After a brief leave-taking during our site update, the “See It Like Jones Would” posts are once again available. For those of you who, like us, are fans of R. V. Jones, we invite you to read them all. And if you’ve read them before, we invite you to read them again. As red teamers, is it possible to get too much R. V. Jones?
When flying over occupied Europe in 1941, many British bomber pilots left their I.F.F. (identification, friend or foe) transponders on, believing that the signals jammed the German radar-guided spotlights. British scientific intelligence leader R. V. Jones suspected otherwise, and he reasoned that leaving the I.F.F. on (via the so-called J-switch) was a no-win strategy for the British:
During the World War II “Battle of the Beams,” the Germans introduced a series of beam-based guidance systems for their bombers, which the British in turn attempted to counter. The third in the series of German systems, the Y-Gerät (Y-device), offered improved flexibility and accuracy, features that naturally worried the British.1 Fortunately for the British, they managed to anticipate the system...
In Reflections on Intelligence, R. V. Jones briefly reviews the British decision to adopt a convoy system during World War I. The case brings to light two useful insights: (1) know your data’s heritage and (2) value the opinions of junior officers. It also emphasizes how easy it is to work at cross purposes within the same organization.
In the spirit of the last “Jones” post, we’d like to revisit his narrative on the V-2. One of the key questions Jones and his colleagues struggled with was the size of the rocket and the rocket’s warhead. The experts’ estimates were at times rashly speculative (for which Jones excoriated them—a subject for another post).