Posts from February, 2013

An Intelligence History of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War

The Central Intelligence Agency has published a series of essays on intelligence and the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, to coincide with a symposium on the subject held last week at the Nixon Presidential Library.

The publication itself (“President Nixon and the Role of Intelligence in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War”) is a welcome addition to the literature.  But it also “includes some embarrassing errors,” wrote Amir Oren in the Israeli paper Ha’aretz on February 3 (“CIA report on Yom Kippur War: Israel had nuclear arsenal”).

“For example,” Oren wrote, “in the photograph labeled ‘An Egyptian soldier holding up a portrait of President Sadat,’ the soldier in question and the two soldiers flanking him are clearly Israelis, as evidenced by the ‘IDF’ stamped visibly on their shirts.”

“The editors of the new study also err in attributing two things to lessons from the Six-Day War: the faulty prevailing conception among Israeli Military Intelligence ‘that Israel would have at least 48 hours’ warning before an invasion’ and that Sadat wouldn’t start a war before acquiring fighter planes. Furthermore, it seems they also confused war analyst Maj. Gen. (ret.) Chaim Herzog with one of his sons, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Mike Herzog,” he added.

If these discrepancies are cause for embarrassment, then it is the kind of embarrassment that should be willingly endured. To put it another way, exposing such work to external review and criticism is an unsurpassed way of identifying and correcting errors.

A Report on CIA Detention and Rendition Programs

In the absence of an official public account of post-9/11 U.S. counterterrorism programs, Americans (and others) must rely on unofficial accounts.

“Globalizing Torture” is a new report from the Open Society Justice Initiative, authored by Amrit Singh.  It is said to provide “the most comprehensive account yet assembled of the human rights abuses associated with CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations. It details for the first time what was done to the 136 known victims, and lists the 54 foreign governments that participated in these operations. It shows that responsibility for the abuses lies not only with the United States but with dozens of foreign governments that were complicit.”

It was reported in “Report Says 54 Countries Helped CIA After 9/11″ by Scott Shane, New York Times, February 4.

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available to the public include the following.

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV): Background and Issues for Congress, February 4, 2013

U.S.-India Security Relations: Strategic Issues, January 24, 2013

Multilateral Development Banks: U.S. Contributions FY2000-FY2013, February 1, 2013

IMF Reforms: Issues for Congress, February 1, 2013

Medicare, Medicaid, and Other Health Provisions in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, January 31, 2013

Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity, December 18, 2012

Army Manual Highlights Role of “Inform and Influence Activities”

The use of information-related tools to support military operations and to help shape their outcome is discussed in a newly updated Army manual on what are now called “Inform and Influence Activities.”

Inform and influence activities (or IIA) refers to “the integration of designated information-related capabilities in order to synchronize themes, messages, and actions with operations to inform United States and global audiences, influence foreign audiences, and affect adversary and enemy decisionmaking.”

In some circumstances, the manual says, information operations can play a decisive role.

“Activities occurring in, through, or by means of the information environment have a consequential effect on an operational environment and can impact military operations and outcomes. Therefore, commanders and their staffs must understand their operational environments completely. This understanding includes the information environment and the potential impacts it can have on current and planned military operations.”

But the effectiveness of such activities is naturally limited by the realities of the military engagement.

“Soldiers’ actions powerfully influence the credibility of IIA. Visible actions coordinated with carefully chosen, credible words influence audiences more than uncoordinated or contradictory actions and words. All audiences–local and regional as well as adversary and enemy–compare the friendly force’s message with its actions. Consistency contributes to the success of friendly operations by building trust and credibility. Conversely, if actions and messages are inconsistent, friendly forces lose credibility. Loss of credibility makes land forces vulnerable to enemy and adversary information or countermessaging and places Army forces at a disadvantage.”

“Aligning information-related capabilities with the overall operation ensures that messages are consistent with the forces’ actions to amplify the credibility of those messages. It is paramount that inform and influence efforts complement not contradict. Failing to do so jeopardizes credibility.”

The updated Army manual replaces a 2003 document titled “Information Operations.”

“The publication does not address every information-related capability commanders can use to help shape their complex operational environments. It should, however, generate introspection and provide just enough guidance to facilitate flexibility and innovative approaches for commanders to execute the art of command to inform and influence.”

See Inform and Influence Activities, U.S. Army Field Manual 3-13, January 2013.


Aftermath of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service which Congress has not made publicly available include the following.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Recent Activities and Ongoing Developments, January 31, 2013

The Unemployed and Job Openings: A Data Primer, January 31, 2013

Congressional Redistricting and the Voting Rights Act: A Legal Overview, January 31, 2013

Health Insurance Exchanges Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), January 31, 2013

Medicare Primer, January 31, 2013

U.S. Government Agencies Involved in Export Promotion: Overview and Issues for Congress, January 31, 2013

Sovereign Debt in Advanced Economies: Overview and Issues for Congress, January 31, 2013

Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy, January 31, 2013

United Nations Regular Budget Contributions: Members Compared, 1990-2010, January 15, 2013

U.S. and South Korean Cooperation in the World Nuclear Energy Market: Major Policy Considerations, January 28, 2013