U.S. Forces Can’t Hide From Ubiquitous Satellites; They Need To Fool Them; Could Today’s Western Intelligence Agencies Conduct A High Risk/High Reward Deception Operation?

U.S. Forces Can’t Hide From Ubiquitous Satellites; They Need To Fool Them
Could Today’s Western Intelligence Agencies Conduct A High Risk/High Reward Deception Operation?

     Josef Koller’s posted a December 17, 2019 article to the defense and national security blog/website, DefenseOne.com about the ubiquitious nature and proliferation of surveillance devices and how it is getting increasingly harder to stay hidden on the battlefield. Mr. Koller’s bottom line up front: “a new generation of denial-and-deception ideas is needed to counter global monitoring from space.” Something I have been arguing on this blog for several years going. For Mr. Koller’s full article, I refer you to DefenseOne.com.
     “We are accelerating,on the wings of 5G and long-endurance drones and low-Earth-orbit (LEOs) satellites, toward a future where where everyone will have access to realtime geolocation and even video of U.S. forces,” Mr. Koller wrote. Staying ‘invisible,’ has never been more challenging. “The countermeasures of the past decades,” Mr. Koller adds, “from shutter control, to careful timing of sensitive force movements, are all but drained of their potency. Powerful states, and non-state actors alike will soon be able to track U.S. and allied military equipment, detecting patterns of training and operations.”
     “This phenomena, I [Mr. Koller] calls GEOINT Singularity — was not unpredicted,” Mr. Koller wrote. “Nearly twenty years ago, a thesis titled, “The End Of Secrecy,” by USAF Lt. Col. Beth Kaspar discussed the implications of transparency ti U.S. military competitiveness, and recommended a variety of activities ranging from innovating new doctrine and developing fast decision-making processes to integrating camouflage, concealment, and deception — both vertically and horizontally into military operations.  In her work, LTC. Kaspar wrote,” “DoD should go back to basics and actively incorporate deception into all organizational levels, and all levels of warfare.”
     “Typical denial and deception techniques, such as camouflage, are well known to military operators and warfighters,” Mr. Koller wrote. “But, these ideas must be advanced in ways that adjust to frequent and continuious monitoring in varioius bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. Hyperspectral sensors can identify chemical elements from space and, could in principal, make a camouflage canopy stick out like a sore thumb.”
     “The national security community’s attempts to maintain levels of opacity or surprise, by limiting commerical space-based imaging has created a false sense of security and neglected developments that are not under U.S. regularity control,” Mr. Koller wrote. “Even today, exercising shutter control — that is, ordering an American company to limit its overhead image collection at a certain time and place — is time-consuming and cumbersome. Such requests must pass from the military operator to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the Secretary of Defense, and to the Secretary of Commerce, who then notifies the compamy operating the satellite. And, these limits have no bearing on high-altitude pseudo satellites, i.e., balloons; airplanes, international space companies; or of course, foreign governments.”
     Essentially, Mr. Koeller goes on to urge the military, [and I would add the Intelligence Community] to develop a new genre of denial and deception techniques.
     Denial and deception operations have been employed in combat since the dawn of mankind; and this particular form of warfare is at least 3,500 years old — dating back to ancient China.  Denial and deception operations became a staple of Persia’s back of tricks some 2,000 years ago; and, the Russian’s have been perfecting this particular art for at least several centuries.  In the early 1900’s, Russia established the TRUST, to subvert dissident groups — which it did very effectively, and to the detriment of many a Russian dissident who ended up in the Gulag, or worse.
     According to Wikipedia, “military deception refers  to attempts to mislead enemy forces during warfare.”  Wikipedia adds, “this is usually achieved by creating or amplifying an artificial fog of war via psychological operations, information warfare, visual deception, and other methods.”  In Sun Tsu’s, classic treatise on combat, The Art of War, the influential Chinese General wrote that “All Warfare Is Based On Deception.”  He writes:  “When able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; and, when far away — we must make them believe we are near.”  “Unable to simply show the enemy nothing; the strategist instead — shows his opponent something that he wishes to see; and, wishes to believe.  Having shown something…but, having shown this something in a way that creates a false impression….the enemy is seduced into deceiving himself,”
     “Thus, something more is required.  This is the role of deception.”
     “Why feign disorder?,”  Jeremiah Boroque asks on his blog…..Sun Tzu And The Art Of War:  A Blog On Sun Tzu And Strategy.”  “Feigning disorder works because of a simple, time-honored principle:  If you look like a sucker, someone is going to try and sucker punch you,” Mr. Boroque wrote.  “This also true in martial arts,” he added.  “A skilled martial artist who deliberately puts up a false front, pretending to be “slow” — mentally as well as physically — and, to be quiet and passive, can lure an aggressive, careless opponent into making a first move in a careless manner…that leads to a thorough beating.  Such things have been known to happen.  The reaction — seeing weakness, and pouncing on it — is a deeply ingrained, “alpha male” behavior,” Mr. Baroque elegantly wrote.
     “If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him.  If he is superior in strength, evade him,” Sun Tzu wrote.
     “When engaged in warfare, every large deception you make — is built on every smaller deception you have already made.  having seduced the opponent into deceiving himself as to your strength, disposition, intention, activity, and location, you lead him around calmly and effortlessly, as if leading a donkey via a dangling carrot.  You show your opponent what he wishes to see, and he decides, purely by himself, that it is so; in a way, you deceive without ever having spoken a word to him, without ever having “lied” in a conventional sense.  You have assisted him in lying to himself.  Thus, believing his own overconfident conclusions, he is completely at your mercy,” Mr. Boroque writes.
      Sun Tzu wrote those words some 2,500 years or so ago.  A time honored wisdom that has been repeated countless times since that classic treatise; and, when successfully done — more often than not — it proved to be a critical component for the winning side.
     Perhaps the most famous use of denial and deception in the ancient world, was the Greeks use of a Trojan Horse, filled with Greek soldiers, who — once inside Troy’s walls — exited the “belly of the beast,” and ultimately defeated Troy.  Hannibal, perhaps the greatest — ‘Great Captain,’ and a master at deception — used these tactics to repeatedly defeat a well-led Roman Army that almost always — significantly outnumbered his own.  Spartacus, Julius Caesar, William Wallace, Stonewall Jackson — who used engineer’s to survey ‘fictional’ routes of advance/retreat,and the list goes on, and on.
Could Today’s Western Intelligence Agencies Conduct A High Risk/High Reward Deception Operation?

Without A Robust Denial And Deception Program — We Become More Susceptible To Becoming a Victim Of This Very Ancient Art

     To conceive of, and successfully orchestrate and conduct a strategic denial and deception operation on the scale utilized against Nazi Germany, in the months and weeks leading up to the Normandy invasion — required enormous skill, depth of thinking and analysis, a extremely thorough and deep understanding of the adversary, and of course — a fair amount of good luck and serendipity.  Could the U.S. and her Western allies conduct such a this denial and deception operation now?  In the 21st century — where the Internet, social media, satellites, drones, cell phones, GoPro cameras, big data pattern analysis and other sophisticated intelligence collection means are readily available?  I submit the answer is probably not.  Even, if you were able to make the adversary — ‘deaf, dumb, and blind,’ — there are just some many more methods today — than there were in 1944 — that would provide the adversary enough of a ‘picture’ to likely ferret out anything of this magnitude.  That isn’t to say that we don’t currently conduct successful denial and deception operations; but, something tells me we are no where close to where we need to be — especially with respect to:  talent, skill-set, experience, and a deep understanding of just how difficult and important this particular aspect of combat and intelligence operations are.  One must know everything, or nearly everything there is to know about one’s opponent — his/her preconceived biases, tendencies, habits. expectations, etc. — in order to successfully execute a sophisticated and critical denial and deception operation.
     And, I do wonder if today’s current intelligence community, understands, and fully appreciates the significance and benefits of a robust and elegant denial and deception program.  Do today’s leaders Value It?, Promote It?, Practice It?, Believe In It?  It isn’t something that you can just ‘pull off the shelf,’ when you think you need it.  And, if you wait till you need it — in order to turn the tide of battle; or, successfully prosecute a high value intelligence collection operation/campaign — it is too late, and more likely a prescription for failure — or worse — disaster.
     Benjamin Franklin once wrote that “Three people can keep a secret — and, two of them are dead.”  Perhaps we are entering a period when even one — cannot keep a secret.  It is getting much, much harder; but, the importance of being able to successfully prosecute tactical and strategic denial and deception operations — remains a very important talent and skillset — that we must always nurture and keep available.

     Seventy-one years ago, America and her allies conducted one of the greatest denial and deception operations/campaigns in military history.  The fruits of this endeavor, were key ingredients in the successful allied landing at Normandy; and, Germany’s ultimate surrender.  But, that was some seven decades ago.  What has the Intelligence Community done in the recent past — to ensure this most valuable form of military and intelligence art — is preserved, and practiced?  And, if we aren’t conducting serious denial and deception operations — then, it makes it all the more difficult to recognize when one has, or is in the process of being deceived by a clever adversary.  V/R, RCP

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