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News | Feb. 11, 2021

The First UK-US Signals Intelligence Cooperation


Before World War II, military education in the United States did not provide much instruction in intelligence. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, as he rose to command, therefore had no formal education in it and little experience in using intelligence other than tactical methods, such as reconnaissance.

When Gen. Eisenhower became the senior U.S. officer in Europe in August 1942, Prime Minister Winston Churchill invited the American general to his weekend residence for a “get acquainted” visit. There, he personally briefed him on ULTRA, the exploitation of the German ENIGMA machine. Eisenhower became a skilled user of intelligence as the Allied Supreme Commander in Europe in World War II. But first he had to learn the challenging art of commanding armies from different military traditions and simultaneously learn to use intelligence. 

Prior to taking command in Europe for the mission to liberate the countries occupied by the Nazis, Eisenhower led the first major binational military force in North Africa in late 1942, and appointed British Brigadier Kenneth Strong as his G-2, intelligence chief.

Strong proved equally expert in getting along with the Americans as he was in intelligence analysis. He had worked in intelligence for almost seventeen years.

Strong worked so well with Eisenhower and the senior staff that Eisenhower asked to have the British officer again assigned to him when he was selected to command the cross-channel operation to land Allied forces in France, and moved his headquarters to London. Strong served with Eisenhower through the end of the war, and his tutelage on intelligence not only influenced General Eisenhower for the better but, of course, helped to educate the future President Eisenhower.