Pentagon Misses Warhead Retirement Deadline

Retirement of the W62 warhead, seen here at Warren Air Force Base, has been been delayed.

By Hans M. Kristensen

The Pentagon has missed the deadline set by the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review for the retirement of the W62 nuclear warhead.

Retirement of the warhead, which arms a portion of the 450 U.S. Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, was scheduled for completion in Fiscal Year 2009, which ended on September 30th.

But the Department of Defense has been unable to confirm the warhead has been retired, saying instead earlier today: “The retirement of the W62 is progressing toward completion.”

The 2001 Nuclear Posture Review decided that, “the W62 will be retired by the end of Fiscal Year 2009.”  The schedule was later reaffirmed by government officials and budget documents. But the February 2009 NNSA budget for Fiscal Year 2010 did not report a retirement but a reduction in “W62 Stockpile Systems” – meaning the warhead was still in the Department of Defense stockpile, adding that a final annual assessment report and dismantlement activities will be accomplished in FY2010.

Offloading of the W62 from the Minuteman force has been underway for the past several years. First deployed in 1970, the W62 has a yield of 170 kilotons and is the oldest and least safe warhead in the U.S. stockpile. It is being replaced on the Minuteman III by the 310-kiloton W87 warhead previously deployed on the MX/Peacekeeper missile.

This publication was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

Public Access to DTRA Documents Restored

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) recently deleted the publications web page for its Advanced Systems and Concepts Office, inhibiting broad public access to many of the agency’s arms control and proliferation-related studies.  But most of the affected DTRA publications have been recovered and reposted in a new DTRA archive on the Federation of American Scientists website.

DTRA’s public affairs office was unable or unwilling to explain the deletion of the ASCO publications web page, except to indicate that it was a policy decision, not an accident. A 2008 version of the now-deleted DTRA page is available via the Internet Archive.

Not all of the suppressed DTRA studies are of equal or enduring interest.  Some are perfunctory, derivative or dated.  But others provide food for thought, as well as insight into government thinking on various national security topics.  A 2007 DTRA-sponsored report entitled “Terrifying Landscapes” (pdf) presented “a study of scientific research into understanding motivations of non-state actors to acquire and/or use weapons of mass destruction.” A 2003 report (pdf) attempted to quantify the occurrence of biological weapons-related information in certain open source scientific publications.

Whatever DTRA’s motivation may have been, impeding public access to archived public records on government websites is an unwholesome act.  So we have taken steps to reverse it.  See our compilation of selected DTRA reports.

OSC Reports on Guinea Slaughter, Japanese Space

The DNI Open Source Center (OSC) recently issued a brief report (pdf) summarizing international criticism of Guinea’s ruling military junta after Guinean security forces killed more than 100 civilians at a September 28 opposition rally.

Another new OSC report (pdf) described Japanese officials as confident and optimistic about the future of their space program, following a successful rocket launch and the docking of an unmanned Japanese spacecraft with the International Space Station.

While innocuous, neither report has been approved for public release.  Copies were obtained by Secrecy News.

Counterinsurgency Operations, and Other Stuff

Counterinsurgency refers to “comprehensive civilian and military efforts taken to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and address its core grievances,” a new publication from the Joint Chiefs of Staff explains. See Joint Publication 3-24 on “Counterinsurgency Operations” (pdf), 249 pages, October 5, 2009.  (JP 3-24 is not to be confused with the celebrated December 2006 Army Field Manual 3-24 on “Counterinsurgency” [pdf].)

Former Bush White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan wrote a book last year in which he faulted the Bush Administration for a lack of candor in connection with the war in Iraq, mishandling of classified information in the Scooter Libby case, and other defects.  A contentious House Judiciary Committee hearing on the matter was held on June 20, 2008, the record of which has just been published (pdf), with an August 2009 response from Mr. McClellan.

The Czech Republic’s Security Information Service (BIS) has published its 2008 annual report (pdf).

Trinidad and Tobago signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty last week becoming the 182nd nation to have signed the treaty, which would prohibit all nuclear explosive tests.

DoD Suppressed Critique of Military Research

“Important aspects of the DOD basic research programs are ‘broken’,” according to an assessment performed by the JASON defense science advisory panel earlier this year, and “throwing more money at the problems will not fix them.”

But that rather significant conclusion was deliberately suppressed by Pentagon officials who withheld it from public disclosure when a copy of the JASON report was requested under the Freedom of Information Act.  Instead, it was made public this week by Congress in the conference report on the FY 2010 defense authorization act, which quoted excerpts from the May 2009 JASON report, “Science and Technology for National Security.”

“Basic research funding is not exploited to seed inventions and discoveries that can shape the future,” the JASONs also determined, as quoted in the congressional report (in discussion of the act’s section 213).  Instead, “investments tend to be technological expenditures at the margin.”

Furthermore, “the portfolio balance of DOD basic research is generally not critically reviewed by independent, technically knowledgeable individuals,” and “civilian career paths in the DOD research labs and program management are not competitive to other opportunities in attracting outstanding young scientists and retaining the best people.”

These dismal findings, and the large bulk of the unclassified 60 page JASON report, were withheld under the Freedom of Information Act by the Office of Director of Defense Research and Engineering.  They constitute “subjective evaluations, opinions and recommendations which are currently being evaluated as to their impact on the planning and decision-making process,” according to the August 31, 2009 FOIA denial letter (pdf).

The few paragraphs of the study that were released (pdf) nevertheless including some interesting observations.  Citing a 2008 report in Science magazine, for example, the JASONs noted that “Peking and Tsinghua Universities have now overtaken Berkeley and Michigan as the largest undergraduate alma maters of PhD recipients in the U.S.”

The DoD research laboratories should be abolished, the late Gen. William Odom suggested some years ago.  “Few of them have invented anything of note in several decades, and many of the things they are striving to develop are already available in the commercial sector,” he wrote.

“Sadly, these laboratories not only waste money on their own activities; they also resist the purchase of available technologies from the commercial sector. Because they are generally so far behind the leading edges in some areas, they cause more than duplication; they also induce retardation and sustain obsolescence,” Odom wrote (“America’s Military Revolution,” American University Press, 1993, p. 159).

But Don J. DeYoung of the National Defense University argued that the decline of the military laboratories should be reversed, not accepted.  “The loss of in-house scientific and engineering expertise impairs good governance, poses risks to national security, and sustains what President Dwight Eisenhower called ‘a disastrous rise of misplaced power’.”  See “Breaking the Yardstick: The Dangers of Market-Based Governance” (pdf), Joint Forces Quarterly, 4th Quarter, 2009.

New DoD Website Fosters Secret Science

Updated below

The Pentagon’s Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) last month announced the creation of a new password-protected portal where authorized users may gain access to restricted scientific and engineering publications.

“DTIC Online Access Controlled… provides a gateway to Department of Defense unclassified, controlled science and technology (S&T) and research and engineering (R&E) information,” according to a September 21, 2009 news release (pdf).  “As defense S&T information advances, so does the unique community to which it belongs,” said DTIC Administrator R. Paul Ryan.

The cultivation of controlled but unclassified scientific research by DTIC seems to represent a departure [see update below] from a longstanding U.S. government position that scientific research should either be classified, if necessary, or else unrestricted.  (There have always been exceptions for export controlled information and for proprietary information.)

“It is the policy of this Administration that, to the maximum extent possible, the products of fundamental research remain unrestricted,” wrote President Reagan in the 1985 National Security Decision Directive 189.  “It is also the policy of this Administration that, where the national security requires control, the mechanism for control of information… is classification.”

“The key to maintaining U.S. technological preeminence is to encourage open and collaborative basic research,” wrote then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in 2001.  “The linkage between the free exchange of ideas and scientific innovation, prosperity, and U.S. national security is undeniable.”

In response to a request 5 days ago, DTIC was not able to provide a comment on the matter.

Update and Clarification: “Departure” may be the wrong word for this new development. DTIC has long maintained a collection of limited distribution records, both classified and unclassified, that are not publicly available. Nevertheless, the new DTIC Online Access Controlled portal appears to expand and reinforce the barriers blocking access to certain unclassified DTIC holdings.

Virtual World Training for the Building Industry

You can meet up with friends, go shopping for high fashion clothing, browse through a fanciful New York City, and build your dream house.  You can also participate in your company’s annual conference, practice patient care in an O.R., and attend a lecture by a Harvard professor.  All in the Second Life virtual world.  And recently added to that list of activities to do in Second Life is: learn how to inspect a home built from structural insulated panels (SIPs), an advanced, energy efficient building system.

But why construct a building inspector training module in Second Life?

Both the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 and in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 set aside billions for energy efficiency and energy savings programs and green industries.  A key aspect of these bills is the creation of “green” jobs and training workers to fill these positions, with a strong emphasis on existing home weatherization and retrofits.  After all, the building sector in the United States currently use more energy and more electricity than any other sector, and much of this energy is lost to inefficient structures with a leaky thermal envelope and poor (or no)  insulation.  Substantively reducing energy demand therefore requires a combination of constructing more energy efficient, sustainable new buildings and performing deep retrofits on existing buildings.  Doing so will save money at both the household and national levels and will decrease our nation’s carbon emissions from energy.

The federal government has appropriated money to advance the state of energy efficient housing technologies and subsidize retrofits and new construction projects.  However, neither retrofits nor new construction can take place without a well-trained workforce of architects, engineers, building professionals, tradesmen, and code officials who know how to design, built, and inspect energy efficient structures.  At present, many industry professionals have no experience with or training in how to properly utilize advanced building technologies and materials and this lack of training and experience has proven to be a huge barrier to their adoption.  And so in order to transition the building industry into a more efficient and sustainable sector, tools and programs must be rapidly developed to train industry professionals in energy efficiency theories and practical applications.

In order to train workers effectively within a short period of time, the tools must be virtually based to eliminate geographical restrictions, they must be interactive and engaging to enable learning, and they must be able to simulate scenarios and situations in the real world, promote collaboration between students and instructors, and provide the means by which to learn through problem solving and independent exploration.  And at the present time, one of the only tools available that fulfills all of these requirements is virtual world technology.

To assess the utility of virtual worlds to building industry training, the Federation of American Scientists Building Technologies Program has created a pilot training module for building inspectors that utilizes the Second Life virtual world and web-based tools.  This module educates building inspectors about how to inspect houses constructed with structural insulated panels (SIPs).  In this interactive virtual environment, building inspectors can investigate structural and architectural details, interact with animated models, click on details to obtain descriptions, CAD Images, and drawings of the detail, watch a presentation, and take a self-assessment of knowledge gained.  Through these features, users learn about the importance of energy efficiency and how to achieve a tight building envelope, constructability and code compliance issues commonly found in SIP construction, and information about SIPs themselves.

While not a fully functional pilot, initial feedback indicates that virtual worlds are indeed valuable training tools, especially when coupled with an independent web-based learning module.  By combining classroom learning with field-based learning scenarios, virtual world training improves comprehension of classroom material and shortens the in-field learning curve, thereby speeding up the training process.  And due to its web-based nature, virtual world training can allow students to be trained in areas of the country where there are few trainers or certified professionals.  As such, FAS recommends further development of virtual training modules as a solution to the need to train workers for a more energy efficient building sector.

To read the Building Technology Program’s report to Lawrence Berkeley National Lab on the training, click here.  To visit the building inspector training module in Second Life, teleport to: 142, 18, 27.

DoD Releases Military Intel Program Budget Docs

Newly disclosed Department of Defense annual budget documents reveal the structure and some of the contents of the Military Intelligence Program that supports DoD operations.

The U.S. intelligence enterprise as a whole is funded through two separate budget constructs: the National Intelligence Program (NIP), which supports national policymakers, and the Military Intelligence Program (MIP).  The Director of National Intelligence revealed last month that the combined annual cost of the NIP and the MIP is approximately $75 billion.  Of that amount, around $25 billion goes to the MIP.

Newly declassified budget justification books for the MIP help provide some insight into what all of that money buys.  They present a capsule description of more than a hundred individual MIP programs along with a report on their current status, from the Advanced Remote Ground Unattended Sensor (ARGUS) to the Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP) program, as well as the space-based Nuclear Detonation Detection System, the ever-green Space Radar program, and many more.

All budget numbers have been painstakingly removed from the newly declassified documents, but otherwise DoD has exercised its secrecy authority relatively sparingly, and probably no more than 20% of the narrative text has been censored (including all discussion of human intelligence).  Some activities, such as the Special Operations Command program known as THORS MACE, are mentioned but were said to be too sensitive to describe even in the original classified budget documents.

The MIP budget justification books define twelve MIP budget “disciplines,” including not just the familiar HUMINT, IMINT, SIGINT, MASINT and Counterintelligence, but also Airborne ISR [Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance], Space ISR, All-Source Intelligence, and others.  See the Military Intelligence Program Congressional Budget Justification Books for Fiscal Years 2007, 2008, and 2009, released to the Federation of American Scientists under the Freedom of Information Act (in three large PDFs).

In practice, the boundaries between the MIP and the NIP are fluid, imprecise and subject to change.  In 2006, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) was funded 70% out of the NIP and 30% out of the MIP, the FY 2007 MIP budget book (pdf) observed.  In 2007, following a budget “realignment,” NGA was to be funded 90% out of the NIP and 10% out of the MIP.

For this reason, the current yearly practice of disclosing the total NIP budget alone is of limited value.  In fact, it may actually mislead, since a rise or fall in the NIP total may or may not signify an increase or decrease in total intelligence spending, as individual programs are shifted to or from the MIP.

An ODNI spokesman told the Washington Independent last September 15 that the MIP budget total is not classified– but that appears to be incorrect, and the DoD invoked the FOIA exemption for classified information to withhold the MIP budget numbers.  In any event, we have asked DoD to reconsider its position on the matter and to release the annual MIP totals.