Ralph Van Deman becomes father of modern American military intelligence | Article | The United States Army
When the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, the U.S. Army’s intelligence efforts were nearly non-existent despite the fact that early attempts to gather information about foreign armies resulted in the creation of a Military Information Division in 1885.
In 1903, the division transferred from the Adjutant General’s Office to the Office of the Chief of Staff, where it became the Second Division of the General Staff. However, by 1908, the Second Division had been absorbed by the Third (War College) Division, and the Army’s intelligence functions had been relegated to a committee.
Intelligence activities declined over the next several years due to insufficient personnel and appropriations as well as limited interest or understanding of its importance. According to the official history of the Military Intelligence Division, written in October 1918, “personnel and appropriations were limited, the powers of the committee were narrow and its accomplishments, though valuable, were necessarily meager. Such was the situation at the time war was declared.”
But change was coming.
In 1915, Maj. (later Maj. Gen.) Ralph Van Deman arrived at the War College. A native of Delaware, Ohio, he had attended both law and medical schools before accepting an infantry commission in 1891.
Over the next two decades, he gained valuable intelligence experience in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and China. In Manila, Van Deman established an intelligence organization to conduct terrain analysis, mapping and counterintelligence.
By the time he arrived at the War College, Van Deman was one of few career military intelligence officers in the Army. He immediately grasped the implications of the United States’ lack of a military intelligence organization and resolved to reverse the situation.
Van Deman wrote numerous memoranda criticizing the ineffectual nature of the War College’s committee. He stated, “To call a chair a table does not make it a table–it still remains a chair. And to call the personnel of the War College Division a Military Information Committee does not make it one.”
His appeals for the creation of a competent organization were essentially ignored. One week after the U.S. declaration of war, Van Deman pled his case to Maj. Gen. Hugh Scott, Chief of Staff, who refused to consider the proposal on the grounds that it would only duplicate British and French efforts.
Persisting, Van Deman enlisted the aid of a female novelist and the Washington, D.C., Chief of Police, both friends of Secretary of War Newton Baker. Either because of or coincident to these outside interventions, Baker summoned Van Deman to his office on April 30, 1917, to explain the state of U.S. military intelligence.
Just three days later, on May 3, the War College received an order to create an intelligence organization and detail an officer to “take up the work of military intelligence for the Army.”
Van Deman, of course, was the perfect choice to lead the newly established Military Intelligence Section (MIS).
The MIS experienced rapid growth throughout the war. The section was divided into a Positive Branch for intelligence collection, attachés, translations, maps and photographs, and training, and a Negative Branch for all counterintelligence functions. A Code and Ciphers Section within the MIS became the Army’s first organized signals intelligence unit.
Finally, Van Deman initiated the first personnel security investigation and identification card systems within the War Department.
By 1918, the renamed Military Intelligence Division had more than 1,400 military and civilian personnel. At this time, it moved out from under the War College to a spot as one of four equal divisions on the War Department’s General Staff, a position it has maintained to this day.
In addition to equality on the General Staff, other long-standing consequences of the establishment of the MIS were the recognized need for professional intelligence personnel and the preservation of an intelligence effort even in times of peace.
That the World War I period was a watershed in U.S. Army intelligence history cannot be overstated. No single individual did more to advance Army intelligence than Van Deman. In 1988, the MI Corps recognized this when it chose him as one of the initial members of the MI Hall of Fame. In 1992, it further memorialized him by naming the east gate in his honor.
Van Deman is recognized as the father of American military intelligence for his role in establishing the first effective, professional intelligence organization within the Army 100 years ago.
Join the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence when it rededicates the Van Deman Gate at 2:30 p.m. June 23 during the MI Hall of Fame activities.
“It is not the position in which you stand, but the direction in which you look.”
The TRADOC Spotlight recognizes the contributions and shares the perspectives of Soldiers and civilians throughout U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command as they work each day to help train, educate and develop the greatest Army in the world.
Staff Sgt. Jo Desiree’ Schaus is the 2014 U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Noncommissioned Officer Instructor of the Year. She has deployed several times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and has completed many schools, including Company Intelligence Support Team, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention and Equal Opportunity. Thank you for your service, SSG Schaus!
Unit: Fort Leonard Wood, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, 3rd Chemical Brigade, 58th Transportation, Headquarters and Headquarters Company
Duty title: Instructor/Writer 88M3P8
Hometown: Evergreen, Alabama
How do you feel about your nomination? I feel humbled and overwhelmed with excitement.
Time with TRADOC: November 2013 (2 years)
Time with the Army: 13 years
The thing I like most about my job: The thing I like most about my career is training Soldiers and the pride I feel when they overcome an obstacle that, prior to this course, they swore they would never be able to overcome. It is extremely rewarding.
Best TRADOC (or Army) memory: It is far too difficult to name just one great memory and call it my best.
– As a young Soldier, I remember being on a field training exercise at Fort Pickett, Viriginia, laying in the mud at 0300. There was a thunderstorm, I was cold, and all I wanted was food. I remember laughing and saying to myself “Yep, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
– Great moments are made when you see your peers, subordinates and superiors excel. When Soldiers get promoted or receive an award, I don’t even have to know them personally, and I feel a huge sense of pride for them.
– I have never felt so many emotions as I did when I returned from my fifth deployment and held my young son, who was only 5 months old when I deployed with 173rd Airborne to Afghanistan, marking 54 months deployed combat time. I remember having real fear that he wouldn’t remember me, which is a fear much deeper, different and personal than anything I have ever felt. Though he was barely talking, he ran to me – and I to him, he touched my face, smiled and said “Hey Mama!” I could barely muster the words “Hey my baby” back to him.
Why did you join the Army? I liked the look of a Soldier; I wanted the title of a Soldier; I wanted the respect and discipline of a Soldier. I wanted to be part of something far bigger than myself. I wanted the camaraderie of the Army.
Greatest accomplishment/proudest moment: My proudest moment is when my older Soldiers call me for advice or to tell me about their newest accomplishment. Moments when you realize you have finally reached the point where Soldiers follow you — not because they have to, but because they want to.
Career goals: My career goal is to be the second female Regimental command sergeant major. Upon retirement, I will work for the Department of Human Resources as a social worker and rape crisis counselor.
Favorite quote/motto/piece of advice: I have two mottos that get me through personal and professional life:
“Success is optional, excelling is not.” – Jo Schaus
“It is not the position in which you stand, but the direction in which you look.” – author unknown
The advice I give to all Soldiers is “Do not set your goals to merely meet the standard; set your goals to exceed the standard.”
What motivates you? My son, who is now 3 years old, motivates me. I want my son to be proud. The smile on his face first thing in the morning melts my heart. I am a huge morning person; I am always happy and smiling, and he takes it to the next level. For as long as I can remember, people ask “Why do you smile so much?” My response is “Why not?”
“No matter what the circumstances, always choose to be happy.”
The TRADOC Spotlight recognizes the contributions and shares the perspectives of TRADOC Soldiers and civilians as they work each day to help train, educate and develop the greatest Army in the world.
Chaplain (Maj.) Thomas J. Faichney is the 2014 U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Officer Instructor of the Year, representing Army Logistics University during his previous assignment. Congratulations and thank you for your service, Chaplain Faichney!
Name: Chaplain (Maj.) Thomas J. Faichney
Unit: The U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina
Duty title: Course Manager for the Major Functional Course at the Chaplain Center and School (Chaplain Faichney previously served at the Army Logistics University as the Ethics Instructor.)
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
How do you feel about your nomination? Honored, humbled, surprised.
Time with TRADOC: One short assignment as a Basic Combat Training Battalion Chaplain at Fort Jackson (six months), one year in Advanced Civilian Schooling attending Duke University, and three years at ALU serving as the Ethics Instructor.
Time with the Army: Over 13 years.
The thing I like most about my job: Serving Soldiers and their families, enabling them to love their neighbor through their honorable and selfless defense of the Constitution.
Best TRADOC (or Army) memory:
– TRADOC – Being a steward of future leaders through regular classroom engagements that always stimulated critical thinking and deeper knowledge of our profession as we thought carefully, personally and practically about the ethics of land combat power.
– Army – Serving as the Rakkasan Brigade Chaplain (3BCT/101st) from 2009-2011; deploying in support of OEF in 2010 where I saw the power of love in fearless combat and how gracious religious support empowers the burdened soul.
Why did you join the Army? Joining the Army was an absolute calling to glorify God by pastoring Soldiers and their families.
Greatest accomplishment/proudest moment: Persevering in this profession by the grace of God; three deployments to combat, over 33 months, multiple separations from my family, who have carried the cross with me.
Career goals: To simply be faithful in the duties entrusted to me; growing as a person as I develop as a professional.
Favorite quote/motto/ piece of advice: Three rules of retired Chaplain (Col.) Neil A. Dennington:
– The Cardinal Rule: Always relax to the point of self-control.
– Rule #5: Never take yourself too seriously; always take the mission seriously, but never take yourself too seriously.
– Rule #9: No matter what the circumstances, always choose to be happy.
What motivates you? The love and grace of God.
“I look forward to continuing to teach and to add to the body of knowledge by contributing to the military’s understanding of risk.”
Phillip Pattee is the 2014 U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Educator of the Year. Representing the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Pattee has served as a lesson author, curriculum developer and assisted in the management of the Strategic Studies Additional Skill Identifier program. He has published numerous articles, book reviews and a book in the area of history and strategy. His efforts have enhanced the learning experience for his students and for the Army. Congratulations and thank you for your service, Mr. Pattee!
Name: Phillip G. Pattee
Unit: U.S. Army Command and General Staff College
Duty title: Associate Professor
Hometown: Port Townsend, Washington
How do you feel about your nomination? It’s nice to be professionally respected for doing my job well.
Time with TRADOC: 12 years
Time with the Army: 12 years
The thing I like most about my job: The give and take with the students. They keep me sharp, and I hope I cause them to think seriously about their profession. Every day is a chance to learn something new and to build professional relationships.
Best TRADOC (or Army) memory: Every graduation. That is a time to celebrate the year I had with the students and reflect on their professional growth and accomplishments.
Why did you become an Army civilian? The attraction of the job teaching at CGSC was what drew me to become an Army civilian. It was the only way to do what I do as an instructor teaching strategy and operations at CGSC.
Greatest accomplishment/proudest moment? I like to see my students succeed and get recognized for things like the best Master Thesis for the year, or win writing awards. I also like to hear about their professional successes, such as being selected for battalion or brigade command.
Career goals? I look forward to continuing to teach and to add to the body of knowledge by contributing to the military’s understanding of risk. Maybe I’ll get promoted to professor.
Favorite quote/motto/piece of advice? “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” Yogi Berra
This quote reminds me that the real world is much more complex than our simplified models.
What motivates you? The students here are commissioned officers. Their decisions affect the lives of so many Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines as well as national security. This is serious business, and their education is a crucial part of their professional development.
“I feel like I’m really doing something worthwhile and helping Soldiers.”
Susan Schoeppler was recently recognized as TRADOC’s first Most Valuable Player of the Quarter when Lt. Gen. Kevin Mangum, TRADOC’s deputy commanding general, paid her a surprise visit and recognized her efforts in the headquarters’ G-3/5/7 Training Integration Directorate and her contributions to the U.S. Army. Congratulations and thank you for your service, Ms. Schoeppler!
Name: Susan Schoeppler
Unit: Headquarters, TRADOC, G-3/5/7 – Training Integration Directorate
Duty title: Training Plans and Policy Analyst
Hometown: I’ve lived in the Tidewater area for many years and like it very much, but I consider Chardon, Ohio, my hometown.
Time with TRADOC: I’ve worked at the headquarters for 31 years, but I was also an ROTC instructor and worked at the Soldier Support Institute.
Time with the Army: 41 years, military and civilian.
The thing I like most about my job:
– As an analyst in TRADOC G-3/5/7, I’ve had the opportunity to really specialize in something, get in-depth, make contacts and form working relationships — and it’s always been something very interesting, something I was committed to.
– For the past few years, I’ve handled credentialing, which I’ve really enjoyed. I feel like I’m really doing something worthwhile and helping Soldiers. It’s interesting to dig into different military occupational specialties.
– My bosses really empower their people, so we feel like we can move out and really DO things.
Best TRADOC (or Army) memory: After 41 years, I have a lot of favorite memories …
– I sat between the secretary of the Army and the TRADOC commander and briefed the secretary on our plans for creating the Western Hemisphere Institute. It went very well; the secretary was pleased — and we executed. Sometimes the things we TRADOC staffers have to do are sort of painful — like preparing for that briefing! But the glow of accomplishment afterward makes it worthwhile.
– I’ve had lots of great experiences with credentialing, but it’s hard to pick a favorite memory when you’re right in the middle of something and it’s swirling all around you.
Why did you become an Army civilian? I was assigned to Fort Monroe when I was on active duty. I enjoyed the work and thought I was good at it. I loved the area and was ready to settle somewhere.
Greatest accomplishment/proudest moment: I hope it hasn’t happened yet! Being selected as the Most Valuable Player of the Quarter was pretty cool.
Career goals: I’m approaching retirement. I just hope to do good work.
What motivates you? My father, Jake Schoeppler, worked for a large corporation as their expert in employee benefits. I learned that the attitude among the senior leadership was “If Jake says it, it’s right.” That’s one of many ways that I’d like to be like my dad. They say that “Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it,” and my mother, Vi Schoeppler, always went the extra mile to make things special.
Favorite quote/motto/piece of advice? I love inspiring quotes. Right now, two come to mind:
– I spent my military time in the Adjutant General Corps. Their motto is “Help the Soldier.”
– Another favorite quote is “Be kind. Remember, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”