from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2016, Issue No. 1
January 4, 2016

Secrecy News Blog:


To the eyes of a military planner, a city presents "an elaborate combination of horizontal, vertical, interior, and exterior forms superimposed on a landscape's natural relief, drainage, and vegetation."

A newly reissued U.S. Army manual contemplates the difficulties facing military action in the urban environment with a focus on intelligence collection. See Intelligence Support to Urban Operations, TC 2-91.4, December 2015.

"With the continuing growth in the world's urban areas and increasing population concentrations in urban areas, the probability that Army forces will conduct operations in urban environments is ever more likely," the manual states.

"Providing intelligence support to operations in the complex urban environment can be quite challenging. It may at first seem overwhelming. The amount of detail required for operations in urban environments, along with the large amounts of varied information required to provide intelligence support to these operations, can be daunting."

"In urban terrain, friendly forces will encounter a variety of potential threats, such as conventional military forces, paramilitary forces, insurgents or guerrillas, terrorists, common criminals, drug traffickers, warlords, and street gangs. These threats may operate independently or some may operate together. Individuals may be active members of one or more groups."

"The enemy situation is often extremely fluid--locals friendly to us today may be tomorrow's belligerents. Adversaries seek to blend in with the local population to avoid being captured or killed. Enemy forces who are familiar with the city layout have an inherently superior awareness of the current situation."

"Finally, U.S. forces often fail to understand the motives of the urban threat due to difficulties of building cultural awareness and situational understanding for a complex environment and operation."


New and updated reports that were issued by the Congressional Research Service last week include the following.

Data Security and Breach Notification Legislation: Selected Legal Issues, December 28, 2015:

Sex Discrimination and the United States Supreme Court: Developments in the Law, December 30, 2015:

The Budget Control Act of 2011 as Amended: Budgetary Effects, December 29, 2015:

Former U.S. Hostages of Iran to be Eligible for Compensation, CRS Legal Sidebar, December 29, 2015:

Federal Public Transportation Program: In Brief, December 28, 2015:

NASA Appropriations and Authorizations: A Fact Sheet, December 29, 2015:

Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy, December 29, 2015:


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

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