Some New DoD Directives and Instructions

Noteworthy new directives and instructions issued by the Department of Defense, of interest to some, include the following.

DoD Space Enterprise Governance and Principal DoD Space Advisor (PDSA), DOD Directive 5100.96, June 9, 2017

Global Health Engagement (GHE) Activities, DOD Instruction 2000.30, July 12, 2017

Assessment of Significant Long-Term Health Risks from Past Environmental Exposures on Military Installations, DOD Instruction 6055.20, June 6, 2017

Conscientious Objectors, DOD Instruction 1300.06, July 12, 2017

Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, as of July 2017

Army Issues New Counter-WMD Doctrine

Countering weapons of mass destruction is “an enduring mission of the U.S. Armed forces,” the US Army said last week in a new doctrinal publication.

Counter-WMD operations are defined as actions taken “against actors of concern to curtail the research, development, possession, proliferation, use, and effects of WMD, related expertise, materials, technologies, and means of delivery.”

See Combined Arms Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, ATP 3-90.40, June 29, 2017.

The Army document does not refer to any specific countries such as North Korea.

Instead, it says generally that “Conventional forces and SOF [special operations forces] capabilities may be necessary to stop the movement of CBRN materials, WMD components and means of delivery, WMD-related personnel, or functional weapons into or out of specified areas or nations. Such actions may require boarding vessels and using search and detection capabilities to secure and seize shipments.”

Counter-WMD activities are directed not only at the weapons themselves but at the networks that produce, sponsor, fund and utilize them.

“Interacting with and engaging networks requires the use of lethal and nonlethal means to support, influence, or neutralize network members, cells, or an entire network. As part of this effort, commanders select, prioritize, and match effective means of interacting with friendly networks, influencing the neutral network, and neutralizing threat networks,” the new Army publication said.

“Commanders and staff utilize the targeting process to identify targets, determine the desired effects on those targets, predict secondary and tertiary effects, and plan lethal and nonlethal effects. This process enables the prosecution of targets to capitalize on and exploit targets of opportunity.”

Network Engagement: An Evolution of Warfare

If attacking the enemy and blowing things up were all that the military had to do, then its task would be straightforward. But if that was ever the case, it is no longer so.

In order to execute its mission, the U.S. Army explains in a new doctrinal publication, the military must do more to identify friends and foes, build relationships with the former, attempt to influence the latter, and seek to construct a favorable social environment for military success.

“The last decade of war has shown us that our opponents are often difficult to detect and identify, and seek to blend into civilian populations. We have also learned that long-term solutions for peace and stability in contested regions often come from key allies originating from this same population,” the Army said. See Network Engagement, ATP 5-06, June 2017.

What the Army calls “network engagement” is “an evolution of ‘attack the network’. While ‘attack the network’ focused on neutralizing the threat network, this focus often led commanders to overlook friendly and neutral networks.”

By contrast, network engagement includes “supporting activities [that] are conducted towards or for friendly or neutral human networks.” Support here is not a question of attitude but of tangible assistance. “It does not matter if we think we are supporting them, what matters is the supported network perceives that we are supporting them; whether we are supporting their ideals, causes, issues, security, rights, autonomy or whatever function the support serves.”

The theory and practice of “network engagement” are discussed at length in the new Army document.

The latest issue of Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin, a quarterly US Army journal that promotes professional development among military intelligence officers, is focused on “Military Intelligence Programs.”

“Readiness” and Secrecy in the US Military

Is there a “readiness crisis” in the U.S. military?

The answer is uncertain because the question itself is unclear. But a perceived need to improve readiness has become a primary DoD justification for increased military spending. Meanwhile, previously unclassified indicators of military readiness are now being classified so that they are no longer publicly available.

“I have been shocked by what I’ve seen about our readiness to fight,” Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee on Monday.

There is a need to “improve readiness conditions” said President Trump in his National Security Presidential Memorandum 1 on Rebuilding the U.S. Armed Forces.

Or maybe not.

“America’s fighting forces remain ready for battle,” wrote David Petraeus and Michael O’Hanlon in an op-ed last year. “They have extensive combat experience across multiple theaters since 9/11, a tremendous high-tech defense industry supplying advanced weaponry, and support from an extraordinary intelligence community.” See “The Myth of a U.S. Military ‘Readiness’ Crisis,” Wall Street Journal, August 10, 2016.

What is readiness? What should the military be ready for? How is readiness measured? How would increased defense spending affect readiness?

Although the term “readiness” is used in many ways, it has two principal definitions, the Congressional Research Service said in a new report yesterday:

“One, readiness has been used to refer in a broad sense to whether U.S. military forces are able to do what the nation asks of them. In this sense, readiness encompasses almost every aspect of the military.”

“Two, readiness is used more narrowly to mean only one component of what makes military forces able. In this second sense, readiness is parallel to other military considerations, like force structure and modernization, which usually refer to the size of the military and the sophistication of its weaponry.”

So is there a readiness crisis or not? It depends, CRS said.

“Most observers who see a crisis tend to use readiness in a broad sense, asserting the U.S. military is not prepared for the challenges it faces largely because of its size or the sophistication of its weapons. Most observers who do not see a crisis tend to use readiness in a narrow sense, assessing only the state of training and the status of current equipment.”

The two definitions are interdependent, CRS said, so that narrow readiness may compensate for deficiencies in broad readiness, or vice versa:

“Greater readiness in the narrow sense, such as better trained personnel, may offset the disadvantages of a smaller or a less technologically sophisticated force, depending on what task the military is executing. Alternatively, the military could be ready in the broader sense because its size and the sophistication of its weapons make up for shortfalls in such areas as training or how often a unit has used its equipment before experiencing combat.”

But readiness for what?

“Some senior officials express confidence in the military’s readiness for the missions it is executing today–although other observers are not as confident– but express concern over the military’s readiness for potential missions in the future,” CRS analyst Russell Rumbaugh wrote.

How is readiness measured, anyway? Not very well.

“Because of the two uses of the term, measuring readiness is difficult; despite ongoing efforts, many observers do not find DOD’s readiness reporting useful.”

Will more spending help?

“DOD’s 2018 request increases operating accounts more than procurement accounts. If readiness is used in a narrow sense, these funding increases may be the best way to improve the military’s readiness. If readiness is used in a broader sense, that funding may not be sufficient, or at least the best way to improve readiness.”

The new CRS report aims to illuminate the debate. But in the end, “it does not evaluate the current state of the U.S. military’s readiness or provide a conclusive definition of readiness.” See Defining Readiness: Background and Issues for Congress, June 14, 2017.

Definitions aside, increasing military secrecy is making the state of U.S. military readiness harder to discern.

“Some readiness information has always been classified and now we are classifying more of it,” a government official told The National Interest last month.

“We don’t think it should be public, for example, how many THAADs are not operational due to maintenance reasons,” the official said. “We don’t think it should be public what percent of our F-22s are not available due to maintenance. We don’t think it should be public how many of our pilots are below their required number of training hours in the cockpit.”

See “How the U.S. Military Is Trying to Mask Its Readiness Crisis” by Maggie Ybarra, The National Interest, May 18, 2017.

DoD Again Seeks FOIA Exemption for Military Tactics

For the third time, the Department of Defense is asking Congress to enact a new exemption from the Freedom of Information Act for certain military tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP), as well as rules of engagement, that are sensitive but unclassified.

“The effectiveness of United States military operations is dependent upon adversaries, or potential adversaries, not having advance knowledge of TTPs or rules of engagement that will be employed in such operations,” DoD said in its legislative proposals for the FY2018 defense authorization act. “If an adversary or potential adversary has knowledge of this information, the adversary will gain invaluable knowledge on how our forces operate in given situations.”

“Military TTPs and rules of engagement are analogous to law enforcement techniques and procedures, which Congress has afforded protection,” DoD said. See section 1003 of DoD’s proposed defense authorization act for FY2018.

DoD is not seeking to exempt all TTP records as a class. Rather, the proposal is that specifiedĀ TTP information could be withheld under FOIA if the Secretary of Defense determined in writing that its disclosure would be likely to provide “an operational military advantage to an adversary” and that the public interest in the information does not outweigh the potential risk. This determination would have to be made personally by the Secretary of Defense, and could not be delegated. It would require a written justification that would have to be available to the public on request.

Similar legislative proposals were introduced by the Department of Defense in the past two years.

Wary of any move to expand DoD’s authority to withhold information, however, many advocates of open government opposed the measure. Truly sensitive military information could be classified, they argued, and an existing FOIA exemption “more than adequately protects such information.” In any event, despite repeated requests, the DoD proposal was not approved by Congress.

The Department of Defense and the military services (especially the Army) generate dozens if not hundreds of doctrinal publications every day. Many of them are closely held, but many others are freely published. The latter, at least, would seem to be outside the scope of the proposed new exemption for TTPs and rules of engagement, if it were ever enacted.

A new document on DoD interactions with foreign security forces, of interest to some, was posted online by DoD this week. See Security Cooperation, Joint Publication 3-20, May 23, 2017.

DoD Seeks New Authority for Drone Countermeasures

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS, or drones) could be used by malicious actors to conduct unauthorized surveillance or to deliver hazardous payloads within the United States. But defending against such threats may violate the law as currently written.

“Some of the most promising technical countermeasures for detecting and mitigating UAS may be construed to be illegal under certain laws that were passed when UAS were unforeseen,” the Department of Defense said in its legislative proposals for the FY 2018 defense authorization act. “These laws include statutes governing electronic communications, access to protected computers, and interference with civil aircraft.”

DoD therefore asked Congress to enact legislation that would authorize development of drone countermeasures for domestic use without violating “many provisions” of existing law. See section 1602 of the DoD draft defense authorization act for FY 2018, submitted to Congress on May 25.

“Certain statutes are especially problematic” for defending against UAS threats, DoD said. Several sections of Title 18 of the US Code “might be construed to prohibit access to or interception of the telemetry, signaling information, or other communications of UAS.”

“Furthermore, any attempt to interfere with the flight of UAS that pose a threat” could violate the Aircraft Sabotage Act, which prohibits damage to or destruction of aircraft.

“The proposed legislation would generally allow research, testing, training on, and evaluating technical means for countering UAS,” including monitoring, tracking, re-directing, disabling or destroying such aircraft.

A broader look at Countering Air and Missile Threats was recently published by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Joint Publication 3-01, April 21, 2017).

Visual Recognition of Aircraft Still Needed

The ability to recognize and identify aircraft on sight remains a skill that soldiers need to acquire even in a highly automated military, according to the U.S. Army.

“Soldiers must be knowledgeable in the identification of all types of aerial platforms ranging from fixed, tilt, and rotary wing aircraft and unmanned aircraft, in order to protect friendly forces and to prevent fratricide,” a newly updated Army manual said.

“There have been many arguments through the years that the military does not need VACR [visual aircraft recognition], because of the advancement of technology that identifies friendly or enemy aerial platforms. [But] VACR is a basic skill that every Soldier should know. Soldiers cannot blindly depend on automation to do their jobs for them.”

The manual provides reference information on “current operational aircraft that are observed worldwide or in the combat area” but “it is not all-inclusive because of some classification guidelines.”

Along with several new aircraft profiles, the updated manual now includes photographs of the referenced aircraft. See Visual Aircraft Recognition, US Army Training Circular 3-01.80, May 2017.

Is “Cyberwar” War?

Are offensive cyber operations an act of war?

“I would say specifically to your question what defines an act of war [in the cyber domain]– that has not been defined. We are still working towards that definition across the interagency,” said Thomas Atkin of the Office of Secretary of Defense at a congressional hearing last year.

He elaborated in newly published responses to questions for the record:

“When determining whether a cyber incident constitutes an armed attack, the U.S. Government considers a number of factors including the nature and extent of injury or death to persons and the destruction of, or damage to, property. Besides effects, other factors may also be relevant to a determination, including the context of the event, the identity of the actor perpetrating the action, the target and its location, and the intent of the actor, among other factors.” See Military Cyber Operations, hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, June 22, 2016.

If cyberwar is in fact war, would civilians who support military cyber operations be lawful combatants? They might not be, Mr. Atkin said.

“During armed conflict, some civilians who support the U.S. armed forces may sit at the keyboard and participate, under the direction of a military commander, in cyberspace operations. The law of war does not prohibit civilians from directly participating in hostilities, such as offensive or defensive cyberspace operations, even when that activity would be a use of force or would involve direct participation in hostilities; however, in such cases, a civilian is not a ‘lawful combatant’ and does not enjoy the right of combatant immunity, is subject to direct attack for such time as he or she directly participates in hostilities, and if captured by enemy government forces may be prosecuted for acts prohibited under the captor’s domestic law.”

But any such danger to unlawful civilian cyber-combatants is probably not an imminent hazard, he added. “Most, if not the great majority, of our civilian cyber workforce involved in providing support to cyberspace operations during armed conflict will not be serving on the battlefield where they may be the object of attack or risk being detained by the enemy. Instead, most will be providing their support remotely from areas outside the area of hostilities, are not easily identifiable as an individual, and are likely serving in the United States.”

The Army Ranger Handbook: Updated

“You can lie all you please when you tell other folks about the Rangers,” advised Major Robert Rogers in 1759, “but don’t never lie to a Ranger or officer.”

That guidance is recalled in a newly updated Ranger Handbook published by the U.S. Army last week.

The Handbook is a compilation of doctrine, tactics, history and lore associated with the Army’s elite Ranger special operations force.

One learns, for example, that “Proficiency with knots and rope is vitally important for Rangers, especially in mountaineering situations. Familiarity with the terminology associated with knots and rope is critical.” Various knots are helpfully explained and illustrated, though the descriptions alone will hardly make the reader proficient.

The Army Ranger Regiment “is a lethal, agile and flexible force, capable of conducting many complex, joint special operations missions. . . . Their capabilities include conducting airborne and air assault operations, seizing key terrain such as airfields, destroying strategic facilities, and capturing or killing enemies of the nation.”

Two Army Rangers were killed in action in Afghanistan on April 27, the Department of Defense announced today.

White House: Prepare for the Unpredictable

“The Nation must prepare to mitigate an unpredictable global security and national emergency environment,” the White House said in a report to Congress this month.

The report, transmitted by President Trump on April 3, provided principles for reform of the selective service process by which young Americans enter the military. The report was required by section 555 of the 2017 defense authorization act.

“The Nation must be ever mindful of the unpredictable global security environment that requires an effective and efficient means to provide manpower to the national security community, including military and non-military support in a national emergency,” the President’s report said.

How to prepare in practice for the unpredictable is not clear, except that it involves flexibility.

“Any system, process, or program used to identify, recruit, and employ additional skill sets should be effective in times of peace, war, and other levels of conflict or emergency response. Associated initiatives, systems, and processes must be seamless, robust, and able to expand and contract as needed,” the report said.

Congress established a new National Commission to consider changes to the selective service system, and to develop “the means by which to foster a greater attitude, ethos, and propensity for military services among United States youth.”