Defense Daily Network Special Report, posted 5 May 1998 at
DoD policy, acquisitions, and operations can be greatly enhanced and advanced through the use of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). Several aspects of post-Cold War politico-military issues lend themselves to an increased use of OSINT to assist DoD policy-makers, acquisition program managers, and operational commanders:
(1) Contingencies tend to arise in lower Tier nations (per PDD-35) where U.S. classified capabilities are least applicable or largely unavailable.
(2) Warning of these crises has not required classified collection.
(3) These issues have required increased reliance on international organizations and non-traditional allies with whom information must be shared, which is difficult if not impossible with classified sources.
(4) The "information explosion" has increased the amount of available information, while also creating a new "intelligence gap" between what needs to be known, and what can be processed and exploited.
OSINT, like all other intelligence sources, is more than information. It represents a careful sifting, selecting, analyzing and presenting of open source material on a timely basis. OSINT should be a valuable contributor to "all source" intelligence, although it continually gets short shrift throughout the intelligence and policy communities.
Properly developed and implemented, the OSINT support process for DoD should include SI/TK buffers and full security assurances, proper attention to copyright compliance, access to all foreign language sources as well as automated translation technologies, very strong emphasis on source validation, and full access to supporting materials by DoD analysts and action officers.
OSINT can help DoD in two ways: (1) crisis support; and (2) support to on-going operations, bringing to bear in both cases the best and most relevant open sources to respond to established DoD needs with OSINT rather than just information. OSINT includes global geospatial data and global logistics information.
Bureaucratic misperceptions notwithstanding, OSINT is not free to current users and is not being supplied by the Intelligence Community to DoD in any significant way. However, a modest investment by DoD elements in OSINT can significantly multiply the effectiveness of current classified intelligence capabilities while simultaneously improving general intelligence support to DoD policy makers, acquisition managers, and warfighters.
Open Source Intelligence: Private Sector Capabilities to Support DoD Policy, Acquisitions, and Operations(1)
By Mr. Robert D. Steele(2) President, OSS Inc. <[email protected]>, and
Dr. Mark M. Lowenthal(3) <[email protected]>, President OSS USA
"…the concept of UN intelligence promises to turn traditional principles on their heads. Intelligence will have to be based in information that is collected primarily by overt means, that is by methods that do not threaten the target state or group and do not compromise the integrity or impartiality of the UN."(4)
"If it is 85% accurate, on time, and I can share it, this is a lot more useful to me than a compendium of Top Secret Codeword materials that are too much, too late, and require a safe and three security officers to move around the battlefield." (5)
Introduction: DoD and Open Source Intelligence. Faced with ever-increasing requirements for intelligence support--particularly in Tier III and Tier IV countries where classified capabilities have not been focused and operational funds have not been pre-programmed--the U.S. military has discovered the unique value of commercial imagery and developed EAGLE VISION and JOINT VISION. Commercial imagery is one small portion of the remarkable range of open sources that can support DoD policy-makers, acquisition program managers, and operational commanders. This paper proposes that DoD develop a concept of operations for providing open source intelligence (OSINT) to all elements of DoD, in both CONUS and OCONUS.
OSINT is uniquely suited for support to DoD operations because OSINT relies exclusively on information and expertise obtained through legal and ethical means. This gives OSINT greater utility and flexibility in working with Congress, with foreign coalition partners, and with civilian agencies not routinely cleared for classified information. There are three primary reasons for this:
First, contingencies have tended to arise in lower Tier countries (as defined by PDD-35)--such as Haiti or Somalia--where the United States is paying much less attention overall and where national collection resources are least likely to provide much useful information, especially at the outset of a crisis. These are also areas where analytical expertise has been cut back into order to meet demands within the top Tiers and the Hard Targets. As DCI Tenet himself has observed, the Intelligence Community cannot now cover the hard targets and also provide global coverage.
Second, the lead-ups to these issues have not relied on highly classified intelligence as was often the case during the Cold War. Many of these situations -- physical conditions in Somalia, the existence of a junta in Haiti, Milosevic's early statements of his intentions re Bosnia, refugee flows into Goma, Zaire -- have been evident from unclassified sources.
Third, these issues have emphasized recourse to international organizations and broad diplomatic and military coalitions beyond the bounds of the United States' traditional allies and intelligence partners. These are not instances in which much classified intelligence can be easily used, given the increasing need to share information across a broad spectrum of partners.
Fourth, The "information explosion" has increased the amount of available information, while also creating a new "intelligence gap" between what needs to be known, and what can be processed and exploited. Both producers and consumers of intelligence are being flooded with information of mixed value, and both lack the expertise and tools to filter, distill, summarize, visualize, and digest the "nuggets".
OSINT has the advantages of providing a great deal of the intelligence that DoD would find useful as soon as the crisis breaks; of being available to DoD independently and without waiting for the DCI and CIA to sort out their own priorities and needs; and of being more easily used within DoD in terms of sharing it with politico-military partners or coalition forces not cleared for classified.
The Characteristics of OSINT -- Intelligence, Not Information. OSINT, also known as unclassified intelligence or, in the business community, as "decision support" or "business intelligence", must be carefully distinguished from open source information (OSIF), which is acquired in support of both the OSINT process carried out by the private sector, and the all-source process carried out by the U.S. Intelligence Community. OSIF consists of volumes of multi-media and multi-lingual information gathered for further processing and consideration. OSINT, in sharp contrast, integrates world-class human expertise with an integrated human-technical process to produce only "just enough, just in time" intelligence--information tailored to support a specific decision. The OSINT process includes four key elements:
· Discovery. "Knowing who knows" and "knowing where to look" are the heart of a global OSINT process, which leverages distributed centers of expertise and archival knowledge. 80% of the information needed to create OSINT useful to DoD is not online, not in English, and not available within the US.
· Discrimination. Careful discrimination between good and bad sources, current and outdated sources, relevant and irrelevant sources, and finally, between cost-effective and cost-prohibitive sources, is part of the unique value of the OSINT process.
· Distillation. The most important value added by the OSINT process is that of distillation, so that the final OSINT report can be as short as a paragraph or a page, and can communicate to the decision maker the essence of the collective wisdom pertinent to the decision under consideration. The OSINT process permits the out-sourcing of first echelon analysis, and allows world-class expertise to placed in the service of the in-house analysts and their DoD customers.
· Delivery. The best intelligence is the world is useless if it cannot be delivered to the customer in a timely fashion, in a media compatible with the in-house system, with adequate provision for security, and in a format that can be easily understood.
In other words, OSINT, if done correctly and systematically by knowledgeable professionals, is as rigorous, timely and focused as any other intelligence source available to decision makers.
OSINT is not a substitute for classified "all-source" analysis. However, if the term "all source" is to have any true value then it must include OSINT where necessary and applicable. OSINT is often the only intelligence available during routine times and as the necessary first body of knowledge when the national intelligence community and policy makers are shifting toward the increased coverage required by crises. OSINT is widely acknowledged as an essential element for:
· Tip-off. The most experienced intelligence analysts acknowledge the vital role played by open sources in tip-off regarding intentions, new weapons systems, and emerging crises.
· Context. The expertise and historical knowledge to assess a situation rapidly, especially in a Tier III or Tier IV country or in an arcane issue area of limited historical interest to the U.S. government, is available from private sector experts whose decades of knowledge have been funded by others and can be tapped on a "just enough, just in time" basis.
· Collection Management. A solid OSINT foundation is essential to those responsible for classified collection management, both within the consumer agencies and within the producer elements, because it permits the focus of classified capabilities on "the hard stuff".
· Cover. Even when classified intelligence is available, OSINT can be used to protect sources and methods while still communicating essential insights and key findings to coalition partners, the press, and the public.
The Substance of OSINT: A Complex Range of Open Sources, Software, and Services. The greatest obstacle to improved use of open sources is not that of access, which is freely or inexpensively available to all, but rather that of acknowledgement. The two most erroneous perceptions among experienced national security professionals who should know better are that open sources are "merely a collection of newspaper clippings" (in the words of a senior Intelligence Community official) or "the Internet" (in the words of a general officer). On the one hand, neither DoD nor the U.S., Intelligence Community have properly inventoried the full range of private sector offerings, and neither has a credible foundation for identifying, evaluating, and exploiting a complex mix of "just right" open sources, softwares, and services. At the same time, both within the intelligence producer and the intelligence consumer communities, there is a reluctance to accept the fact that the U.S. Intelligence Community is no longer the sole source of critical information, nor the best source for open source information.
· Sources. Representative sources include those associated with Current Awareness (e.g. Individual Inc.); Current Contents (e.g. ISI CC Online); Directories of Experts (e.g. Gale Research, TELTECH); Conference Proceedings (e.g. British Library, CISTI); Commercial Online Intermediaries (e.g. DIALOG, STN); Risk Assessment Reports (e.g. Forecast International, Political Risk); Maps & Charts (e.g. Russian military maps at the 1:100,000 level with contour lines, from East View Publications); and Commercial Imagery (e.g. SPOT Image, Radarsat, Autometric).
· Software. Representative software which is commercially available and which an OSINT provider can integrate off-site, not requiring the client to buy new technology, include Internet Tools (e.g. NetOwl, WebCompass); Data Entry Tools (e.g. Vista, BBN); Data Retrieval Tools (e.g. RetrievalWare, Calspan); Automated Abstracting (e.g. NetOwl, DR-LINK); Automated Translation (e.g. SYSTRAN, SRA NTIS-JV); Data Mining & Visualization (e.g i2, MEMEX, TASC Textor); Desktop Publishing & Communications Tools (many options); and Electronic Security Tools (e.g. SSI, IBM Cryptolopes, many emerging offerings).
· Services. Representative services from the private sector include Online Search & Retrieval (e.g. NERAC, subject-matter and foreign language experts listed in Burwell Worldwide Directory of Information Brokers); Media Monitoring (e.g. BBC, FBIS via NTIS); Document Retrievel (e.g. ISI Genuine Document); Human Abstracting (e.g. NFAIS members); Telephone Surveys (e.g. Risa Sacks Associates); Private Investigations (e.g. Parvus, Pinkerton, INTELYNX); Market Research (e.g. SIS, Fuld, Kirk Tyson); and Strategic Forecasting (e.g. Oxford Analytica).
This token listing barely scratches the surface, and illustrates the importance to DoD of ensuring that its OSINT provider(s) are able to document their investment in following the rapidly expanding, often changing, and frequently unstable nature of the open source world. Beyond this depiction of the variety of open sources, software, and services that can be applied to the answering of requirements from consumers and producers of intelligence, is the distinction between those unclassified data resources which are readily available within the U.S. Intelligence Community; within the rest of the government; within the nation (i.e., in the private sector with its universities, information brokers, businesses, media, and other information activities); and within the larger global information community. It is absolutely essential that each intelligence producer and consumer have a "map" of this larger knowledge terrain, and a strategy for assuring their ability to discover, discriminate, distill, and digest critical open-source information and intelligence.
The Mechanics of OSINT: Security, Copyright and Other Issues. The OSINT provider must bring to bear the optimal combination of government-friendly security and understanding, with private sector savvy of open source copyright, foreign language capability, and source validation issues.
· Security. The OSINT provider's key personnel must hold Top Secret SI/TK clearances, and be eligible for any compartmented clearances as required. Individual sources can hold SI/TK, Top Secret, and SECRET clearances--or no clearance at all--and this qualification can be treated similarly to language and subject matter qualifications. The OSINT provider should serve many clients and provide DoD client with the same kind of obscurity and discretion that a bank provides its most valued private accounts. The OSINT provider should have a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in its building and have Intel-Link and STU-III connectivity as desired. By using fully cleared personnel for the requirements process, and then balancing between in-house and sub-contract personnel who are not privy to the identity of the client and are also operating under non-disclosure contracts, the OSINT provider can fully protect the client's equities. When finding an expert (or several experts) to respond to a particular requirement, the OSINT provider should not reveal the requirement to the expert or contract with the expert until the client has reviewed a resume of the expert's qualifications and approved employment of the expert for the specific requirement.
· Copyright. The OSINT provider should handle copyright through a combination of full compliance, in which the OSINT provider, without revealing the identity or interest of the client, acts as its agent to pay the copyright clearinghouse or obtain a copy through legal and ethical means; and the more common second means of avoiding copyright violation, by abstracting key ideas and data points with full citation. The OSINT provider should avoid the need to classify documents or otherwise restrict their handling to meet copyright--the client should receive products that are legally and ethically of the highest standard, and also receive indemnification from the OSINT provider with respect to copyright.
· Foreign Language. Apart from languages spoken by the core management team, the OSINT provider's approach to foreign language qualifications should be identical to its approach to substantive qualifications. It was as the suggestion of OSS Inc. that the Burwell Worldwide Directory of Information Brokers added to its publication an index of foreign language and foreign database capabilities. Many other capabilities, such as the Monterey Institute of International Studies, use graduate students with native fluency in Arabic, Russian, Vietnamese, Korean, and many other languages. A few select technology companies offer advanced foreign language browsing and data extraction technologies with applications already developed for Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, French, German, Thai, and Spanish. Others can be readily developed.
· Source Validation. The normal concern of military professionals with source validation, report integrity, and the reliability of the process upon which the open source intelligence reporting is based merits special attention.
· The OSINT provider should employ the traditional rigor of the intelligence community analysis process, in that every source should be clearly and explicitly evaluated in terms of its authority, currency, and confidence level. In particular, the OSINT provider should be conscious of personal, political, cultural, and other biases associated with Internet, commercial online, offline, and individually-produced source material.
· The true OSINT provider is in the business of discovering, distilling, discriminating, and delivering open source intelligence. This is a completely different process with significantly more value than the process of open source information discovery and delivery. The greatest value that the true OSINT provider can offer is that of first echelon technical processing (de-duplication, weighting, clustering, and summarization) and first echelon human analysis by experts who can be relied upon to evaluate and discriminate and also to distill intelligently. In practical terms, this means that the over-burdened all-source analyst or decision-maker can avoid being overwhelmed by open sources because the true OSINT provider offers a complex filtering mechanism that relies primarily on subject-matter experts, and incidentally on technology.
· At the same time, the OSINT provider should offer a deliverable which permits the all-source analyst or policymaker to "drill down" to original source documents if they wish. For instance, if a question is asked and the OSINT provider supplies a one paragraph answer, beneath that one paragraph answer, in HTML format or in hard-copy, as desired, should be the expert report, the commercial online documents, the Internet search results, and the memorandum of conversation for a verbal inquiry, if that is what the analyst or policymaker desires to have delivered.
· The true OSINT provider should strive to serve as the "trusted agent" for the client, and specialize in "knowing who knows", "knowing where to look", and also in the value-added evaluation of sources and first echelon analysis which pre-processes open source for the all-source analyst. Every source used should be identified and available for scrutiny.
· All-Source Access. The OSINT provider is a support activity. While it is capable of serving as the open source intelligence stovepipe, at no time should the OSINT provider assume the role of the in-house librarian, all-source analyst, or staff action officer. Initially, as a new client and their personnel become familiar with the quality and range of the OSINT provider's capabilities, there will be a tendency to "drill down" into the underlying sources. Eventually, as the value and the reliability of the process are proven, the supported analysts and policymakers will place greater and greater reliance, and value, on the fact that the OSINT provider will deliver the briefest possible answer, in the shortest possible time, at the lowest possible cost--and will focus on answering the question of the moment rather than on inundating the analyst with unfiltered source material.
Specific OSINT Support to DoD. There are two tracks for OSINT support to DoD operations:
· Crisis Support. In crisis support, a surge effort can tap a wide variety of private sector sources and services, and provide the policy-makers and commanders with quick but relatively comprehensive intelligence on the situation, to include personality studies, estimates of intentions, and rapid response air head and other logistics assessments.
· On-Going Operations. On a routine basis, the policy-makers, acquisition managers, and commanders can receive periodic awareness reports, on-call QuickSearch services, access to experts on demand, and strategic forecasting support. Such support can be tailored to cover specific issue areas, specific named areas of interest, and specific technologies, system counter-measures, or vendors.
Crisis Support is illustrated below with a listing of the responses actually developed by OSS Inc. during "the Burundi exercise" requested by the Aspin/Brown Commission on Intelligence. The requirements were posed at 1700 on Thursday, 3 August 1995; private sector capabilities were tasked by 1500 on Friday, 4 August 1995; all requested materials were delivered to the Commission offices by 1000 on Monday, 7 August 1997. (6)
· Strategic Orientation. Oxford Analytica provided a series of two-page assessments created over a two-year period for the World Bank and Prime Ministers around the world.
· Academic Experts. The Institute of Scientific Information and citation analysis were used to identify the top experts available for immediate debriefing. Such individuals have a global network of life-long contacts, including top government and business officials in-country.
· Journalists on the Ground. LEXIS-NEXIS was used to identify journalists of varying nationality who had been on the ground recently and were intimately familiar with personalities and the situation. Such individuals publish less than 10% of what they know, and have current appreciations for personalities, logistics, corruption, and other key factors of high interest to the Country Team.
· Conflict Orientation. Jane's Information Group provided a very authoritative and easy to use map of tribal areas of influence, one page orders of battle for each tribe, and one paragraph summaries of all articles about the Burundi situation published by Jane's in the preceding two years.
· Military Maps. East View Publications provided a listing of all immediately available military maps created by the former Soviet Union, at the 1:100,000 level and with contour lines. This is especially important because 90% of the Tier III and Tier IV countries have not been mapped by the United States below the 1:250,000 level.
· Commercial Imagery. Belatedly but no less importantly, SPOT Image Corporation confirmed that it had available in its archives 100% of Burundi, cloud-free, and immediately available for the creation of military maps, precision munitions targeting packages, and aviation mission rehearsal systems.
On-Going Support can accommodate a variety of recurring needs from policy-makers, acquisition managers, and commanders. Although each requirement will vary in its depth, priority, and mix of needs, the following four kinds of generic open source intelligence services have been established:
· Current Awareness. There are several private sector options for obtaining daily one page listings of key news stories matching specific profiles. These can be combined with Internet monitoring services (e.g., watching the discussion groups on Angola and Zaire) as well as the monitoring of academic and industry journals for "current contents." The consumer can then select full-text access or file full-text elements for later access--and this is all delivered in HTML format with technology embedded (de-duplication, clustering, weighting) and subordinate to a subject-matter expert's summary analysis and selective judgement. Foreign language and off-line sources of particularly high value can also be programmed for coverage.
· QuickSearch Help Desk. With this service, the consumer has the option of calling, faxing, or sending electronic mail to obtain additional information, while also specifying a not-to-exceed price within an existing basic ordering agreement. This, like all aspects of good OSINT support, can be tasked and delivered via existing SI/TK channels which do not require any further investment in alternative unclassified architectures, or costly A-B multi-level switch augmentation. The Help Desk is able to access the full range of commercial online services (adding the value of both knowing which international services to use, and also the skilled searching knowledge which reduces costs from unproductive search strategies), and is also able to access the full range of international gray literature sources. It is important to emphasize that this concept does not rely on a single information broker or document acquisition source, but is optimized instead to identify and utilize those intermediaries who specialize in particular geographic or functional areas of inquiry and thus have decades of knowledge about both sources and search strategies, which cannot be replicated inside the U.S. government.
· Experts on Demand. The full-service OSINT provider must offer a highly efficient process for identifying and utilizing world-class experts in any area of interest. This process should combine the use of selected intermediaries such as Oxford Analytica (strongest in the political-economic arena) with independent citation analysis and exploitation of its own (or a superior provider's) international network of open source intelligence experts. The bottom line: within a day or two a top expert can be identified who can be relied upon to produce an extremely informed analysis, benefiting from direct access to in-country indigenous sources as well as unpublished materials, which answers the question.
· Strategic Forecasting. The proper approach to strategic forecasting combines automated citation analysis, automated content analysis, and selective exploitation of expert judgements. This combination allows very high-value products to be delivered for a tenth of the cost of the standard "beltway bandit" approach, and within a week to ten days instead of months or a full year. (7)
Why Pay for Open Source Intelligence? The nature of OSINT leads many to question why they should have to pay for it. After all, aren't these sources that are publicly available? There are several substantial reasons that justify a relatively modest expenditure for OSINT:
1. "Open Source" Does Not Mean "Free." No matter who undertakes to collect, sift and assess open source information in order to create OSINT--an outsider or an in-house analyst, there are inevitable costs associated with it in terms of time, access to on-line databases, etc.. Selected sources may indeed be "free", and also full of bias, inaccurate, untimely, or focused away from the policymakers specific needs. The process of sifting, selecting, analyzing, and presenting open source intelligence is what adds great value, and the very best sources will not be free.
2. OSINT Is an Intelligence Community Stepchild. Under current practice, analysts are largely expected to undertake OSINT on their own, as time allows: reading newspapers and magazines; checking FBIS; perhaps attending the occasional conference. But none of this is supposed to detract from keeping on top of all classified sources and producing necessary analysis. The ultimate result is that necessary OSINT is given short shrift if not ignored completely. If "all source" is to have any value, then it must include OSINT. But if OSINT is going to make the contribution that it could, then it must be treated as seriously as other collection disciplines (imagery, signals, etc.), with its own dedicated resources. The key difference between OSINT and the other disciplines is that most if not all of these resources are most effective if left within the private sector. In fact, OSINT is not about the "privatization of intelligence", but rather about nurturing an emerging private sector capability to provide OSINT support to each of the classified disciplines (overt HUMINT, commercial imagery, overt broadcast and print monitoring) while also providing first-echelon historical and contextual analysis to the all-source analyst and action officer.
3. The IC Is Not Providing OSINT. The problems noted above are not unique to DoD. They are endemic to the Intelligence Community. DoD suffers, in effect, from a twofold loss: the short shrift given to OSINT overall, and the prior claim that CIA and the White House put on most intelligence resources. Private sector OSINT offerings can help the IC optimize its classified collection and production, but the IC should not be expected to be the bill-payer for OSINT needed by intelligence consumers. The Commission on Intelligence was quite clear on this point: intelligence requirements which can be met "predominantly" through open sources are the responsibility of the consumer, not of the Intelligence Community.
4. OSINT Is an Intelligence Multiplier and Cost Saver. If OSINT is undertaken systematically and with proper management and focus, it can be responsive to a very large number of the tasks and questions that DoD, or any of its elements, might pose. This frees up much more expensive classified intelligence resources for those issues for which they are uniquely suitable and ultimately saves costs as these classified means are not tasked to address queries that can be answered more efficiently and more quickly by OSINT. Further, the greater ability to use OSINT more freely saves both time and costs, while significantly expanding DoD policy options, acquisition efficiencies, and operational effectiveness.
5. OSINT Is A Resource Multiplier and Public Value. The range of multi-lingual and multi-media open sources and services is so varied in terms of coverage, reliability, and relatively low cost, that a truly professional OSINT endeavor can save DoD at least as much as it costs in preventing the waste of internal man-hours and funds against less than excellent sources, while also increasing the quality of the information available to policy-makers, acquisition managers, and commanders.
OSS Inc. Recommendations. OSS, Inc. recommends that DoD establish a policy, acquisitions, and operations focal point for addressing DoD needs for OSINT as a Department, including oversight and programming authority for both the Services and the theater commands. This focal point can examine DoD intelligence requirements, including those from major commands supported by Joint Intelligence Centers; quickly identify those which can be met through OSINT rather than more expensive and harder to task classified systems; and begin the process of earmarking 1% of DoD's total budget for OSINT.
DoD could develop a complete concept of operations for OSINT support to DoD operations as quickly as possible and possibly in time to impact on the current legislative cycle for authorizing and appropriating funds for DoD operations.
· DoD could systematically identify critical intelligence requirements, including the elements of scope, timeliness, and reliability of sources, for each of the major DoD consumer communities--policy-makers, acquisition managers, and operational commanders; and then translate these requirements into a carefully constructed and justified concept of operations and proposed program for meeting DoD needs for OSINT--this is especially obvious and fruitful in relation to existing commercial imagery capabilities to satisfy DoD's needs for wide area surveillance, 1:50,000 combat charts, precision munition guidance, and aviation mission rehearsal imagery.
Open source intelligence support works best when two conditions are provided for:
· Analyst and Action Officer Training on Open Source Options. As the Commission on Intelligence noted in its report, the ability of all-source analysts to access open sources is "severely deficient". Analysts know so little about what is available from open sources, that the support process is significantly enhanced if analysts receive training about their open source options prior to being asked to participate in all-source decisions which draw on open sources. This makes the all-source analyst much more effective at specifying their needs and understanding the deliverables. The same holds true for action officers who are either dealing directly with private sector OSINT providers, or developing their all-source requirements for submission via the chain of command.
· Maximum Flexibility. Analyst and action officer needs are virtually unpredictable, and it is not helpful to force upon anyone a generic package of services or even a Chinese menu of one profile, ten search units, or whatever. Each analyst and action officer should be able to specify their needs and receive tailored open source intelligence support (under cost guidelines and with management approvals, which ensure that the subject-matter and financial guidelines of the program are satisfied).
Therefore, the DoD concept of operations should provide for the integration of OSINT training into all standard DoD training and education programs, and especially the training of acquisition program managers, commanders, and their respective staffs. A mix of electronically accessible self-paced study, easy to use handbooks, online directories of sources and services, and mobile training teams could be defined to provide surge and on-going training at the entry, middle, and senior levels.
Funding Profile. For less than one percent of the DoD budget (roughly $2.7 billion a year), DoD needs for both open source intelligence (and electronic security enabling interaction with private sector communications and computer service providers), can be fully satisfied. This paper focuses on the open source intelligence support issue, and proposes a budget of $1.5 billion a year (leaving $1.2 billion a year for much-needed enhancements to the electronic security and counterintelligence program) to meet DoD's documented needs for maps, foreign area studies, critical technology futures, and other related essential elements of information amenable to resolution within the private sector.
Since the Secretary of Defense controls roughly 85% of the total national foreign intelligence program (86% according to the Commission on Intelligence, 80% plus according to the HPSCI Intel21 Report), the Secretary of Defense has the option of boldly accelerating this entire program by realigning $1.5 billion a year ramping up from an initial realignment of $250 million in 1998. At full operational capability, a $1.5 billion Defense Open Source Intelligence Program (DOSIP) could fully satisfy DoD needs for tactical maps, provide a global architecture for OSINT support to coalition and contingency operations, augment DoD overt collection capabilities in most Embassies and especially in Tier III and IV countries, and provide for a robust program of direct OSINT support to key policy-makers, acquisition managers, and commanders. It merits emphasis that this new capability will not duplicate nor compete with nor relieve DIA of its existing all-source responsibilities. In fact, this program, which DoD may wish to have DIA manage, offers great relief directly to the DoD consumers of intelligence, while allowing DIA to optimize its scarce resources against "the hard stuff".
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
250M $500M $750M $1B $1.25B $1.5B
The Community Open Source Program is on record as stating that the National Foreign Intelligence Program (NFIP) spends 1% of its budget on open sources, and that this returns 40% of the all-source product. A DoD initiative to increase the investment in open sources from 1% to 6% (of the NFIP) will have a significant positive impact on defense intelligence production as well as defense policy, acquisition, and warfighting.
At a more detailed level of examination, below is a short list of representative OSINT opportunities with rough cost levels per year at final full funding level:
|Commercial Imagery for Mapping, Targeting, and Mission Rehearsal||$250M/YR|
|JOINT VISION ground-stations & follow-on all-source (10 @ $5M)||$50M/YR|
|NATO/PfP, UN, and Ad Hoc Coalition OSINT Support||$100M/YR|
|Creation of DoD OSINT Cells (JCS, CINCs, Services, 15 @ $10M)||$150M/YR|
|Creation of DoD-wide OSINT Training Program||$25M/YR|
|Creation of Internet Seeding/Sponsorship Program||$25M/YR|
|OSINT Analysts at Embassies with Funds to Buy (100 @ $500,000)||$50M/YR|
|Strategic Forecasting OSINT Support (10,000 @ $25,000)||$250M/YR|
|Experts on Demand (One Day at a Time/25,000 @ $6,000)||$150M/YR|
|QuickSearch Investigations (300,000 queries @ $1000)||$300M/YR|
|Integrated Current Awareness Profiles (50,000 @ $2,500)||$125M/YR|
|Contingency/Crisis Surge Support (10 @ $2.5M)||$25M/YR|
These numbers are merely illustrative. There are roughly 100,000 SI/TK workstations around the world, and at least that many analysts and action officers who require "just enough, just in time" OSINT support. It bears emphasis, repeatedly, that these modest funds will result in dramatic improvements in general intelligence support to DoD policy-makers, acquisition managers, and commanders, and that this support and the additional funding are required above and beyond the existing budget of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Defense Technical Information Center.
Epilogue. What is important to recognize about the OSINT process is that it significantly reduces most of the overhead costs and the atrophy of capabilities associated with "standing armies" of intelligence collectors and producers (including those maintained by second-tier private sector bureaucracies). It does this by relying on finding the very best experts (with particular citizenship and clearance or foreign language qualification as required), and tapping into their knowledge and sources--knowledge and sources funded over decades by others and thus available to the client for the marginal cost of short-term exploitation. With this OSINT foundation, the very capable, very expensive, and often difficult to exploit classified capabilities can be freed up to attack the most difficult intelligence challenges, and can be exploited in the context of the fuller understanding of the target derived from OSINT. Information costs money; intelligence makes money. How $mart do you want to be?™
Training Opportunity: OSS '98, forthcoming 17-21 May 1998 in Washington, D.C., offers policy, acquisition, and command & staff professionals a number of integrated opportunities to come up to speed on OSINT. A special four-hour Senior's Course, free to those sending five subordinates to OSS '98, covers changes in private sector information sources and technologies, an overview of OSINT, and a presentation on how OSINT can augment and reinforce existing classified all-source collection and production. The main conference, over three and a half days, covers online and offline OSINT, hot topics, pricing, source validation, coalition operations, and science & technology. Three affiliated conferences are free to those attending OSS '98: one on business intelligence sources & methods; another sponsored by the National Military Intelligence Association on asymmetric warfare; and a third sponsored by the Association of Former Intelligence Officers on national intelligence priorities. On the day following OSS '98 there is an international job fair for intelligence professionals, and a half day SI/TK session sponsored by DIA on OSINT contracting. The participation of over 30 DIA professionals OSS '98, and DIA's half-day event, should in no way be construed as endorsement of the larger OSS offering. For more information send email to <[email protected]>, visit <www.oss.net> and click on Events, fax (703) 242-1711, or call (703) 242-1700. This is a pro-government conference, and privacy protection is guaranteed.
1. OSS Inc., a Virginia stock corporation created in 1992, is the foremost authority in the world with respect to the theory and practice of open source intelligence, and is a leading strategic think tank regarding national and organization information strategies, information operations, and the optimization of all-source intelligence capabilities. Its principals and associates have provided training to over forty countries. Those interested in this issue may wish to visit <www.oss.net> where there are 5,000 pages of reference material from over 500 international authorities, including the Open Source Intelligence Handbook and the Open Source Intelligence Reader. OSS '98, the Global Intelligence Forum, will take place 17-20 May 1998 in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with a separate Seniors' Course, a one-day job fair, and a half-day SI/TK session sponsored by DIA. For additional information send email to <[email protected]>, visit <www.oss.net> and click on Events, fax (703) 242-1711, or call (703) 242-1700. Over 600 intelligence professionals, mostly military, from over 40 countries attend this event each year.
2. 2. Mr. Robert D. Steele, founder of the parent company established in 1992, serves as the President of OSS Global and also the Director of Collection for all OSS Groups. He has been twice named to the Microtimes 100 list of "industry leaders and unsung heroes who…helped create the future", and is featured in the chapter on "The Future of the Spy" in Alvin and Heidi Toffler's WAR AND ANTI-WAR: Survival at the Dawn of the 21st Century, among other publications. In the course of a twenty year national and defense intelligence career, Mr. Steele has fulfilled clandestine, covert action, and technical collection duties, been responsible for programming funds for overhead reconnaissance capabilities, managed an offensive counterintelligence program, initiated an advanced information technology project, and been the senior civilian responsible for founding a new national intelligence production facility. Mr. Steele holds graduate degrees in international relations (Lehigh University) as well as public administration (University of Oklahoma), and certificates in intelligence policy (Harvard University) and defense studies (Naval War College). He speaks fluent Spanish and elementary French, and holds a current Top Secret clearance with a current SBI.
3. 3. Dr. Mark M. Lowenthal is the President of OSS USA and also Director of Analysis and Production for all OSS Groups. He served as Staff Director of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (104th Congress, 1995-1997), where he directed the study IC 21: The Intelligence Community in the 21st Century. Dr. Lowenthal was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence (1988-1989) and has also served as the Senior Specialist in U.S. Foreign Policy at the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress (1989-1995). He is the author of seven books, including U.S. Intelligence: Evolution and Anatomy, which is a standard text in many intelligence courses, and over 80 articles and reports on national security issues. Dr. Lowenthal received his Ph.D. in History from Harvard University. He currently teaches graduate courses on intelligence at both Columbia University and George Washington University. In 1988, Dr. Lowenthal was the Grand Champion on Jeopardy!, the television quiz show. Dr. Lowenthal holds a Top Secret SI/TK clearance.
4. 4. Hugh Smith, "Intelligence and UN Peacekeeping" in Survival (36/3, Autumn 1994), page 39, as cited by Sir David Ramsbotham, "Analysis and Assessment for Peacekeeping Operations" in Intelligence Analysis and Assessment (Frank Cass, 1996).
5. 5. Paraphrase of comment by Navy Wing Commander who led the lead flight over Baghdad, made at Technology Initiatives Game 1992, where first author served as chairman of the National Intelligence Cell.
6. The exercise is described in vague terms on page 88 of Preparing for the 21st Century: An Appraisal of U.S. Intelligence (report of the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community, also known as the Aspin/Brown Commission). The two critical findings of the Commission on Intelligence with respect to open sources were that the U.S. Intelligence Community itself is "critically deficient" in lacking access to open sources and that this should be a "top priority for funding"; and--most pertinent to DoD operations--that intelligence consumers should not refer to the U.S. Intelligence Community any questions which can be answered "predominantly" by open sources. In the future, each intelligence consumer will be expected to develop their own open source intelligence capabilities, and to refer for classified collection only those questions which cannot be answered by the private sector. In combination with the initial focus of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, which attempted to define "transaction costs" of classified versus open source intelligence, this is a clear indication that the days of "free" intelligence are coming to an end. We anticipate an opportunity for intelligence consumers in the future, to request budget realignments and to make their own judgements as to the relative value of expenditures for classified collection as opposed to expenditures for open source intelligence.
7. Mr. Jan Herring, President of the OSS Business operating group, developed this practical and
integrated concept for applying proven intelligence processes to unclassified information. Mr. Herring
served a distinguished career in the U.S. Intelligence Community, retiring in 1988 after final service as
the National Intelligence Officer for Science & Technology. He went on to be the founder of the U.S.
business intelligence community, and was responsible for establishing the business intelligence units--all
relying only on legally and ethically available information but applying the intelligence collection
management and analysis processes to the unclassified information--for Motorola, Ford, Phillips
Petroleum, NutraSweet, General Dynamics, Southwestern Bell, and Monsanto. In his decades of work
with corporations and the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals, he has helped thousands
understand that while information may cost money, intelligence makes money--i.e. helps achieve goals.