NIGHTWATCH: General Flynn’s First Big Decision – Warning is Back at DIA – With Three Specific Suggestions from Robert Steele

Advanced Cyber/IO, Ethics, Military
Mike Flynn

General Mike Flynn’s First Big Decision

Introduction to Strategic Intelligence Warning. DIA has announced that reconstitution of Indications and Warning is a key component of its five year plan. Warning failures associated with the Arab Spring were cited as prompting this rediscovery of old truths.

Bravo to DIA for remembering that warning is the foundation of US intelligence. Being smart is less important than being safe, as a government activity.

The Mission

Strategic intelligence warning is the one of the two primary missions of US intelligence, according to the National Security Act of 1947. The first is to use intelligence to help keep the country prosperous and safe under all circumstances. Warning is the second mission. Discussion and debate about these missions may be found in the Congressional debates and legislative history of the National Security Act.

The intent of Congress in 1947, as documented in the legislative history of the National Security Act, was that Pearl Harbor attacks should never occur again. Their prevention was the reason Congress and a very reluctant President Truman approved the US intelligence organizations in the Department of Defense and in the then-new CIA.

Every intelligence analyst who has not read the National Security Act of 1947 and National Security Council Intelligence Directive -1 (NSCID-1) is deficient.

DIA, to its great credit, is trying to get back to the foundations of US intelligence: helping keep the Republic safe by providing intelligence warning.

Click to Read PDF

This and subsequent essays are devoted to presenting to DIA Readers the history and foundation of warning that is in danger of being lost and does not need to be recreated.

These essays are derived from first-hand experience in DIA’s own history in the Directorate of Intelligence, J2, Joint Chiefs of Staff; and from the warning experiences of the National Indications Center, the Strategic Warning Staff, the National Warning Staff and, much later, the Office of the National Intelligence Officer for Warning, established following the intelligence failures in 1973.

What is warning?

When NightWatch joined the Strategic Warning Staff in 1979, no one in the Staff or in the office of National Intelligence Officer for Warning could provide a definition of “warning.” Warning was presented by a senior DIA warning officer as, “anything anyone wants to make of it.”

NightWatch asked how can you ask analysts to do well what their supervisors cannot define?

An interagency group was formed by the National Intelligence Officer for Warning, David Y. McManis, in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979, which was another major US intelligence and warning failure. The members were intelligence and policy professionals who shared the concern about the lack of precision and the three decades of strategic intelligence failures in warning. They came up with a definition which they coordinated with all intelligence and operational organizations. It was a J2 and J3 definition in  the early 1980’s.

The definition, which was approved unanimously in multiple National Intelligence Estimates on warning topics and in the Joint Chiefs of Staff Publication No. 1, The Joint Dictionary, is as follows:

“Warning is a communication about a threat in a form, a time and a fashion to decision-makers to enable them to manage the threat by deterring or avoiding it or by preparing for its occurrence.”

A threat was defined as damage that will occur in a foreseeable and measurable time frame, unless it is managed.

Every word in the definition is important.

What is Surprise?

Surprise is a multiplier of other effects. It cannot be studied without reference to some other action – such as a surprise tornado or a surprise expulsion of US forces. Surprise cannot be avoided, but the damage can and the multiplier effect can be negated completely. In summary, those are the lessons documented by the DIA J2 between 1998 and 2006.


The radical departure reflected in the 1979 definition of warning can only be appreciated against earlier discussions that governed US intelligence between 1947 and 1970. The National Security Council Intelligence Directive-1 (NSCID -1) in 1950 directed all agencies to engage in warning. DCI directives implementing the NSCID defined warning as all those measures necessary to avoid surprise.

In late 1983, DCI William Casey told NIO/W McManis that he did not want to be surprised by anything. Zero tolerance for warning failure and a seamless web of warning, are the words Casey used. . Casey spoke in the language of policy-makers, not intelligence analysts.

Thirty years of trying to avoid surprise resulted in repeated surprises, during the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s plus great damage to US national security interests in those decades. The statement by the Deputy DIA Director indicates the same tired, old failures afflicted DIA analysis of the Arab Spring in 2010… needlessly.

The great breakthrough was in the late 1970’s when the interagency group recognized that surprise is a multiplier of good and bad developments. In connection with threats, surprise is a multiplier of damage.

Forty years of study by the US Intelligence Community, including ten years by the DIA J2, established that surprised cannot be studied by analysts as a unique topic, but only in connection with threat, which includes damage. Surprise is an adjective in its earliest definition, as in surprise attack or surprise birthday party or surprise condition. It is a noun only in an elliptical or metaphorical sense.

Surprise also refers to the alertness and readiness condition of US intelligence, not the actions of the intelligence target.

Many academic writers and 60 plus years of National Warning Staff and DIA J2 experience in strategic intelligence warning have established that surprise is not avoidable, but damage is.

The lessons of the National Warning Staff and the DIA J2 are that by concentrating on avoiding surprise, as an analytical challenge, the analysts will surely be surprise! However, by focusing on the potential damage –the threat — the damage and the surprise condition both can be avoided.

Secondly, if damage cannot be avoided or occurs under conditions of surprise but US intelligence and US forces are warned and on alert, damage will be de minimis because early warning enabled readiness.

Indicators …

Analysis of symptoms, or indicators, is the oldest structured analytical technique in US intelligence history and it works with incredible accuracy. — at least 90% accuracy in the DIA J2 experience.

For example, an indicator of the strength of the al Asad regime is that it not only cleared neighborhoods in Damascus, but also mounted a major attack against neighborhoods in Aleppo. in less than a week.  This regime is not yet in danger of collapse. An indicator of its pending collapse would be abandonment of Aleppo to defend Damascus.

Qualitative indicators indicate processes at work. Quantitative indicators do not work. They were tried for three generations after World War II and failed.

Qualitative — living systems — indicators indicate that Syria, as a living system, is healthier than western media report. because it can defend its center and its key assets outside the center.  The indicators indicate shrinkage, but not that collapse is imminent.

The 60 years of experience in analysis of indicators in US intelligence warning will be addressed in a future essay.

Robert Steele

ROBERT STEELE:  General Flynn has three challenges, only one of which he is focusing on, as best we can tell.  DIA has no clue how to establish indicators, in part because they have no strategic analytic model and therefore no understanding of the “whole system” of a nation-state such that its robustness can be evaluated across the political-legal, military, socio-economic, ideo-cultural, techno-demographic, and natural-geographic.  Tim Hendrickson and GRANDVIEW at the National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) will always be remembered for having the right idea.  Like all right ideas in that era (CATALYST, OSINT), it was killed at birth.  It is not possible to do Indications & Warning (I&W) without doing Global Coverage.  CIA has never been able to understand this in the modern era of abject subordination to security (young people who know nothing as the default hire), and technology (throw money at it, never mind thinking).

The second challenge General Flynn faces is that of OSINT and outreach.  DIA civilians will fight him and outlast him unless he gets this right from inception.  DIA/DI managers are overdue for reassignment.  OSINT needs to be nurtured within DIA/DH and then, when it is mature, elevated to DIA/DO.  If General Flynn cannot clean house in DIA/DI, nothing he wants to do is going to come to pass.  If DIA/DO is established, THEN General Flynn with be able to return to the original vision of Joe Markowitz (the marketplace of ideas) and Robert Steele (eight tribes in full contact, military as hub for M4IS2 country by country).

The third challenge is complex: counterintelligence (CI) within DoD and Whole of Government.  The Zionists (not to be confused with loyal American Jews) and their dual-citizen penetrations of the US Government, particularly those holding TS/SCI, are OUT OF CONTROL.  He needs a special CI unit predominantly American Jews of unquestioned loyalty, to first catalog, and then survey this target group.  At the same time he needs Pentecostal, Catholic, and Mormon units to catalog, and then survey those target groups.  Finally, and this is very nuanced thinking, he needs to have a Red Cell that evaluates US security policies from the point of view of an informed ethical external observer.  Much of what the US does overseas is unaffordable ideological idiocy, and in no way evidence-based.  General Flynn needs to have a dirty dozen “Commander’s Advisory Group” with global reach and world-class intellect, able to give him a clear grasp of the cognitive dissonance that we ourselves create, both overseas, and within the USA, and a clear inventory of the traitors among us.  Col Stuart Herrington, USA (Ret) could create such a unit — INSCOM killed the strategic counterintelligence unit for the wrong reasons, it needs to be reinstated and be a direct report to General Flynn.  Somewhere in here he needs to get a grip on the FOUR new clandestine “services” that are going to get people killed, waste a lot of money, and not have much to show for it — witness CIA….

I wish General Flynn every possible success.  He is surrounded by enemies — individuals that lack the intelligence and integrity to get it right.  He will probably fail, as the DNI has failed, for lack of Presidential or Congressional integrity with respect to the importance and relevance of intelligence — Paul Pillar has it exactly right in his latest book.  Or he could shed some blood, clear the decks, and start the long march back toward intelligence (decision support) as the foundation for policy, acquisition, and operations.  He should expect nothing from USDI–they are too busy spending money on toys and black operations in every clime and place, and they still think OSINT is a technical collection matter, and that such analysis as may be needed can be done by the end-users.

One final observation: NATO and a Multinational Intelligence-Operations Centre.  If Admiral James G. Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, can be retained in place past the election, between these two officers there could be agreement on the creation of a Multinational Decision-Support Centre (MDSC) that becomes the hub for global military open source information operations (secret intelligence is ten percent of full-spectrum intelligence, and intelligence is ten percent of full spectrum information operations).  In my view, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) is ripe for abolishment and the immediate conversion of its facilities and systems into the MDSC–the CIA counterterrorism folks should be doing what the NTSC cannot do, and not running killer drones.  At the same time, General Flynn could let it be known that he would fully staff the Open Source Agency (100 people in year one) if any Cabinet Secretary activates the pre-established Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval of the OSA, $125M Initial Operating Capability, $2B Full Operational Capability.  Done quickly, he could reasonably expect approval of an end-of-year reallocation of $25M, and a take over of the South-Central Complex as the site for the OSA, MDSC in the outyears, and several other national educational and research hamonization capabilites.  If Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta wants to help assure the incumbent President’s re-election, doing this, and being serious about creating a “Smart Nation” that can retrain both the 22.4% unemployed and future graduates for success in information-based collaborative ethical economies, is about the ONLY thing Panetta has to offer the President — everything else about DoD policy, acqusition, and operations is a campaign negative.

Semper Fidelis, St.

See Also:

2012 PREPRINT Foreword to Book on [NATO] Public Intelligence for Public Health

2012 PREPRINT FOR COMMENT: The Craft of Intelligence

2011 Open Source Agency: Executive Access Point

2011 Thinking About Revolution in the USA and Elsewhere (Full Text Online for Google Translate)

2010 Peace from Above: The Future of Intelligence & Air Power

2010 M4IS2 Briefing for South America — 2010 M4IS2 Presentacion por Sur America (ANEPE Chile)

2009 DoD OSINT Leadership and Staff Briefings

2008 DIA NDIC Multinational Intelligence Fellows

2008 Reference: Legitimate Grievances by Robert Steele

2006 Briefing to the Coalition Coordination Center (CCC) Leadership at the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM)–Multinational Intelligence: Can CENTCOM Lead the Way? Reflections on OSINT & the Coalition