Over six decades–1962-2021–the word “spy” became synonymous with “Bond, James Bond.” The commercial successes of the multibillion dollar Bond franchise was paralleled by an unprecedented growth of an America’s “intelligence community” anchored by the CIA. Just as Bond’s big screen fictional exploits created an international “super-spy,” the telling of the CIA’s real-world operations produced an image of a nearly mythical agency. Look closely and one discovers evolving themes of technology and tradecraft in the Bond films that parallel the history of the CIA, parallels that suggest how the future of espionage may unfold.
As a former head of the Office of Technical Service, the CIA’s gadget shop, Bob’s attention is drawn to “Q,” the Bond Quartermaster. Q, loosely based on a World War II British gadgeteer, Charles Fraser-Smith, outfitted Bond with every manner of weapons, explosives, communications, surveillance, concealment and transportation means. Similarly OTS supplied these capabilities to CIA agents. During the past sixty years, in film and at Langley’s laboratories, as technology evolved, so did the devices. Today’s question is, as it always has been in intelligence….. what comes next?
Bio: Robert Wallace is a retired senior CIA officer and author of a five award-winning non-fiction works on American espionage. Wallace’s book SPYCRAFT chronicles the history of CIA’s Office of Technical Service, a component some dubbed “America’s Q.” He recently co-authored books of espionage history of Philadelphia, New York and Washington.
Wallace earned a BA from Ottawa University and an MA from Kansas University, served in Vietnam with 75th Infantry Rangers, then joined CIA in 1971. Responsibilities included Chief of Station, Director, Office of Technical Service and Acting Director Foreign Broadcast Information Service and contract oral historian for the Center for the Study of Intelligence.
The CIA honored Wallace with with two Donovan Awards for operational achievement, the Medal of Merit for program management, and the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. In 2021, he received the Lloyd Salvetti Award for contributions to the public understanding of intelligence from the Central Intelligence Retirees Association.
Wallace has spoken at the National Archives, the Smithsonian Institution, US Presidential Libraries, Road Scholar programs and Viking Ocean Cruises and appeared on national television programs. He collaborated with film makers on intelligence related documentaries including Spy in the Hanoi Hilton and the 2021 Netflix series, Spycraft. Wallace enjoys catching any fish willing to take a hook. He and his wife, Mary Margaret, live in Reston, Virginia, and are members of the McLean Baptist Church.