What’s in the Word Selected?
Why the continuing use of euphemism in foreign affairs when everyone knows? For anyone who even has a passing interest in the subject, the famous words “such other duties” contained in the 1947 National Security Act probably ring a bell. This was how the CIA was legally granted the authority to conduct covert action without the words ever being officially uttered. Everyone knew it, but yet Congress conspired.
These days, the National Clandestine Service of the CIA states on its official website that it conducts “covert action.” So I guess a lot has changed.
What hasn’t though is the euphemism. On February 4, 2003, the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a revised Unified Command Plan (UCP), the Presidentially-approved document that assigns responsibilities to the military. UCP 2002 with Changes 1 and 2 was the first major promulgation of a new directive after 9/11, and it assigned expansive new responsibilities to both Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and Strategic Command (STRATCOM). And included in those responsibilities were the underpinnings of a whole new world of military covert action, a world that continues and grows) today.
On SOCOM, the new UCP stated:
“The Commander, US Special Operations Command, headquartered at MacDill AFB, Tampa, Florida, is the commander of a combatant command comprising all forces assigned for the accomplishment of the commander’s missions. SOCOM has no geographic AOR for normal operations and will not exercise those functions of command associated with that responsibility. In addition to functions specified in sections 164(c) and 167 of title 10, USSCOM’s responsibilities include:
a. Providing combat-ready special operations forces to other combatant commands when and as directed;
b. Training, to including joint training exercises, of assigned forces and developing appropriate recommendations to the CJCS regarding strategy, doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures for the joint employment of special operations forces;
c. Exercising command of selected special operations missions if directed to do so by the President or the Secretary of Defense.”
STRATCOM is given responsibility for:
“Integrating and coordinating DOD information operations (IO) (currently consisting of the core IO capabilities of computer network attack (CNA), computer network defense (CND), electronic warfare (EW), operations security (OPSEC), military psychological operations (PSYOP), and military deception (MILDEC)) that cross geographic areas of responsibility or across the core IO capabilities, including:
(1) Supporting other combatant commanders for planning;
(2) Planning and coordinating capabilities that have trans-regional effects or that directly support national objectives;
(3) Exercising command and control of selected missions, if directed to do so by the President or Secretary of Defense;
(4) Identifying desired characteristics and capabilities for DOD-wide CND [computer network defense], planning for DOD-wide CND, and directing DOD-wide CND;
(5) Identifying desired characteristics and capabilities for CNA [computer network attack], conducting CNA in support of assigned missions, and integrating CNA capabilities in support of other combatant commanders, as directed;
(6) Identifying desired characteristics and capabilities for joint electronic warfare and planning for and conducting electronic warfare in support of assigned missions;
(7) Supporting other combatant commanders for the planning and integration of joint OPSEC and military deception.”
Those italics are mine. The actual UCP finds no need to highlight SOCOM’s selected special operations missions or STRATCOM’s selected missions. Both refer to specific functions, in Special Operation’s case, the clandestine activities and indeed covert action of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). That’s well known.
But In STRATCOM’s case, since computer network attack and military deception is openly mentioned in separate paragraphs – and is now the responsibility of STRATCOM’s subordinate U.S. Cyber Command — it is unclear what “selected missions” are. Given the new candidness of the CIA on its responsibilities for covert action, shouldn’t it be.