Academic journal article Military Review

ANTICIPATING SURPRISE: Analysis for Strategic Warning

Academic journal article Military Review

ANTICIPATING SURPRISE: Analysis for Strategic Warning

Article excerpt

ANTCIPATING SURPRISE: Analysis for Strategic Warning, Cynthia M. Grabo, Joint Military Intelligence College, Washington, DC, 2002, 175 pages, price not available.

In March 2001, in a short paper for a class at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, I wrote that American leaders are likely to awaken one day to the shock of a surprise attack. The professor affixed a short note to my paper asking if I really believed this. Six months later, no one thought to ask such a question.

Cynthia M. Grabo's Anticipating Surprise affirms my dismal conclusion. Updated from the still-classified original written 30 years ago, this book is intended as an introduction to the role of strategic warning in intelligence. As the subtitle suggests, the book is about strategic, not tactical, warning, although Grabo does discuss tactical surprise. She says that tactical warning is primarily the concern of military units, not intelligence agencies. Thus, the intended audience for this book is intelligence analysts and the policymakers they support.

Much of the book is too detailed to keep the interest of a general audience, but a careful reading of Anticipating Surprise will more than repay the effort. Intelligence insider Grabo knows from experience the problems of intelligence analysis and has some ideas about how to fix them. Grabo worked for nearly 40 years as an analyst and researcher for the Army and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The focus of the book is on national governments, not nonstate actors. During the Global War on Terrorism and crises on the Korean peninsula, in the Taiwan Strait, and South Asia have the potential to be far more deadly than the operations of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Because conflicts in these areas are likely to involve the United States and because the Chinese have spoken openly about their intent to achieve surprise, Grabo's words are worth studying. However, given significant differences in how state and nonstate actors operate and the current U. …

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