Reflections on Alternative Command & Control and Four Transformation Forcing Concepts

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Robert David STEELE Vivas
Robert David STEELE Vivas

I have been reflecting on the past twenty years, and the remarkable resistence of the US Intelligence Community, seemingly impervious to all manner of reform recommendations, be they presidential, congressional, or public.  Reform is not transformation.  This from Dr. Russell Ackoff, a pioneer in systems thinking and reflexive practice:

Reformations and transformations are not the same thing.  Reformations are concerned with changing the means systems employ to pursue their objectives.  Transformations involve changes in the objectives they pursue.

And now this from Ada Bozeman:

(There is a need) to recognize that just as the essence of knowledge is not as split up into academic disciplines as it is in our academic universe, so can intelligence not be set apart from statecraft and society, or subdivided into elements…such as analysis and estimates, counterintelligence, clandestine collection, covert action, and so forth. Rather … intelligence is a scheme of things entire. (Bozeman 1998: 177):[1]

The recent NATO Innovation Hub initiative in leveraging social media is a tiny but potentially potent transformation starting point.  It reflects clarity, diversity, and integrity.  After an open brainstorming session that identified 32 opportunity areas, enablers, and concerns, the team nurturing the NATO Innovation Hub settled on three areas for focus where concept papers will be developed:

-­‐ Education and Training through New Media
-­‐ Alternative Command and Control
-­‐ Social Media Users Training

As one of the early invited participants contributing to the process, I offered the below comments toward the first draft of the concept paper for Alternative Command and Control, and am now adding to that a section on four forcing concepts or functions for transforming strategy, policy, acquisition, and operations via the alternative command and control concept.

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Alternative C&C is Code for OSE/M4IS2

I was quite delighted to see Alternative Command and Control make the list of three focus areas.  I have spent the past 20 yearsx on this, a portion helping NATO as well as 90 other countries get a grip on Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) that is both the alternative to secret intelligence that NATO is not able to collect on its own, relying instead of what Member nations will share; and a form of intelligence (decision-support) easily shared with all eight “tibes” of intelligence (academic, civil society including labor unions and religions, commerce, government at all levels, la enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit).

I did a lot of work in the 1990’s on C4I, trying to point out that as we moved from conventional to unconventional warfare, the legacy systems would be unaffordable, unscalable, non-adaptable, and generally useless.  As recently at 2006, USCENTCOM J-6 was equipped with a sufficiency of assets for two major Joint Taks Forces, and had twelve in the field.  The reality is that both the hardware/software of communications and computing that underlies NATO C4I is toast — and at the same time, NATO is trapped in a Member state paradigm that dictates what substance will reach NATO, generally secret and often wrong.

Just a few minutes ago I listened to the NATO Secretary General speaking at the EU summit, and also heard the EU chair of foreign policy respond, and what was immediately clear to me is that NATO and the EU desperately need a shared Alternative Command & Control network to harmonize both what they can know about all ten of the high level threats to humanity, and what they can harmonize about their respective decisions, investments, and behaviors across military and OOTW (NATO) and non-military (EU) endeavors.

I have three ideas for further discussion, and point to NATO OSE/M4IS2 for additional substance long in the making.

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01  Open Source Everything (OSE) is the only affordable, scalable, adaptable approach to the guts of information-sharing and sense-making.  We need to go “all in” on OpenBTS (Base Transceiver Station or cellular), Open Cloud, Open Data, Open Hardware, Open Software, Open Spectrum, Open Standards, etcetera.  I recommend that OSE be a core foundation for the development of the Alternative C&C concept paper.

02  M4IS2, my expansion of a Swedish military concept (Col Jan Inge-Svensson, Land Forces (ret), is the next level up from what we have now that is not working — a plethora of repetitive bilateral sharing arrangments, most sharing very little that is useful.  M4IS2 stands for Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making.  It is the precise opposite of what NATO does not, despite the best of intentions, because a) the Member focus on secrets and stink at OSINT; b) the Members do not do Whole of Government decision support (e.g. agricultural and water intelligence); and c) what is shared is generally shared in an incompatible format, is too little and lacking in context, and more often than not is so caveated that it cannot be leveraged by NATO for sharing with others (e.g. an NGO).

03  I submit that the solution is a pilot project to create, on the northern shores of the Mediterranean, a Multinational Decision-Support Centre that is staffed by EU and NATO professional from intelligence, operations, logistics, and communcations/coputing, and that this be the Alternative C&C striving to transform, in one stroke, how EU and NATO can obtain and exploit ethical evidence-based decision support, while harnessing the distributed knowledge of all eight tribes across all nations, not just Member nations but all nations.

I have tried and failed to reach the Secretary General of the United Nations with this idea, my communication to him can be found, along with my full article on UN Intelligence and Counterintelligence, at the top of Public Intelligence 3.2. This was staffed by the Chef de Cabinet to UN DSS, in December, and they evidently buried it and are not being held accountable for responding….hence the Secretary General has no idea that NATO, the EU, White SOF, and others (e.g. Sir Richard Branson with The Virgin Truth) could all be brought together to create a United Nations Open-Source Decision-Support Information Network (UNODIN), with the NATO/EU MDSC as the first pilot — I envision at least four, with the other three in Indonesia just offshore from Singapore, Uruguay or Chile, and South Africa.  Sooner than later we should also have two Arctic M4IS2 nodes, and a much greater focus on real-time Earth Science across all factors.

The American “way of war” and the American way of “intelligence” have in my view failed.  The first step toward creating an alternative strategy, an alternative acquisition program, and an alternative campaign plan is to create an alternative command & control pilot project.  I know how to do that, and would be quite delighted if there were any interest in developing the above into a collective concept document.

Transformation Forcing Concepts

There are in my view four transformation forcing concepts that NATO, the EU, White SOF, and the UN if anyone can get their attention, could rapidly prototype and then scale.

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01  Open Source Everything (OSE).  Illustrated and addressed above, this is the non-negotiable first step toward creating an affordable, scalable, adaptable Alternative Command & Control model that is able to integrate, on a “come as you are” basis, all eight tribes of intelligence (academic, civil society including labor and religion, commerce, government at all levels, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental/non-profit.  In combination with my multi-level technical concept for creating smart nations and smart networks, illustrated here to the side, this approach has already been tested in nicrocosm by Dr. Dr. Dave Warner with STRONG ANGEL, TOOZL, and the Synergy Strike Force in Afghanistan (“Save the Willing First”).  With the recent emergence of totally encrypted communications — at at all a contradiction — using only common commercial hand-held and other devices, the way is open for creating an Alternative Command & Control network that is both open and secure.

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02  Mission Area Integrity of the Whole.  The US military — and by extension NATO, the latter being all too dependent on US money, US manning, and US equipment — has a set way of doing things that emphasizes a “one size fits all” focus on the worst case scenario.  This is largely budget-driven, as the Services strive for the maintenance of both budget share and budget scope, without regard to what is actually needed that is affordable, sustainable, and employable.  The US Intelligence Community, consistent with the “stovepipe” approach favored by bureaucracies more concerned with turf than with accountable performance, compounds this problem by perpetuating the isolation of the four major collection disciplines (HUMINT/OSINT, SIGINT, IMINT, and MASINT). and perpetuating a classification model that I have referred to in presidential testimony as the “cement overcoat.”  For the Alternative Command and Control concept to be transformative,  the NATO commander must make three decisions: first, that the concept will address all of the mission areas shown here to the side, the full spectrum from peace to war; second that multinational information-sharing and sense-making from the bottom up will be the new standard for C4I; and third that the default value for all NATO information and intelligence will be unclassified — instead of what we have now, predominantly unilateral top down top secret intelligence rarely useful and never really shareable.

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03  Strategic Analytic Model for Harmonizing Collection, Process, Analysis, and Application.  The US Intelligence Community — specifically — and virtually all other national intelligence communities to the extent I can know from open sources — lack a strategic analytic model to assure the integrity of the whole process.  It is arrogant, ignorant, hypocritical, and even professional malfeasance to fail to have such a model as a means of assuring that all ten high-level threats to humanity are addressed at all times, and that all twelve core policies from agriculture to water are served in a coherent manner.  The UN takes about coherence and deliver as one, but is wildly out of control, with the Specialized Agencies rarely delivering more than 20 cents on the dollar to the ground-level recipients in need, and never, ever, coherently.  It is not possible to “command and control” the eight tribes across all the nations — what is possible is the harmonization of what they see, what they decide, and what they do, but using a strategic analytic model to provide virtual continuity of operations with shared information.  If such a model is adopted, it will become immediately apparent that we are wasting most of our time with the contrived threats of inter-state conflict and terrorism, when we should instead be focusing on poverty, infectuous disease, and environmental degradation.  This is where the EU, which is the dominant force in non-military assistance and policy, has so much to offer, and this is the reason that I recommend that the pilot project for the concept of Alternative Command and Control be developed jointly with the EU and I would even dare to suggest that it include the African Union and other near abroad regional associations, with particular respect paid to Russia, Iran, and Turkey as representative of Dr. Dr. Dave Warner’s critical enabler, “Radical Inclusion.”

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04  Requirements Definition and Satisfaction Tracking.  Finally, and the J-2 of the US Special Operations Command has done this, and done it well, we are long over-due for getting serious about both defining our requirements for decision support, and holding the various secret intelligence communities accountable for failing to deliver that decision support.  As General Tony Zinni, USMC (then Commander of the US Central Command) has stated so clearly, he received, “at best,” 4% of what he needed to know from secret sources and methods.  Everything else came from open sources, but he and his staff had to do their own collection, processing, and analysis because the US secret world is incompetent at OSINT, despite billions being spent, because it is incoherent, treated as a technical discipline instead of a human discipline, and it is incompetent at 150 of the 183 languages that matter, and not very good of most of the 33 that it does pay lip service to.  The European intelligence services have their own special biases and capabilities, but it is safe to say that outside the Nordics and the Netherlands, the major Western powers have not professionalized HUMINT/OSINT to the

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fullest extent — the “fifteen slices” of HUMINT/CI are not managed as a whole, and OSINT is not, as it should be, both the foundation for HUMINT as its parent discipline, and the primary starting point for the other three major collection disciplines (SIGINT, IMINT, and MASINT).  Simultaneous with the careful recording of the 96% failure rate of secret intelligence in relation to NATO/EU/AU and other requirements, must come alternative intelligence support practices.  Drones offer extraordinary potential for imagery and signals capture, but have been misplaced as extra-judicial killing machines with a 2% success rate — the other 98% of those killed are non-combatants and innocent bystanders — collateral damage.

NATO and the EU and the African Union

Taken together, these four transformation forcing concepts and functions can immediately begin providing the commander & staff of NATO as well as the committee chairs for the EU (e.g. the Foreign Policy Committee) with the first ever reliable source of comprehensive decision-support.  Intelligence is NOT about secret sources and methods, it is about decision-support.  Decision-support that is shareable is better than decision-support that is not shareable.  We are at the beginning of the third era of national intelligence — the first era of secret war and the second very short-lived era of strategic analytics still cast their shadow today, but no one, anywhere, is implementing the concepts of the third era.  While there are too many staffs focused on the Caucasus and picking a fight with Russia, I believe that NATO and the EU should instead focus on Africa, and in particular on those conditions in Africa that lead to migration north into the EU, and to the root causes of instability in Africa and in Europe from impoverished masses badly served by corrupt regimes and predatory capitalism.

See Also:

Analytic Models

Access Archive Tables

Articles (List)

As Featured in Media

Briefings (List)

EIN Global Survey

Free Training Handbooks

Manifesto Extracts

NATO OSE/M4IS2

Open Source Agency (OSA)

Public Intelligence 3.2

Way of the Truth