U.S.

September 20, 2013

Military Intelligence – this week in history

Tags:
Ruth Quinn, Staff Historian
USAICoE Command History Office
Photo property of the U.S. Army
Sidney Mashbir was the commander of Allied Translator and Interpreter Service, SWPA G2.

Allied Translator and Interpreter Section activated

Sidney Mashbir was the commander of Allied Translator and Interpreter Service, SWPA G2.

Sept. 19, 1942
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 1941, President Roosevelt declared war on Japan the next day. Three days later, Hitler declared war on the United States. Thus the American military was thrust suddenly into World War II, fighting in two different theaters, against vastly different enemies.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who had been commanding forces in the Philippines, arrived in Australia in March 1942 and was soon thereafter appointed as the supreme commander of all Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific Area, or SWPA.

The SWPA was constituted on April 18, 1942, by agreement among the Governments of Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United States. On that date, MacArthur assumed command and proceeded to establish his General Headquarters at Melbourne.

MacArthur’s assistant chief of staff for Intelligence was Col. Charles Willoughby, who oversaw the complex intelligence network of the SWPA Theater.

Willoughby set up a number of Allied intelligence collection organizations under his direct control. The Central Bureau handled cryptologic functions. Human Intelligence came from the Allied Intelligence Bureau, whose mission was to collect intelligence through clandestine operations behind enemy lines, conduct sabotage operations and recruit aid from the natives. The Allied Geographical Section was formed to collect and assemble topographic information, and to prepare and publish reports and locality studies on areas of immediate tactical interest. The most productive single intelligence agency established under the G2 of the SWPA was the Allied Translator and Interpreter Service, or ATIS, which was organized on Sept. 19, 1942.

ATIS effectively neutralized the Japanese language barrier — one of the greatest advantages possessed by the Japanese, as it was almost as effective as a secret code. The G2 employed hundreds of second-generation Japanese-Americans, called Nisei, in linguist detachments under ATIS. They accompanied assault landing forces across the beachhead and on inland, conducted spot interrogations, translated captured maps and plans, and gave the psychological warfare planners excellent insight into the morale problems of enemy soldiers through the exploitation of letters and diaries. Other captured and translated documents revealed the enemy’s food and supply problems, his order of battle, the effects of Allied air attacks and the effectiveness of both Allied and Japanese weapons.

The Commander of the ATIS, Col. Sidney Mashbir, in his book “I Was an American Spy,” called the ATIS document translation process a “brain-power quantity production line.” He stated that by the end of the war, ATIS had interrogated 14,000 prisoners, translated almost two million documents, and published more than 20 million pages of Japanese intelligence.

The irony was that the Japanese kept scrupulous records, which they rarely encrypted, having absolute confidence in the security the language barrier afforded. ATIS used this to their complete advantage, compiling nearly complete sets of unit papers, including war diaries, organizational rosters, intelligence reports, pay books, postal-savings books, correspondence and personal possessions. Using these captured items, they slowly and patiently built up a mosaic picture of the enemy force.

By the time the American forces reached Manila in January 1945, Mashbir boasted that [ATIS] “literally knew more about the Japanese Army than most of its own officers, because, as a matter of fact, we had their records. This was equally true of the Navy and Air Force.” Over the course of the war, ATIS issued thousands of printed documents, providing intelligence of immediate operational importance as well as overall strategic value.




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


 
 

 
square

A local take on America’s PrepareAthon!

Over the month of April events have been taking place nationwide to help ensure America’s preparedness in the event of an emergency. America’s PrepareAthon is a grassroots movement that highlights the importance of prepared...
 
 
Stephanie Caffall

Second ‘Take Back Night’ hosted at Cochise College

Stephanie Caffall Rick Mueller, mayor, City of Sierra Vista, spoke at the Take Back the Night event and encouraged the community to put an end to sexual assault and harassment. Fort Huachuca and the Sierra Vista community joine...
 
 

BLUE BORDER MESSAGE / SEXUAL ASSAULT CASE COMPLETED

At a court martial on 25 March 2015, a Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, was tried for committing sexual acts on multiple occasions by causing bodily harm. The 2LT pled not guilty, but was found guilty to the charge of sexual assault. On 27 March 2015, the 2LT was sentenced to a dismissal. The sexual assault...
 

 
Stephanie Caffall

Installation Retirement Ceremony honors retirees

Stephanie Caffall Fourteen Soldiers, one Department of Army Civilian and their guests await the formal recognition portion of the Installation Retirement Ceremony Friday on Brown Parade Field. Fort Huachuca honored 14 Soldiers ...
 
 
Natalie Lakosil

Holocaust Remembrance Day Observance reminds crowd of valuable lessons

Natalie Lakosil Lily Brull, Holocaust survivor, receives a poem, flowers and homemade Challah bread from Malachi, 4, and Kayalynn Fiddes, 8, after speaking about her experience as a Holocaust survivor. Lily Brull was only 10 ye...
 
 
U.S. Army photo

Military Intelligence – Moment in MI history

U.S., Britain agree to share communications intelligence U.S. Army photo Maj. Melvin C. Helfers evaluated ULTRA, or Special Intelligence, and presented it to Gen. George Patton. The BRUSA Agreement severely restricted access to...
 




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