INFOWARCON (2): Deception

Continuing to discuss INFOWARCON….

Yesterday I heard some brief remarks by Brigadier General Thomas Draude on the subject of deception.  General Draude had been in charge of the Marines’ deception operations during DESERT STORM.  You will recall that the Marines and the Navy had made a big show out of preparing an amphibious landing in Kuwait that never came, apparently pinning down several Iraqi divisions in defending the beaches.  As an aside, Kevin Woods’ work on DESERT STORM from the Iraqi side doesn’t have a clear optic on this, but it does suggest that the Director of Iraq’s General Military Intelligence Division suspected a deception but that Saddam appears probably to have bought the story that General Draude was trying to sell.

Deception, General Draude said, must be believable.  This may sound like a banal observation, but he said that once words gets around that a commander is planning a deception that the strangest, weirdest people in the entire command will “come out of the woodwork” with all sorts of bizarre and unbelievable ideas.  The wise commander will ignore these people.  After all, he said, the point of a deception is to “confuse” the enemy not to “amuse” him.

Ideally, a deception will give the enemy a logical, sound course of action (COA) that just happens to be false.  General Draude suggested using a COA that the command really had considered executing but had ultimately rejected.  Then the trick is to let the enemy see what we want him to see and deny him vital indicators that might point unambiguously to the truth.

Deception should be built into a plan from the very beginning, the General advises.  And the key intelligence considerations are:

  • Who makes the key decisions on the enemy’s side?  How does he think?
  • What do we want him to do? (The issue is not what do we want him merely to think.)
  • Finally, is the target buying the deception?  If not, we may have to actually execute the deception plan as a real operation!

Finally, General Draude noted that his favorite book on deception was Ewen Montagu’s The Man Who Never Was, the classic about “Major Martin of the Royal Marines” who washed ashore in Spain in 1943 carrying documents hinting that the Allies would invade Sardinia instead of Sicily which was the real plan.  On a purely personal note, I have a special place in my heart for that book.  It is the first book on deception that I read and one of the very first that I read in military history.  I got it in probably fourth or fifth grade (Ms. Linden or Mrs. Strehle).  It came from the Scholastic Book Service and I imagine that I paid about 35 cents for it.  It was worth every penny.  Here it is:

My grade school copy of The Man Who Never Was

I will now take it carefully back to my bookshelf.

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