Posts from June, 2007

Combat Camera Units Document Military Operations

Each U.S. military service now has “combat camera” (COMCAM) units that provide a unique visual record of military operations, according to a new manual on COMCAM tactics and procedures (pdf).

The photographic and motion imagery produced by military photographers “enhances the commander’s situational awareness and establishes a historical operations record.”

If and when such imagery is eventually released, it has the potential to add a new dimension to public understanding of military operations and to supplement external oversight.

“COMCAM forces perform unique and highly specialized missions … supporting the full range of military operations in all operational environments. COMCAM personnel maintain qualifications enabling them to operate with airborne forces, special operations forces, and military divers.”

“In an increasingly media-driven world and global information environment, the ability to exploit VIDOC [visual information documentation] has enabled the warfighter to gain a battlespace advantage.”

“COMCAM forces provide commanders with visual information (VI) that directly supports their decision making and operational assessment. During recent operations, daily imagery usage included: battle briefings, targeting, operational assessment, force protection, battlespace orientation, airfield qualification, public affairs, operational awareness, information operations, psychological operations, and battle damage assessment.”

Much or most of the COMCAM imagery product is classified. Even the unclassified imagery cannot be publicly disclosed without prior review and approval.

But over the long term, “Comprehensive visual information documentation ensures an accurate historical record of military operations,” according to the new manual, which was issued jointly by the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.

See “COMCAM – Multi-Service Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Combat Camera Operations,” U.S. Army Field Manual 3-55.12, May 2007.

Joint Counterdrug Operations

Military doctrine for the planning and execution of U.S. counterdrug operations, including detection, monitoring, disruption and interdiction of illegal drug trafficking, is presented in a new publication from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. See “Joint Counterdrug Operations” (pdf), Joint Publication JP 3-07.4, 13 June 2007.

The “capstone” publication for all joint military doctrine was also recently updated and reissued. See Joint Publication JP 1, “Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States” (pdf), 14 May 2007.

Selected CRS Reports

Noteworthy new reports of the Congressional Research Service on national security, foreign policy and other topics include the following (all pdf).

“Venezuela: Political Conditions and U.S. Policy,” updated June 8, 2007.

“Navy Role in Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) — Background and Issues for Congress,” updated April 16, 2007.

“Turkey’s 2007 Elections: Crisis of Identity and Power,”
June 12, 2007.

“The Quasi Government: Hybrid Organizations with Both Government and Private Sector Legal Characteristics,” updated February 13, 2007.

Spotlight on Special Forces and Intelligence

The structure of Army special operations forces, their capabilities and characteristic mission profiles, and the role of intelligence in supporting them are described in a newly disclosed U.S. Army field manual (pdf).

There are nine distinct missions for Army special forces, including: unconventional warfare, direct action, counterproliferation, foreign internal defense, psychological operations, and “special activities,” which is the DoD euphemism for covert action.

“Special activities fall under Executive Order 12333, United States Intelligence Activities,” according to the Army field manual. “They require a presidential finding and congressional oversight. ARSOF [Army Special Operations Forces] conduct them abroad in support of national foreign policy objectives, but in a manner that USG [US Government] participation is neither apparent nor publicly acknowledged.”

The 200-page Army field manual, which remains in effect, was issued in 2001. A copy of the unclassified document was obtained by Secrecy News. See “Army Special Operations Forces Intelligence,” Field Manual FM 3-05.102, July 2001.

The secrecy of DoD special operations has significantly impeded oversight and accountability, reported Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker this week. The Hersh article also said that the Bush Administration had “unilaterally determined after 9/11″ that military intelligence operations could be conducted on presidential authority without congressional notification — notwithstanding the contrary language of the Army field manual.

The “can do” attitude that characterizes Army and other special operations forces makes them attractive to policy makers, but it can also be a cause for concern, according to a congressional review (pdf) of the failed Army Ranger mission in Somalia in 1993 (cited in a 2006 paper [pdf] by David Tucker and Christopher J. Lamb of National Defense University).

“One of the weaknesses of a unit like Task Force Ranger, whose combat capabilities are unparalleled, is the belief by the unit members and its commanders that they can accomplish any mission.”

“Because of the supreme confidence of special operations forces, the chain of command must provide more oversight to this type of unit than to conventional forces.”

See “Review of the Circumstances Surrounding the Ranger Raid on October 3-4, 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia,” Senate Armed Services Committee, September 29, 1995.

Senate Seeks Reports on Energy Security, Nuclear Weapons Policy

A bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate would require the Director of National Intelligence to prepare an unclassified report on energy security.

“American dependence on foreign oil has made our Nation less safe,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in an introductory statement. “Oil revenues have provided income for dangerous rogue states, they have sparked bloody civil wars, and they have even provided funding for terrorism.”

“In a sickening phenomenon that I call the terror tax, every time that Americans drive their cars down to the gas station and fill up at the pump, the reality is that a portion of that money is then turned over to foreign governments that ‘backdoor’ it over to Islamist extremists, who use that money to perpetuate terrorism and hate.”

* * *The next administration would be required to conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. nuclear weapons policy and to prepare an unclassified report of its nuclear posture review, according to the 2008 defense authorization act, as marked up by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The report, which is intended to update the 2001 nuclear posture review (NPR), would have to be submitted in unclassified form in December 2009.

“Although the Secretary of Defense was directed to submit the December 2001 NPR in an unclassified form, unfortunately this never happened,” the Senate Committee said.

See, relatedly, “Congress Seeks New Direction for Nuclear Strategy” by Walter Pincus, Washington Post, June 18.

DoD Updates Policy on Conscientious Objectors

To qualify for conscientious objector status and to be granted military discharge on that basis, an individual must oppose all wars, not just a particular war. However, a conscientious objector may still embrace “spiritual warfare” between good and evil, the Department of Defense explained in a new policy instruction (pdf).

“An individual who desires to choose the war in which he or she will participate is not a Conscientious Objector under the law. The individual’s objection must be to all wars rather than a specific war.”

But “a belief in a theocratic or spiritual war between the powers of good and evil does not constitute a willingness to participate in ‘war’ within the meaning of this Instruction.” In other words, it is possible both to be a “spiritual warrior” and a conscientious objector. It is uncertain whether enlisting in spiritual warfare on the side of evil would void this distinction.

See “Conscientious Objectors,” Department of Defense Instruction 1300.06, May 5, 2007.

DNI Issues New Policy on Intelligence Awards

The U.S. intelligence community may acknowledge professional excellence by presenting employees or others with one of several monetary or honorary awards specified in a new Intelligence Community Directive (pdf).

“It is the policy of the DNI to recognize and honor all individuals and groups for distinguished service and/or exceptional contributions to the security of the U.S.; the development and execution of the U.S. National Intelligence Strategy and its various implementation plans; the integration and transformation of the IC, and/or the accomplishment of its mission;” and so forth.

Awards may range from certificates and “keepsakes” of no monetary value to large financial gifts. Amounts in excess of $25,000 must be approved by the President.

Covert personnel are not permitted to take possession of their awards.

Instead, “the IC element and/or the ODNI retain(s) the award when the individual is covert or a future covert assignment or affiliation is likely.”

Intelligence Community Directive 655, entitled “National Intelligence Awards Program,” was issued by Directive of National Intelligence Mike McConnell on May 23, 2007.

Attorney in Foggo Case Seeks to “Opt Out” of Security Clearance

A defense attorney in the prosecution of former CIA executive director Kyle “Dusty” Foggo and contractor Brent Wilkes on bribery charges has refused to undergo a background investigation or submit to other procedures required in order to obtain a security clearance for access to classified information.

Defense counsel should not be required “to undergo any kind of a process by which my adversary in an adversarial system is going to determine whether or not I can represent my client,” argued celebrity attorney Mark Geragos, who represents Brent Wilkes.

Instead, he indicated, the government should simply provide the defense with all exculpatory material.

But it doesn’t work that way, government attorneys said. In a June 8 pleading (pdf), they asked the court to require imposition of a security clearance, administered by a judicial branch official if necessary, or to take other steps to safeguard up to 15,000 pages of classified discovery materials.

The unusual dispute was first reported by Justin Rood in “Attorney Geragos Accused of Subtle Extortion,” ABC News’ The Blotter, June 11.

Selected CRS Reports

Notable new reports of the Congressional Research Service include the following (all pdf).

“Iran: Ethnic and Religious Minorities,” May 25, 2007.

“National Continuity Policy: A Brief Overview,” June 8, 2007.

“‘No Confidence’ Votes and Other Forms of Congressional Censure of Public Officials,” June 11, 2007.

“Veterans and Homelessness,” May 31, 2007.

“Border Security: The San Diego Fence,” updated May 23, 2007.

“Latin America and the Caribbean: Fact Sheet on Leaders and Elections,” updated June 1, 2007.

“U.S.-European Union Relations and the 2007 Summit,” updated May 14, 2007.

“Russian Oil and Gas Challenges,” updated May 16, 2007.

“Secret Sessions of the House and Senate,” updated May 25, 2007.

Congressional Oversight is Intensifying, ODNI Says

“Intelligence community contracting and procurement activities are receiving increasing scrutiny from Congress,” an official of the Office of Director of National Intelligence told a meeting of industry officials last month.

“Congressional oversight is intensifying,” said Daniel C. Nielsen (pdf), ODNI Deputy Procurement Executive.

Among other things, “Senior congressional leaders favor increased IC procurement data reporting,” he said.

He cited a 2006 proposal by Rep. Henry Waxman to require providing to Congress “the same information for classified contracts that is required for unclassified contracts.”

Although intelligence-related procurement programs run into the tens of billions of dollars annually, they have never been subject to accountability and reporting requirements comparable to those for unclassified acquisition. This is expected to change, Mr. Nielsen indicated.

See “Intelligence Community Procurement Metrics: Needs, Goals and Approach” by Daniel C. Nielsen, ODNI, presented May 16, 2007.

Baseline acquisition data-collection requirements were set forth last year in an Intelligence Community Directive (ICD), which stated that “all … major system acquisitions shall have a [program management plan] that includes cost, schedule, and performance goals, as well as program milestone criteria.”

See ICD 105, “Acquisition” (pdf), Director of National Intelligence, August 15, 2006.

“Acting under pressure from Congress, the CIA has decided to trim its contractor staffing by 10 percent,” reported Walter Pincus and Stephen Barr in the Washington Post today.