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18 April 2007

Where have you gone, Mrs. Wohlstetter?

In the light of recent events, we are reminded of the continuing challenges of getting predictive intelligence right. We are not given the power to see the future, but we are given the ability to reason - and most importantly, to imagine.

There has been a recent trend towards the examination of intelligence surprise (particularly at the strategic level), intelligence failure, and the analytical tradecraft by which these are avoided. We are grateful for these efforts, and their contribution to the literature of intelligence.

To this end, we recommend our readers to the excellent doctoral thesis “Surprise, Intelligence Failure, and Mass Casualty Terrorism” by Thomas Copeland - one of the few scholars of the intelligence field that emerged in the 1990’s. We were pleased to make his acquaintance at several academic functions in the past, and we greatly respect his intellect and insight.

Closely related, the classic Anticipating Surprise by Cynthia Grabo has recently been updated and released as an occasional paper by the Joint Military Intelligence College. The original declassified version has also been released through the Kent school.

Other contributions by authors at the Fletcher school and at the Military Intelligence Corps Professional Association have also been noted.

While we still feel the recent loss of Roberta Wohlstetter - the first and best of the scholars in the subject - her legacy continues to live on in the community.

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