from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2017, Issue No. 20
March 17, 2017
Secrecy News Blog: https://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/
"COMPETING OBSERVABLES" COMPLICATE DECEPTION
Deception plays an important role in many military operations. But is hard to deceive an opponent (or anyone else) when evidence of that deception is visible in plain sight.
A new military term -- "competing observable" -- has been introduced to capture this problem.
In the context of military deception, an ordinary "observable" is defined as "an indicator within an adversary's conduit [or information pathway] intended to cause action or inaction by the deception target."
But a "competing observable" is "any observable that contradicts the deception story, casts doubt on, or diminishes the impact of one or more required or supporting observables."
The term "competing observable" was incorporated in the latest edition of the official "DoD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms" this month. The Dictionary, a copy of which appeared in our conduit, provides standard definitions for thousands of words and phrases that constitute the lexicon of U.S. military thought.
Each new update removes some terms, and adds or modifies others in an ongoing adaptation to current military doctrine.
The latest edition, for example, eliminates "berm" ("The nearly horizontal portion of a beach or backshore...") and "honey pot" ("A trap set to detect, deflect, or in some manner counteract attempts at unauthorized use of information systems..."). These and several other such terms were removed from the Dictionary this month since they are "not used."
The term "ruse" was slightly modified and is now defined as "an action designed to deceive the adversary, usually involving the deliberate exposure of false information to the adversary's intelligence collection system."
SCIENCE & TECH ISSUES FACING CONGRESS, & MORE FROM CRS
Science and technology policy issues that may soon come before Congress were surveyed in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.
Overarching issues include the impact of recent reductions in federal spending for research and development.
"Concerns about reductions in federal R&D funding have been exacerbated by increases in the R&D investments of other nations (China, in particular); globalization of R&D and manufacturing activities; and trade deficits in advanced technology products, an area in which the United States previously ran trade surpluses. At the same time, some Members of Congress have expressed concerns about the level of federal funding in light of the current federal fiscal condition. In addition, R&D funding decisions may be affected by differing perspectives on the appropriate role of the federal government in advancing science and technology."
See Science and Technology Issues in the 115th Congress, March 14, 2017:
Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.
The American Health Care Act, March 14, 2017:
Previewing a 2018 Farm Bill, March 15, 2017:
EPA Policies Concerning Integrated Planning and Affordability of Water Infrastructure, updated March 14, 2017:
National Park Service: FY2017 Appropriations and Ten-Year Trends, updated March 14, 2017:
Qatar: Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated March 15, 2017:
Northern Ireland: Current Issues and Ongoing Challenges in the Peace Process, updated March 14, 2017:
Navy LX(R) Amphibious Ship Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated March 14, 2017:
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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