This search by a number of you, using the same words, is one that I feel compelled to respond to personally. When I was putting together the Smart Nation Act, with Congressman Rob Simmons (R-CT-02) positioned to introduce it in his next term, we specifically addressed an absolute prohibition against any use by any covert or clandestine or even overt intelligence organization, of civil affairs as a cover. That provision fell out in the simplified version of the Act. If I were God, anyone caught using civil affairs as a cover would be reduced one grade in rank and expeditiously dischanged from government service–this would apply to both SOF and all elements of the IC.
Civil Affairs today has three strikes against it:
01 The secret world (both intelligence and special operations) thinks it is above the law and uses civil affairs cover as a convenience, without bothering to obtain any form of authorization and without any coordination with the legitimate civil affairs people. This puts all civil affairs people in danger. Clergy, journalists, and civil affairs need to be OFF LIMITS and this needs to be RUTHLESSLY enforced. I include all Agency for International Development (AID) and all Stabilization & Reconstruction support positions from any elements of any government or non-government organization based in any nation in my broad use of the term civil affairs.
02 The Human Terrain Team (HTT) program is badly managed, badly staffed, and totally unaccountable for being useless, a few exceptional teams not-with-standing. At the same time the totality of Human Intelligence — our single most important discipline in the 21st Century — is not managed at all. Full Spectrum HUMINT, which integrates OSINT as a completely unclassified totally outside the wire endeavor, is badly needed, but from where I sit, there is no manager anywhere that is properly leveraging and integrating the concentric circles of human capacity from internal employees outward across the eight tribes and across all boundaries.
03 Civil Affairs has been treated as a Reserve function, and made the mistake of placing priority on functionality (police chief, small town mayor, etcetera) and not on cultural or linguistic aptitude. We need a whole new generation of Whole of Government / Stabilization & Reconstruction folks, and I would like very much to see us build a capability with global reach that is exercised with vast integrity. Civil Affairs in a combat zone is one of the most dangerous most difficult assignments one can get. We need to raise our standards and make the investment to both grow legitimate Civil Affairs folks, and to cashier — as publicly and ruthlessly as possible — anyone with the temerity to pass themselves off as a civilian government or contract employee in the CA/S&R arena.
Outside of Civil Affairs, in both the academic arena and the state and local government arena, we have a fragmentation of knowledge and a distancing from reality that is hard for me to fathom, but it is a fact and we have to deal with it. We are long overdue for creating the Open Source Agency (OSA). One of my hopes for that agency, when it is inevitably created under diplomatic auspices but with the secret world as its #1 customer, is the creation of virtual shadow governments for every country at every level on the planet. Fully expert individuals in universities and state and local and national governments would be invited to comprise “Continuity of Operations” mirror governments, in full partnership — where possible — with the governments being mirrored, and where not, with the diaspora in exile. We have been unimaginative and passive about the possibilities for Civil Affairs writ large. My second and third books remain unexploited and unrealized.
I continue to believe that USSOCOM needs a three star Deputy for White Hat SOF, but I am deeply concerned about the current culture, over-reach, and future stability of Black Hat SOF. I continue to believe that we need Whole of Government intelligence that can provide ethical evidence-based decision support to ALL functional areas at ALL FOUR levels: strategic, policy, acquisition, and operations. I continue to believe that OSINT is HUMINT and should be handled outside the wire as an overt inherently diplomatic function, not as a subset of secret endeavors.
Steele, Robert David (2002). THE NEW CRAFT OF INTELLIGENCE: Personal, Public, & Political. Oakton, VA: OSS International Press.
Steele, Robert David (2006). INFORMATION OPERATIONS: All Information in All Languages All the Time. Oakton, VA: OSS International Press.