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15 January 2008

Intelligence history in the Black Valley

We are quite fortunate to number among our readers a gentleman of expertise and innovation, who passed along an excellent video in which he can be seen here lecturing at Google's occasional talks series. The topic of conversation was what we would consider the early history of intelligence privatization – the development of the early partnerships to pursue new scientific and technical intelligence operations against Germany and the Soviet Union. For those generally unfamiliar with the importance of the Wizard’s War, the lecture also serves as an excellent introduction to basic electronic warfare concepts and the SIGINT / ELINT challenges required to effectively support EW during WWII and the Cold War era.

The lecture in particular resonates as it tracks the eventual higher order effects of the early Cold War surge in a way that is rarely done in intelligence history surveys. One can almost for a moment imagine a different lecturer, sitting in a room somewhere in a start-up turned world changing firm of not so distant futurity, exploring the impact of innovations in the early years of the Long War from a similar perspective and style. In our mind’s eye, we perhaps think that such a future lecture might focus on the IED Defeat fight, or perhaps the manhunting problem – but of course it has not been given to us to seen the future, only merely to glimpse the outlines of its potential.

For now, we are pleased to see this kind of history surfacing, and being spread in places where creative and imaginative young minds cluster, especially by such a gifted speaker and guide. Let us hope that it may inspire the next generation of intelligence developments and successes, even as it enlightens us to the pasts we share.

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