By Brad William Gladman (auth.)
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Additional info for Intelligence and Anglo-American Air Support in World War Two: The Western Desert and Tunisia, 1940–43
Although radio was more ﬂexible, anyone within range could eavesdrop and make use of the information. The defence against this vulnerability was a cure almost as bad as the disease. Even simple security measures could cripple communications, and thus the ability to Introduction 15 command ﬁghting troops. So too, cumbersome command structures also hampered the ﬂow of orders and intelligence, yet they were hard to avoid. Every armed force required a hierarchical command structure. The ideal arrangement was one with as few intermediate levels as possible between the top levels of command and the ﬁghting units.
Without effective communications, and the ﬂow of intelligence and orders it made possible, commanders could not know how a battle was unfolding, where potential targets were, or what enemy capabilities and intentions were. Good communications were worthless 16 Intelligence and Anglo-American Air Support in World War Two without effective commanders. If one of these components failed, the effectiveness of the whole was degraded. While close air support or interdiction operations theoretically could be conducted with an inefﬁcient communications system, doing so would have been ineffective, as much intelligence would be stale when squadrons acted on it.
It also caused an erosion of wireless discipline amongst the British forces, paralysing communications and compromising security. Efﬁcient communications were particularly important to the exercise of air power. They acted as conduits for the smooth functioning of command. One could liken the relationship between command and communication to that of a human body and its nervous system. Just as the nervous system carries commands from the brain to various parts of the body to carry out certain tasks, so military communications carry orders and intelligence.