from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 50
May 26, 2005


New technologies to aid Marines and other U.S. military forces engaged in urban combat are explored in a recent report from the secretive JASON scientific advisory group.

"The JASON study focused on the following topic areas: squad-level communications; location, navigation, and maps; sensing through walls; countering snipers; and uses for UAVs," according to the unclassified report, a copy of which was obtained by Secrecy News.

Conclusions range from prosaic -- "the most pressing technological need is a radio for every infantryman" -- to seemingly futuristic:

"Technology exists which should allow a small array of microphones to be attached to a soldier's helmet, along with a small microprocessor that is activated only when a supersonic shock wave from a sniper's bullet is detected. The array determines the direction of the sniper... without distracting the soldier."

The JASON study addresses a spectrum of complex technological issues with unusual lucidity that makes them at least partially comprehensible to a non-specialist reader.

The JASON group cultivates a slightly-frayed mystique that extends even to its peculiar name. Some say it is an allusion to Jason and the Argonauts. Others say it is an acronym for the late summer and autumn months when JASON does most of its work: July, August, September, October, November.

The new study includes JASON in its list of acronyms (p. 101) but provides no expansion of the term.

See "Sensors to Support the Soldier," JASON, February 2005 (1.6 MB PDF file):

An FAS archive of JASON studies may be found here:


There has long been a consensus that the export of certain military or dual-use technologies must be regulated.

But the application of export controls has also drawn occasional protests from affected industries, and in some cases has become so burdensome as to have unintended adverse consequences on U.S. scientists. (See, e.g., "Controls on 'Deemed Exports' May Threaten Research," Secrecy News, May 2).

The Congressional Research Service recently prepared a useful introduction to the subject.

See "The Export Administration Act: Evolution, Provisions, and Debate," updated May 5, 2005:


In an implicit acknowledgment of the limitations of congressional oversight, the House Armed Services Committee asked the Department of Defense to provide it with a comprehensive inventory of DoD intelligence programs.

"The committee believes that it does not have complete visibility into some defense intelligence programs that do not clearly fall into the Joint Military Intelligence Program (JMIP) or under the Tactical Intelligence and Related Activities (TIARA) categories."

"Specifically, the committee notes that individual services may have intelligence or intelligence-related programs such as science and technology projects or information operations programs related to defense intelligence that are embedded in other service budget line items."

See Section 932 of the pending House version of the 2006 Defense Authorization Act here:


In the pending Defense Authorization Act, the House Armed Services Committee also directed the Department of Defense to develop a strategy for better integrating open source intelligence into the military intelligence production cycle.

"The amount, significance, and accessibility of open-source information has exploded," the Committee said, "but the Intelligence Community has not expanded its exploitation efforts and systems to produce open-source intelligence."

See Section 931 of the House version of the 2006 Defense Authorization Act here:


Some recent reports of the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News include the following:

"U.S. Assistance to North Korea," updated April 26, 2005:

"Terrorism and Security Issues Facing the Water Infrastructure Sector," updated April 25, 2005:

"Space Launch Vehicles: Government Activities, Commercial Competition, and Satellite Exports," updated April 25, 2005:

"Detention of American Citizens as Enemy Combatants," updated March 31, 2005:

"Argentina: Political Conditions and U.S. Relations," updated March 31, 2005:

"Foreign Direct Investment in the United States: An Economic Analysis," updated March 23, 2005:

"Missile Defense: The Current Debate," updated March 23, 2005:

"Military Space Programs: Issues Concerning DOD's SBIRS and STSS Programs," updated March 17, 2005:

"Moldova: Background and U.S. Policy," updated March 8, 2005:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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