Foreword In the mid-1990s, it was my honor to command the 434th Military Intelligence Detachment (MID), a U.S. Army Reserve unit associated with Yale University and located in New Haven, Connecticut. With the active participation of CWO-4 Alan D. Tompkins and SGT Eliot A. Jardines, our unit wrote the first handbook for Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) for the U.S. Army.
In 1994, our unit was honored with the Golden Candle Award presented by Open Source Solutions in recognition of its “unusual dedication and persistence … in preparing a primer, Open Source Intelligence Resourcesfor the Military Intelligence Officer, which is of value to all joint and coalition personnel.” The following year the Reserve Officers Association gave the 434th MID its “Outstanding USAR Small Unit Award” for 1995-1996, due in no small part because of its contributions to OSINT.
In 1997 General Peter Schoomaker, USA then Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command, was briefed on OSINT, understood its value, and ordered the creation of an OSINT support cell within the Special Operations Command Joint Intelligence Center (SOCJIC). Today that small unit, for a negligible amount of money, is responsible for satisfying 40% of the all-source intelligence requirements generated by all elements of USSOCOM.
In 2000, General William F. Kernan, USA, then serving as both the ranking flag officer of the Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) and as the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic (SACLANT), agreed to a suggestion by Brigadier General James Cox of Canada, then the Deputy J-2 at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), validated by General Kernan’s Deputy at the Atlantic Command, Admiral Sir James Perwone of the United Kingdom, and commissioned three study guides for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): the NATO Open Source Intelligence Handbook, the NATO Open Source Intelligence Reader, and (NATO) Intelligence Exploitation of the Internet. All three of these documents remain valid and useful today.
In the years between 1994 and today, over 40 countries have developed some form of OSINT Center or Cell, most of them for military use.
In 2004, the Queen of England awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE), a very significant honor, to Detective Steve Edwards, who created England’s first substantive OSINT capability within Scotland Yard, a capability that has lowered the cost and reduced the time it takes to put criminals—including terrorists and arms smugglers—into jail.
In a world where emerging threats and non-state actors are the primary sources of instability, and where conventional forces remain important but largely static, OSINT has become the foundation as well as the context for the all-source intelligence endeavor.
It is not possible to be an all-source professional without focusing very carefully on OSINT as a contributor to every step in the intelligence cycle, from requirements development to collection management to source discovery and validation, to multi-source fusion, to compelling actionable presentation.
Perhaps more to the point, if you leverage OSINT properly, you can free up scarce classified resources to focus on information that is not accessible through OSINT, and you can improve the value of our very expensive data mining systems, some costing tens of millions of dollars, by a factor of five to ten.
OSINT is at the heart of the revolution in intelligence, and I encourage everyone in uniform, in every mission area, to understand this reality. OSINT can provide up to 80% of the intelligence we need, on the fly, for unconventional and low intensity missions against non-state actors.
However, OSINT also has applications to policy development, to strategy and force structure development, to acquisition management, and to logistics. For this reason, I believe that OSINT must be treated differently from the classified intelligence disciplines. OSINT must be subject at all times to quality control from the all-source intelligence professionals, but it must not be buried in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), behind either a Green Door or a Black Door.
OSINT, to be truly effective, and especially so in support of Civil Affairs, Psychological Operations, Information Operations, and Logistics, must be “outside the wire” and able to interact with all ranks at all times. OSINT must lend itself to sharing at any moment with non-U.S. and non-military parties including non-governmental organizations and universities. OSINT is the “common language” that can help create a common view of the battlefield among disparate parties, most of whom will not have clearances or desire to be burdened with classified information. OSINT is a force multiplier.
Let me mention several U.S. Army focal points for OSINT that have labored without proper appreciation over the past ten years. Chief among these are the OSINT Branch, led by Mr. Ben Harrison with the strong support of Mr. James Hardee, in the SOCJIC; the information management division, led by Mr. William Crislip, of the National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC); the Foreign Military Studies Office (FSMO), led by Dr. Jacob Kipp at Fort Leavenworth and represented by Ed Waller in Washington; and finally, a leader in OSINT training, Mr. Ben Benavides, at Fort Huachuca, AZ, who worked with me and the 434th MID during our pioneering work on OSINT in the mid-1990s. These are our “OSINT wise men” and we must listen to them about needed OSINT investments.
We are succeeding at OSINT, and will get better at OSINT, because USSOCOM has enforced the use of the COLISEUM requirements management system in validating and tracking requests for OSINT across all elements of the SOF community. I hope the rest of the U.S. Army will stop treating OSINT as an informal sideline and get with the program. OSINT is here to stay, and OSINT will make the U.S. Army stronger. I hope every element of the U.S. Army will submit OSINT requirements in support of its mission, and I hope shortfalls in organic OSINT capabilities will be documented and sent forward through the chain of command.
I think we can and should have the smartest Army in the world, an Army in which every person of every rank knows how to use OSINT to conduct information operations as far as they can on their own, as a small unit, as a Command. In the aggregate, the U.S. Army can achieve information superiority through the integration of “top-down” secret intelligence and “bottom-up” open source intelligence.
As someone who has spent over thirty five years as a Military Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Army, on both Active and Reserve assignments, my years with the 434th MID were among the most exciting and productive in my career, due in no small part to our revolutionary work with OSINT. At a time in our history where the performance of the U.S. Intelligence Community is being questioned, and where every scrap of information is needed to piece together the puzzle presented by terrorist operations, there could be no better time to incorporate the value of OSINT to the overall intelligence product available to our policy makers and military forces.
For those who have gone before, for those who are serving now, and for those who will be working these problems in the future, this book is an invitation to think about a whole new dimension of intelligence acquisition, analysis and production that is needed now more than ever before. I urge the reader to take it to heart and to mind. God Bless and Go Army!!