Naval Intelligence - - Military Intelligence
The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) is the longest standing U.S. Military Intel shop... with an intended global reach.. And through its many changes and names since then, ONI has been at the forfront of spying and intel collection for The United States.
ONI was born on 23 March 1882, the brainchild of Lieutenant Theodorus B.M. Mason. At that time, the US Navy was in danger of becoming a force in name only. Because advancements in naval science and technology were not officially encouraged, the US Navy could not compete with those of Europe, where research into ship design, construction techniques, propulsion, and weapons resulted in the development of new concepts that were then applied in support of their navies. In the United States, any information collected on foreign developments accumulated in the respective Navy Bureaus, with little or no coordination between them. Conflicting theories and views abounded; a consensus of opinion was impossible. To correct that situation, Secretary of the Navy William Hunt created an advisory board to establish uniform positions for the Navy and its Bureau Chiefs.
LT Mason was an accomplished linguist with an inquisitive mind, and was widely respected within the Navy. He had traveled throughout Europe observing and recording developments, and he knew what information was available and how to get it. He believed the Navy should assign naval attaches to embassies and Negations throughout the world to collect intelligence on advances in naval science. He also recommended that a section be created in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy to assemble, correlate, and distribute reports on the intelligence gathered. Hunts orders to Mason were to collect and record \"such information as may be useful ... in time of war as well as in peace.\"
By January 1893, the office was maintaining records on the navies of Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, China, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Norway, and Turkey. At the outbreak of the Cuban Revolution (1895), much of its effort shifted to accumulating information on the Spanish Navy and coastal defenses. When Theodore Roosevelt became the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897, he quickly let it be known that he was going to work closely with office personnel. He believed Chief Intelligence Officers should provide advice and assistance to Department heads, as would Admiralty Board members in England's Royal Navy.
Following the February 1898 sinking of the USS Maine, ONI' s naval attaches in Europe and commercial agents in Washington became involved in negotiations to purchase ships and munitions. On 25 April, Congress declared war on Spain, and the next day the office transferred back to the Bureau of Navigation, which directed the operations of the fleet. At the same time, the Naval War Board was established to advise the Secretary of the Navy about the Navy Department's strategic policy.
That same year, the office was officially recognized by Congress, when it appropriated funds to hire five clerks, a translator, an assistant draftsman, and a laborer. Nevertheless, retention of qualified military and civilian personnel remained a problem. Prior to 1899, foreign representatives could get virtually any information they wanted directly from any naval officer or activity; American attaches did not know what had been released by Washington. Consequently, the Secretary of the Navy directed that ONI act as the agency furnishing all official information to attaches or foreign officials. This increased the workload but put US Navy attaches in a much better position to negotiate for necessary information.
During this period, the \"Instructions in Regard to Intelligence Duty\" were modified to require the collection and classification of information on all subjects connected with war or which could affect naval actions or plans, and the office was asked to assist in preparing detailed contingency plans for afloat or shore operations. In addition to providing intelligence, the office also began translating foreign documents for the Secretary of the Navy and Bureaus of the Navy Department.
Until World War I, when it took on vastly expanded duties in the field of counter-intelligence, ONI was the United States Military's primary collector, collator, and disseminator of all kinds of information about foreign intentions and naval-related capabilities.
During World War I, the office collected technical information to help improve fleet capabilities rather than information of an operational nature. After 1915, Naval Intelligence was reorganized to facilitate obtaining, processing, and filing all possible information from all available foreign sources. War planning responsibilities were transferred to another division, but naval intelligence continued to provide intelligence to planners as required. Naval Intelligence took responsibility for all aspects of security-from war materials plant protection, to security checks on Navy personnel, censorship, and ferreting out spies and saboteurs. Ships arriving from foreign countries were inspected, investigations were made of anyone deemed suspicious, and shipyards and munitions factories were supervised and advised on security procedures.
After the war, personnel involved in these activities returned to their civilian pursuits, but the Naval District Intelligence Offices retained their counterintelligence functions and served as the nucleus from which a similar counterintelligence effort grew during World War II. The office produced reports reflecting world conditions, and also became involved in the exploitation of Japanese communications. It published classified information for Navy use, provided liaison with foreign officers, performed public relations duties for the entire Navy, and still collected, classified, and filed old records. It also worked with the Army's Military Intelligence Division and other executive departments to obtain useful information about foreign governments (social, political, economic, industrial conditions, etc.).
In 1929, the Navy's Chief of Naval Operations made it clear that the office's primary duty was to collect, evaluate, and disseminate intelligence. This codified a critical concept: information must be evaluated before it becomes intelligence. In 1939, Rear Admiral Walter Anderson became the DNI. Anticipating the outbreak of war in Europe, he established a section to keep track of the world' s merchant shipping routes, a strategic information center to gather and furnish information on request, and a secret intelligence section to handle confidential agents. He also initiated training of officers for censorship duties. The Foreign Intelligence Branch was divided into sections that covered the British Empire; the Near and Far East; Western, Central, and Eastern Europe; the Balkans; Latin America; and Enemy Trade. In 1941, the Branch was expanded by three sections: Special Intelligence, Statistical, and Strategic Information; Enemy Trade was renamed Foreign Trade.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked , those who wondered who was to blame for Japan's success did not seem to recognize that Japan had successfully covered its preparation and movement of forces positioning for the attack on Pearl Harbor. The US high command could not believe that Japan would attack Pearl Harbor; therefore, all intelligence reports were evaluated accordingly. While facing increasing intelligence requirements, a new organization, \"the North American Desk,\" was created to oversee intelligence collection within the entire United States.
Part of this was the unique out of the box operations ONI did during World War II, was a liaison with Lucky Luciano and US Mafia whose patriotism was undeniable, as was there controlling of the Eastern US seaboard wharfs , where they became the ONIs eyes and ears to all ins and outs of US ports; which only a longshoreman /dock worker could truly know. This tapped valuable information on foreign countries, and the office initiated a list of sources in each Naval District. An Operational Intelligence Section was created but only existed for a few months because most senior officers felt that no organization should devote itself to producing intelligence for one type of customer.
The US Navy' s first wartime periscope photo reconnaissance mission was conducted by the USS Nautilus (SS-168) in September 1943, prior to U.S. forces landing on Tarawa. Submarines also supported coast watchers and guerrilla forces in the Philippines, providing personnel, equipment, and other supplies as needed. ONI-produced radio propaganda broadcasts, intended to undermine enemy morale, were aimed primarily at German submarine crews and proved effective.
The invasion of Europe and the capture of more islands in the Pacific resulted in an increase in the volume and quality of documentary intelligence. Intelligence teams went ashore with initial landing parties to gather documents and equipment of intelligence value.
During WW II, Hollywood Screen legend Douglas Fairbanks Jr. imitated his art of an gentleman adventurer sailor through ONI. After First being assigned to Intelligence duties he was trained as a commando and then conducted small unit beach jumping diversionary missions behind German lines in the south of France ; Master film director John Ford film making talents were utilized by ONI before being snatched up by another secret \"Out of the box\" organization the OSS. ONI Off shoot \"Navy Group China\" With its 5,000 Sailors and Marine agents and commandos, advised and collected intel alongside Chinese troops; conducted hit and run raids along riverine and coastal insertions such as ran \"Amphibous Group Roger.\" Admiral Nimitz' Association with General MacArthurs \"Allied Intelligence Bureau\" was the first fully Joint Service use of ONI personnel for the Pacific Theater...All truly ONI firsts, for out-of-the-box Intelligence operations methodology.
In January 1944, ONI it assumed control of the Photographic Interpretation Center from the Deputy CNO's Air Intelligence Group. February 1945 saw the creation of the Naval Photographic Intelligence Center (NPIC). The Photographic Interpretation Center conducted technical research, interpretation research, and industrial studies, and produced graphic presentations and terrain models. The needs of the fleet were determined through consultations with operating units, and information a disseminated in the form which most nearly conformed to fleet unit requirements.
Immediately after World War II, ONI became responsible for what is now known as \"operational intelligence.\" Counterintelligence continued to be a major ONI function until the establishment of a separate Naval Investigative Service in 1976. With the formation of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 1962, much of ONI's responsibility for politico-military intelligence was transferred to the new, joint-service agency. Operational intelligence and scientific and technical intelligence continued to grow in importance and scope within ONI as the threat posed by the Soviet Union continued to expand during the Cold War era.
... Since 9-11 ONI has lived up to its Mooto Embalzoned on our cloked death head design: \"In God they Trust - All else we monitor\" from Piracy to all maritime terrorism and keeping foes at bay from US Shores.