Afghanistan Casualties, and More from CRS

New or updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available to the public include the following (all pdf).

Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians, January 18, 2012

FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Policy Issues, January 5, 2012

Spectrum Policy in the Age of Broadband: Issues for Congress, January 5, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Terrorism Investigations, December 28, 2011

Economic Downturns and Crime, December 19, 2011

DoD Support to Foreign Disaster Relief

The Department of Defense has prepared a guide (large pdf) for military personnel who are engaged in foreign disaster relief operations, an endeavor which arises with some frequency.

“The U.S. Government (USG) responds to approximately 70-80 natural disasters across the globe each year. In approximately 10-15 percent of these disaster responses, the Department of Defense (DoD) lends support to the overall USG effort.”

“DoD disaster assistance can range from a single aircraft delivering relief supplies, to a fullscale deployment of a brigade-size or larger task force. Though the overall percentage of disasters requiring DoD support is relatively small, these disasters tend to be crises of the largest magnitude and/or the greatest complexity.”

The new guide “offers an overarching guide and reference for military responders in disaster relief operations.”  See “Department of Defense Support to Foreign Disaster Relief,” GTA-90-01-030, 13 July 2011.

New Doctrine on Intelligence Support to Military Operations

The Joint Chiefs of Staff have produced updated doctrine on intelligence support to military operations.  The new doctrine (pdf) reflects changes in intelligence organizations, roles and missions.

Among other things, the new publication introduces the term “biometric-enabled intelligence” or BEI.  “BEI is derived from the collection, processing, and exploitation of biometric signatures; the contextual data associated with those signatures; and other available information that answers a commander’s or other decision maker’s information needs concerning persons, networks, or populations of interest.”

See Joint Publication 2-01, “Joint and National Intelligence Support to Military Operations,” 05 January 2012.


Future of the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal: Issues and Policy Options

Tomorrow Hans Kristensen will brief on the Obama administration’s ongoing nuclear weapons targeting review, a effort to identify options for further reductions in U.S. nuclear nuclear weapons and their role in anticipation of a future nuclear arms limitation agreement with Russia. Based on the review, President Obama might issue new guidance to the military for how they should plans for the potential use of nuclear weapons.

Continue reading

Army Foresees Expanded Use of Drones in U.S. Airspace

The Army issued a new directive last week to govern the growing use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or “drones” within the United States for training missions and for “domestic operations.”

“The Army’s unmanned aircraft systems represent emerging technology that requires access to the National Airspace System,” wrote Army Secretary John M. McHugh in a January 13 memorandum.

Towards that end, the Army produced a revised policy on UAS operations to support “expanded UAS access to the National Airspace System.”  A copy of the new policy was obtained by Secrecy News.  See Army Directive 2012-02, January 13, 2012.

Much of the Army’s UAS activity will be devoted to UAS operator training conducted at or near military facilities, the policy indicates.  But beyond such training activities, the military also envisions a role for UAS in unspecified “domestic operations” in civilian airspace, according to a 2007 Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates domestic air traffic.

The 2007 Memorandum, which is appended to the new Army directive, was said to “allow, in accordance with applicable law, increased access for DoD UAS into the elements of the NAS [National Airspace System] outside of DoD-managed Restricted Areas or Warning Areas.”

The 2007 agreement was intended to “ensure DoD UAS assets have NAS access for domestic operations, including the War on Terror (WOT)…. This guidance applies to all DoD UAS, whether operated by Active, Reserve, National Guard, or other personnel.”

A prior edition of the Army’s “Unmanned Aircraft System Flight Regulations,” which will be updated to incorporate the latest policy, can be found on the Federation of American Scientists web site here.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation last week filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking information on domestic drone operations.

Foreign Military Assistance, and More from CRS

Some new or updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available to the public include the following (all pdf).

Security Assistance Reform: “Section 1206” Background and Issues for Congress, January 13, 2012

The Berry Amendment: Requiring Defense Procurement To Come From Domestic Sources, January 13, 2012

In Brief: Assessing DOD’s New Strategic Guidance, January 12, 2012

Circular A-76 and the Moratorium on DOD Competitions: Background and Issues for Congress, January 17, 2012

The Federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program: Background, Funding and Activities, January 13, 2012

Nuclear Power Plant Design and Seismic Safety Considerations, January 12, 2012

Chemical Facility Security: Issues and Options for the 112th Congress, January 13, 2012

Indian Army Chief: Nukes Not For Warfighting

Gen. V.K. Singh

By Hans M. Kristensen

India’s nuclear weapons “are not for warfighting,” the chief of India’s army said Sunday at the Army Day Parade. The weapons have “a strategic capability and that is where it should end,” General V. K. Singh declared.

The rejection of nuclear warfighting ideas is a welcoming development in the debate over the role of nuclear weapons in South Asia. Pakistan’s military’s description of its new snort-range NASR missile as a “shoot and scoot…quick response system” has rightly raised concerns about the potential early use of nuclear weapons in a conflict.

NASR is one of several new nuclear weapon systems that are nearing deployment with warheads from a Pakistani stockpile that has nearly doubled since 2005.

India is also increasing its arsenal and already has short-range missiles with nuclear capability: the land-based Prithvi has been in operation for a decade, and a naval version (Dhanush) is under development. But India’s posture seems focused on getting its medium-range Agni II in operation, developing longer-range versions to target China, and building a limited submarine-based nuclear capability.

If Gen. Singh’s rejection of nuclear warfighting is reflected in India’s future nuclear posture, two important things will have been achieved: rejection of the mindless tit-for-tat philosophy that otherwise dominates nuclear posturing; and limiting the scenarios where nuclear weapons otherwise could come into use. The rejection also has importance for other nuclear weapon states, where some have called for making nuclear weapons more “tailored” to limited regional scenarios.

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.

Dept of Energy Wants to Reclassify Some Info as “Restricted Data”

The Department of Energy has asked Congress to amend the Atomic Energy Act to allow certain nuclear weapons information that has been removed from the “Restricted Data” classification category to be restored to that category.

“Restricted Data” (RD) pertains to classified nuclear weapons design information.  It is distinguished from “Formerly Restricted Data” (FRD) which generally concerns the utilization of nuclear weapons.  (Despite the use of the word “formerly,” FRD is also a category of classified information.)

In a letter to Congress requesting the proposed amendment, Energy Secretary Steven Chu suggested that the current arrangement leaves some nuclear weapons design information inadequately protected.

“There is sensitive nuclear weapons design information embodied in some FRD… that should be subject to the more stringent security protections afforded RD now than current programmatic capabilities of DoD and the Intelligence Community permit,” Secretary Chu wrote in an August 4, 2011 letter that was released last week.  Energy Department officials did not respond to a request from Secrecy News for elaboration on this point.

But in a July 2010 statement to the Public Interest Declassification Board, Andrew Weston-Dawkes of the Department of Energy Office of Classification said that FRD today contains not only information on nuclear weapons utilization but also “some of the most sensitive design information.”  Specifically, he said that FRD includes design information on “safing arming and fuzing, use control information, [and] hardening.”

Such design information was removed from the RD category in order “to support the mission requirements of the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community,” Secretary Chu explained in his letter.  But once removed, the information by law cannot be redesignated as RD without an amendment to the Atomic Energy Act.  Hence the DOE proposal to Congress.

The immediate implications of the proposal are probably quite limited, particularly since it applies only to “design information” and “foreign nuclear information” that is currently classified in any case (albeit as FRD or “TFNI,” for Transclassified Foreign Nuclear Information).

In the longer term, the authority to reclassify certain narrow categories of FRD as RD, if granted, may help to reduce DOE opposition to the elimination of the entire FRD category — which critics including the Federation of American Scientists have advocated — and its integration into the normal national security classification system.

The Public Interest Declassification Board, an advisory body on classification and declassification policy, has proposed that FRD records that are more than 25 years old should be treated like any other classified records for purposes of declassification review and processing.

But these changes would also require legislative action, which has not been requested by DOE.  Nor has Congress acted on Secretary Chu’s August 2011 proposal to date.

*       *       *

On January 10, the White House announced the appointment of Amb. Nancy E. Soderberg as chair of the Public Interest Declassification Board and the re-appointment of Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker as a member of the Board.

“Restricted Data” is the name of an informative new blog written by historian Alex Wellerstein “about nuclear secrecy, past and present.”  It often features fascinating archival discoveries along with the author’s historical insights.

“Born Secret” by Alexander DeVolpi, et al, is a thoughtful and meticulous account of the 1979 “Progressive” case in which the U.S. government sought to prevent the publication of H-Bomb design information gathered by researcher Howard Morland.  It has recently been reissued as an e-book.

Detainee Policy, and More from CRS

Recent legislative action on military detention of suspected enemy combatants perpetuates an ambiguity in the law as to whether U.S. citizens may be so detained, a new report from the Congressional Research Service says.

“The circumstances in which a U.S. citizen or other person captured or arrested in the United States may be detained under the authority conferred by the AUMF [the post-9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force] remains unsettled,” wrote CRS analyst Jennifer Elsea.  “The 2012 NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] does not disturb the state of the law in this regard.”

“Section 1021 [of the NDAA] does not attempt to clarify the circumstances in which a U.S. citizen, resident alien, or other person captured within the United States may be held as an enemy belligerent in the conflict with Al Qaeda. Consequently, if the executive branch decides to hold such a person under the detention authority affirmed in Section 1021, it is left to the courts to decide whether Congress meant to authorize such detention when it enacted the AUMF in 2001,” the CRS report said.  See The National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012: Detainee Matters, January 11, 2012.

Some other new CRS reports that have not been made readily available to the public include these:

F-35 Alternate Engine Program: Background and Issues for Congress, January 10, 2011

Horn of Africa Region: The Humanitarian Crisis and International Response, January 6, 2012

Building Civilian Interagency Capacity for Missions Abroad: Key Proposals and Issues for Congress, December 22, 2011