All of it is important to national survival, and should be understood by the citizens of a democracy. In this remarkable book, an able scholar, experienced in foreign intelligence, Intelligence work is in some ways like a newspaper or newsmagazine, in some like a business, in some like the research activity of a university; very little of it involves cloaks and daggers. In this remarkable book, an able scholar, experienced in foreign intelligence, analyzes all of these varied aspects of what is known as high-level foreign positive intelligence. Illustrations are drawn from that branch, but the lessons apply to all intelligence, and in fact to all those phases of business, of journalism, and most importantly of scholarship, where the problem is to learn what has happened or will happen.
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Kent showed uncommon talent for adapting scholarly methods to the rigors of producing intelligence analysis in support of the war effort, including cajoling egotistic professors to work as teams, meet heroic deadlines, and satisfy the needs of action-oriented customers. In the autumn of , Kent did return to Yale to re-launch his professorial life.
Kent stayed this time, from until his retirement in Of the many individuals who paved a pathway for the development of intelligence analysis as a profession, Kent stands out—both for his own contributions to analytic doctrine and practice, and for inspiring three generations of analysts to build on his efforts to meet changing times. If intelligence analysis as a profession has a Founder, the honor belongs to Sherman Kent. No statement better captures what Kent believed than a sentence he penned himself: Whatever the complexities of the puzzles we strive to solve, and whatever the sophisticated techniques we may use to collect the pieces and store them, there can never be a time when the thoughtful man can be supplanted as the intelligence device supreme.
Kent, rejecting family paths, chose a life of scholarship. He took his doctorate in history at Yale University and then joined the history faculty there. More than most professors in the s, Kent saw the study of history as a series of definable methodological and cognitive challenges. Kent was an unusually colorful character for an Ivy League professor in a rules-bound era. His ruthless grading of students was common enough; he was not the only professor to punish indolence and superficiality.
But none could match his mastery of the earthy story and off-color quip. Based on an autobiography composed some 50 years later and published privately Reminiscences of a Varied Life, , Kent was quite pleased with the professorial life in the s. He likely would have been content to continue indefinitely as a faculty member searching for the lessons of history and contributing to the education of undergraduates, slackers as well as enthusiasts.
That said, by , war in Europe was beginning to upset the plans of many Americans on campus and off. These branches without argument produced the best postwar OSS memoirs and stories. Whether they contributed the most to the war effort, however, is problematic. His first position was as first-line supervisor for North Africa.
In , he was elevated to the equivalent of office director for Europe and Africa, where he contributed to major projects including studies that helped shape governmental structures for post-war Germany. To his displeasure, he then saw himself as more administrator than analyst. Deadlines were set by operational demands, not personal schedules and egos. Thus, analysts had to deliver as teams, not as star scholars.
The Department of State, unenthusiastic inheritor of the unit, had minimal respect for academically trained analysts, some foreign born, some with unorthodox views of the future of the overseas world. Besides, Foreign Service Officers believed themselves to be the leading authorities on foreign countries and thus were their own intelligence experts.
Kent escaped this fate in , not to return to Yale, but to ask for another extension of his leave of absence to take a position on the faculty of the newly formed National War College, a high honor for a civilian. Initially, publishers were reluctant to commit to a book on intelligence with a focus on analysis rather than the heroics of espionage and covert action. Finally, Princeton University Press agreed to publish it in The timing was right, for the publisher as well as Kent. Kent Returns to Intelligence Seemingly content that, partly because of his lobbying, promising organizational structures for bureaucratically independent intelligence analysis had now replaced OSS, Kent had returned to New Haven in the fall of to re-establish his professorial life.
The outbreak of the Korean War in had a profound effect on both Kent and the Agency. Kent was of the conviction that Stalin had replaced Hitler as a menace to democracy and--through North Korea and China--was in position to ignite another World War.
A secularist in personal philosophy, Kent said that this concern moved him to attend a church service, a rare event in his adult life. Kent once described the ulcer-riddled Smith as having the most even temper of any man he ever knew—always sore.
Smith expressed first amazement and then anger at the absence of a pre-attack intelligence estimate on Korea. In fact, despite the lessons of Pearl Harbor, no unit existed to produce an analytic effort that reflected the coordinated views of all US intelligence organizations.
The Office of National Estimates also included analytic and support staffs. Kent demurred by saying his experience was in research not estimating.
In time, however, he would relinquish his professorship in and commit fully to CIA until his retirement on 31 December He did, however, lead by setting an example of long hours and high analytic standards, and challenging others to follow suit. In return, he respected their work and defended their judgments. Repeating the habits he had displayed as a young professor, Kent had a reputation at CIA as a master of barnyard language and bawdy jokes.
Add to salty--at times profane--language his penchant for bright red suspenders, and, until health concerns intervened, a wad of chewing tobacco, and the picture is complete. As one colleague put it in a memorial, intelligence in its early days needed both character and characters. Kent provided both. He understood the absolute need for loyalty and discretion in a security agency.
But when, in the early s, McCarthyism threatened to force on the bureaucracy an unreasonable standard of conformity, he quipped: When an intelligence staff has been screened through [too fine a mesh], its members will be as alike as tiles on a bathroom floor—and about as capable of meaningful and original thought.
Kent had a love-hate relationship with a series of DDIs. He recognized that the quality of National Intelligence Estimates depended considerably on the formal and informal contributions of a broad range of DI analysts ONE had an analytic staff of only about 30, most of whom were recruited from elsewhere in the DI. Jack Smith, and Ed Proctor. One of the oldest debates among both academic and amateur historians is whether historic times make heroes or heroes make historic times.
First of all, smartly. After all, when Kent wrote, the practice of intelligence analysis was in its infancy, and over a hundred serious books on intelligence had been written since. Professor May replied: Yes, but with concept after concept, in 40 years nobody has ever stated things as smartly as Kent.
Kent also believed that precise language was needed to avoid confusing policy clients about the meaning of intelligence judgments. For example, he thought that American policy officials all understood the meaning of frequently cited odds favoring one or another sports team and that substantive uncertainty could effectively be expressed with similar expressions. He had the following argument with one of his chief deputies, who preferred verbal estimative depictions good chance, real possibility, strong likelihood that Kent deplored as more colorful than meaningful.
Said R. A 2-to-1 chance of this; odds on that. You are turning us into the biggest bookie shop in town. Replied Kent: R. Promising graduates were also to be recruited. By the mids, cadres of scholars, both impressive seniors and promising juniors, were already in place in the DI. Finally, sure-handedly. For Kent, professionalization of intelligence analysis could not be ensured by proclamation or wishful thinking—or by one good book.
To create a distinctive, robust profession required constant assessment of needs and lobbying for vital changes. Kent lobbied successfully for a professional intelligence journal, and he served as first chairman of the editorial board when Studies in Intelligence was established in You have to start somewhere; one of the early debates argued the pluses and minuses of including source footnotes in intelligence assessments.
Here he had to wait until after his retirement, when the Center for the Study of Intelligence CSI was established in In retirement, Kent wrote several insightful articles on the history and practice of intelligence analysis while attached to CSI as an independent contractor.
Kent would have felt deeply honored by the establishment in of the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis. In retirement, he relished making presentations on analysis to what was then combined entry-level training for both Directorate of Operations and DI officers in what was called the Career Training Program. To elevate the quality of discussion in this town. He would not give interviews, even in retirement. In between publication of Strategic Intelligence and Reminiscences of a Varied Life, he would go public with his views on the importance of professional intelligence analysis, but not on its doctrines and practices.
He did publish several illuminating classified articles,  and to the Yale University Archives he left a trove of official memos and post-retirement lecture notes that amplify his analytic code. Because Kent saw the intelligence analyst as provider of information and insight for policy decisionmakers and action-takers, his tactics and emphases would shift over the years as the needs of officials changed with the times. The underlying doctrine or professional code remained very much the same, however, and is well illuminated in a list first enumerated by Frans Bax, founding Dean of the Kent School and now President of CIA University.
Focus on Policymaker Concerns Intelligence analysts are needed because policy officials face challenges that analysts can help them manage, Kent would argue, through mastery of background knowledge, evaluation and structuring of all-source material, and tradecraft expertise. Avoidance of a Personal Policy Agenda Kent would have agreed with a policy official who advised analysts to provide assessments that serve to help all players iron out their differences in the often-adversarial policy game.
He would have opposed providing analyses that were intended for use by one set of policy players to force its views on others. Intellectual Rigor Kent advocated sound analytic tradecraft as the key to supporting the policymaking process without lapsing into policymaking.
He realized, however, that analytic or cognitive bias was so ingrained in mental processes for tackling complex and fluid issues that it required a continuous, deliberate struggle to minimize. From his days as a history professor, he taught analysts to resist the tendency to see what they expect to see in the information.
Systematic Use of Outside Experts As an additional check on analytic bias and blinders in dealing with complex substantive challenges, Kent would support taking account of a wide range of outside opinions.
Certainly, analysts must keep up with the published and classified judgments of the policy clients they serve—not necessarily to agree, but always to seek distinctive information and assess underlying assumptions. More directly, analysts should cultivate working relations with outsiders in teaching, research, and business who follow the same analytic disciplines and accounts. When face-to-face with clients, analysts should represent and defend the appropriate corporate point of view.
Effective communication of policy-support information and judgments For busy policymakers, shorter is usually better, with key points stated quickly. Compounding this inherent substantive uncertainty with analyst-generated confusion, however, was a cardinal sin. In particular, non-falsifiable judgments must be avoided.
If the tradeoff is between adding length and allowing brevity to cause confusion or worse, banality , provide a carefully measured dose of detail. Candid Admission of Mistakes Analysts must strive to master their subjects and tradecraft, but there is no law or theory of analysis that guarantees success in tackling tough challenges, or that eliminates the so-called perils of estimating.
Year by year, new, often tougher, substantive and tradecraft challenges emerge. Meanwhile, the competition from other sources of structured information and expert judgment grows ever sharper for access to and credibility with policy clients. Sherman Kent, first as historian and then as intelligence practitioner, knew that professionals can never rest on their laurels. There are always fresh questions to tackle, fresh information to uncover, and fresh insights to test.
Kent would have been among the first to recognize that the analytic challenge in helping policy officials understand and deal with global terrorism is starkly different from the analytic challenges regarding the former Soviet Union. The need for strenuous effort, tough-minded tradecraft, and openness to alternative views remains the same, but the priorities, processes, and deliverables of producers of intelligence analysis must adjust to the changing profiles and preferences of the consumers.
Kent, as-ever the tough-grading teacher, would urge the continual seeking of lessons from analytic failures as well as successes.
Sherman Kent, el creador de la Inteligencia Estratégica
Kent showed uncommon talent for adapting scholarly methods to the rigors of producing intelligence analysis in support of the war effort, including cajoling egotistic professors to work as teams, meet heroic deadlines, and satisfy the needs of action-oriented customers. In the autumn of , Kent did return to Yale to re-launch his professorial life. Kent stayed this time, from until his retirement in Of the many individuals who paved a pathway for the development of intelligence analysis as a profession, Kent stands out—both for his own contributions to analytic doctrine and practice, and for inspiring three generations of analysts to build on his efforts to meet changing times. If intelligence analysis as a profession has a Founder, the honor belongs to Sherman Kent.
Books by Sherman Kent
Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy