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Moments in MI history: the army closes the military intelligence training center at camp Ritchie, Maryland.

In October 1945, the U.S. Army decided to close the Military Intelligence Training Center (MITC) at Camp Ritchie, Maryland. The war had ended, resources were declining, and the need to continue dedicated training for intelligence specialists seemed unnecessary in time of peace. The school had trained more than 19,000 intelligence personnel in only three years, an incredible feat considering that little intelligence training had existed prior to its establishment.

During World War II, general supervision of intelligence training rested with the Training Branch of the War Department's Military Intelligence Service (MIS), the operating agency of the Army's G2. Unfortunately, going into the war, the War Department did not have a dedicated intelligence school. The MITC, which began operations on 19 June 1942, came closest to fulfilling MIS's long-neglected need for a centralized school.

The initial class of students, all officers, gained admission based on letters of recommendation from their commanders. All subsequent classes were comprised of both commissioned and enlisted students to meet the demand for a variety of trained intelligence specialists overseas. Students either applied for admission or received an assignment on a quota basis from the Army Ground Forces and Army Service Forces. U.S. Marine Corps and international students also attended MITC.

The General Intelligence Course ran about eight weeks in length. The first five weeks focused on basic instruction in intelligence procedures, while the remaining three were reserved for specialty training. The school's curriculum changed to meet the express needs of field units overseas and to incorporate lessons learned. It began with courses in interrogation, interpretation, and translation, and quickly expanded to include terrain studies, signal communications, captured document analysis, staff duties, order of battle, photograph interpretation, and familiarity with enemy small arms.

In February 1944, the Secretary of War gave the MITC the added mission of training division intelligence personnel. MITC staff inaugurated a month-long course to teach foreign maps and equipment, enemy tactics, prisoner-of-war interrogation, photo interpretation, counterintelligence (CI), order of battle, staff work, and the employment of specialist intelligence teams.

Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) personnel also trained at MITC beginning in 1944. Unfortunately, the majority of the nearly 1,200 CIC officers and enlisted students who attended through 1944 enrolled in MITC's General Intelligence Course. Consequently, agents received only about 80 hours of specialist training. This lack of focus on Cl training decreased the effectiveness of field agents. Despite MITC's attempts to develop more Cl-focused courses, by July 1945, the Intelligence Division of the Army Service Forces established a new CIC Center and School at Fort Meade. The CIC Center moved to Camp Holabird shortly thereafter.

MITC used the 30 Series of field manuals published just prior to the war as the basis for its lesson plans. Teaching methods included lecture, conferences, demonstrations, plays, practical exercises, and the use of training aids and films. When possible, instructors incorporated captured documents, maps, German prisoners, and G2 reports from the theaters, and brought in guest instructors from Allied countries. Courses concluded with field exercises ranging from two to eight days, depending on the specialty of the students. For realism, MITC had full-scale models of German and Japanese armored vehicles and tanks, and a life-size replica of a German village square for street fighting and specialized Cl training. An Indoor Combat Firing Course, Infiltration Course, and Silent Movement Course also aided training in combat skills.

Overseas, commanders gave the training mixed reviews. Because of the short classes, MITC's graduates were only minimally satisfactory at theirduties and, in particular, lacked basic military training. To give them the added knowledge and skills for intelligence work in a combat zone, an supplemental training program was set up under the general direction of the Training and Operations Branch, G2 Section, European Theater of Operations, in the spring of 1943.

When the MITC at Camp Ritchie phased out in October 1945, the Army once again lacked a general intelligence school. The Army Ground Forces, however, activated an intelligence school at Fort Benning, Georgia, that same month to alleviate the gap and capture the lessons of World War II. The following month, the school moved to Fort Riley, Kansas, to operate under the administrative purview of the Commandant, The Cavalry School. The new Intelligence School opened there on 1 July 1946.

by Lori S. Tagg, Command Historian, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence
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Author:Tagg, Lori S.
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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