Book Review Editors Note
Spies for Nimitz: Joint Military Intelligence in the Pacific War. By Jeffrey M. Moore. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institue Press, 2004. Pp. xxviii, 300. $29.95 cloth.)
Business and marketing expert and State Department and Pentagon consultant Jeffrey M. Moore intended this book to focus "on the true nature of military intelligencewhat it is, where it comes from, and how it can used" and to draw useful lessons from that study.
The title is misleading. Admiral Chester Nimitz employed few "spies"other than the coast watching service in the South Pacificand JICPOA (Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific Ocean Area, the subject of this book, was far from "joint" and dealt with only the Pacific Ocean Area and not with General MacArthurs Southwest Pacific Area, which was served by a separate intelligence organization. In addition, Moores understanding of the prewar period falls prey to bunkum spread by the late Rear Admiral Edwin Layton and the late British historian John Costello concerning Admiral Richmond K. Turner and Commander Joseph Rochefort. Once the narrative turns to the war years, however, Moores command of the material improves.
Despite the importance of codebreaking to the outcomes of the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, Moore presents no evidence suggesting that Nimitz in-fused the Pacific Fleet intelligence organization with any great sense of urgency thereafter. Surprisingly, he lacked curiosity about awaiting his fleet in the South Pacific at Guadalcanal and seems to have allowed subordinates to enlarge the intelligence bureaucracy in Hawaii at an almost glacial pace, abetted by an occasional prod from the Navy Department in Washington. That important relationship is beyond Moores interest, which is to describe the functioning of what was, in effect, a tactical intelligence collection and dissemination center. Mostly what JICPOA did was to collate intercepts, capture enemy documents, reconnaissance photography, and a handful of POW interrogations into useful format which was distributed to tactical commands of four major campaigns: the Gilberts-Marshalls, the Marianas, Palaus, and Iwo Jima-Okinawa.
Moore adduces considerable evidence to demonstrate that JICPOA accom-plished its mission efficiently, with the exception of the blunders attending Iwo Jima. Although he largely exonerates JICPAC from that fiasco, one wonders if the experience burdened the increasingly dim view taken by Admirals Nimitz and Spruance of the planned invasion of Kyushu. Military and naval intelligence is populated with some of the more eccentric uniformed iconoclasts imaginable, but Moores account largely ignores the influence of personality, commenting merely that JICPOAs longtime commander, General Twitty, was a "flexible leader." The least satisfactory and least readable part of the book is the final chapter on "Conclusions and Lessons Learned," which is a model for any of the hundreds of equally useless Washington reports produced by the cottage industry dedicated to "improving" intelligence.
Afflicted with some unusual notions"Alfred T. Mahan was an American naval philosopher during the age of sail," for instanceMoore is clearly more at home explaining the complex inner workings of JICPOA than relating its achievements to any broader understanding of the conflict with Japan. He thoroughly exploited official histories, a few interviews, and some archival sources, although it is not clear where some of those primary sources are located. These shortcomings notwithstanding, Spies is the only documented study of Pacific theater intelligence during World War II and, therefore, an essential feature of any library on the struggle with Japan.