from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 9
January 24, 2007

Secrecy News Blog:

Support Secrecy News


A new U.S. Army Field Manual is intended to advance the development and use of open source intelligence (OSINT), which is intelligence that is derived from publicly available data legally obtained.

"The value of publicly available information as a source of intelligence has... often been overlooked in Army intelligence operations. This manual provides a catalyst for renewing the Army's awareness of the value of open sources; establishing a common understanding of OSINT; and developing systematic approaches to collection, processing, and analysis of publicly available information."

The growing military appreciation of open source intelligence arises from the ever-increasing quality of public sources and the evident limitations of traditional classified approaches.

"Open source research is the most effective means of retrieving authoritative and detailed information on the terrain, weather, and civil considerations as well as external variables that affect or influence the operational environment," the manual states.

Yet "our reliance on classified databases... has... often left our soldiers uninformed and ill-prepared to capitalize on the huge reservoir of unclassified information available from open sources."

OSINT is naturally not the solution to all problems or without limitations of its own, the manual says.

"More than any other intelligence discipline, the OSINT discipline could unintentionally provide indicators of US military operations [to hostile observers]."

Furthermore, "Deception and bias are of particular concern in OSINT operations. Unlike other disciplines, OSINT operations do not normally collect information by direct observation of activities and conditions within the area of interest."

Characteristically, perhaps, the new Army manual on OSINT is marked "for official use only" and it has not been approved for public release. As such, it would not have qualified as an "open source." Until now.

A copy of the manual was obtained by Secrecy News and posted on the Federation of American Scientists web site.

See "Open Source Intelligence," U.S. Army Field Manual Interim FMI 2-22.9, December 2006 (161 pages, 2 MB PDF):

The management of open source intelligence activities across the U.S. intelligence community was addressed in a July 2006 Intelligence Community Directive (ICD 301) on the National Open Source Enterprise:


Several recent Intelligence Community Directives (ICDs) were released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on January 22 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Federation of American Scientists.

Though mostly dry and uninformative, they are nevertheless important as expressions of bureaucratic definition and control.

The newly released directives include:

ICD 105, "Acquisition," August 15, 2006

ICD 300, "Management, Integration, and Oversight of Intelligence Collection and Covert Action," October 3, 2006

ICD 602, "Human Capital -- Intelligence Community Critical Pay Positions," August 16, 2006

ICD 900, "Mission Management,"December 21, 2006

These and other publicly disclosed Intelligence Community Directives are available here:


U.S. special operations forces typically make use of some of the most sophisticated military and intelligence gear available. But sometimes a "no tech" solution is the right one.

So, for example, Special Forces "may find themselves involved in operations in rural or remote environments... using pack animals," including horses, donkeys and mules.

"Pack animal operations are ideally suited for, but not limited to, conducting various missions in high mountain terrain, deserts, and dense jungle terrain."

An Army Special Forces manual provides instruction and doctrinal guidance for using pack animals in training and combat missions.

"This manual provides the techniques of animal pack transport and for organizing and operating pack animal units. It captures some of the expertise and techniques that have been lost in the United States Army over the last 50 years."

The 225 page manual provides a basic introduction to the characteristics of each of the various pack animals, some rudiments of veterinary care, and miscellaneous lore.

"Mules are intelligent and possess a strong sense of self-preservation. A packer cannot make a mule do something if the mule thinks it will get hurt, no matter how much persuasion is used.... many people confuse this trait with stubbornness." (p. 2-1)

"Elephants are considered an endangered species and as such should not be used by U.S. military personnel... Elephants are not the easygoing, kind, loving creatures that people believe them to be. They are, of course, not evil either." (p. 10-8)

The Special Forces manual has not been approved for public release, but a copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Special Forces Use of Pack Animals," Field Manual FM 3-05.213, June 2004 (in a very large 16.5 MB PDF file):


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

The Secrecy News blog is at:

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, send an email message to with "subscribe" (without quotes) in the body of the message.

To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a blank email message to

OR email your request to

Secrecy News is archived at:

SUPPORT Secrecy News with a donation here: