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Sherman Kent and the Profession of Intelligence Analysis

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Its tough living with a legend. The legacy of Sherman Kent is never far from the thoughts of Kent School faculty members--and his portrait looks down on us from the wall--as we go about the business of teaching the principles and practice of intelligence analysis to yet another generation of DI analysts. Sherman Kents three decades as an analyst in OSS and CIA included over 15 years as the chief of the Office of National Estimates. Under his leadership, the Intelligence Communitys Cadillac product was defined and developed. During the interval between his World War Two service and his return to CIA in 1950, Kent wrote one of the most influential books ever published on intelligence analysis, Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy. Later, Kent was the instigator and head of the editorial board for Studies in Intelligence, the professional journal of intelligence officers. In short, Sherman Kent was more than present at the creation of the intelligence profession he was the father of our craft. Jack Daviss engaging essay captures both the history and some of the colorful spirit of this larger-than-life character. In it we read of Kents rare blend of demanding intellect and disarming expression. He was the theorist who formulated Kents Law of Coups i.e., those coups that are known about in advance dont take place. He was the practitioner who painstakingly insured that the Estimates he forwarded to the Director of Central Intelligence met high standards of policy relevance, analytic rigor, and clarity.

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  • Humanities and History
  • Military Intelligence

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