A new U.S. Army publication provides an introduction to open source intelligence, as understood and practiced by the Army.
“Open-source intelligence is the intelligence discipline that pertains to intelligence produced from publicly available information that is collected, exploited, and disseminated in a timely manner to an appropriate audience for the purpose of addressing a specific intelligence and information requirement,” the document says.
“The world is being reinvented by open sources. Publicly available information can be used by a variety of individuals to [achieve] a broad spectrum of objectives. The significance and relevance of open-source intelligence (OSINT) serve as an economy of force, provide an additional leverage capability, and cue technical or classified assets to refine and validate both information and intelligence.”
See “Open-Source Intelligence,” Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 2-22.9, July 2012.
The new manual is evidently intended for soldiers in the field rather than professional analysts, and it takes nothing for granted. At some points, the guidance that it offers is remedial rather than state of the art.
For example, “if looking for information about Russian and Chinese tank sales to Iraq, do not use ‘tank’ as the only keyword in the search. Instead, use additional defining words such as ‘Russian Chinese tank sales Iraq’.”
But the manual reflects the ongoing maturation of open source intelligence (OSINT), and it contains several observations of interest.
“The reliance on classified databases has often left Soldiers uninformed and ill-prepared to capitalize on the huge reservoir of unclassified information from publicly available information and open sources,” the manual states.
Classification can also be a problem in open source intelligence, however, and “concern for OPSEC [operations security] can undermine the ability to disseminate inherently unclassified information.”
“Examples of unclassified information being over-classified [include] reported information found in a foreign newspaper [and a] message from a foreign official attending an international conference.”
Therefore, pursuant to Army regulations, “Army personnel will not apply classification or other security markings to an article or portion of an article that has appeared in a newspaper, magazine, or other public medium,” although the resulting OSINT analysis might be deemed “controlled unclassified information.”
Somewhat relatedly, the Department of Defense this week published a new Instruction on DoD Internet Services and Internet-Based Capabilities, DODI 8550.01, September 11, 2012.
Safety Copy Here: Army OSINT 2012
ROBERT STEELE: This was brought to my attention and I have shared it with Dr. Joe Markowitz, BGen Jim Cox, BGen Ferd Irizarry (the first ACDU White SOF flag), and Congressman Rob Simmons (R-CT-02, Ret) as well as my OMB contacts. For its prescribed intent, a solid “A.” For it’s narrow focus and erroneous limitation of OSINT to what can be collected technically or via OSCAR, and for failing to see that OSINT is an essential foundation for both policy and acquisition as well as Whole of Government inter-agency OOTW/S&R, a “C-.” For its dearth of substantive references and for its neglect of OSINT sources and methods associated with the other seven multinational information communities via full-spectrum Information Operations and full-spectrum HUMINT (academic, civil society, commerce, government at all levels, law enforcement, media, and non-governmental/non-profit), a “D.” The document represents progress and that is good. It could be a much better document, even with its prescribed limits, if it integrated the SOF OSINT Handbook (Strawman) and took a second look at the NATO OSINT Handbook while also integrating or pointing to an in-house and constantly updated version of Ben Benavide’s OSINT Links Handbook. The acceptance of OSINT as TO&E element at higher command levels, and the approval of tactical OSINT “out of hide” is both progress (acceptance) and a retrograde (deeply flawed understanding of how multinational inderdisciplinary collection including full-spectrum HUMINT should be handled). On balance, well done Army — now think bigger and remember that the 4% of the force that takes 80% of the casualties and gets 1% of the budget is the infantry. OSINT can help the Chief of Staff, the other Service Chiefs, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff reflect on how best to address the challenges facing Army in near- mid- and long-term, across multinational not just unilateral policy, acquisition, and operations. Who, exactly, is providing that OSINT support, and just how good is it? Time for DoD IG to do an audit across DoD while also evaluating the suitability and sufficiency of alleged OSINT support to DoD from OSINT elements outside of DoD. I know the answer. It is time for DoD leaders – political, uniformed, and civilian – to know the answer as well.
Note: I have applied to multiple USG jobs, understanding that there are 150 applications on average for any given job. My OPM SSBI completed 15 March 2012 makes me immediately adjudicatable. My dream job–to which I would devote the next twenty years–would be the creation of an Open Source Agency within DoD that has national and multinational value. While I will accept any USG job that is offered, if any NATO country offers me a chance to create this for NATO, ideally at a seaport with year round sailing, I would accept. If Singapore or India wanted to do this and get to me first, before the USG, I will accept. My book profile with multinational intelligence leader comments and my current cv are below.