As the war in Ukraine enters its 68th day, our government has shared ever more sensitive information about what’s happening and Putin’s next moves. This is no accident. As Ronald Moultrie, the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security recently noted, “We are going to disclose some of the most sensitive intelligence that we have. But it’s important enough for us to do that.”
Mr. Moultrie is right but for reasons that go well beyond what’s occurring in Russia or Ukraine. As I argue in the attached American Purpose piece, “Keeping Secrets,” increasingly, America’s security will demand that our government share intelligence and insights it heretofore has kept under lock and key.
The reason why is that modern warfare and diplomacy need ever more intelligence and information to fuel military innovation with private firms and foreign contractors, accurately target weapons overseas, train friendly countries’ soldiers, and remain credible with our allies and the American public.
These imperatives to reduce over classification are hardly lost on our military commanders. But our government and Congress need to do much more to address them.
Certainly, failure to eliminate unnecessary over classification will jeopardize the military investments Congress is now making — something we can ill afford.
May 2, 2022
Author: Henry Sokolski
By Henry Sokolski
With Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Americans have had a ringside seat at one of the most unusual of presidential shows: President Joe Biden publicly divulging some of our nation’s most protected, secret insights on what Vladimir Putin and his military might be planning. Some have criticized this; most think it has prevented Putin from controlling the war’s narrative.
If we are lucky, it could be part of a more important movement toward liberalizing the use and sharing of intelligence. America and its allies could finally be progressing from a vision of war first theorized a hundred years ago. That violent and indiscriminate vision was fully realized with the city-busting aerial attacks of World War II. Ever since, we have believed that being able to decimate a nation’s military, industrial, and demographic capital promises deterrence in peace and quick victories in war. Today, this vision is being slowly supplanted with weaponry and tactics that can target terror precisely, in order to disable nations without decimating them.
Developing this new generation of warfare promises to change what nations fear most—loss of political authority and control. This, in turn, should change what they regard as being secret—the information needing protection in order to keep the worst at bay. And furthermore, it should also change what intelligence and what information nations believe it is to their advantage to share.
For the sake of U.S. and allied security, this shift cannot come too soon. In fact, our government’s reflexive, persistent habit to over-classify information is killing our future. Specifically, it is undermining the Pentagon’s and the intelligence community’s ability to secure the best people for crucial roles. It’s slowing the rate of critical innovation needed for cutting edge, defense-related technologies, while also lengthening defense acquisition times and depriving our allies of the information they need to work closely with us and trust us. Most important, it is depriving our military and diplomatic corps of the tools they need to deter, negotiate, and win against America’s adversaries.
To read the full article click here.