Red Teams Needed to Critique Military Operations

U.S. military commanders would do well to make use of “red teams” composed of independent experts to evaluate and critique U.S. military operations as they are being planned, according to a new publication from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Red teams can “help commanders and staffs think critically and creatively; challenge assumptions; mitigate groupthink; reduce risks by serving as a check against complacency and surprise; and increase opportunities by helping the staff see situations, problems, and potential solutions from alternative perspectives.” See Command Red Team, Joint Doctrine Note 1-16, 16 May 2016.

This may seem like a common sense approach, and it’s not hard to think of current or past military operations that would have benefited from “alternative perspectives.” But deliberately soliciting a critical evaluation of one’s own efforts is not very common at all, inside or outside of military organizations.

A prerequisite to a successful red team effort is the independence of the red team from the primary planners and from the intelligence staff, said the non-binding Joint Doctrine Note.

“Red teams should be organizationally, physically, and intellectually separate from the intelligence function in order to ensure that products are not shaped by the same institutional factors that influence the output of the intelligence analysts. Even when the red team and the intelligence staff examine the same problem set, their products should be reviewed and approved through different product approval chains,” the Note said.

The theory and practice of red teams were explored last year in the book Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy by Micah Zenko.

Other noteworthy new military doctrinal publications include:

Implementation of, and Compliance with, the Treaty on Open Skies, Air Force Instruction 16-604, updated 31 May 2016

Implementation of, and Compliance with, the New START Treaty, Air Force Instruction 16-608, updated 31 May 2016

DoD Biometric Collection, and More Military Doctrine

Department of Defense procedures for collecting biometric data are presented in a newly updated manual, which also provides some insight into the military and intelligence applications of such data.

“Biometrics are the measurable physical and behavioral characteristics that can establish and verify an individual’s identity,” the manual explains.

“Operators currently collect facial images, fingerprints, iris images, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) samples, palm prints, voice samples and associated contextual data (i.e. elements of biographic data and situational information) from individuals encountered during operations.”

The data are stored in multiple databases, including the Biometric Identity Intelligence Resource, or BI2R. That system “is designed to provide the DOD, intelligence community, and coalition communities with authoritative, high-pedigree, biometrically base-lined identities, and advanced tools and technologies necessary to analyze, collaborate, produce, disseminate, and share biometric identity intelligence.”

See Multi-Service Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Tactical Employment of Biometrics in Support of Operations, ATP 2-22.85, May 2016.

The challenges of mountain warfare are explored in another newly updated doctrinal manual. Mountainous terrain and cold weather can “negate U.S. technological advantages in information collection and firepower.” And 16 of 20 “states of interest” identified as potential areas of instability have regions with elevations greater than 8,000 feet. A chapter of the manual discusses the “specific effects of mountainous environments on intelligence operations.”  See Mountain Warfare and Cold Weather Operations, ATP 3-90.97, U.S. Army, April 2016.

Intelligence support for space operations is addressed in a new U.S. Air Force publication. “Intelligence roles within the space domain encompass multiple mission areas with varied and unique mission needs,” including defensive and offensive space control. See Space Unit Intelligence Procedures, Air Force Instruction 14-2SPACE, May 12, 2016.

“Offensive space control” means “the negation of adversary space capabilities through deception, disruption, denial, degradation, or destruction.” The most expansive official discussion of the subject may be this 2012 Air Force document (which is part of an Air Force annex to JP 3-14 on Space Operations).

HASC Favors Classified National Military Strategy

The forthcoming National Military Strategy, unlike previous versions of the Strategy, should be a classified document, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) said in its markup of the FY2017 defense authorization bill.

Paradoxically, the Committee said that classifying the Strategy would enable increased disclosure of information– to the Committee, not to the public.

“The committee understands the importance of the Department publicly communicating its defense strategy to the American people, Congress, other U.S. Government agencies, and international partners and allies. However, the committee also recognizes that the classified assumptions and analysis underpinning the strategy, as well as the subsequent programming, budgeting, and contingency planning guidance that implement the strategy, are also important oversight tools for the committee and help to frame the annual budget request.” (Section 904)

“The committee believes that the NMS [National Military Strategy] should be re-focused to provide a strategic framework for the development of operational and contingency plans by the combatant commands, and to provide joint force and joint capability development guidance to guide resource investments by the military services.” (Section 905)

“To provide such guidance, the committee believes that the NMS should be a classified document,” the Committee markup said.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, recently stated that the next National Military Strategy will in fact be classified, as the House Armed Services Committee desires.

The House Committee did not adopt a DoD proposal for a new exemption from the Freedom of Information Act for certain military tactics, techniques and procedures, as well as rules of engagement, that are unclassified but considered sensitive. The proposed FOIA exemption was excluded from the pending bill without comment.

Recent DoD policy and doctrinal publications of interest to some include the following.

Management of DoD Irregular Warfare (IW) and Security Force Assistance (SFA) Capabilities, DoD Instruction 3000.11, May 3, 2016

DoD Nuclear Weapons Personnel Reliability Assurance, DoD Instruction 5210.42, April 27, 2016

DoD Identity Matching Engine for Security and Analysis (IMESA) Access to Criminal Justice Information (CJI) and Terrorist Screening Databases (TSDB), DoD Instruction 5525.19, May 4, 2016

Department of the Army Polygraph Activities, Army Regulation 195-6, April 21, 2016

Questions for the Record: Arctic Camouflage

The camouflage netting used by the U.S. Army in the Arctic region is obsolete and ineffective, Army officials told Congress in response to a question for the record in a newly published hearing volume.

“The existing Arctic camouflage system has not been upgraded since its inception in the mid-1970s. The Army’s current camouflage system, the Ultra-Lightweight Camouflage Net System (ULCANS) was developed in the late 1990s and only included Woodland and Desert patterns. Due to improvements in technology, these variants are now ineffective against current and emerging advanced sensor threats and are in need of updates,” the officials said.

“The next-generation ULCANS capabilities add three new variants (Arctic, Urban, and Aviation) and upgrade the existing systems (Woodland and Desert). The next-generation ULCANS will provide concealment from visual, near infrared, short-wave infrared through long-wave infrared, ultraviolet, radar, and multi-spectral/hyper-spectral detection.”

“Ultimately,” but not yet, “these systems will provide U.S. forces detection avoidance and sensor defeat capabilities as a low-cost force multiplier,” they said in response to the question submitted by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK). See FY2016 Defense Authorization: Airland, Senate Armed Services Committee, March 19, 2015 (published April 2016), at page 95.

Questions for the record (QFRs) constitute a valuable though unpredictable and often neglected genre. At their best, they serve to elicit new information in response to focused, sometimes unwelcome questions. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees are now among the most interesting practitioners of the form. Senate Intelligence Committee hearing volumes used to be a must-read for their QFRs alone, but that Committee ceased publishing them over a decade ago.

Air Force Updates Doctrine on Cyberspace Operations

Within living memory, even a passing mention of cyber weapons or U.S. offensive activities in cyberspace was deemed sufficient to justify national security classification. Now, although the Obama Administration generally neither claims nor receives credit for it, military cyberspace doctrine has become one of a number of significant policy areas in which this Administration is demonstrably “more transparent” than its predecessors.

A new US Air Force directive “provides policy guidelines for planning and conducting AF cyberspace operations to support the warfighter and achieve national security objectives.”

“The AF will execute Cyberspace Operations” — including both offensive and defensive actions — “to support joint warfighter requirements, increase effectiveness of its core missions, increase resiliency, survivability, and cybersecurity of its information and systems, and realize efficiencies through innovative IT solutions.” See Cyberspace Operations, Air Force Policy Directive AFPD 17-2, April 12, 2016.

A companion directive further specifies, for example, that “Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) will… deploy AF approved cyber weapon systems.” See Air Force Policy Directive 17-1, Information Dominance, Governance and Management, 12 April 2016.

Next U.S. National Military Strategy to be Classified

In a number of national security policy areas, there is a long-term trend in favor of greater transparency and disclosure. For example, the U.S. Army openly published a manual last week on Techniques for Information Collection During Operations Among Populations (ATP 3-55.4). It supersedes and replaces a previous publication from 2007 (FM 2-91.6) that was for restricted distribution and was marked For Official Use Only.

But in some other areas, the arrow of transparency is pointed backwards and previously unclassified categories of records are becoming newly restricted or classified.

That appears to be the case with The National Military Strategy of the United States of America. It was publicly released as an unclassified document in 2015, but the forthcoming edition that is to be completed by the end of next year will be classified.

“The [next] national military strategy will be a classified document,” said Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a March 29 speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He acknowledged that up to now the National Military Strategy was “an unclassified document that has historically, you know, been written for the public.” But the next Strategy will not be made public, although “we will certainly articulate to the public the guts of a national military strategy,” he said.

He did not elaborate on the rationale for classification of the hitherto unclassified document, except to say that “in my mind, what the national military strategy ought to do is drive the development of our operation[al] plans. And more importantly, drive the development of viable options that we would need in a crisis [or] contingency.” His speech was reported in Defense News (April 5) and the US Naval Institute News (March 29).

The Congressional Research Service said “it can be assumed” that Special Operations Forces “will figure prominently in DOD’s new classified military strategy document.” But CRS warned that “a high or increased level of U.S. SOF involvement in the nation’s new classified military strategy could come with a price…. there could be a tendency to assign them an inordinate amount of responsibility under this new strategic construct.” See U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress, updated April 8, 2016.

Intelligence for Air and Missile Defense

A new U.S. Army manual addresses the challenges of intelligence support for air and missile defense programs.

“A large number of adversary countries possess or are trying to acquire TBMs [tactical ballistic missiles] and Advanced Air Breathing Threats (ABTs) (i.e. Fixed-Wing (FW) aircraft, Rotary-Wing (RW) aircraft, Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), Anti-Radiation Missiles (ARMs), and Cruise Missiles (CMs)), for prestige and/or military purposes,” the Army manual stated.

“These aerial and TBM threats have the potential to give the adversary a military advantage against the United States (US) and multinational forces. The threat the adversary presents is a complex, multi-dimensional, intelligence problem.”

To meet this emerging threat, the Army prescribes an Air and Missile Defense (AMD) Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) process, as outlined in the manual. See Air and Missile Defense Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, ATP 3-01.16, March 31, 2016.

“AMD IPB identifies facts and assumptions about the battlefield environment and the air and missile defense threat. AMD IPB determines enemy air and missile defense courses of action (COAs), their associated branches and sequels, and describes the operating environment for air and missile defense operations. This supports commander and staff planning and the development of friendly COAs.”

“Applied properly, AMD IPB provides for the timely and effective neutralization and/or destruction of the aerial and TBM threat, while minimizing the requirement for friendly AMD assets. ”

Air and missile defense systems may be vulnerable to attack through cyberspace, the Army manual noted, so consideration should be given to “what mitigations can be put into effect to limit or negate the effects of an attempted cyber-attack on the AMD system.”

DoD Again Seeks FOIA Exemption for Military Doctrine

The Department of Defense last week asked Congress to enact a new exemption from the Freedom of Information Act for military tactics, techniques and procedures, as well as rules of engagement, that are unclassified but considered sensitive. A similar request by DoD last year was not acted upon by Congress.

DoD justified its current proposal as a military necessity, and as a matter of common sense:

“The effectiveness of United States military operations is dependent upon adversaries, or potential adversaries, not having advance knowledge of the tactics, techniques, and procedures that will be employed in such operations. If an adversary or potential adversary has knowledge of such information, the adversary will be better able to identify and exploit any weaknesses, and the defense of the homeland, success of the operation, and the lives of U.S. military forces will be seriously jeopardized.”

This year’s proposal was drafted as an amendment to the existing FOIA exemption for DoD critical infrastructure. So it has some noteworthy features that were not included in last year’s proposal: The use of the exemption would require a written determination by the Secretary of Defense that the public interest does not outweigh the need to protect the information. The Secretary would also have to prepare a written statement of the basis for the use of the exemption. “All such determinations and statements of basis shall be available to the public, upon request….”

The large majority of military doctrinal publications are unclassified and publicly available. A relatively small number are classified and unavailable. But there is a middle category of unclassified publications whose distribution is restricted, which the proposed amendment aims to preserve.

Some recent Army titles that fall in that middle category include, for example: Special Forces Air Operations (ATP 3-18.10), Special Operations Communications System (ATP 3-05.60), and Countering Explosive Hazards (ATP 3-34.20). The Department of Defense does not readily release such titles today, even in the absence of the proposed amendment. But in order to withhold them under FOIA, it must engage in some dubious legal acrobatics, or else practice delay and defiance.

The proposed new FOIA amendment was included in a package of legislative proposals that DoD transmitted to Congress on March 10, 2016.

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The FOIA Improvement Act (S. 337 and HR 653), which includes several provisions that are intended to promote increased disclosure through FOIA, currently awaits consideration in the Senate. It has already been passed by the House. “It is my hope that Democrats and Republicans can come together and pass this commonsense legislation this week,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy yesterday in a Sunshine Week address at the National Archives.

But the FOIA Improvement Act does not confront the structural flaws in the law that have yielded the current logjam in FOIA processing. Nor does it acknowledge the radical mismatch between the amount of money and personnel that would be required to implement the FOIA as written and the funds that Congress has actually appropriated for that purpose.

To the contrary, “No additional funds are authorized to carry out the requirements of this Act,” the FOIA Improvement Act states.

“Climate Change” Enters the DoD Lexicon

The term “climate change” was included for the first time in the latest revision of the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (Joint Publication 1-02), published last week.

Climate change is officially defined by DoD as “Variations in average weather conditions that persist over multiple decades or longer that encompass increases and decreases in temperature, shifts in precipitation, and changing risk of certain types of severe weather events.”

The new entry in the DoD Dictionary reflects a growing awareness of the actual and potential impacts of climate change on military operations.

The definition was originally proposed in the January 2016 DoD Directive 4715.21 on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience.

“The DoD must be able to adapt current and future operations to address the impacts of climate change in order to maintain an effective and efficient U.S. military,” the January directive stated.

DoD Use of Domestic Drones Complies with Law, IG Says

The domestic use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS, or drones) by the Department of Defense in support of civil authorities has been conducted in accordance with law and policy, the DoD Inspector General said in a 2015 report of an evaluation that was released last week.

“DoD is fully compliant with laws, regulations, and national policies for UAS support to civil authorities,” the DoD IG report said.

“We found no evidence that any DoD entity using UAS’s or associated PED [processing, exploitation, and dissemination] in support of domestic civil authorities, to date, has violated or is not in compliance with all statutory, policy, or intelligence oversight requirements.”

Oddly, that conclusion was marked “For Official Use Only.”  See Evaluation of DoD Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for Support to Civil Authorities, DoD Inspector General report DODIG-2015-097, March 20, 2015. The partially redacted report was released last week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

DoD support to civil authorities using drones can be provided, given proper authorization, for domestic emergencies, support to law enforcement, or to provide added security for high-profile “special events.”

Domestic use of drones by DoD for such purposes is comparatively rare. The DoD Inspector General reported that between 2006 and 2015 there were “less than twenty events that could be categorized as DoD UAS support to domestic civil authorities,” and that that number included “both approved and disapproved requests.”

The Department of Defense provided updated Guidance for the Domestic Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems last year in a February 17, 2015 policy memorandum.

“Armed DoD UAS may not be used in the United States for other than training, exercises, and testing purposes,” the memo said.