sandbaggers: Re: SB History

Re: SB History

Philip H. J. Davies (
Fri, 20 Oct 1995 00:57:42 +0100 (BST)

I know I'm a newbie, but I really have to contribute on this line; I am,
you see, writing a PhD thesis on SIS, which it so happens, is a genuine

Okay, order of battle:

SIS, or the Secret (sometimes in 1919-1939 references, Special)
Intelligence Service *is* MI 6. The name MI 6 derives from the pre-1964
designation of the War Office (Military Intelligence) liaison or
"Requirements" Section seconded to the SIS HQ to forward Army
intelligence needs and to disseminate SIS product to the War Office. In
1964 the War Office, Admiralty and Air Ministry intelligence branches were
combined under the Ministry of Defence, in the Directorate of Service
Intelligence (DSI), part of the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS); the
combined service intelligence branches became known as DI 6 (DI 6a, DI 6b,
DI 6c)

The SIS is under the jurisdiction of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(FCO). The FCO *is* the Foreign Office; in c.1967 the FO and
Commonwealth Offices were consolidated into one entity. Traditionally,
SIS and the SIGINT agency GCHQ have answered to a junior Forein Office
Minister, although the 1994 Intelligence Services Act placed operational
authorisations and warrants under the direct authority of the Foreign
Secretary (currently Michael Rifkind).

After the last war, the SIS had its previously rather "flat" management
structure streamlined under a Director of Production (i.e. operations);
Director of Requirements (collating and disseminating product to
Whitehall); a Director of Finance and Administration; a Head of Technical
Development (document forging, listening devices, dead drop kits & the
training facilities in London and at Fort Monkton, nr. Gosport) and a
Director of War Planning. Director War Planning absorbed the functions
of the wartime Special Operations Executive (SOE), and included under it
a Special Operations Staff to Director War Planning (SO/DWP). After the
failure of operation VALUABLE (the attempted uprising in Albania with the
CIA) SO/DWP was shut down. DWP itself was phased out after the Korean
war, although the various geographical sections continued to do war
planning work. However, a year or so later, after operation
BOOT (the 1953 coup in Iran which replaced Mohammed Mossadeq with the Shah,
also hand in glove with Langley), a new Special Political Action
section was set up to handle political actions such as distruption,
disinformationa and influence. SPA was shut down c.1977 under the last
Labour government.

SIS actually is run by an officer known as "C" or CSS, for Chief of
Secret Service. the name"C" derives from the first CSS, Admiral Sir
mansfield Smith *C*umming. Current population is a twitch under 2000,
budget c. L200 million.

The Permanent Undersecretary of the FCO is responsible in the first
instance for clearing SIS operations through a Foreign Office Advisor,
seconded to SIS HQ from the Office of the PUS of the FCO. Central
administration of the intelligence agencies (SIS, MI 5 and GCHQ) is via
the Joint Intelligence Committee in the Cabinet Office. JIC membership
is: JIC Chairman, Intelligence Coordinator; SIS, MI 5, GCHQ, DIS and the
FCO. Its meetings are frequently attended by the CIA liaison, and
Canadian representatives from the Privy Council Security and Intelligence
Committee and the Australian National Assessments Staff. The JIC also
undertakes intelligence *analysis* on behalf of the UK Cabinet via the
Joint Assessments Staff.

Most of this info can be found in Kim Philby's _My Silent War_,
Christopher Andrew's _Secret Service_ and Nigel West's _The Friends_, and
the 1994 Cabinet Office booklet _Central Intelligence Machinery_, (and
most especially in my paper "Institutionalising Intelligence" in the
Proceedings of the 1994 UK Political Studies Association annual
conference). The earliest reference I know to the function of the FOA is
in Bunyan's _Political Police in Britain_, c.1972.

Comparison with SB?


D.Ops = Director Production
D.Int = Director Requirements
DAS = Director, Finance and Administration
Foreign Office Desk = FOA
Special Section = SO/DWP or SPA.

Foreign Office Clearance is accurate;
JIC direction & control is also fairly accurately portrayed
SIS/DIS relationship is fairly accurately portrayed; "Always Glad to
Help" is uncannily similar to the Crabb incident in Portsmouth Harbour in


SIS has no paramilitary role comparable to the CIA or SB's "Special
Projects Group"; para jobs are farmed out to the MoD's specialist units
such as SAS and SBS. *HOWEVER* ever SIS officer does a paramilitary and
"stay-behind" ops course at Fort Monkton, and can mount "special
operations", but since most officers are trained in SO work as well as
agent running and local technical operations (e.g. bugs) there is no need
for an operational special section; SO/DWP and SPA were both planning and
coordination sections, with actual operations carried out by the various
area "controllerates".

Since 1948 there has been no DP; operations is routed directly through
the Deputy Chief (now known as Director SIS, but still 2ic to "C")

Counter-intelligence is actually handled by a separate, full Director of
Counter-Intelligence and Security (DCIS) and has been so since 1964.
DCIS is also responsible for positive vetting, in-house security and
counter-intelligence liaison with the Security Service (MI 5).

SB exaggerates the hostility between SIS and MI 5; that was mostly
molehunt thing in the '60s in the wake of the 1963 Philby defection and
1961 detection of George Blake. Since 1964 5 and 6 have maintained a
joint section for targetting foreign diplomatic presences in the UK.

"Sometimes we play dirty too" includes a minor boo-boo; the Joint
Intelligence Bureau (JIB) was absorbed by the DIS in 1964. JIB did
technical, scientific and economic intelligence for the armed services and
MoD. Its functions are now handled by departments like the DIS
Directorate of Scientific and Technical Intelligence.


What spooks the heck out of me is how much Mackintosh got *right*; half
the reason I took up this PhD was too see how close to the mark the man
got, and it's eerie. I note that he was in the Navy for a long time; I
can't help wondering if he spent time in the Naval Requirements section
(R3) of the SIS. It's taken me three years to get some of the stuff in
the preceeding paras; the guy had to have an in somewhere along the line.
Either that, or like J. Michael Straszynski and his Babylon 5, SB was the
product of years of research and planning.