Essay Sample on Spies and Intelligence: Ancient to Medieval Times

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1384 Words
Date:  2023-03-26


Infiltration of perceived enemy cells and ranks through intelligence operations have been in existence since ancient times. As recorded in the bible, before attacking Jericho, the Hebrews sent spies into the city (Joshua 2:1-24). The Mongols heavily relied on intelligence operations to successfully carry out their Asian and European conquests in the 13th and 14th centuries.

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Similarly, King David IV of Georgia established a successful intelligence service called the Mstovaris at the beginning of the 12th century (Islam, 2016). The Mstovaris were responsible for infiltrating castles and fortresses to gather the information that could be used against the enemy during war. During the wake of military organization in the middle-ages, Chinese military strategist general Sun Tzu wrote a book titled the art of war in which he pointed out that one who knows themselves and the enemy will not be endangered (Huiqin & Weiguo, 2018). Sun Tzu's publication instigated further development and refining of intelligence operation units across the globe to enhance individual state's military prowess. It led to the development of MI-5 and MI-6 in Britain and the central intelligence agency (CIA) and the federal bureau of investigation (FBI) in the United States that currently utilizes more sophisticated technology to execute their operations in the contemporary world effectively.

Evolution of the United States' Intelligence Operation

Before the revolutionary war, the United States never had an intelligence agency. In the 18th century, spying became a freelance business in the United States with army generals running spies as part of their scout services (Port, 2019). In 1882 general George McClellan relied on Pinkerton's organization known as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency for intelligence. In 1882 United States established its first intelligence agency known as the office of naval intelligence. Three years later, in 1885, the army created an information office which later became known as the military intelligence division. The need for proper coordination of these agencies resulted in president Franklin Roosevelt to instruct the federal bureau of investigation (FBI), which was mostly involved in solving crime within the country to carry out counterespionage operations in Latin America. After World War II in 1947, the United States Constitution established the national security act which recognized the Department of Defense (DOD) and National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (Port, 2019).

The CIA became the official foreign intelligence agency for the United States. For several years the CIA has been involved in several intelligence operations as well as covert operations. The need to develop technology-driven spies led the director of central intelligence to start research programs such as SR-71, CORONA, and U-2, an effort that was recognized constitutionally in 1962 through the creation of directorate of science and technology (Barrett, 2014). The CIA's intelligence operations significantly influence the United States' foreign policies, as seen in different situations such as the CIA's paramilitary operation in Afghanistan.

Impact of Past, Current, And Developing Technology on Intelligence Collection and Intelligence Operations

Several disciplines help in intelligence collection and operations, which include human intelligence (HUMINT), signal intelligence (SIGINT), imaginary intelligence (IMINT) and measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT), as well as open-source intelligence (OSINT) (Jordan, 2019). IMINT, MASINT, and SIGNT are technologically intensive, and only well-developed nations can have access to information obtained from these disciplines.

Incorporation of technological inventions and innovations into intelligence-related activities have been vital in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of intelligence operations. It has also impacted major world events, as seen in World War II. During this period, the Germans used the enigma machine to encrypt its cipher traffic. The Enigma cipher machine facilitated Germans to communicate their military strategies and intentions among themselves, given the high level of coding language is used. However, the British military intelligence developed Ultra, which was a signal intelligence (SIGINT) used to obtain and breakdown high-level encrypted communication via radio or teleprinter (Jordan, 2019). It helped the British military intelligence to secure and breakdown encrypted communication by the German military via the enigma cipher machine. Through this, the British military intelligence provided useful information to their forces on the ground, which enabled them to effectively stop any German military advances and launch strategic attacks on the Germans, thereby defeating them and bringing the English-German war to an end (Jordan, 2019).

The increased volatility of high threat-environments in the contemporary world has made it almost impossible to send human personnel to such areas, resulting in the development of signal intelligence (SIGINT) to help in collecting intelligence information from these environments. Such has been the case for a significant duration of the 21st century. Automated aerial drones have been deployed to gather intelligence information as well as carry out critical intelligence operations as recently witnessed in the killing of the Iran commander Qasem Soleimani, which many feared could trigger the beginning of world war III (Hashim & Soleimani, 2020). In recent times the biometric technology has gained ground and is widely used in airports and other entry points that require identification. Biometric Technology puts military personnel on covert operations at a risky position as they can be easily exposed and their operations uncovered, thereby compromising these operations.

The Criticality of Remaining Current in Technology and Other Developments in the Field

There have been new developments in the global war arena. Most of these developments are instigated by the rapid technological innovation and inventions witnessed in recent times. The development of weapons of mass destruction and the emergence of violent extremist groups around the globe are some of the emerging trends that pose serious security threats not only for the United States but for all countries, not forgetting the rapid developments witnessed in bio-weaponry (Jordan, 2019). These require every country, including the United States, to stay well updated on the new developments relating to such as this is the only way to put in place proactive measures that can avert danger created by these emerging trends.

Ways to Remain Current in the Field

The intelligence operation landscape is rapidly evolving, something that is highly fueled by the rapid developments witnessed in the technological arena. It is of due diligence that all countries to remain current with these developments. Some of the best ways to keep abreast with the technology field are by forming a strategic alliance and investing in research and developments (Port, 2019). Investing in research and development is critical as it allows for innovations and inventions in this particular field, thereby helping individual nations to be the initiators of new developments in the intelligence operation field. Developing strategic alliances equally helps individual countries in staying on top of new developments in the field as it allows them to share critical, intelligent information with their strategic partners (Port, 2019).


Intelligence operation has been in existence since ancient times and gained much ground in terms of popularity in the middle ages as it was applied by the Mongols and King David IV of Georgia to enhance their military prowess. Technology has been part and parcel of the revolutions witnessed in the intelligence operation sector and has impacted major world events, as seen in World War II. It is essential for all global players, including the United States, to remain current on matters relating to intelligence operations to effectively combat emerging security threats such as violent extremist groups and mass destruction weaponry. Investing in research and development as well as forming strategic alliances are the best ways countries can utilize to remain current in this particular field.


Barrett, D. M. (2014). Explaining the first contested senate confirmation of a director of central intelligence: John McCone, the Kennedy White House, the CIA, and the Senate, 1962. Intelligence and National Security, 31(1), 74-87. doi:10.1080/02684527.2014.928474

Hashim, A. S., & Soleimani, Q. (2020). Iranian general's killing: How will Iran respond?. RSIS Commentaries, 005-20. Retrieved from

Huiqin, W., & Weiguo, L. (2018). Analysis of the Art of War of Sun Tzu by text mining technology. 2018 IEEE/ACIS 17th International Conference on Computer and Information Science (ICIS). doi:10.1109/icis.2018.8466540

Islam, A. (2016). The Mongol invasions of central Asia. International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, 6(4), 315-319. doi:10.7763/ijssh.2016.v6.664

Jordan, M. I. (2019). Artificial intelligence-the revolution hasn't happened yet. Issue 1. doi:10.1162/99608f92.f06c6e61

Port, H.M. (2019). The joint intelligence center: An exploratory study of military intelligence operations in the modern-day fight against an asymmetric threat (Doctoral dissertation).retrieved from

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