Accession Number:



Intelligence Failure? An Analysis of the Chinese Intervention in the Korean War

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Monograph]

Corporate Author:

US Army School for Advanced Military Studies

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



In the modern era, it is far too common to cite a lack of intelligence as the most proximate cause for an operational or strategic failure. Commanders often reap the benefits of military successes in the pages of histories, while their intelligence officers bear the brunt of criticism when operations fail. The American experience in the Korean War continues this overly simplified trend. Historians praise GEN Douglas MacArthur as a military hero for his successes at defending the Pusan Perimeter and planning the landings at Inchon which enabled the subsequent breakout. MG Charles Willoughby, GEN MacArthurs intelligence officer receives little credit for his contributions to these military successes but shoulders almost sole responsibility for his inability to accurately assess the likelihood of a Chinese intervention into the war. By re-examining the historical record through the lenses of contemporary US Army doctrine, modern leadership and systems theorists, this monograph identifies the role of the commander in not only evaluating intelligence, but creating organizations that are capable of divergent thinking.


Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Military Intelligence
  • Humanities and History

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]