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Intelligence Success and FailureThe Human Factor$
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Rose McDermott and Uri Bar-Joseph

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199341733

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199341733.001.0001

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Surprise Attack

Surprise Attack

A Framework for Discussion

(p.9) Chapter 1 Surprise Attack
Intelligence Success and Failure

Uri Bar-Joseph

Rose McDermott

Oxford University Press

Beginning with a theoretical overview of surprise attacks, we discuss their important role in military strategy and success. We describe our case selection strategy, using criteria based on attacks that started a war, and subsequent events taken in response to those attacks. We discuss Roberta Wohlstetter’s pioneering and influential study of Pearl Harbor and describe the uniqueness of this case and why her argument about signal-to-noise ratio may be less relevant for other cases of intelligence failure. More often, high quality decision-making is impaired by specific obstacles in the psychological characteristics of leaders and the environments and organizations they structure.

Keywords:   surprise attack, strategic surprise, Pearl Harbor, intelligence success and failure, intelligence warning, warning failure

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