VMI Cadet Researches Intelligence Failures and Successes
LEXINGTON, Va., June 30, 2022—The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, which killed 2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians, and destroyed or damaged 19 U.S. Navy ships, including 8 battleships, was a major intelligence failure. Identifying Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962 was a major intelligence success. What made the difference? What can be done to prevent future intelligence failures? Katie Lloyd ’23, a cadet at Virginia Military Institute, is endeavoring to find the answer in her Summer Undergraduate Research Institute (SURI) project titled, “Toward a Typology of U.S. Intelligence Successes and Failures.”
Lloyd, an international studies major, became interested in the topic when she took a course last semester called “U.S. Intelligence Successes and Failures” taught by Dr. Paul D. Humphries. “The class was so exciting,” said Lloyd, “I wasn’t sure I wanted to enroll in the class since it was scheduled late in the afternoon, but Dr. Humphries made it exciting, so it was impossible to lose focus or daydream.”
The course covered five in-depth case studies from Pearl Harbor to the 2004 invasion of Iraq. The cadets taking the class researched and presented additional case studies, which the class examined what factors contributed to intelligence success or failure. According to Humphries, Lloyd was one of the more eager and involved students in the class. “Lloyd approached me to serve as her SURI mentor on something to do with intelligence, and after much discussion we landed on a topic close to the heart of last semester's course, a typology of intelligence failure,” said Humphries. He continued, “She brings an informed background, considerable enthusiasm, and firmly developing research and analysis skills to this task. She has a lot of work ahead of her this term, but she's eager for the challenge, and I'm greatly looking forward to helping guide her inquiry.”
Lloyd will take what she learned in the course, the case studies she and her classmates explored, investigations into other applicable historical episodes, and considerable extra reading to see if, through this research and her own analysis, she can come up with identifiable patterns of practical shortcomings that can explain and identify what factors cause intelligence efforts to fail and why. “If you think of an intelligence episode as a cycle, you can study the parts of the cycle and break down what parts of the cycle led to a success or a failure,” explained Lloyd. She hopes her work will assist with directing, conducting, and evaluating intelligence activities to avoid potential pitfalls.
Lloyd graduated from Caroline High School in Caroline County, Virginia. She is goalie for the VMI water polo team, and is a CIC (cadet in charge) for Building BRIDGES, a VMI service club. She plans on traveling to Italy in the spring to attend the International Law of Armed Conflict conference with a contingent from VMI. Upon graduating from VMI, Lloyd hopes to work in geospatial intelligence, the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess, and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth.
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