SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2016, Issue No. 40
May 5, 2016

Secrecy News Blog: http://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/

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.


JUDGE GARLAND'S OPINIONS, AND MORE FROM CRS

The Congressional Research Service continues to devote substantial attention to the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, even if the U.S. Senate remains unwilling or unable to act on the nomination. This week CRS issued a new report presenting an annotated tabulation of hundreds of decisions written by Judge Garland.

"To assist Members and committees of Congress and their staff in their ongoing research into Judge Garland's approach to the law, this report identifies and briefly summarizes each of the more than 350 cases in which Judge Garland has authored a majority, concurring, or dissenting opinion. Arguably, these written opinions provide the greatest insight into Judge Garland's judicial approach, as a judge's vote in a case or decision to join an opinion authored by a colleague may be based upon a number of considerations and may not necessarily represent full agreement with a joined opinion."

See Majority, Concurring, and Dissenting Opinions Authored by Judge Merrick Garland, May 2, 2016:

(The larger implications of Judge Garland's opinions were analyzed in a separate CRS report that was issued last week.)

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

China's Natural Gas: Uncertainty for Markets, May 2, 2016:

Synthetic Drugs: Overview and Issues for Congress, updated May 3, 2016:

Funding of Presidential Nominating Conventions: An Overview, updated May 4, 2016:

Green Infrastructure and Issues in Managing Urban Stormwater, updated May 2, 2016:

DHS Budget v. DHS Appropriations: Fact Sheet, May 2, 2016:

Overview of Commercial (Depository) Banking and Industry Conditions, May 3, 2016:

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

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