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"How to Help the Enemy" from Intelligence Bulletin, Jan. 1945

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   An article on the importance of field security and how German and Japanese forces exploit captured intelligence materials, from Intelligence Bulletin, January 1945.

[The following article is wartime information published for Allied soldiers. More accurate information is available in postwar publications.]


Japanese and German intelligence officers have acquired valuable combat intelligence information through the negligence of U.S. officers and enlisted men. Despite considerable education in field security, combat troops are seriously jeopardizing Allied operations by deliberately violating security regulations.

Enemy officers have expressed amazement at American troops' apparent disregard for security, and have discussed specific examples.

A German intelligence officer, who has interrogated both American and British prisoners of war, remarked that the security of documents in the American army was "absolutely shocking." Time after time, he said, Top Secret documents were found in the vehicles, and on the persons, of Americans captured in front-line fighting. He cited a case in which a Top Secret order-of-battle document was found on an American lieutenant who had been taken prisoner. This document gave the complete regrouping of American forces for the breakthrough at Avranches. If the Germans had been able to secure the air cover necessary to permit them to move their troops, the German officer said, they could have stopped the attack, for the document gave advance notice of many locations and moves of the Allied forces. He also said that when he mentioned this document to his prisoner, the American lieutenant replied, "Well, you can't keep all these things in your head."

A Japanese officer told how Japanese forces obtained similar combat intelligence early in a certain island campaign. According to the officer, on the day the American invasion forces landed, the Japanese found an identification tag on a Marine casualty. In addition to the official information on the tag, the Marine—apparently on his own initiative—had added the words, "4th Marines".

Later that day the Japanese also captured a map which had, in addition to other valuable information, the symbol [X] drawn in at a certain village. The officer said that he knew the symbol indicated some type of headquarters, but that he was not sure of the size of the unit indicated. However, the numeral "4" had been written on the right side of the map. From this numeral, on the symbol, and from the captured dog tag, the Japanese were able to conclude that they were opposed by the 4th Marine Division.

The Japanese are aware of the value of documents in intelligence, and place great importance upon their capture. In the intelligence plans of a Japanese division are these instructions: "There will be useful articles on abandoned enemy dead, who are to be searched immediately after battle. Their possessions—especially documents, diaries and maps, which have very great value—are to be collected." The order points out that in spite of instructions, Japanese lower units are collecting only weapons and food and that the "collection of the most valuable intelligence material is being sadly neglected." Subordinates were instructed to detail one section of a reserve unit as a document collection group.

There is ample evidence that the Japanese know how to use the information which comes into their hands through field intelligence. Time and again, Japanese orders have included such references as these: "It is believed that the enemy intends to launch a strong attack in the near future, according to information gathered from sketches and diaries taken from enemy dead," and "The diaries abandoned by Allied soldiers of the southern group have made clear the enemy's topography and his plans for infiltrating forces into places not under our control."

U.S. soldiers who have been prisoners of war have revealed that American troops are carrying into battle personal letters, diaries, unit rosters, and similar important documents. These items are just what the enemy is looking for to complete his intelligence estimates of the situation.

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