Classified Report From 1974

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Reference VCGS 1180/14

US Of S(Army)

Copy to:

APS/Secretary of State
PS/Minister of State
Head of DS7
Head of DS10


1. The success of the Security Forces in Northern Ireland has owed a great deal to good intelligence. At present this is primarily the task of the Regular Army and RUC. The UDR's involvement in intelligence is limited, although each Battalion has an established post for a part-time Intelligence Officer; all of these posts are filled and intelligence gathering is already practised to some extent. UDR battalions could, however, play an increasingly useful part especially in the country areas where the local knowledge of its members is strong. This would provide invaluable reinforcement and augmentation to the intelligence effort of the Regular Army and RUC Special Branch.

2. At present the membership of the UDR is largely Protestant in background and sympathy. Although it has fully maintained a credible non-sectarian image in its current operational activities, there is an obvious risk that its impartiality might be called into question if it were seen too ostentatiously to possess and operate in an intelligence gathering role. Criticism on this score would be less likely to be based on hostility towards properly conducted intelligence duties than on fear lest the UDR become drawn into malicious neighbour-watching. In support of any criticism it might be contended that an intelligence task is outside the terms of reference of the UDR as laid down in 1969 in the White Paper (Cmnd 4188), para 5 of which reads:

“It will fulfil its role by undertaking guard duties... by carrying out patrols and by establishing check points and road blocks...”

In defence it could, however, be validly argued that the collection of intelligence is integral to the UDR's task “to support the regular forces in Northern Ireland..... in protecting the border and the State against armed attack and sabotage” and that the description quoted above of the way in which this task is carried out is not exclusive and in particular cannot preclude such basic military tasks as intelligence. Nevertheless, any extension of the UDR's intelligence-gathering role will need to be carefully controlled.

3. The proposed extension and formalisation of the UDR's intelligence role is, therefore, based on two principles. First, the UDR's intelligence activities should be mainly in the field of gathering and reporting basic intelligence rather than in the matter of its collation, assessment and dissemination. Intelligence from another source will still be passed to the UDR only when required to support an operation by the UDR. Secondly, these activities should be firmly under the control of the Regular Army. This is easy enough to ensure under present conditions, when regular units are deployed in strength and all tasking and operations of the UDR are carried out under close regular army supervision. In the longer term special arrangements would need to be made. In both the short and the long term, the regular army Commanding Officer or Training Major in each battalion is to keep a close eye on intelligence matters.

4. The UDR complement of the intelligence cell in each UDR battalion HQ will consist of an officer, NCO and a soldier. There will also be a UDR NCO with intelligence duties in each company, who will maintain records and will be the company point of contact on intelligence matters. All these posts will be filled part-time. Assuming that the scheme is approved, the intention is that the NCO at each Battalion HQ should in due course be a Conrate (a full-time member of the UDR, although of course not a member of the regular forces). This would ensure both continuity and a permanent point of contact on intelligence matters at Battalion HQ, and would improve efficiency. However, Conrates are not easy to recruit and the scheme would not depend on a Conrate post.

5. Some basic intelligence training would be desirable for UDR intelligence personnel. It is proposed that the Battalion Intelligence Officers should attend a two-week TAVR Regimental Intelligence Officers Course at the School of Service Intelligence at Ashford. UDR NCOs can be trained by the Intelligence and Security Company in Northern Ireland. This training can be arranged within a few weeks of approval being given.

6. Under present circumstances each Brigade Intelligence and Security staff, which in Northern Ireland includes three officers, maintains a close liaison with UDR permanent staff and part-time Intelligence Officers, and are responsible for tasking them, for collating and recording intelligence received from the UDR, and for disseminating intelligence required by the UDR for their duties and operations. In many cases UDR and regular units have joint operations rooms and responsibilities for a liaison and supervision can be delegated to regular army levels below Brigade. Within the present system there are ample resources for regular army control of UDR intelligence activities. UDR have no contact with Special Branch other than through regular units and the Military Intelligence Officers accredited to Special Branches at Police Divisions.

7. In the longer term, when regular units may not be operationally deployed and may be on exercises or training away from the Province, other arrangements will have to be made. It is proposed that each UDR battalion intelligence cell will have the assistance of a Liaison Intelligence NCO (LINCO) – a senior NCO of the Intelligence Corps under command of the local Brigade Headquarters or regular unit. The functions of the LINCO will include advising the CO of the UDR battalion on intelligence matters, helping to maintain such intelligence records and documents as need to be held by the UDR battalion, and liaison with the Brigade HQ and affiliated regular unit, and with Special Branch as necessary. The LINCO will also be able to provide the UDR battalion with advice on security.

8. I should stress that, under these proposals, the UDR's collection role will be directed at intelligence on terrorist activities. There is no intention of recruiting or encouraging members of the UDR to become informers on subversive elements within the UDR although, as you know, subversion in the UDR is a cause for concern. Both the GOC and Commander UDR would be strongly averse to any proposal to task members of the UDR in this way.

9. We do not propose to make an announcement of this controlled extension to the UDR's modest role in intelligence gathering. It will be implemented in a low key, and the staff work involved will be carried out discreetly. Nevertheless, the facts could become known, perhaps as soon as the date when training starts, and a Defensive Press Brief is being prepared.

10. It believe that the scheme outlined above is extremely important and that the potential gains make its introduction a matter of urgency. I should be grateful for your agreement to set it up.

11. NIO Officials have no objection to these proposals and are consulting their Ministers concurrently.

17 April 1974


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