In 1901, an insurrection in the Philippines Islands brought prominence to a talented but relatively inexperienced general of U.S. Army volunteers, Frederick Funston. He demonstrated that good intelligence and deception were still as valuable as when the Chinese commander Sun Tzu called them the very essence of war some 2400 years earlier.
Brigadier General Funston of the Army Reserves had just enough fighting experience with the nationalist guerrillas of Emilio Aguinaldo to know that jungle pursuit with baggage trains and field guns would be far less likely to yield success than sleight of hand. By capturing an enemy courier, and then deciphering the coded messages the man bore, American officers learned that the Filipino insurgents were in serious need of reinforcements—and were calling for them to assemble close to the hitherto-secret rebel headquarters. General Funston studied the matter, and determined to oblige his foe. After much work with forgers, he sent out a faked dispatch that replied favorably to Aguinaldo’s call. He then prepared his ‘‘reinforcements.’’