at the Army GHQ as to which legal measures, if any, the government should authorize for control of the Irish population. The primary argument concerned the need for, and affect of, declaring martial law in Ireland. The impact of these debates upon intelligence matters is of importance to this study, and a brief analysis follows.

Initially, British government officials resisted attempts to declare martial law86in Ireland either by individual counties or across the nation as a whole. It was their belief that the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA), passed at the beginning of WWI in 1914, afforded sufficient powers to both military and civil bodies to secure the nation. Given that DORA had seen Britain through the conflict, the assumption it would suffice in Ireland appears sound at first glance. In actuality, however, the DORA provisions were ill suited to COIN operations conducted within the boundaries of the United Kingdom. DORA did authorize the military to temporarily seize land or restrict road traffic, allow policemen to stop and inspect vehicles suspected of illegal activity, and prevent the flying of kites or pigeons as potential signals to enemy aircraft. DORA did not create a single command structure for the military and police to coordinate operations or intelligence and did not authorize the military to arrest, detain or try suspected insurgents. Additionally, DORA did not provide for control of the press, for the declaration of curfews, or call for harsher sentencing of convicted persons.87 Unsurprisingly, the military, led by LTG Jeudwine, felt the DORA was insufficient in a COIN environment and wanted an official declaration of martial law.

86 Merriam Webster’s online encyclopedia defines martial law as “the law administered by military forces that is invoked by a government in an emergency when the civilian law enforcement agencies are unable to maintain public order and safety.
87 “Supplement to the London Gazette 1 September 1914,” Internet Archive. http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/issues/28887/supplements/6968/page.pdf, (accessed March 23, 2010).

Beginning in late 1920, Jeudwine carried on a robust correspondence with other senior officers and government officials advocating martial law. His primary concern was to clarify the vexing uncertainty regarding the responsibilities and powers of the military in Ireland. He expressed his frustration with the civilian government in London and their unwillingness to clarify the Army’s role. In a letter to Chief of the Imperial General Staff Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson, Jeudwine wrote,

“I tried again last night to get our (Military) position more clearly defined, with my usual non- success. As I understand it we soldiers in Ireland are there in aid of the Civil Power, and we are therefore in no sense responsible from a military point of view.”88

Jeudwine concerns were well justified. There was no clear delineation on which body, civil or military, was responsible for the conduct of courts martial proceedings, the selection and security of courts martial venues, or the protection of witnesses – to include his intelligence officers

88 Hugh Jeudwine to Henry Wilson, Nov. 23, 1920, in General Sir Hugh Jeudwine Papers, Imperial War Museum, London, England

present at trial.89 Reading these letters, one gets a sense of the discord between Parliament in London and the Army stationed in Dublin, especially given the increased number of IRA attacks against British targets. Jeudwine concluded his note to Wilson stating,

“There was no Cabinet yesterday about Ireland, nor is there going to be one today, the fact being of course, that as nothing has happened in Ireland necessitating a meeting of the Cabinet the Cabinet does not meet. The murder of 10, or 12, or 14 officers is a matter of small amount.”90

Undaunted by London’s apparent detachment from operations in Ireland, Jeudwine continued his letter writing campaign. On a piece of GHQ Dublin stationary, dated December 1st, 1920, he compiled a list of numerous advantages the military, and the British government, should expect from martial law. He believed martial law would provide unity of command between the military and police forces and increase promptitude in action and administration. Furthermore, under martial law, the military could detain suspects, bring them to trial and impose heavy sentences for those found guilty of possessing firearms or harboring known rebels. Martial law would allow the military to restrict civilian movement and force while requiring the populace to obtain and carry identification. Even the press would face restrictions via military control. Finally, Jeudwine believed the military itself would benefit from the moral effect resultant from a clearly defined mission, command relationship with the police and broader powers over the Irish people.91

Two days later, Jeudwine elaborated upon these advantages in a formal letter to an unnamed British Field Marshall (presumably Wilson). Further, Jeudwine recommended the requirement for civilians to use passports whilst traveling to and from Ireland as a means of control, and to identify wanted IRA and Sinn Fein members. Jeudwine recognized that his forces were inadequate for this task and requested additional assistance from the Royal Navy. Photographs and descriptions of wanted men to be distributed across Ireland with stiff sentences for anyone

89 Ibid.
90 Ibid.
91 Hugh Jeudwine to unnamed recipient, Dec. 1, 1920, in General Sir Hugh Jeudwine Papers, Imperial War Museum, London, United Kingdom.

caught assisting them. In effect, Jeudwine was attempting to turn the tables on his opponent by isolating them from the Irish people, much in the same way as the Dáil’s 1919 proclamation.92

Despite the potential advantages gained by martial law, government resistance centered on the belief the insurrection was a matter for law enforcement personnel and not the military proper. Accordingly, British government leaders believed the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA), passed in 1914 as a response to WWI, afforded sufficient legal powers and authority to the forces operating in Ireland. As late as December 1919, government leaders clung to DORA in the mistaken belief it would suffice in lieu of martial law. By January 1920, it became obvious to all involved that the powers ensconced in DORA were insufficient to defeat the rebellion. Martial law was still a taboo subject in London, and Parliament instead passed an audition to the existing DORA law, Defence of the Realm Regulation (DRR) 14B, which provided greater latitude to the military and police forces combating the IRA. For the first time, the British Army was formally in charge of all civil and military operations in Ireland. The new DRR transferred

“to the Competent Military Authority the powers, previously vested in the police authorities and magistrates, of instituting and organizing action against the perpetrators of outrage and the organizers of lawlessness and to deport and intern under D.R.R. 14B, such persons on a warrant signed by the Chief Secretary for Ireland.”

Additionally, the DRR authorized the military to perform searches upon both individuals and buildings “for arms, explosives and seditious literature.”93 While this document fell short of true martial law, it did afford numerous new powers to the army and clarified the command relationship between civil and military authorities. It also, temporarily, gave the British the initiative and put them on the offense. The official British Army history written immediately after Ireland gained independence attributed improved troop morale and increased RIC recruiting to

92 Hugh Jeudwine to unnamed Field Marshall, Dec. 3, 1920, in General Sir Hugh Jeudwine Papers, Imperial War Museum, London, United Kingdom.
93 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume I, Operations, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 5 (London, 1922).

the DRR’s passage. More importantly, it led to the arrest and conviction of 50 to 60 IRA members per week.94 To their credit, the British Army imposed measures upon their soldiers to prevent abuses that might arise from the DRR. Soldiers were directed to provide the greatest respect possible to “law-abiding people, women and children” during raids or searches.95 Furthermore, the army directed that, when possible, female soldiers or police would search female civilians. Finally, no soldier was authorized to arrest civilian women, that task would fall to the RIC.96

Sadly, these measures ultimately failed in their attempt to restore order in Ireland. The IRA, on its heels and needing to retake the offensive, staged a series of targeted assassinations against key members of the British intelligence staff on 21st November 1920. IRA gunmen, under orders from Michael Collins, shot and killed no less than nineteen British intelligence officers. Most of these men were members of an organization known informally as the Cairo Gang with responsibility for conducting intelligence and counterintelligence operations against the IRA.97 According to British Army Captain R.D. Jeune, a member of the Cairo Gang who survived the events of 21 November, “the object of this exercise on the part of the I.R.A., was to eliminate Intelligence and Courts Martial Officers, because the gunmen felt that the net was closing round them.”98 Evidently, the IRA achieved its immediate goal, as the remainder of the Cairo Gang was restricted to a local hotel and unable to continue their intelligence work.99

94 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume I, Operations, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 22 (London, 1922).
95 Ibid, 6.
96 Ibid, 8.
97 Tim Pat Coogan, Michael Collins: The Man Who Made Ireland (Boulder: Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 1992), 159-60.
98 Diary of Captain R.D. Jeune, Imperial War Museum, London, United Kingdom.
99 Ibid.

The British Army immediately went into action, sending units throughout Dublin to round up known or suspected IRA members. British intelligence indicated the IRA planned to use a previously scheduled football game at Croke Park, Dublin, to infiltrate personnel into the city through the normal ebb and flow of the crowd. Accordingly, the British Army dispatched soldiers and police to the match. The police were tasked with searching the crowd and the army would setup a cordon to prevent people from moving in or out of the venue. What happened next has been hotly debated since that fateful November day. British sources claim the police arrived the military cordon was set and that shots were fired from the crowd.100 Irish sources claim the British fired into the crowd without provocation. Regardless of where the blame lies, the exchange of gunfire left 10 civilians dead and wounded several more.101 A subsequent search of the stadium turned up several guns, which seemingly justified the operation, but irreconcilable damage was done to Anglo-Irish relations. The incident would forever be known as “Bloody Sunday” and precipitated the end of British rule in Ireland.

Parliament finally declared martial law in December 1920, but only in select counties rather than the entirety of the island. In the British 6th Division area of responsibility (AOR), for example, Counties Cork, Tipperary, Kerry and Limerick fell under martial law, whilst the remainder were exempted. But what did martial law actually entail? First, it radically changed judicial procedures by establishing battalion level courts martial boards for minor offences and a central board for capital cases involving arms violations or attacks against soldiers. Further, martial law authorized the army to detain civilians without trial, to declare curfew hours and restriction on the use of vehicles to include bicycles and prohibit large gatherings at fairs or

100 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume I, Operations, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 25 (London, 1922).
101 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume I, Operations, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 25 (London, 1922).

markets.102 Other actions, perhaps not officially authorized but nonetheless tolerated, included the destruction of homes as reprisals for IRA attacks, the specific targeting of suspected or known nationalists and a heavier hand in field operations.103

This posed several challenges for the division staff, not the least of which was the coordination of intelligence with operations. The 6th Division’s entire AOR fell under martial law in 1921, but not in time to make a difference.104 Jeudwine expressed concern over the partial declaration of martial law would have on his operations and intelligence efforts. He exhorted units commanders and police officials to take the necessary precautions that “gentlemen do not slip over the line and take refuge in areas which are not proclaimed; – individuals I mean who are ‘wanted’ or who have committed some atrocity.”105

SIGINT and IMINT

SIGINT and IMINT played important, but limited, secondary roles to HUMINT. To be certain, the British Army could collect SIGINT transmitted from wireless systems or over taped phone lines. SIGINT intercepts of communiqués played a major role during the Easter Uprising, during which the British learned Germany planned to provide arms to Irish nationalists.106 However, at least until the end of WWI, the British fought against the IRA using those police and security forces not committed against the Central Powers.

102 John Ainsworth, “British Security Policy in Ireland, 1920-1921: A Desperate Attempt by the Crown to Maintain Anglo-Irish Unity by Force,” Queensland University of Technology: 8, http://eprints.qut.edu.au/6/1/British_Security_Policy_in_Ireland.pdf (accessed April 6, 2010).
103 Ibid, 8-9.
104 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume I, Operations, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 12 (London, 1922).
105 Hugh Jeudwine to Bower, Dec. 10, 1920, in General Sir Hugh Jeudwine Papers, Imperial War Museum, London, England
106 Michael Laffan, The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Fein Party 1916-1923 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 37.

Surprisingly, the IRA had access to similar SIGINT equipment that allowed them to intercept British radio transmissions, but lacked the requisite codes to translate them. Perhaps because of the Royal Navy’s distrust of Army OPSEC procedures, radio transmissions were sent in naval code.107 Undeterred, the IRA turned to eavesdropping on telephone and telegraph lines, both of which were heavily used by the British. For their part, the British attempted to encrypt their communications via a code that changed on a monthly basis.108 This primitive encryption system failed to deter the IRA who managed to obtain the code every time it changed. According to Colonel Charles Dalton, the IRA’s Assistant Director of Intelligence, the IRA made good use of SIGINT intelligence to “forestall crown forces’ raids, impending arrests, etc.”109

IMINT was still in its infancy during the Anglo-Irish War and was even less prominent that SIGINT. The British had employed aircraft as observers during WWI, and some aircraft could communicate in “real time” with ground forces via radio or carrier pigeon. London sent Royal Flying Corps (RFC) squadrons to Ireland for airborne reconnaissance of the countryside as well as to demonstrate British airpower in the cities. Successful missions were rare, a fact Flying Officer F.C. Penny attributed to poor command guidance on what effect they were attempting to achieve. The IRA thought otherwise and evidently planned attacks to destroy the RFC planes at their aerodromes. Ultimately, the RFC were relegated to other roles such as assisting the DMP with crowd control during protests.110

107 Colonel Charles Dalton. Witness Statement 434, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archives, Dublin.
108 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume I, Operations, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 5 (London, 1922).
109 Colonel Charles Dalton. Witness Statement 434, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archives, Dublin.
110 Memories of Flying. Penny Papers. Imperial War Museum, London.

Fusion

Despite their inherent advantages, the RIC was slow to adopt systems to better track and catalog intelligence information. Indeed, it was only in 1920 that RIC staffs began to keep a weekly record of attacks against police officers – despite nearly five years of insurgency. Even so, these records were general at best and failed to account include data specifying the incident dates and places.111
Clearly, this data shortage greatly inhibited the RIC’s ability to perform fundamental intelligence tasks such as pattern analysis to predict the location and timing of future IRA attacks.

British intelligence operations also suffered due to the government’s failure to maintain regional or national level census data. The Army and Dublin Metropolitan Police recorded data from the IRA and Sinn Fein members captured during the Easter Uprising that was used in subsequent identification, trial and sentencing of rebels.112 From the available evidence, it appears this list was not updated or maintained after the immediate events of 1916. All subsequent data on IRA or Sinn Fein members came from individual members of the RIC who maintained few records, and only at the local level.113 The value and accuracy of information gathered, to say nothing of the timeliness, would immediately be suspect given the IRA’s specific targeting of the RIC.

As an institution, the Army did not develop or create a supporting doctrine or create specific courses for newly established unit intelligence staffs. This was especially harmful given the

111 W.J. Lowe, “The War Against the R.I.C., 1919-1921,” Eire-Ireland: a Journal of Irish Studies (Fall-Winter 2002): 78.
112 Arthur P. Agnew. Witness Statement 152, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archives, Dublin.
113 Michael Laffan, The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Fein Party 1916-1923 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 142.

primary task of “section, platoon and company commanders was to find, then catch – or kill – their elusive enemy” which required reliable intelligence.”114

Document Exploitation (DOCEX)

The IRA and Sinn Fein were infamous for the vast amount of paperwork they generated – a somewhat surprising fact given their need for secrecy and deniability if caught by authorities. This trait even applied to the head of Sinn Fein’s intelligence division, Michael Collins, who routinely left stacks of papers for the British to find. For their part, the British made extensive and effective use of captured documents. An RIC raid of a Dublin Sinn Fein office led to the arrest of over 250 IRA and Sinn Fein leaders, many of whom held critical positions vital to the insurgency.115 DOCEX using OSINT materials figured prominently in British trials of suspected Irish insurgents. British prosecutors introduced public speeches, given by Sinn Fein members, into a series of trials held in May 1918.116

Not to be outdone, the IRA made use of captured documents as well. The British were slow to address insecurities in their communication systems, and suffered from poor OPSEC throughout the war. IRA units operating in County Cork conducted several raids on mail trains throughout 1920. IRA intelligence officers used the information to identify and kill at least two British intelligence officers in Cork.117 Recognizing the success of this tactic, in 1920, the IRA issued a general order to expand operations against individual postmen. IRA teams forwarded captured mail to their respective headquarters and left the postal workers unharmed. A secondary

114 Peter Hart, The IRA and Its Enemies: Violence and Community in Cork 1916-1923 (New York City: Oxford University Press, 1998), 93.
115 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume I, Operations, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 9 (London, 1922).
116 Michael Laffan, The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Fein Party 1916-1923 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 144.
117 Tim Herlihy. Witness Statement 810, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archives, Dublin.

benefit to the IRA, apart from the information garnered from official correspondence, was the warning it provided to informants of collaboration with the British.118

Official RIC regulations governing off-duty behavior played into IRA hands as well. RIC members were required to attend weekly church services, which not only placed them in the public eye, but also left police stations undermanned. The IRA exploited this information twofold by identifying RIC members or raiding their offices to obtain weapons and documents.119

Despite four years of warfare, and the real threat posed by German spies in the UK during the war, the IRA gleaned a significant amount of information from OSINT derived from newspapers and periodicals such as Who’s Who. Intelligence officers scrutinized the social columns to follow the movements of prominent leaders and maintain current photographs of them.120 By way of comparison, Michael Collins actively sought to avoid having his likeness captured in photographs throughout the conflict. This allowed him to move, largely unimpeded, throughout Ireland with little fear of detainment. It was only with the cessation of hostilities, and his own role in peace negotiations, that Collins allowed himself to be photographed.121

Conclusion

What can the United States military hope to elucidate from British intelligence operations in Ireland from 1916 to 1921? Were the circumstances so unique, in that particular place and that particular time, as to prevent the application of the past to the future? The last American conflict that bears resemblance to the Anglo-Irish War was the Unites States’ own Civil War of 1861-1865. More recently, Americans participated in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan to prevent the spread of ideologies opposed to traditional democratic values such as Communism,

118 Tomas O Cleirigh (Thomas Cleary). Witness Statement 972, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archives, Dublin.
119 W.J. Lowe, “The War Against the R.I.C., 1919-1921,” Eire-Ireland: a Journal of Irish Studies (Fall-Winter 2002): 76.
120 Charles Dalton. Witness Statement 434, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archvies, Dublin.
121 John Regan, “Looking at Mick Again: Demilitarizing Michael Collins,” History Ireland 3 (1995): 20.

Marxism, Fascism or Islamism. In some cases, the United States deployed forces to reign in criminal organizations, such as occurred during OPERATION JUST CAUSE in Panama, or against the drug cartels in Columbia. So why should American military leaders study the Anglo-Irish conflict?

Simply stated, the British and the Irish fought a war over nationalism in a manner that will reflect that of future conflicts. The hallmark of 20th century warfare was battle over ideology, a trend that continues in the global war against radical Islam. It is misleading to assume all 21st century warfare will be fought in this manner. An emergent, but disturbing trend is the return to the nationalism of the 18th and 19th centuries. Basque separatists battle the French and Spanish governments for their own homeland. Kurdish terrorist groups conduct operations against the governments of Istanbul and Baghdad to forge Kurdistan. Separatist movements in the Niger Delta plague the Nigeria government who is still feeling the after effects of the Biafran War. The list of actual and potential, insurgent groups is almost limitless. These organizations might not know the intimate details of the Easter Uprising, but they do understand that conventional conflict against regular army forces is self-defeating. Those that chose to fight will opt for insurgency, much as the Irish did in 1916.

Intelligence Disciplines and Platforms

That HUMINT was the primary, and best, source of intelligence for both the British and the Irish should come as no surprise. HUMINT sources afforded the most reliable and timely means of obtaining information necessary to conduct operations. Although SIGINT and IMINT played a supporting role, the unique aspects of the COIN environment dictated HUMINT take the lead in intelligence work. Insurgency is fought by the people, amongst the people and for control of the people. It necessarily demands information about the people, i.e. their motivations, intents, goals, strengths and weaknesses. Only HUMINT can provide that vital intelligence to the degree required for commanders to make the right decisions.

The Irish, bereft of advanced communications intercept equipment and aircraft, turned this weakness into an unmatched strength by focusing heavily on HUMINT, almost to the exclusion of other disciplines. Officially, Ireland was still British territory, but IRA and Sinn Fein enjoyed a significant home field advantage that greatly enhanced their ability to conduct, evaluate and task HUMINT operations. This was especially true once the IRA actively targeted RIC constables for assassination or intimidation. Replacement officers, no matter how skilled, simply could not fill the gap created once original RIC policemen were lost. The IRA further degraded British HUMINT operations, whilst enhancing their own, through a highly effective campaign designed to isolate the Irish populace from the government. For their part, the British reduced public support through the hiring and use of the much-despised Black and Tans.

British intelligence officers could never hope to match the language, regional and cultural knowledge inherent to insurgents born and bred in Ireland. The failure to protect and reinforce the RIC, combined with the unintended consequences that followed the deployment of the Black and Tans further reduced Britain’s HUMINT capabilities. Attempts to hire native Irish replacements largely failed due to the IRA’s aforementioned isolation campaign. Recruiting efforts from alternative labor sources in Britain, Wales, Scotland or the Commonwealth fell flat. New employees were eager and willing to assume RIC duties, but required time to obtain much needed local knowledge and intelligence skills to turn the tide. The one ready source of available manpower, the Royal Irish Regiments, was not brought into the fray. These men presented a valuable, but untapped, resource for RIC replacements or HUMINT sources. Measures designed to protect the RIC, such as hardened barracks or joint RIC-military patrols, often had the effect of further limiting contact between them and the very people they were to protect. The Crown regained some ground through the introduction of means that protected informants’ anonymity such as tip lines and intelligence post office boxes.

IRA revenge attacks offered an opportunity the British failed to capitalize upon in their collection efforts. During the early period of this study, from 1916 to 1918, WWI thoroughly consumed the manpower and attention of the British Army. The RIC, which lacked the numbers and capability to fight the IRA, could not secure individuals who chose to cooperate with the authorities. Worse, the best British HUMINT asset, the typical RIC constable, was confined to barracks for self-preservation. Potential sources demonstrated a more willing readiness to assist the government once the Army began to secure the population from IRA vengeance. Few civilians, no matter how loyal to the government, were willing to risk life and limb if that same government could not guarantee their security. IRA hitmen often conducted their attacks against security forces or informants in the public eye. These attacks made the British look weak and sent a clear message to collaborators.

A government declaration of martial law, and the deployment of sufficient forces, would have secured the population but not necessarily won the war. The British required proactive information operations (IO) focused on IRA and Sinn Fein civilian attacks. Securing the populace, through troop deployments, martial law and IO, may have increased the number of voluntary and motivated HUMINT sources. Without securing the people, the British were reduced to anonymous tips and those especially brave souls willing to risk exposure. GHO could not easily task anonymous sources for directed intelligence efforts, nor easily check the veracity of the information provided. Intelligence efforts became reactive rather than proactive. Similarly, the compromise of volunteer sources was especially damaging given GHQ’s investment in terms of time, training, resources. In a worst-case scenario, the source may provide IRA questioners with information on British intelligence efforts or personnel.

The British government’s failure to draft unambiguous guidance regarding the detainment and interrogation of suspects created additional conditions detrimental to HUMINT operations. Neither government nor military leaders officially approved physical abuse, but their tolerance of such actions sanctioned its presence. Stories of abuse, apocryphal or not, turned the Irish population against the British – virtually guaranteeing their defeat. The Black and Tans played a major role here as well. Not only did the British not develop procedures, but also they failed to screen personnel actually performing interrogations. This created dangerous situations where untrained interrogators relied upon prior experience or personal observation of others. At best, the interrogator obtained false information or even provided an incentive to resist. In extreme cases, interrogators permanently harmed or killed their subjects. While it is difficult to determine the full impact caused by poor interrogation procedures, it is safe to say that British intelligence suffered from them.

Writing after the peace treaty of 1921, LTG Jeudwine stated “the best information, i.e., that on which the most successful operations, where the heaviest loss was inflicted on the I.R.A., were based was that given by I.R.A. deserters and prisoners under interrogation.”122 If that statement is correct, why did GHQ not draft, and enforce, clear rules for interrogation? Several factors are possible. First, elements within the British security apparatus, notably the Black and Tans, had lived through four years of warfare so horrific as to defy description. The Great War numbed these men to casual violence; what was the roughing up of a terrorist when compared to the slaughter of the Somme? Second, many soldiers saw the Irish as a hostile enemy force. In other words, they had difficulty distinguishing insurgent from citizen. Third, the army’s rapid expansion of the intelligence corps, without proper interrogation training, necessarily meant questioning would be conducted based upon individuals’ previous experience. Finally, the inability of senior commanders to identify and punish soldiers guilty of detainee abuse created a command climate where such action was acceptable. Any one of these factors degrades the effectiveness of detainee interrogation, when combined they spell disaster.

English endeavors in intelligence disciplines outside of HUMINT show a mixed record. The British made limited use of radio and telephone communication eavesdropping to confirm or deny information from other sources. Today, this technique is dubbed “cross cueing” where one intelligence platform tips off another. The IRA, whose ranks included WWI veterans, knew the

122 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume I, Operations, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 26 (London, 1922).

capabilities and limits of British SIGINT systems. Irish insurgents employed other means including mailed letters, telegrams and runners to transmit information. The sheer volume of mail and telegrams, especially in the pre-Internet era, was too massive for British intelligence officers to realistically comb for data. Luck and chance played a part in finding valuable information, but without enough reliability or timeliness to justify the manpower expense.

Sadly, the British did not make full use of the IMINT systems available to them. Admittedly, the IMINT platforms available at the turn of the century pale in comparison to those available today. However, the military in particular should have made better use of the RFC and Royal Navy squadrons sent to Ireland. Aircraft, although slow and limited by weather, would have given ground convoys early warning of potential IRA ambush sites, performed show of force demonstrations for the populace or searched difficult terrain for training camps or caches. The British made a few attempts to employ airplanes, but failed to provide clear mission guidance and ISR focus to the aircrews. Airpower, a major British advantage, was relegated to other, non-aviation, missions better suited to the RIC or army.

The IRA and Sinn Fein in general, and Michael Collins in particular, were notorious for generating volumes of paperwork. Collins oversight is especially mysterious given his well-known proclivity for avoiding photographs. In any event, British raids captured a tremendous amount of material and, through DOCEX, put it to good use in follow-up operations. The personnel detained in these raids, in turn, provided additional information once interrogated in Dublin Castle. DOCEX is not particularly exciting, and lacks the glamour associated with HUMINT operations. It consumes the two most valuable resources available to the counterinsurgent – time and manpower. The payoff, however, can be tremendous. LTG Jeudwine claimed DOCEX was responsible for the arrest and internment of hundreds of IRA unit commanders and key staff officers.123 The IRA could ill afford to lose so many men, or easily replace them with new recruits. The same structural organization that protects insurgent groups also makes them vulnerable to critical personnel losses.

Organization and Structure

A comparison between the British military intelligence structure, and that of the IRA, demonstrates some striking similarities and notable differences. Both organizations recognized the primacy of intelligence during an insurgency, but the Irish acted far more quickly to create intelligence staff officers. As early as April 1919, IRA member Tim Herlihy created a model battalion organization that included a dedicated intelligence officer in the staff.124 True, the British army authorized battalion level IOs, but in an uneven manner with vast differences in their selection criteria, duties and responsibilities. Early in the war, the lack of formalized, structured training and staffing created glaring inconsistencies in the overall intelligence picture and likely skewed analysis at GHQ. Given that GHQ provided the strategic intelligence picture to Parliament, the unanswerable question is what impact this had upon decision making in London. By war’s end, however, the British had transformed their intelligence system in a highly efficient machine that rapidly analyzed and disseminated information. The number of senior IRA commanders captured in late 1920 and early 1921 evidences the impact of the changes and the serious threat intelligence posed to Irish nationalists.

From 1916 to early 1920, the primary deficiency with the British intelligence system was the lack of a codified and dedicated intelligence organization tasked, resourced and capable of providing robust and reliable analysis relevant to civil and military decision makers. A situation

123 Imperial General Staff, War Office. Record of the Rebellion in Ireland in 1920-21, and the Part Played by the Army in Dealing with It, Volume I, Operations, by LTG Sir Hugh Jeudwine, Imperial War Museum Collection, 9 (London, 1922).
124 John (Jack) Ahern. Witness Statement 970, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archives, Dublin.

exacerbated by the multiple intelligence bodies operating in Ireland, each with their own particular area of expertise, responsibilities and reporting chain. When combined, these two problems created numerous intelligence gaps thereby decreasing the British government’s and military’s ability to “see” the battlefield. In particular, the British Army’s intelligence corps was ill suited for counterinsurgency operations, even in a familiar theater such as Ireland. Part of this deficiency is attributed to the army’s experience of WWI, where large unit actions against an opponent with similar capabilities and intent were the norm. Army operations against the IRA and Sinn Fein, fighting on their own ground and using guerilla tactics, presented an entirely different problem.

Although British organizations were unprepared for the unique intelligence needs required in COIN, they were remarkably fast at adapting and transforming to the environment at hand. This was especially true of the army units deployed to Ireland at the conclusion of WWI. That this transformation occurred as rapidly as it did is nothing less than extraordinary. Consider that the professional British military that deployed to France in 1914 had bled and died in the trenches. The returning army of 1918 was largely comprised of men whose military careers began with WWI. As such, they did not have a wealth of experience to fall back on when the lessons learned during the Great War were unable to meet the intelligence needs of operations in Ireland. Two changes in the intelligence structure stand out for further analysis.

First, the British placed the cavalcade of intelligence organizations under army control in one headquarters. The new, streamlined organization was finally able to merge the information from the DMP, RIC, BSS, military and other groups into one coherent intelligence picture. It prevented the misuse of valuable intelligence assets through greater tasking effectiveness. Perhaps more importantly, GHQ could allocate priority of effort in their analytical work (i.e. DOCEX, photographic interpretation) or surge assets to key areas of IRA activity. Previously, British intelligence was uneven in coverage, undermanned and generally uninformed at the highest levels. For the first time in the conflict all intelligence functions reported to once central office responsible for analysis, collating, verifying and distributing information throughout the British military and government.

Second, GHQ standardized training for all intelligence officers in Ireland. Prior to this change, individual units developed their own ah-hoc training methods and procedures. The lack of proper training, and more importantly of operational experience, put these men at significant risk in the field. The death, injury or capture of an intelligence officer was a tremendous loss for the unit. Replacement officers required time to learn their respective area of operations and become proficient in intelligence work. The formal training system began with officers serving for a month long period at GHQ. This ensured they understood the intelligence picture at the national level, were familiar with the key IRA and Sinn Fein personalities, were cognizant of the capabilities and limitations of available intelligence assets and developed working relationships with officers on the GHQ and subordinate unit staffs. Once assigned to a brigade or battalion, these men continued to learn by actively taking part during operations in the field. Some even donned civilian clothing to meet with sources, or simply to gain the pulse of their area of responsibilities. Regardless, the fact that intelligence officers were not “chained to their desks” meant they were more in tune with the operational environment and the Irish people.

Operational Security (OPSEC)

The single most damaging aspect of British intelligence operations was the degree to which the IRA penetrated official government organizations. The IRA took advantage of Britain’s need to hire Irish employees to manage the island’s civilian infrastructure such as the railroads, post, and government affairs within Dublin Castle itself. Notably, attempts to place agents in British military intelligence units failed, apart from the hiring of one typist towards the end of the war.125

125 Colonel Charles Dalton. Witness Statement 434, transcript, Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, Irish National Archives, Dublin.

OPSEC presented a double-edge sword to the British. Recognizing the IRA had compromised their operations, the British had two equally poor choices. They could preserve OPSEC by firing all Irish citizens and replacing them with British subjects, thereby alienating the populace and guaranteeing further hostilities between the two peoples. Alternatively, the British could opt to assume OPSEC risk, which kept the Irish citizens close but assured further compromise. In the end, the British chose the former with the attendant boon to IRA intelligence gathering.
Because the British left control of the infrastructure in Irish hands, the IRA were able to place agents adept at listening to their enemies telegraph and telephone communications. Even encoded army radio messages were subject to intercept. Conversely, the IRA could never break the Royal Navy’s signal codes until after the Truce in 1921.126

Future War and the Lesson Learned

“One of the most significant contributions that intelligence personnel can accomplish is to accurately predict future enemy events. Although this is an extremely difficult task, predictive intelligence enables the commander and staff to anticipate key enemy events or reactions and develop corresponding plans or counteractions.” – FM 2-0, Intelligence127

What will war in the future resemble? What is our enemy fighting to achieve? And, why is he fighting at all? Commanders, at any level, require answers to those questions. They form the basic responsibility of professional intelligence officers. The intelligence officer who cannot answer them, accurately and timely, is of little use to his unit. No person, no matter how insightful or gifted, can predict the future with total certainty. However, one can study the past and the present to elucidate what will come.

Professional soldiers should dissect British intelligence operations during the Anglo-Irish War as a means to achieve success in future wars over national identity. Historical examination of how, when, where, why and in what manner the British performed intelligence functions

126 Ibid.
127 Headquarters, Department of the Army, Field Manual 2-0 Intelligence, 1-2 (Washington, D.C., 2004).

demonstrates numerous lessons learned. Although every war is unique, there are commonalities between conflicts these lessons to be implemented. Similarly, the “special relationship” enjoyed by the United States and United Kingdom provides enough shared ground to allow their application in future missions – either jointly or during unilateral operations. The fact that some lessons from the Anglo-Irish War are similar to those revealed during the Global War on Terror (GWOT) only reinforces their validity. The United States military may choose to implement positive aspects of British intelligence methodology while avoiding the pitfalls and problems previously identified.

When the United States deploys forces into national or ethnic conflicts, there are numerous initiatives that must be implemented immediately for success. The first of these is to declare martial law, or its equivalent, across the entirety of the area of operations. Martial law on a piecemeal basis only confuses the issue and provides the enemy a seam to exploit. Apart from providing actual control of the populace, martial law clearly defines the command relationship between military and civilian organizations. Martial law does not necessarily need to be a military only operation, nor must it remove civilian control altogether. The balance of power between military and civilian authority should find the mix appropriate to the situation on the ground. In some cases martial law may require extensive civilian participation, in the form of US or international government agencies, to be most effective. The clarification of roles and responsibilities extends to the potential myriad number of intelligence organizations that may be present. Martial law is not a “silver bullet solution” to solve intelligence sharing or responsibility issues, but does take a step towards resolving them.

Another benefit derived from martial law is the ability to detain, try and sentence bad actors through the military court system. The United States Military Code of Justice (UCMJ) provides numerous rights to defendants but includes measures to protect intelligence sources or sensitive information from compromise not always found in the civilian court system. This concern still exists today. In 2009, United States Attorney General Eric Holder decided to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City. Although meant to return the criminal to the scene of the crime, the intelligence community expressed significant concern over the potential assets or information would be revealed and subsequently lost.

Related, but separate from martial law, is the need to place all intelligence assets under one collective manager or staff officer. This decision simplifies and clarifies which organization(s) is responsible for which intelligence function(s) or area(s). For example, the military may take the lead for overall collection management throughout the area of operations, while individual government agencies supervise the various intelligence roles. Responsibility could be delineated by discipline (i.e. HUMINT, SIGINT) or by function (interrogation, DOCEX). Special cases, notably special operations forces, may need to operate separately from, but liaison with the senior intelligence office. The number of special case provisions should be kept to the absolute minimum or intelligence centralization is a self-defeating concept.

Intelligence centralization will also prevent competition for resources and assets while fostering cooperation for the same. Centralized collection management ensures all assets are used to their fullest potential and efficiency by preventing redundancy. It also reduces the number of intelligence gaps by spreading assets across the area of operations rather than inadvertently concentrating them in the same area. Apart from HUMINT, this was not a significant problem for the British as they lacked a robust number of SIGINT and IMINT systems. It is more relevant today given the plurality of collectors available to the commander.

Efficiency and effectiveness are also enhanced through standardized training for all intelligence soldiers – officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers alike. This may not be possible before deployment for several reasons and should be addressed in theater if necessary. The British policy of assigning all new personnel to GHQ for 30 days is one possible solution. Rotating soldiers from lower to higher headquarters is another, similar answer. Regardless, training should emphasize intelligence skills (analysis, asset knowledge) as well as general staff skills (paperwork, procedures and policies). The latter will present a specific challenge to non-military intelligence professionals assigned to military units such as interagency personnel, civilian experts or multinationals. During the Anglo-Irish War, the RIC lacked general staff training and were unable to fully integrate into the GHQ structure with resultant impact to intelligence.

A specific training requirement that must be addressed in advance is detainee interrogation or questioning. Unit leaders should address who may interrogate and clearly state approved interrogation techniques. Further, it should cover the differences between actual interrogation and tactical questioning to prevent unnecessary limitations on information collection. Authorized interrogation procedures must be understood by the commander, the interrogators (civil or military) and those responsible for detainee operations. They should not be made public, but the unit may wish to consider ways to assuage concerns over torture or illegal questioning. Detention operations must be handled in the same fashion – everyone involved should know what is authorized and what is not. The parallel, uncoordinated system of interrogation and detention, as occurred at Abu Ghraib in 2003-2004, must not occur. Public trust, once lost, is virtually impossible to regain.

Although not intelligence function per se, protecting the civilian populace is an essential step to effective intelligence operations. Protection can come in several forms like anonymous tip lines, proper HUMINT source training/meeting/tasking, unit patrols, joint security stations and anti-terror operations to name a few. Potential information resources are far less likely to volunteer information without some measure of defense from insurgent violence. GHQ in Ireland, and US forces in Iraq, both learned this when too few troops were available to protect the people. Both situations required a troop surge to provide security and give civilians confidence in the government’s ability to protect them.

All soldiers, regardless of their duties, must not see the populace as a hostile force, or treat them as such. The military should treat the public with respect and caution; otherwise they run the risk of driving the people into the waiting arms of the insurgency. The British recognized the need to expand the RIC and protect Irish citizens from the IRA. They did not foresee the impact caused by rapidly increasing the RIC’s ranks with former soldiers returning from four years of trench warfare. These new men, the Black and Tans, saw little difference between the IRA and the average Irish person. Their behavior alienated them and the British in general, from the very citizenry they were ordered to protect. The British Army went so far as to purchase advertising space distancing them from the RIC. The IRA scored another information operations victory by documenting and publishing Black and Tan actions. Once the Black and Tans were associated with casual violence, the IRA could even create false accounts, or inflame actual events, which the public readily accepted.

Building trust with the civilian populace raises the issue of unit operational security. As discussed earlier, OPSEC is a double edged sword. Too much OPSEC reduces the ability for joint and multinational operations and could alienate the people from the force. Too little exposes the unit to attack and greatly inhibits their ability to conduct meaningful operations. Potential OPSEC measures include the obvious such as communication encryption, classifying sensitive data, limiting host nation access to US installations and vetting civilian employees. Units should explore the need to limit US personnel access to social networking websites (Facebook, Twitter) or communication devices (cell phones, Internet) altogether during operations or critical events (mass casualty event, capture of major enemy leader). These actions should be addressed, trained and prepared in advance to prevent ad-hoc measures after a situation occurs. Information sharing with multinational forces can be achieved through foreign disclosure officers (FDOs) assigned to the lowest level possible. Retaining this capability at the highest level inhibits information sharing or creates temptation for unauthorized shortcuts.

Combatants in the 21st century will fight for ethnic and national causes. Ideology, in the form of religion or politics, may play a part but nationalism will be the defining factor. Randomly spin the globe and one’s finger will land upon an ethnic conflict. Although nationalist movements existed prior, the end of the Cold War reignited the desires of suppressed or displaced peoples for their homelands. The historical record is clear; the suppression of the Kurds, the genocide of Rwanda, ethnic violence in the Balkans and the fighting for Kashmir were all fought over national identity. Why do these groups fight and what are they hoping to achieve? United States Army Brigadier General John Davoren, who commanded a multinational task force in Kosovo, offered an explanation. Davoren said, “Every ethnic group wants what they had at the height of their power and the fact that these are mutually exclusive is not a problem.”128 Ethnic wars are bloody, horrific events – the Rwanda genocide alone claimed 800,000 lives in just 100 days of fighting.

Not every ethnic group will chose to pursue independence or address their grievances through armed struggle. In some cases, the conditions may not be present for insurgency. The group may lack strong leaders, external backing, sufficient resources or the will to fight. Nationalist movements may also pursue peaceful means, as occurred in the breakup of the former Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. If the beginning of this century is any indicator, however, many nationalist movements will fight to gain a homeland. United States national interests will dictate the American military intervene in some of these disputes. It is naïve to assume otherwise.

Michael Collins is considered by many to be the father of modern Ireland. In his youth, Collins was an avid reader of history and poetry. He possessed a keen mind and was a powerful speaker. Nevertheless, Collins chose not to pursue Irish independence through discourse or debate; he sought Irish independence through armed struggle. He participated in the failed Easter Uprising of 1916 and later argued for the Irish nationalist to adopt an insurgent strategy. Michael Collins was fond of a poem that sheds much light on why the United States Army should anticipate future warfare from disenfranchised ethnic groups.

128 John Davoren, “Department of Defense vs. Department of State, “(class lecture, School of Advanced Military Studies, January 5, 2010).

Great faith I have in moral force
Great trust in thought and pen
I know the value of discourse
To sway the minds of men
But why should words my frenzy whet
Unless we are to strike
Our despot lords who fear no threat
But reverence the pike
Oh, do be wise, leave moral force
The strength of though and pen
And all the value of discourse
To lily-livered men
But if you cover not to die
Of hunger in a dyke
If life we prize is liberty
A Pike – A Pike – A Pike129

129 Tim Pat Coogan, Michael Collins: The Man Who Made Ireland (Boulder: Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 1992), 13.

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Source: Defense Technical Information Center