The US Department of Defense should create a new branch of the military just like the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, etc., but which specializes in information warfare. This Information Branch of the military would reflect the growing importance of information in warfare and organize its coordination for both defensive and offensive purposes.0 Comments
Far too many documents are classified and withheld from the public than should be the case. The number of classified documents have been exploding beyond what is rational, espcially within the last decade or two. The security classification system for government documents needs to be overhauled. There needs to be a system that automatically sets certain documents to be declassified so that there is not a perpetual increase in the number of documents classified. Basically, a report entitled “Transforming the Security Classification System” published in 2012 has a good set of suggestions that would dramatically reduce the number of classified documents and provide the world with more accurate information which can be used to study history.
This report proposes a 14 point solution. I have omitted some of the more procedural points.
1. Documents should be classified into only one of two classification categories.
2. The level of classification should match the level of harm if the information were to be released.
3. Specific protection for sources or methods need to be rationalized.
4. Documents with short-term secrecy value should be set to automatically become declassified at some date in the future.
5. To help counter the over-classification bias of today, classifiers would undergo extensive training on the proper standards to use to justify a classification. Classifiers who adhere to rigorous risk management practices and determine in good faith to classify information, but are in error, would be protected from prosecution by the classification agency. This protection is necessary to counter the over-classification bias and to balance the need for secrecy with the fundamental civil need for a transparent government to pacify the population, among other policy objectives (such as facilitating the sharing of information between government departments). Furthermore, a continued tendency to classify or reclassify dubious documents would result in significant, resource-intensive future costs associated with revisiting the documents and making further determinations.
6. Storage and stockpile information about nuclear weapons from WWII through the end of the Cold War should be systematically reviewed for declassification. Most of this information is obsolete anyway but valuable for historical studies. (This category of classified materials is not covered under current declassification regulations, thus this special mention is necessary.)
7. The National Declassification Center should have greater authority to streamline the declassification system within and among various agencies.
8. Historically significant documents (those which are judged to be in highest demand by agency policymakers and historians) should be prepositioned for review (placed on a short list) by historians at the classified level. Because of the severe backlog of classified documents in line for review, most documents are not able to be reviewed and declassified at their 25 year age mark as required by Executive Order 13526, so creating a “short list” of documents that the original reviewers have judged to have a significant public interest, would result in finding such records on time for their release at the 25 year age limit.
9. Require agencies to better organize their records so that as documents near the age of review for potential declassification, they could actually be found.
Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA)
FOIA requests should be allowed for any documents that are still under a classified status. Such a request could be for purposes of partially declassifying a record to certain individuals for investigative or research purposes or could be a request for full declassification in a time frame sooner than that which would normally occur under the normal declassification timetables. Documents having been declassified would obviously not need a FOIA request. A non-refundable fee should be filed for each application and a response should be given within 60 days as to whether the request is able to be satisfied or not. Six months should be allowed for the fulfillment of a request, measured from the original date of the request.
Defense Department Approval for Sensitive Information
The US Defense Department should have plenary authority to approve or deny the trade, transfer or divulging of any type of information, product, or service from any entity to any entity, both foreign and domestic, due to national security concerns. However, such information and its reasoning must be divulged to selected high-level personnel with direct Defense Department oversight in both the Executive and Legislative branches of government.
Satellite & Launch Vehicle Information Transfer
As a rule, the United States should launch all of its own space satellites which contain significant classified technologies. Any domestic company (or foreign company) launching such satellites for the U.S. should be required to have appropriate safeguards in place to prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. Information should be intensely compartmentalized to minimize the risk of unauthorized transfer.
Since it is highly impractical to accurately assign cutting edge technologies with the proper level of classification so that it balances the economic needs of the parties, the national security of various entities, the desire of engineers to share information and engage in problem-solving, and the urge of human nature to collaborate and push the technological envelope, the best solution would be to allow market forces to regulate the flow of information but only under the framework of a comprehensive (and strictly enforced) international military treaty in which all countries agree to be bound by rulings related to internal and external territorial disputes and agree to deprive themselves of all significant offensive military capabilities in exchange for the guaranteed security of their own territory from any external threat.
This way, the exchange of information of a military nature could be shared without the potentially severe consequences that currently exist because of the provision for surprise inspections of absolutely any facility in any country that is a member to this treaty. The potential for only peaceful uses of the various otherwise dangerous technologies will be virtually assured.0 Comments
Soldiers, fighter pilots, and other military personnel whose duties include having direct contact with the enemy should all be intensively trained professional who have chosen this job as a long term career (lasting at least 10 years after completion of training). Maintenance training should obviously continue constantly throughout an individual’s career.
No important positions, such as these, should ever be given to untrained people or people not committed to a long-term career nor should such jobs be advertised as just a way to pay for going to college or other short-term commitments. For people who would not like to choose a long-term career in the military but do want to join the military either for various job benefits offered, or as a relatively short-term (less than 10 years) endeavor while they decide upon a new long-term career move or any other reason, they could be employed in non-frontline positions, especially in the area of logistics. If people in important positions are cycled through the military often, not only is it an inefficient use of military resources spent for training but the benefits provided by individuals holding years of experience is lost as well. Military operations would progress more smoothly with more personnel having greater experience.
For people who are not certain about whether they would like a particular military position enough to commit for a minimum of 10 years, they could spend more time studying what the job entails or perhaps, if practical, sign up for a short period of ‘shadowing’ an actual willing worker in the field for a few days to get a better idea about the job. Or they could possibly interview people who actually work in the field about the job.
All soldiers should be required to attend mandatory counseling sessions at least once a month so that the stigma often associated with such counseling sessions is eliminated. Such counseling would also help reduce the degree of irrational hatred soldiers often feel towards the enemy and civilians during the normal course of their duties, but especially after an attack by the enemy or casualties inflicted by the enemy. These counseling sessions should encourage the development of the empathetic and caring qualities of the soldiers.
Additional Penalty for Misbehaving
Soldiers and all other personnel who commit crimes while acting on behalf of the United States on foreign soil should be punished more than they would otherwise due to the additional humiliation of the US in the eyes of foreign observers. Perhaps a penalty twice as severe as a normal one would be a good rule of thumb.0 Comments
Military personnel serving in areas away from their homes, spouses, or families should have more predictable schedules informing them of their dates of departure and return. Before leaving for a term of service, every military personnel should be told the date that they will return home. Of course, the military should retain the right to keep any personnel beyond their original deployment times during times of war or other emergencies, but overtime must be paid to all people staying over their terms if the military has asked (or forced) them to stay. If, instead, a person volunteers to stay over his/her deployment term, and the military agrees, that individual would not receive overtime pay.
If the military needs to retain personnel beyond their deployment terms, the first thing to do would be to offer overtime pay to all personnel volunteering to extend their deployment to perform jobs for which there is a shortage of workers. If still more personnel are needed, the military could force deployment extensions to personnel without significant obligations back home (such as marriage, etc.). If still more personnel are needed, the military could force deployment extensions for all workers, including those who are married or have other significant obligations back home. Of course, exceptions would be made for those with extreme hardships or obligations.0 Comments
The executive and legislative branches of the government should keep to a minimum, direct interference into certain military activities such as weapons purchases and target selections. Only the military should have the right to determine which weapons it will or will not need in the future. And during the course of a military campaign, civilian planners outside of the military should not regularly demand whether or how certain targets should be struck.
Of course, the military should always be entirely under civilian control, but the proper place for civilian control and where it would be most effective would be in the areas of constructing and formulating the principles by which military plans and operations are decided, such as how many major and/or minor conflicts the military should be designed to adequately respond to, how far to go in the prosecution of a war (i.e., conditional or unconditional surrender), the use of unconventional weapons and tactics (such as nuclear weapons, torture, etc.), the execution of medium or long term military activities on foreign lands as well as deciding whether or not to use certain bases in foreign countries for certain missions. Virtually everything else should be left up to the military to decide. This will allow the military more efficient control of its resources so that it could accomplish its objectives more quickly. Proper civilian control over the big picture would make civilian micromanagement unnecessary. So while civilian control should be shifted away from the lower levels of military planning and operations and dwell mostly at the higher levels of planning and operations, civilian control would still be allowed to overrule any military decisions at any level.0 Comments
One way of maintaining higher military morale out in the deployment area and lowering the level of dissent in a deployed military force would be to allow individuals to opt out of service in a particular area in exchange for a reduction in pay. For example, instead of going to Iraq, a soldier could opt to stay home (and continue training) in exchange for a significant reduction in pay. Of course, if the military really needs all the personnel they can get, the military would have the right to order the dissenting soldier into the deployment area and resume payment at the regular rate.
A soldier has to have a very good reason based on some fundamental disagreement with the military mission to object to a military deployment. During the period of time that the soldier is permitted an absence from the original deployment area, that soldier must be forced to undergo an education process explaining why the mission has been approved by the government, what the goals are and the fact that everybody can’t always have their way and that when people work for others they must sometimes do things with which they may not fully agree.
For small scale military missions, such as Somalia, where only a small force may be necessary, perhaps the military could implement some sort of advertising campaign where individual soldiers or perhaps individual military units could sign up to form a special task force composed of people willing to participate in the mission. This type of setup may be unworkable because it would require strangers to rapidly get to know and trust each other. It would also leave several traditional military groups without some of their members. However, perhaps individual military groups could vote on whether they would like to join the task force, with the majority ruling.0 Comments
Military organizations (or any other organization) should be prohibited from using immoral, racist, or any other type of human-degrading training tactics or mental conditioning on its soldiers or other personnel. For example, having personnel repeat chants, such as, “Killing is what we do best,” or “Rape, maim, kill babies, hooah,” or “Swing your guns from left to right, we can kill those guys all night,” all these kinds of things should be prohibited.0 Comments