Last updateFri, 24 Apr 2015 5pm


A Rat hole to be watched? Balkans as a center of military technology transfer

The Balkan Chronicle

We have reported earlier of the possible transfer of the U.S. stealth fighter technology to China from the Serb Army which got its hands on it from the downed Stealth Bomber F11 during NATO's bombing campaign in 1999, as it was reported by other sources as well.

This will not be the first time for such significant, possibly turning-point, military transfers to originate in the Balkans.

The MA theses of Mehta Coleman Armstrong named "'A Rat Hole to be Watched'? CIA Analyses of the Tito-Stalin Split, 1948-1950"talks about the same type of transfer of the top military technology which occurred during the Josip Broz Tito's era. The theses proposes that the U.S. obtained crucial information on Soviet MIG technology from Tito after his split with Stalin in 1948, which changed the course of the Cold War. 


So after the instance of WWI beginning in the Balkans, the region continuously is coming back to play an important role in the World scale military developments. The Armstrong's work brings forth how that role was played during the Cold War.

The thesis studies Central Intelligence Agency analyses of the June 28, 1948, Tito-Stalin split. It discusses the many issues that the CIA confronted after the first public breach of a heretofore united Communist monolith. This thesis also places these analyses in context, examining the problems faced by the newly created CIA as it struggled to find a place in the national security bureaucracy.

After the Agency was established in 1947, its very existence was consistently challenged by the Departments of State and Defense, organizations which were unwilling to cede any bureaucratic control away from their own intelligence operations. The Secretaries of State and Defense used their superior status on the National Security Council to bolster their positions, while the Agency's ad hoc organizational structure and uncertain mandate provided a weak case for more authority.

Along with its administrative struggles, the early CIA was also marked by a series of high-profile intelligence failures, among them the Tito-Stalin split. Despite its ongoing bureaucratic struggles, the CIA quickly recovered from the shock of the split. It provided remarkably prescient analyses of the rift's consequences.

Using a collection of newly declassified CIA files, as well as a series of interviews with the CIA Station Chief in Belgrade from 1948 until 1951, this thesis analyzes those reports. It follows a year-by-year progression between 1948 and 1950.

The first chapter, covering 1948, discusses the CIA's initial post-split analyses, in which the possibility was broached of provoking more "Tito" defections throughout Eastern Europe. It also discusses the initial likelihood of a Soviet or Sattelite invasion of Yugoslavia in order to depose Tito,

Stalin's initiation of "Titoist" purges in the Sattelite states, and the initial repercussions of Yugoslavia's aid to Greek Communist rebels and disputed claim to Trieste. Concomitant with the deteriorating relations of the United States and Yugoslavia before the split, the CIA during 1948 considered Yugoslavia "a rat hole to be watched." By 1949, that perception was beginning to change.

The second chapter discusses CIA analyses of Tito's staying power, as well as the harm this entrenchment caused to the Soviet-led international Communist Movement. CIA analyses of Stalin's options for interference in Yugoslavia are again considered, with the addition of reports discussing possible Soviet-led insurrection in Yugoslav Macedonia. American economic and military aid, needed to offset a Soviet-Satellite blockade of Yugoslav trade, also receives consideration.

In 1950, the outbreak of the Korean War caused a reassessment within the CIA of Stalin's willingness to go to war in the Balkans.

Chapter Three discusses these analyses, as well as the process by which the United States used a severe drought in Yugoslavia to offer military assistance.

The beginning of each chapter offers context, noting major Cold War events and significant occurrences within the CIA. The thesis ends in early 1951, with the establishment of a joint Yugoslav-American intelligence sharing agreement.

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