Surprise Attack explores sixty plus years of military and terror threats against the United States. It examines the intelligence tools and practices that provided warnings of those attacks and evaluates the United States’ responses, both in preparedness – and most importantly – the effectiveness of our military and national command authority.
Contrary to common claims, the historical record now shows that warnings, often very solid warnings, have preceded almost all such attacks, both domestic and international. Intelligence practices developed early in the Cold War, along with intelligence collection techniques have consistently produced accurate warnings for our national security decision makers. Surprise Attack traces the evolution and application of those practices and explores why such warnings have often failed to either interdict or intercept actual attacks.
Going beyond warnings, Surprise Attack explores the real world performance of the nation’s military and civilian command and control history – exposing disconnects in the chain of command, failures of command and control and fundamental performance issues with national command authority.
America has faced an ongoing series of threats, from the attacks on Hawaii and the Philippines in 1941, through the crises and confrontations of the Cold War, global attacks on American personnel and facilities to the contemporary violence of jihadi terrorism. With a detailed study of those threats, the attacks related to them, and America’s response, a picture of what works – and what doesn’t – emerges. The attacks have been tragic and we see the defensive preparations and response often ineffective. Yet lessons can be learned from the experience; Surprise Attack represents a comprehensive effort to identify and document those lessons.