Army

May 17, 2013

Military Intelligence – this week in history

Tags:
Ruth Quinn, Staff Historian
USAICoE Command History Office

Lewis, Clark begin recon mission

Lewis and Clark at the mouth of the Columbia River, 1805, by Frederic Remington

May 14, 1804
After President Thomas Jefferson negotiated the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803, he chartered a “Corps of Discovery” exploration and mapping expedition of this vast unknown land, from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains, and beyond the mountains to the sea. Thus began the first U.S. geospatial intelligence effort.

Jefferson chose his trusted personal secretary, Army Capt. Meriwether Lewis, a skilled frontiersman, to lead the voyage. Lewis enlisted the help of former Army 1st Lt. William Clark, who had even more experience as both a draftsman and frontiersman.

Jefferson then personally supervised their year-long scientific training for the expedition. Training included studying published narratives and maps of other explorers, reading celestial observations, learning how to deal with medical emergencies and how to identify plants, animals and minerals. Jefferson also stressed the importance of daily journals written by the captains themselves, as well as by other literate members of the party.

In addition to the geographic information Jefferson hoped to learn, he had political reasons for the expedition, as well. The geopolitical landscape of North America was as diverse as the physical one in the early 1800s.

Jefferson was on the one hand disturbed by Britain’s expansion of its fur trade in the Pacific Northwest, but he did not want to antagonize the British, needing them as allies should war break out with France over its possession of New Orleans.

France and Spain were also competing for the fur trade in America, and Jefferson wanted to know who supported the French around St. Louis and along the Missouri River. The French were known for their familiarity with native tribes and their languages, so he could not disregard their presence.

Adding to the confusion were the indigenous tribes inhabiting the land of the Louisiana Purchase, who were in conflict with each other as well as the various European powers who had economic interests there.

Finally, Jefferson was interested in the flow of the Missouri River drainage, feeling that any flow of the river above 50 degrees latitude gave him rights to territorial claims in present-day western Canada.

Jefferson schooled Lewis and Clark on all of these geopolitical concerns so the commanders could act as the president’s agents while developing their own informants along the way, adding to the intelligence sources that addressed Jefferson’s national security concerns.

Lewis “networked” during the winter of 1803 – 1804 before the star of his journey. He developed questionnaires for informant debriefing and tabulated responses in a grid system. In their correspondence, Lewis and Jefferson used a cipher system designed by Jefferson to encode communications “that might do injury if betrayed.” The Lewis and Clark expedition was, in fact, a reconnaissance mission.

In her essay, “Rethinking Geographical Exploration as Intelligence Collection,” historical geographer Carol Medlicott writes, “As trusted agents of the state, they were sent into potentially hostile territory to observe according to … instructions and to collect information necessary to ensuring territorial security and negotiating North American geopolitics.”

On May 14, 1804, Lewis and Clark finally started on their two-year voyage of discovery. Their journey took them along the Missouri River from St. Louis through Nebraska and Iowa, South and North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and back. It had far-reaching implications for the future of Native Americans as well as for European Americans, for topography, biological sciences, ecology, and ethnic and linguistic studies of the American Indian. Economic, political, military and social forces brought to bear as a result of the expedition forever changed the northern plains the Native People had known, and would also forever change those who came to the prairie.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Army

Military Intelligence – Moment in MI history

Operation Just Cause has its 25th anniversary At 1 a.m. on Dec. 20, 1989, roughly 13,000 American troops under the operational command of the XVIII Airborne Corps airlifted into Panama to join the 13,000 Soldiers and Marines al...
 
 

ACS offers scholarships, resiliency training

AER provides scholarships Army Emergency Relief maintains two scholarship programs — the Spouse Education Assistance Program and the Maj. Gen. James Ursano Scholarship Program for dependent children. Both scholarships provide financial assistance for students who are pursuing their first undergraduate degree. Scholarship applications will be accepted from Jan. 2 to May 1 each year for...
 
 

FH Exchange shoppers save with price matching

Whether shopping in stores or online, Soldiers, retirees and their Families get the lowest price at the Fort Huachuca Exchange. In fact, shoppers who price matched at Army & Air Force Exchange Service locations worldwide saved $6.4 million in 2013. At brick-and-mortar locations, price differences of $10 or less are matched on the spot —...
 

 

Report shows Army making progress in SHARP efforts

WASHINGTON — Army efforts to change command climate and increase training have resulted in a decrease in sexual assaults as well as an increase in reporting of these crimes, a recently released report shows. “The Army still has the prevention of sexual assault as its number-one priority,” said Dr. Christine Altendorf, director of the Army...
 
 

Career Skills Program affords ETSing Soldiers employment potential

The Veteran’s Opportunity to Work, VOW Act of 2011, made significant changes to transition procedures for separating Service members. The Army’s Soldier Life Cycle is the last portion of the VOW Act to be implemented. Beginning in fiscal year 15, the Soldier Life Cycle (Start Strong-Serve Strong-Remain Strong-Reintegrate Strong) begins. As part of the Reintegrate...
 
 
Colby Hauser, USACIDC

CID warns of new carjacking scam, provides holiday safety tips

Colby Hauser, USACIDC CID special agents are responsible for investigating felony-level crime worldwide and where there is an Army nexus. Serving a population of more than one million Soldiers, Civilians, contractors and Family...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin