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Title: ‘Our Achilles’ Heel’ – Interagency intelligence during the Malayan emergency
Authors: Arditti, Roger Christopher
Advisors: Davies, PHJ
Keywords: Insurgency;Counter-insurgency;Counter insurgency
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: The Malayan Emergency is often considered the defining paradigm for a successful counter-insurgency campaign. The effective collection and management of intelligence by Special Branch dominates this paradigm. However, the intelligence architecture during Emergency was much more complicated than the simple Special Branch-Army nexus upon which existing studies focus. Other components of the intelligence included the Malayan Security Service (MSS), Security Intelligence Far East (SIFE), the Joint Intelligence Committee / Far East (JIC/FE), the Royal Air Force (RAF), the Army, and the mainstream police. Each component adapted to the challenge of insurgency in different ways – the civilian elements faring far worse than the military. Britain struggled to adapt to the post-war intelligence challenges in the Far East. Key intelligence components and capabilities were constituted in haste with overlapping and ambiguous remits. Consequently, there was bitter infighting at a number of levels, particularly between the various civilian intelligence agencies. In contrast, the Army and RAF demonstrated an instinctive ability to work in a ‘joint’ environment from the very beginning of the Emergency. In particular, the RAF took a leading role in creating a joint theatre-level intelligence apparatus which included establishment of a Joint Operations Room in Kuala Lumpur and the Joint Intelligence Photographic Intelligence Committee / Far East. However, the military were unable to provide the comprehensive human intelligence or strategic leadership necessary to make the broader apparatus effective. This could only come once the apparatus led by the civil agencies – chiefly the uniformed police as well as Special Branch – had learnt to adapt to the demands of waging a counter-insurgency campaign. Given that the British intelligence organisations had learnt to function in a joint manner during the Second World War, it is remarkable how much had apparently been forgotten in the three years preceding the outbreak of the Communist 1 AIR 20/7777, Report on the Emergency in Malaya, from April 1950 to November 1951, by Sir Harold Briggs. insurgency in Malaya and how long it took to create an effective method of coordinating intelligence during subsequent Emergency.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:Politics and International Relations
Dept of Social and Political Sciences Theses

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