12. Editorial Note

When North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, the U.S. intelligence organizations had few resources or personnel dedicated to Korean matters. This situation changed quickly, with the Central Intelligence Agency and the armed forces’ intelligence services devoting massive efforts to support the Korean war effort. The CIA Office of Policy Coordination began an immediate build-up. Its operational concepts were based on the Office of Strategic Services’ (OSS) World War II experience and stressed stay-behind agents and guerrilla forces. For the CIA’s intelligence analysis of the early phase of the Korean war, see Woodrow J. Kuhns, Assessing the Soviet Threat: The Early Cold War Years (Washington: Central Intelligence Agency, 1997).

After the second capture of Seoul by Communist forces in 1951, guerrilla forces, along with commando and reconnaissance raids, received the bulk of CIA attention. Eventually some 3,000 guerrillas were operating in the mountains of North Korea, and they briefly succeeded in tying up some North Korean and Chinese troops. The CIA also provided order of battle and targeting intelligence, intelligence to enforce the economic embargo against North Korea and China, and daily current intelligence publications on the situation in Korea.

For a time, following the entry of Chinese troops in late November 1950, there was widespread concern in the United States that the Korean invasion was the first phase of a Soviet-inspired World War III that would soon engulf Europe as well as Asia. Planning began to simultaneously provide massive support for anti-Communist guerrillas in China and paramilitary activity in Europe. Emergency war plans were drawn up. In this crisis atmosphere, the Department of Defense urged the CIA to begin to accelerate many other war-related programs: evasion and escape planning, the build-up of supplies, training of para-military [Page 17] forces, increased propaganda, encouragement of Soviet defections, economic defense programs, and the like. This led DCI Walter Bedell Smith to raise the issue of the appropriate scope and pace of CIA activities.