Category Archives: Washington Sucks

NORTHCOM Domestic Contingency Plans

(I’ve been writing about NORTHCOM and the various contingency plans relating to Coronavirus in Newsweek and have tried to make sense of the different plans, in nitty-gritty, beyond articles. Here are my notes.)


U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) Operations Plans

William M. Arkin, 22 April 2020.

In the wake of 9/11, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) was established on October 1, 2002 “to provide command and control of Department of Defense (DOD) homeland defense efforts and to coordinate defense support of civil authorities.” As such, NORTHCOM is the lead domestic combatant command for coronavirus, carrying out its normal and enhanced homeland defense missions and responding to “requests for assistance” from FEMA to provide civil support.

A combatant command for America, a single chain of command, one entity. NORTHCOM has settled in to a certain routine over two decades, starting with defending America’s skies and the National Capital Region, then in building up an expansive weapons of mass destruction response and “consequence management” apparatus, and then, after Katrina, an all-hazards and national response framework military counterpart to the non-military world, no hurricane, earthquake, wildfire or pandemic outside of its mission set.

If there’s any entity that should have been ready for coronavirus, its NORTHCOM. That proposition will undoubtedly be closely examined as commissions and blue ribbon panels go to work when it’s all over. Who said what to whom when will no doubt be exhaustively examined. It’s obviously way too early to say much, but one thing can be said with assurance: after Donald Trump is long gone, NORTHCOM will still be there.

That’s when all of the exceptions will be uncovered, that NORTHCOM is the singular command except. Except for Hawaii and the Pacific Islands territories, where U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) has identical homeland defense responsibilities. Except for counter-terrorism, where U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is the lead. Except for nuclear deterrence, obviously under STRATCOM. Except for the counter-everything missions under U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). Except for those responsibilities that the State hold to themselves. Except for those operations that the Navy and the other services have doggedly retained. And except for all that is not under the military’s direct control – continuity of government, WMD domestic response, and even national mobilization – where other organizations such as the FBI and the White House Military Office have both public and non-public responsibilities. And then there’s the defense of virtual and exo-atmospheric space, now under U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) and the new U.S. Space Force.

There are so many exceptions and it is such a patchwork not only because bureaucracies furiously guard their turf but also because it’s the United States, where what is federal and what is state continues to be hotly contested, as well as what is military and what is civilian. Then comes the question as to whether an organization with so many different missions – from air defense to dealing with a pandemic – can adequately prepare for any of them. This will undoubtedly raise the issue of national security versus public health, about 9/11 versus coronavirus, about domestic need versus the wages of perpetual war.

I’ve been endeavoring to keep an eye on all of this for two decades, not only because of a Reagen-era fascination with continuity but also because the many exceptions rub up against the Constitution and the laws of our land. It’s not just that matters of emergency and extraordinary powers are sexy to study and write about, it is also that the secrecy surrounding so many of these missions – and the exceptions – confuses those outside the system, stymies good government, and undermines public confidence.

With coronavirus, NORTHCOM is out there working furiously to carry out its many missions, implementing at least five different operations plans simultaneously. Implementing might be too strong of a word, because even though these plans run in the hundreds of pages, most are thrown out the window almost as soon as they are taken off the shelf, useful in laying out how things should be organized but otherwise too rigid – or fanciful – to apply to the real world. Or so I say.

That why laying out what those operations plans are is so important, so that we can study them closer, to understand planning, forecasting, organization, mission and implementation. My assertion is that surely we can do better. And in the case of domestic operations plans, surely we can be more transparent as well. Is there any reason you can imagine that the pandemic response plan shouldn’t be public? Or the plan for Defense Support of Civil Authorities? And though we justify those plans, even some recounted below that are highly classified and even compartmented because they deal with special operations forces or weapons of mass destruction, even there I would argue that there needs to be greater transparency, that in order for NORTHCOM and the military overall to do its job in the United States, the Congress and Judiciary, the States, the local community and the public needs to have as much confidence as we can provide them that the military is operating lawfully, and that it knows what it’s doing.

The 19 plans described below are what I can piece together as the current and active operations plans of NORTHCOM. I say operations plans broadly, for all of them are actually CONPLANs, which is not an abbreviation for contingency plan but officially an “operation plans in concept format”.  Because of the exceptions I described above, INDOPACOM has parallel plans that deal with Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, not under the authority of NORTHCOM. And the first two plans listed, in the Joint Chief of Staff “Zero-series” are thought to be NORTHCOM plans but probably still reside within the purview of the JCS. The rest of the plans are all in the 3000-series, allocated to NORTHCOM.

CONPLAN 0300, Counter-Terrorism Special Operations Support to Civil Agencies in the event of a domestic incident (entire title classified) (Power Geyser)

  • Federal response to a terrorist event.
  • Implements the JCS charter for the counterterrorism (CT) joint task force, known as the National Mission Force.
  • Includes Joint Service EOD “Special Mission” support and specific weapons of mass destruction render safe support capabilities within the NCR.
  • Department of Defense provides military assistance to the lead federal agency and/or Federal Response Plan Emergency Support Function primary agencies during all aspects of a terrorist incident upon approval by the Secretary of Defense.
  • Often referred to as CJCS CONPLAN 0300; it unclear if it is solely a NORTHCOM plan or if NORTHCOM has a supporting CONPLAN 0300 to implement a JCS plan in the Continental United States and Alaska only.
  • Operating under the provisions of Presidential Decision Directive (PDD)-39, US Government Policy on Counterterrorism, 21 June 1995.
  • Compartmented plan classified Secret/Alternative Compensatory Control Measures (with the compartment Focal Point, referring to sensitive special operations).


  • CJCS CONPLAN 0300-14, 2014.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0300-04/NORTHCOM Draft CONPLAN 0300-04.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0300-00, 1 December 2000.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0300-97, 14 January 1997.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0300-96, 1996.

CONPLAN 0400, Counterproliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (Granite Shadow)

  • Special operations countering weapons of mass destruction “national plan”; formerly called the “counter proliferation” plan.
  • As dictated by PDD-39, a robust DOD plan, outlining the process by which agencies submit requests for DOD support in domestic terrorism related events, and the command and control structure that would be applied in domestic military employment in order to rapidly remove and destroy WMD in the hands of terrorists, when ordered to do so. Builds on the guidance contained in the PDD-39 Domestic Guidelines concerning DOD support to DOJ/FBI – the lead federal agency – during a WMD terrorist incident.
  • Domestic DOD assistance includes threat assessment, Domestic Emergency Support Team deployment, technical advice, operational support, tactical operations, support for civil disturbances, and custody, transportation and disposal of a WMD device.
  • Requires geographic combatant commands to create a Joint Task Force Command and Control Organization for consequence management within their areas of responsibility. The five-theater CINC CONPLANs were initially approved in August 1999.
  • Often referred to as CJCS CONPLAN 0400; it unclear if it is solely a NORTHCOM plan or if NORTHCOM has a supporting CONPLAN 0400 to implement a JCS plan in the Continental United States and Alaska only.
  • Operating under the provisions of Presidential Decision Directive (PDD)-39, US Government Policy on Counterterrorism, 21 June 1995 and the FBI WMD Incident Contingency Plan.
  • Compartmented plan classified Secret/Alternative Compensatory Control Measures (with the compartment Focal Point, referring to sensitive special operations). Previously Top Secret.


  • CJCS Instruction 3125.01B, Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) for Domestic Consequence Management (CM) Operations in response to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, or High-Yield Explosive (CBRNE) Incident, 19 August 2009 cancelled Annex T, Appendix 2, Military Assistance to Foreign Consequence Management Operations, upon reversion of regional combatant command responsibilities for CONPLAN 0400 duties in their areas of responsibility.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0400, Counterproliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, September 2003.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0400-00, Draft, 2002.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0400-00, Countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, September 2001.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0400-97, 3 January 1997.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0400-96, Counterproliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, 31 May 1996.

CONPLAN 3310, NORTHCOM/NORAD, Aerospace Warning, Aerospace Control and Maritime Warning for North America

  • Bi-National U.S.-Canada Plan. According to the Government of Canada: “Respond in times of crisis or to unauthorized airborne activities. The NORAD Contingency Plan (CONPLAN) is a binational plan that outlines flexible warning response options to deter, detect and, if necessary, defeat threats to North America, for both Canadian and American assets. … Processes and procedures in response to unauthorized civilian aircraft activity, in and within the approaches to North America are explicitly articulated in NORAD CONPLAN 3310 and are executed under Operation NOBLE EAGLE.”
  • Definitions
    • Aerospace Warning: Detect, validate, characterize, assess and warn of attacks against North America, whether by aircraft, missiles or space vehicles.
    • Aerospace Control: Detect and respond to unauthorized and unwanted air activity approaching or operating within North American airspace.
    • Maritime Warning: Process, assess and disseminate intelligence/information to warn of maritime threats or attacks against North America.
  • The Guidance for Employment of the Force (GEF) and Joint Strategic Campaign Plan (JSCP) provides limited guidance for NORAD CONPLAN 3310. It is the product of U.S. and Canadian negotiations and agreement.
  • See Terms of Reference, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), 21 February 2007 and Canada–United States Basic Defense Document (BDD), 8 July 2006.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM (and earlier JFCOM) Campaign Plan 2525-02, Operation Noble Eagle (Campaign Plan for Homeland Security), 1 October 2002.
  • Replaced CDRUSELEMNORAD CONPLAN 3349-02, 15 January 1998, a U.S. only plan.


  • Plan undergoing substantial revision in FY 2019-2020.
  • CONPLAN 3310-17, 18 January 2017.
  • CONPLAN 3310-12, 2012.
  • CONPLAN 3310-07, Aerospace Defense & Maritime Warning, 5 March 2007.
  • CONPLAN 3310-07, 23 January 2007.
  • CONPLAN 3310-02, Combined US-Canada Aerospace Sovereignty and Aerospace Defense, 21 April 2004.
  • CINCNORAD CONPLAN 3310-96 (Change 2), Air Sovereignty and Aerospace Defense of North America, 1 January 2000.
  • CINCNORAD CONPLAN 3310-96 (as amended), 24 September 1999.

CONPLAN 3400, Homeland Defense

  • The Secretary of Defense approved Guidance for Employment of the Force (GEF) establishes “Homeland Defense” as NORTHCOM’s top priority.
  • Includes support for national Continuity of Operations and Continuity of Government, and protection of Defense Critical Infrastructure Program (DCIP).
  • Generates the Granite Shadow OPLAN within the United States (CONPLAN 0400 or the specific Granite Shadow plan).
  • Replaced CONPLAN 2002-05, Homeland Defense, last revision 29 July 2005. This was a legacy NORTHCOM (and early JFCOM) plan.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM CONPLAN 3900, December 2002.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM/EUCOM (and earlier JFCOM) CONPLAN 2222-98, Protection of the Area of Responsibility (AOR) Air-Sea Lines of Communication (ASLOC), 1 March 2001.
  • Replaced JFCOM Draft Campaign Plan 2525-01 (Draft), Operations to Support Civil Authorities in Securing the Homeland, 22 October 2001.


  • Plan undergoing substantial revision in FY 2019-2020.
  • CONPLAN 3400-15, 8 January 2015.
  • CONPLAN 3400-12, 2012.
  • CONPLAN 3400-08 Revision 1, 2010; contained a more detailed concept of operations for the maritime homeland defense mission.
  • CONPLAN 3400-08, 2 December 2008.
  • CONPLAN 3400-05, November 2005.

CONPLAN 3405, Department of Defense Nuclear Weapon Incident Response

  • Includes NORTHCOM’s theater geographic responsibilities for nuclear weapon recovery operations, the status of this CONPLAN is unclear, nor what it’s distinction with from COPLANs is.


  • CONPLAN 3405-12.

CONPLAN 3407, Defense Support to Prevent a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or High-Yield Explosives (CBRNE) Attack in the Homeland

  • AKA CBRN “Prevent Plan”.
  • Supports USG law enforcement agencies in preventing WMD (to include biologicals) entry into the US and search for WMD when cued by intelligence.


  • CONPLAN 3407-12, Defense Support to Prevent a CBRNE Attack in the Homeland (“CBRNE Prevent”), 29 March 2012.
  • CONPLAN 3407-11.

CONPLAN 3475, Regional Campaign for the War on Terrorism (WOT)

  • Sub-plan of SOCOM’s CONPLAN 7500, the Global Campaign Plan for the War on Terrorism, now officially called the Global Campaign Plan for Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs).
  • Includes counter-narcoterrorism and counter-drug (CN/CD) operations to address the threat of illicit trafficking to North America.
  • Replaced JFCOM FUNCPLAN 2707-00, Military Activities in Support of Counterdrug Operations.


  • CONPLAN 3476-08.

CONPLAN 3500, Defense Support of Civil Authorities for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Explosives (CBRNE) Consequence Management (CM) Operations

  • The first key assumption is, “There will be little or no warning before a CBRN incident.”
  • Includes Very Important Persons Protection Support Activity (VIPPSA), EOD support provided in coordination with the U.S. Secret Service. VIPPSA support can be provided for the President of the United States, the Vice President, cabinet members, foreign dignitaries, and others as directed by the Department of State.
  • Incorporated and replaced JCS (and later NORTHCOM) CONPLAN 0500-03, Military Assistance to Domestic Consequence Management Operations in Response to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, or High-Yield Explosive Situation or Event, 11 February 2002.


  • Plan undergoing substantial revision in FY 2019-2020.
  • CONPLAN 3500-14, Civil Support, 30 September 2014.
  • CONPLAN 3500-14, Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) Response, 17 July 2014.
  • CONPLAN 3500-11, CBRN Response, 17 August 2011. As a result of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the Secretary of Defense directed DOD to restructure the original CCMRF to increase its ability to respond more rapidly to an incident in the homeland with more robust critical lifesaving capability to assist the Federal response in reducing the impact of a CBRN incident.
  • CONPLAN 3500-08, Military Assistance to Domestic Consequence Management Operations in Response to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, or High-Yield Explosive Situation (U), 29 December 2008.
  • CONPLAN 3500-08, CBRNE Consequence Management Operations, 22 October 2008
  • CONPLAN 3500-08, CBRNE Consequence Management Operations, Draft, February 2008.
  • CONPLAN 3500-07, 2007. JTF-CS anticipates, plans and integrates NORTHCOM Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosive (CBRNE) Consequence Management operations and when directed, establishes command and control of DOD forces for a CBRNE incident to assist local authorities in saving lives, preventing injury, and providing temporary critical life support.
  • CONPLAN 0500 for CBRNE-CM, 1 February 2007. When directed by the Secretary of Defense, Commander NORTHCOM conducts consequence management (CM) in the 48 contiguous states, the District of Columbia, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, to support Civil Authorities in response to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) situations.
  • CONPLAN 3500-06, Defense Support of Civil Authorities for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosives Consequence Management Operations, 10 October 2006.

CONPLAN 3501, Defense Support of Civil Authorities

  • Develops an overarching complex catastrophe branch plan concept of operations that identifies initial actions to be taken by NORTHCOM and subordinate elements. This concept of operations is supported by a series of what NORTHCOM calls “playbooks” that identify the key elements of the federal military response to various types of complex catastrophes. These playbooks include a southern California earthquake, the Cascadia subduction zone earthquake, an Alaska earthquake, an East Coast/Gulf Coast major hurricane, and a major emergency in the National Capital Region (NCR).
  • Compatible with the National Response Framework (NRF) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS).
  • Describes DOD support to civil authorities during natural disasters and civil emergencies other than armed attack on the nation.
  • Contains a six-phase plan for DSCA operations: Phase 0, Shape; Phase 1, Anticipate; Phase 2, Respond; Phase 3, Operate; Phase 4, Stabilize; Phase 5, Transition.
  • Outlines NORTHCOM’s responsibilities and intentions for Phases 0-5, in order to “save lives, reduce human suffering, and mitigate great property damage;” directs service components to develop supporting plans.
  • Appendix 20 to Annex C, NORTHCOM CONPLAN 3501, Wildland Firefighting Operations, 24 April 2008.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM (and earlier JFCOM) CONPLAN 2501, Defense Support of Civil Authorities.
  • Replaced JFCOM Draft Campaign Plan 2525-01 (Draft), Operations to Support Civil Authorities in Securing the Homeland, 22 October 2001.
  • Replaced JFCOM (and earlier REDCOM) FUNCPLAN 2501-97, Military Support to Civil Authorities (MSCA) in Responding to Natural or Man-made Disasters, 2 February 1998
  • Replaced SOUTHCOM FUNCPLAN 6175-98, Domestic Support Operations, 1 July 1998.


  • Plan undergoing substantial revision in FY 2020-2021, including a new prioritized list for developing approximately 30 additional playbooks and regional support plans.
  • CONPLAN 3501-09 approved by JFLCC (ARNORTH) CDR 4 May 2009.
  • CONPLAN 3501-08, 16 December 2008 (1st 9-month review, approved by SECDEF. Includes 6 Phases and new NORTHCOM structure.
  • CONPLAN 3501-08, Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA), 16 May 2008.
  • Secretary of Defense Memorandum, NORTHCOM CONPLAN 3501, Defense Support of Civil Authorities, April 2007.
  • NORTHCOM CONPLAN 3501-05, Defense Support of Civil Authorities, 11 April 2006.
  • NORTHCOM CONPLAN 3501-05, Defense Support of Civil Authorities, Draft, 22 March 2006.
  • CDRUSNORTHCOM, Civil Support Concept of Employment (CONEMP), 20 August 2004.

CONPLAN 3502, Civil Disturbance Operations

  • The JSCP directs CDRUSNORTHCOM to conduct necessary planning and coordination to prepare DOD forces to assist civil authorities in response to civil disturbances, when directed by the President and Secretary of Defense. US domestic civil disturbances include riots, acts of violence, insurrections, unlawful obstructions or assemblages, group acts of violence, and disorders prejudicial to public law and order. Initial responsibility for the civil disturbance response rests with state and local authorities. This plan is implemented when the President determines that a civil disturbance situation exceeds either the capabilities or willingness of the state and local authorities to restore law and order
  • Replaced NORTHCOM (and earlier JFCOM) FUNCPLAN 2502, Civil Disturbance Plan (Garden Plot), 25 June 2001.
  • FUNCPLAN 2502 (in 2001) replaced the earlier “Garden Plot” CONPLAN, U.S. Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan, 15 February 1991.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM FUNCPLAN 2707, Support to Law Enforcement for Transnational Threats


  • CONPLAN 3502, Civil Disturbance Operations, 31 July 2009.
  • CONPLAN 3502, Defense Support of Civil Authorities for Civil Disturbance Operations (CDO), 23 January 2007.

CONPLAN 3505, Nuclear Weapons Accident Response Plan (NARP)

  • NORTHCOM CONPLAN for response to an accident involving U.S. nuclear weapons in Department of Defense (DOD) custody in the USNORTHCOM-designated Operational Area, in accordance with guidance, policy and direction of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) and the Secretary of Defense.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM (and earlier JFCOM) FUNCPLAN 2505, Nuclear Weapon Accident Response Plan.
  • Supplements Air Force and Navy nuclear weapons accident/indent plans (these are the only military services that possess nuclear warheads)
    • AFSPC Plan 10- 1, ICBM Radiological Accident/Incident Response and Recovery Plan, 15 October 2004.
    • ACC Plan 32- 1, CONUS Radiological Accident/Incident Response and Recovery Plan, 11 September 2002.
    • Commander, Navy Region Southeast Instruction 3440.15, Regional Nuclear Weapon Accident Response Plan, 13 April 2005.
    • Commander, Navy Region Northwest Instruction 3440.1D, Nuclear Weapon Accident/Incident Response Plan, 31 January 2001.


  • CONPLAN 3505-08, USNORTHCOM Nuclear Weapons Accident Response Plan (NC-NARP), 4 April 2008.

CONPLAN 3551, Concept Plan to Synchronize DOD Pandemic Influenza Planning

  • DOD Global Response to Pandemic Influenza; CONPLAN 3351 directs “planning and synchronization of DOD’s global response to a potential pandemic.”
  • “The potential impact of pandemic influenza (Pl) on military operations is significant. Throughout a pandemic, United States (US) military forces must remain dominant across the full spectrum of military operations, preserving combat capabilities in order to protect US interests at home and abroad. The Department of Defense {DOD) Implementation Plan for Pandemic Influenza (DIP) directs DOD to prepare for, detect, respond to and contain the effect of a pandemic on military forces, DOD civilians, DOD contractors, dependents and beneficiaries.”
  • Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan Fiscal Year 2006, 1 September 2006 directed CDRUSNORTHCOM to prepare a concept plan (CONPLAN) to synchronize worldwide planning to mitigate and contain the effects of an influenza pandemic.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM CONPLAN 2591, Pandemic Influenza (FOUO with two Secret Annexes).


  • CONPLAN 3560, Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Disease Response, NORTHCOM Branch Plan 3560, Draft, 6 January 2017. This new plan seemingly never went beyond the draft stage.
  • DOD GCP PI&ID 3551-13, Department of Defense Global Campaign Plan for Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Disease, 14 March 2014.
  • NORTHCOM/DOD GCP-PI&ID-3551-13, 15 October 2013.
  • CONPLAN 3551-09, Concept Plan to Synchronize DOD Pandemic Influenza Planning, 13 August 2009.
  • CONPLAN 3551-07, DOD Global Pandemic Influenza Concept Plan, 1 October 2007.
  • CONPLAN 3551-07, Concept Plan to Synchronize DOD Pandemic Influenza Planning, 26 September 2007.
  • DOD Implementation Plan for Pandemic Influenza, August 2006.
  • DOD Influenza Pandemic Preparation and Response Health Policy Guidance, 25 January 2006.
  • DOD Guidance for Preparation and Response to an Influenza Pandemic caused by the Bird Flu (Avian Influenza), 21 September 2004.

CONPLAN 3591, Theater Response Plan for Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Diseases

  • USNORTHCOM Response to Pandemic Influenza; a supporting plan to CONPLAN 3351, focuses on support to the “national effort in response to a potential pandemic resulting from human-to-human transmission of an influenza virus.”
  • The plan addresses Force Health Protection (FHP) and civil support operations in the USNORTHCOM AO, as well as support to foreign humanitarian assistance (FHA) operations in the USNORTHCOM area of responsibility (AOR).


  • CONPLAN 3591-09, USNORTHCOM Response to Pandemic Influenza, 13 August 2009.
  • CONPLAN 3591, NORTHCOM Response to Pandemic Influenza, 17 December 2007.
  • CONPLAN 3591-07, Pandemic Influenza. 25 July 2007.
  • CJCS PLANORD 141224Z NOV 05 (14 November 2005) directs NORTHCOM to conduct execution-level planning for response to PI.

CONPLAN 3600, Emergency Preparedness in the National Capital Region (NCR)

  • All hazard NCR emergency preparedness, readiness for mass casualty incidents in the National Capital Region (NCR) by air or ground; support for National Security Special Events (NSSE) and high risks events.
  • Provide a mechanism to coordinate delivery of assistance, develop pre-scripted RFAs to ensure that JFHQ-NCR serves as the single point of entry to get USNORTHCOM support to the Pentagon in crisis management situations; sets the conditions under which JFHQ-NCR transitions to JTF-NCR and has OPCON of forces serving in the NCR.
  • Supporting plan JFHQ-NCR OPLAN 3600, Emergency Preparedness in the National Capital Region (NCR).
  • Replaced NORTHCOM CONPLAN 2400, the legacy NORTHCOM (and earlier JFCOM) NCR CONPLAN.


  • CONPLAN 3600-08, Emergency Preparedness in the National Capital Region, 7 November 2008.
  • CONPLAN 2400, Emergency Preparedness in the NCR, January 2007. Post 9/11 revisions that integrate operations in the NCR under a single combatant commander; synchronizes DOD activities and existing federal, state, tribal and local emergency preparedness efforts.

CONPLAN 3601, Continuity of Operations

  • Status unknown; believed to be the Headquarters U.S. Northern Command and NORAD continuity of operations plan, not a national plan, applicable only internally to NORTHCOM and NORAD.

CONPLAN 3729, International Disaster Response

  • AKA International Disaster Relief
  • Replaced NORTHCOM (and earlier JFCOM) CONPLAN 2707, Caribbean Mass Migration.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM FUNCPLAN 2500-93, Military Support to the Department of State and Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations, 15 June 2001.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM (and earlier JFCOM) 2503, Military Support to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) during a Mass Immigration into the United States (“Legacy Freedom”), 30 November 1997.


  • CONPLAN 3729-12, 2012.

CONPLAN 3768, Repatriation Operations

  • AKA Non-combatant Evacuation Operation/Repatriation (NEO/REPAT)
  • Replaced JFCOM CONPLAN 2100-98, Non-combatant Evacuation Operations, 1 February 2002.

CONPLAN 3800, Mobile Consolidated Command Center Operations

  • Status unknown.
  • Replaced USSPACECOM CONPLAN 3800-00, 12 April 2000.
  • Replaced (or supplemented) CJCS OPORD 2-98, Survivable Mobile Command Center Operations (SMCC Operations), J-3A 02592-97, 1 March 1998.

CAMPLAN 3900, Strategic Communication

  •  Campaign plan, status unknown.


  • CONPLAN 3900-02, December 2002.

From the Arkin Archives: Why You Can’t Keep Secrets

I found a speech I gave twenty years ago to military and industry officers and officials at the annual U.S. Air Force National Security Leadership Course, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, delivered on 14 August 1996

William M. Arkin

I started thinking about this talk by polling friends in Washington to see if there were any good new jokes about secrecy.  In other parts of the world, political jokes are often the purest expression of zeitgeist, so I thought a current favorite — you know, some knee slapper about the new Executive Order on classification, or one about the latest string of Bill Gertz’ leaks —  would provide astute insight.

No dice though; people inside the beltway have never been renown for their humor.

In May, however, I was in Beirut, and the number of jokes about the Syrians were impressive.

Here’s my favorite.

Hafez Assad is with Bill Clinton and Jacques Chirac on the Mississippi River to negotiate Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon.  Assad drops his watch into the river and when he bend over the deck railing to look for it, snapping alligators thrust up from the deep.  Clinton tells one of the Marine guards to retrieve President Assad’s watch.  The Marine goes to the edge, looks over at the alligators and says to the President  Mr. President, you know we live in the greatest country on earth, and therefore I can decline an unlawful order.  If I jump in to retrieve Mr. Assad’s watch I would die, and besides I have a family…

So Chirac, thinking he can tweak the American nose says to a French soldier, jump in the water and retrieve Assad’s watch.  The legionnaire snaps to attention and runs to dive in, but he then looks over and sees the snapping alligators, and turns to Chirac and says Monsieur President, you know our democracy is even older than America, and besides, I have a family…

So Assad whispers something in the ear of a Syrian soldier, who runs to the railing and without hesitation, jumps in the water, swims through the alligators, retrieves the watch, and returns safely to the boat.  The Marine and the Legionnaire, both amazed, crowd around the Syrian to ask what Assad said.

Well, the soldier explains, I too have a family…


So what does this have to do with secrecy?

To me, it is a real world reminder that to level any kind of indictment about the evils of U.S. government secrecy is to be trivial.  One only has to visit places like the Middle East to appreciate how free our system is.

What is more, the very reason I assume I was invited to address you this evening is that I’ve made a living by revealing government secrets.  Throughout that career, I’ve always felt shielded by my rights as a citizen, and always felt confident that if there was public benefit resulting from my revelations, even those in government would grudgingly concede and respect my rights.

I am often asked if there is some secret I wouldn’t reveal, and the answer, frankly, is yes.  In short, it is information that has no public policy relevance.  Now granted there is lots of room for debate here as to what that means, and some right wingers have tried in the past to tar me as “the Philip Agee of nuclear weapons.”

Yet I have faced on a day-to-day basis the challenge of defining what information can do damage to U.S. national security, and what information can not.  That is because secrets have a quality like trees, and if one falls in the public and nobody hears it, I would concede that the public benefit is dubious.

Yet the process of revealing a secret, however, also provides a check and balance if you will.  Since the news media is most often enlisted to circulate secrets, in doing so, reporters and editors and publishers have to themselves make decisions regarding government harm and public benefit.  The point I’m making is that those discussions do take place, and national security concerns are taken into consideration.

In 1996, however, classic government secrecy is hardly the civil liberties and first amendment conflict that it has been in the not too distant past.  Yet it does remain in the news.  Particularly recently with the explosion of the Internet, and the new mania about information security that has emerged, extending from the counter-communication and encryption debates to firewalls to information warfare.

I’m suspicious though, because again there are Cold Warlike warnings of the dire consequences of letting information circulate too freely.  And there has also been a reemergence of 1950’slike images of hidden enemies plotting to destroy our way of life.  To me, this is a significant over-exaggeration of both the threats and consequences.

The new technologies of information might indeed involve some truly revolutionary challenges in terms of the way huge amounts of data can be gathered and transmitted, and the threat mongers of computer security and information warfare have already put us on the slippery slope by attempting to control information or access to what are now worldwide networks.  To these government threat mongers, I say operations security and systems integrity and counterintelligence, all of the things the government has been doing for decades, and is supposed to be doing anyhow, regardless of the information medium.  Let’s not create new constraints, ones that mean a reduction in civil liberties in this country and a reduction of human rights in others.

I suspect that, either consciously or subconsciously, the focus on hackers and terrorists as the Clancyesque information enemy also has as much to do with separating the public from its tax dollars, and in framing an interesting defense problem for beltway bandits and think tanks to work on and make money from, as it has to do with true threats.  Particularly when more than ninety percent of computer intrusions and security problems as plain old fashioned insider criminal activity, stealing if you will with a high tech twist.


As William O. Douglas said in the Pentagon Papers case, if everything is secret, then nothing is secret.  Because of the end of the Cold War and the lack of any overarching grand strategy or national security organizing principle, we seem stuck for now in a world where near everything and anything can compete for the mantle of being “strategic.”  But if everything is strategic, then nothing is strategic.

In such a free-for-all world, the consequence is that what is really important  that is, what should be secret and protected  remains poorly defined, and thus vulnerable.

Thus perhaps one answer to the question why you can’t keep secrets is that you can’t even determine and articulate what is truly important.  The public is buffeted by endless enemies du jour, never able to give their true consent regarding what they believe should be U.S. national interests  implosion in Russia, Islam, proliferation, terrorism, warlords, ethnic hatred, population explosions, resource wars, Ebola viruses, drugs, international organized crime, Asian dynamism, the Internet, militias, Freemen, “instability.”  The menu is so full, how can one possibly determine what should be secret?


In the wake of the FBI files flap at the White House early this year, The New York Times reported that the federal government spent $5.6 billion in 1995 to keep secret documents secret.  Beltway habitues will point out that such numbers are apocryphal, but the public message is far more simple:

First, there is the common and probably majority view that there are still lots of legitimate secrets for the government to protect; and that there are, of course, loads of threats, old and new, that we need to protect ourselves and our secrets from.

But, there coexists another deeply ingrained belief that $5.6 billion is merely another example of the government wasting huge sums of money to administer its programs; that the secrets are really just bureaucracies covering up their law breaking, incompetence, sloth, or self-interests.

And then there is a third and simultaneous corollary of these two views.  And that is that all those secrets are really dastardly and incredibly complex and competent coverups of,

A.  the existence of UFOs and aliens,
B.  the CIA’s responsibility for the assassination of John F. Kennedy,
C.  the government’s surveillance and mind control program,
D.  POWs and MIAs still languishing in Southeast Asia, and/or
E.  the latest, the truth that Saddam used poison gas, which the government also is covering up.

One doesn’t have to scratch the surface of American society too deeply to find the UFO-POW/MIA-Gulf War Syndrome-militia constituency.  These are views that absolutely cross the political spectrum and more often than not break out into the mainstream (say when 20 percent of the population votes for Ross Perot, erstwhile surveillance subject himself).

But take for a moment Oliver Stone’s movie “JFK.”  After the movie came out, it ended up that some huge percent of the public believed that the CIA might have actually killed President Kennedy.  That in itself says a lot and should be disturbing to anyone working in the national security field.  But what I would like to point out is that the movie and the brouhaha was enough to move the Congress to undertake the most rigorous and extensive declassification effort ever.

Had the CIA released those records earlier, and had the government made some attempt to answer the conspiracy crowd in the preceding decades, then maybe, just maybe, some percent of the population would have been educated and convinced.  And maybe just in general the credibility of the government and the national security community would have improved, thus making it more implausible for other grand conspiracies to emerge.

I say maybe because I don’t want to be too naive.  There’s no getting away from one immutable fact about our society: That no matter what the government says, people will continue to believe what they believe.

This is seen most starkly this summer with “Independence Day” and UFOs on the covers of Time and Newsweek and the popularity of shows like “The X Files” and the irrepressible Roswell story.  The bottom line is that some significant percent of the population is just demented.

But as with Oliver Stone’s JFK, if you can confuse and manipulate enough people so that they think that a UFO really crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, you can actually move the government.  Like the CIA, the Air Force declassified all of its files on the subject of UFOs, and wrote a Manhattan-phone book-sized White Paper on the subject, item by item refuting every last scrap of coincidence and inconsistency in the 50 year record.

Yet all to no avail.

For when life on Mars is reported in the news media, as it was last week, the kooks seem as prominent as the astronomers in offering sound bites.  The fact is that subcultures continue to believe despite reports and White Papers and Congressional investigations and commissions and blue ribbon panels.  Somehow, I lay this public confusion about reality partly at the government’s doorstop.


Let me switch gears for a moment to say that I’m not so sure you can’t keep secrets  particularly when a revelation like Tacit Blue, the flying bathtub, is made.  Despite all the speculation from Area 51, despite the foolish with their binoculars and discussion groups and Web sites, despite lawsuits and even a mighty Sixty Minutes expose, despite all this attention no one outside of the government had any clear notion of what was, or is, going on at Groom Lake.

I won’t even get into the question as to whether the technologies involved in Tacit Blue were worthy of the fights and the lawsuits.  Nor whether such secrecy is needed.  My cynical mind tells me that bureaucratic interests were probably served in making the existence public.

Tacit Blue reminds me of the revelation of another “black” program  Senior Surprise, the conventional air-launched cruise missile used by the Air Force in the Gulf War.  The missile’s existence was unveiled with fanfare on the first anniversary of Desert Storm  I think it was around budget time, but I’m sure that was pure coincidence.  Anyway, the industry newsletter Navy News reported that the Air Force press release came only after Time magazine crowned the Navy’s Tomahawk “missile of the year.”

So, you can keep secrets, but at the same time, you may have so squandered your credibility by playing these sorts of games that cynicism is rampant and conspiracies flourish and pseudoscience coexists with real science.  But most important, with so many secrets in the stockpile, and with so little true ranking done as to what is or should be secret, real traitors and threats, insiders like the Walkers and Ames, can gain access so much more easily and do far more complex and inscrutable damage.

So many secrets.  A couple of years ago, the CIA announced they were going to release their files on operations in the 1950’s and 60’s.  But it warned that there were just seven employees to wade through a stack of secret files taller than  I’m not making this up  50 Washington monuments.  I calculate that as 7.13 Washington monuments worth of files per employee (the WM seems always to be the government’s preferred unit of measurement).

Anyone knows that in order to preserve real secrets, they need to be identified.  If the government practices indiscriminate secrecy on this scale, sweeping up with the real secrets those things that aren’t really secrets or don’t need to be, then the end result is neither protection nor respect.  Maybe the government is a lot smarter than I think it is, and by keeping silly things like the intelligence community budget secret they intentionally divert investigative attention from real secrets.  I doubt it.  But I would submit that making routine organizational and budget information, and the policy-making process, secret only breeds trivial leaks and public suspicion.

And most important, it just makes the American public stupid.  Government shows a contempt for the public and public opinion when it acts as if details about its activities aren’t needed for oversight and consent.  This I think is at the root of the decline in government credibility.

Take the Gulf War syndrome as an example.  After arrogantly maintaining that the complaining GI’s were either suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or were malingerers and extortionists, the Pentagon has admitted that some combination of toxic substances and administered vaccines might have worked together to create an auto-immunological reaction and thus a true medical affliction.  This raises some important new questions about the toxicity of the battlefield and of other potential dangers in industrial and occupational health.  But instead of conciliation, treatment and future prevention, the media focus has been on meaningless “revelations,” such as the most recent, that the Pentagon “really knew” of the existence of an Iraqi chemical weapons dump in the far northern corner of the Kuwaiti theater.

This is a fact that is unconnected to most of the veterans problems and to the syndrome itself.  But it suggests that the government is hiding more information.  The end result is a “hard copy” free-for-all where any claim, any news story, any conspiracy, begins to seem plausible.


Let me speak for a moment about the emergence of the Internet and the relationship with secrecy.  I note that there have already been some secrecy flaps.  When one of Scott O’Grady’s fellow officers wrote up his exploits on Email, the Defense Department put out a warning about the use of Email.  Last year, it turned out that an intelligence document placed online in the Gulf War declassification registry contained information about “sources and methods.”  The document said something to the effect that human agents reported X, an ordinary counterintelligence blunder.

Around mid-March of this year, a San Francisco reporter wrote a story that the Department of Energy was secretly preparing new nuclear warheads.  The headline says it all: “DOE designing new bombs, Web site shows.”  The Department explained that the document cited in the article was old.  But one of the things about the Internet is that often its impossible to tell the date of a document or its origin and status.

What happened in these two cases?  The GulfLINK site was sanitized so that the declassification effort became more perfunctory than historically valuable.  The DOE shut down its Defense Programs Web site completely for a few weeks and sanitized it as well.  Now there’s nothing worthwhile on it, not even documents that if you are in Washington, you can get as a matter of routine if you know who to ask.

People acting out of their best intentions were trying to make a ton of stuff available on the Internet, and there were teething problems.  But it was the novelty of the new medium that magnified the significance of any leak.  And no one actually claimed that damage was done to national security.

The lingering message is that the Internet is a threat.   Here Internet enthusiasts and government gumshoes form a devil’s alliance, which is always dangerous.  Internet boosters  you know, the type of people who like Wired magazine  claim with wide-eyed enthusiasm that the Internet is the biggest threat to traditional secrecy that could exist.  That it portends a re-conception of national security based not on secrecy but on transparency.  That there won’t be any more secrets.  That the potential, with the Internet and high resolution imagery, will be for everyone to know everything instantly.

The same cyber utopia seems to be the operating threat scenario for gumshoes and information warfare gurus.  This is what a breathless Navy special agent assigned to the computer security said recently: “Right now, it’s bigger than all of us put together.  It’s bigger than counterintelligence, it’s bigger than fraud, it’s bigger than criminal investigations.  If Federal Agencies don’t stick with this, it’s going to eat us up.”
Internet junkies assert that the technologies for openness are growing faster than the technologies for keeping secrets and that the power balance is shifting towards individuals.  Their Pentagon analogues  information warriors  struggle meanwhile to develop new weapons, to define the military dimensions, focusing on network and essential infrastructure protection and attack.

The pace with which a new information warfare bureaucracy has taken hold in the Pentagon is astounding.  Now everything that used to be labeled electronic combat or psychological operations poses with new terminology such as battlespace and information dominance.  And old nuclear warfare scenarios and models  like the Day After game you are playing here  are retread.

Secrecy has also proliferated.  I’m sorry, but I just see beyond the bureaucratic and institutional self-interest of another new rage within the national security community, one that might have noble purpose and important justification, but ultimately just serves to frighten and thus control the public.  Not being an enthusiast though, I also admit that perhaps I just don’t understand the cult.  And cult it is, for the believers have adopted the very definition of “cult status:” It’s so good, so smart, so hip that it’s over the head of the idiot masses.

Being one of those idiots, there’s nothing like a new national security fad  with beltway bandits and defense industry swarming around the government trough  to get my juices going to find out the truth and to challenge the bureaucracies’ misguided assumption that it is in charge.

Who’s Minding DC?

In the Event of an Attack, Who’s Minding DC?

Washington’s security would be up to a patchwork of military commands and law-enforcement agencies.

Washingtonian Magazine, October 2013

If an unauthorized plane or a cruise missile sneaked into Washington airspace, the last line of defense would fall to soldiers under the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, headquartered at an armory at 3111 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The large windowless building has a sign that says AMERICA’S SHIELD, but there’s no perimeter fence and only waist-high Jersey barriers stand at three of its four entrances. The fourth is open to traffic, without even a gate arm to regulate entry.

The reason for the lax security may be that Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard isn’t in DC. It’s in Anderson, South Carolina.

Arrangements for Washington’s air defenses are classified, of course, but according to both published plans and documents I’ve obtained, our protection against rogue attacks has long depended on a shadow world of overlapping commands and jurisdictions that overlay the capital region and extend far beyond it. In the 12 years since American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, the top-level organization responsible for super-emergencies has become more complicated as our national-security apparatus has exploded in size. The Program, as this group is known (short for Program Coordination Division, its name before responsibility shifted from FEMA to the White House), is now a broad interagency network comprising military and civilian functions. One fact about the Program, however, has not changed: There’s no single person who understands it, no one really controls it, and no one is really in charge.

No territory has as many watchers as the area called the National Capital Region (NCR)—originally consisting of the District and the surrounding counties but repeatedly enlarged to cover sensitive sites as far away as Pennsylvania. Fighter jets, on alert 24-7, scramble on the orders of a command center at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, on the Potomac River opposite Reagan National Airport. Bolling reports to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, which in turn answers to the main command in Colorado. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, and Park Police helicopters stand ready to intercept “low and slow” movers. Faster-moving threats are the concern of that armory in South Carolina, which oversees antimissile batteries around DC, manned by personnel from North Dakota, Ohio, Florida, and Mississippi who take rotating stints in the NCR.

These lines of command merge at the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region at Fort Mc-Nair, near the Jefferson Memorial, and ultimately report to the Secretary of Defense. On paper, it all seems perfectly prudent and redundant. In an actual attack, though, the various security forces would implement their contingency plans while officials in the Program’s org chart consulted code-red envelopes and attempted to assert control.

In the case of a terrorist act involving, say, weapons of mass destruction, the Program would go into action, directing the FBI, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Energy Department, and a host of others, even as the DC government executed its own “homeland security” plan involving hundreds of federal agencies and police departments.

The best analogy for the Program is Wall Street: a collection of institutions whose common interests supposedly allocate resources efficiently. Five years ago, we got to see how Wall Street handled a crisis. How did that work for you?

William Arkin is a national-security expert, a former Army intelligence officer, and the author of more than a dozen books, including his latest, American Coup: How a Terrified Government Is Destroying the Constitution.

This article appears in the October 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.

Homeland Security Fear Factors

EmergencyPrep10thAnv_Infographic11.inddHere’s how I read this new poster from  Fifty percent increase in disasters in the past 10 years?  Government incentives to have a disaster declared and more, in everyone’s interest.  But the number of people who actually participate in this idiotic and no doubt expensive government pep-rally is tiny.  The only real statistic here is the claim that more than half of Americans have prepared emergency kits.  I don’t know whether that’s true but it is an indicator of a lack of public confidence in government’s ability to deal with disaster.  So as a self-help program, I guess the government telling everyone that they are on their own is working.

Want to understand the manufacture of fear and obedience in America?  Read my new book, American Coup: How A Terrified Government is Destroying the Constitution.

We are SAPs: forty companies currently working on “special access programs”

News of slowed declassification activity by the Obama administration – vigorously rejected by the National Archives – punctuates the fact that government secrecy, despite any statistical shenanigans and worship at the altar of transparency, continues to grow.

Perhaps no area of that growth is more alarming than in programs officially designated “special access programs” or SAPs, where additional security measures restrict the kind of routine knowledge that government officials, auditors, inside kibitzers, and even Congress needs for effective oversight.  What is more, SAPs are a license to lie.  If an official with knowledge of a SAP is asked about it by a member of the press or Congress, he or she can simply brush away the inquiry.  Oversight doesn’t have the right security clearance.

Over the years, various Defense Department, executive branch and Congressional efforts have attempted to review, regulate, reign in, and reform the SAP system, and certainly SAPs to the detriment of the war-fighter – that is, when a secret program exists that is not used to help the normal Joe on the battlefield – are an indefensible no-no.  But since 9/11, it appears that the way in which “access” to SAPs is governed in warfare is merely to increase the number of people with casual access to them, thus making them less SAP-py on the battlefield, though certainly still powerful at hiding in Washington.

Stealth technology, certainly one of the largest continuing programs covered under an official SAP, infect both the F-22 and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programs and account for a significant number of the clearances.  (The SAP associated with the F-22 Raptor is called Senior Jersey Raptor (SJR).)   Other technology programs that includes important current SAPs include the Air Force’s new small MC-12W Liberty program, certain Predator and Reaper capabilities (and entire SAP drones), and the whole world of “special” special operations and submarine capabilities.

Virtually all counter-space programs – that is, those that involve the ability to shoot down or disable satellite capabilities – are also SAPs.  As are large swaths of computer network operations, “special technical operations,” and “national technical means,” all pieces of the space-digital-intelligence-cyber-mischief continuum.  Nuclear weapons programs, particularly those associated with nuclear weapons command and control, are mostly under restrictive SIOP-ESI clearances rather than SAPs, though there appear to be some SAPs dealing with the specifics of Presidential strike means and nuclear weapons security, including the NATO nuclear weapons infrastructure.  Directed energy weapons – particularly high-powered microwave and laser weapons of operational and strategic significance, also are covered by SAPs.  The counter-IED program has certainly acquires as many SAPs as it can get its robots on, building its own intelligence and special operations empire beyond any sensible reach.

The theory is that a SAP is denying knowledge of some capability is going to preserve it from the enemy.  If the enemy is Congress and the public debate, the “sensitive” parts of a program can be turned into SAPs.  That is absolutely prohibited by regulations, but the assignment of SAPs has become so promiscuous, it is the effective result.  Thus the proliferation of SAPs into the counter-intelligence and “CI/LE” world (counter-intelligence/law enforcement) world could be alarming, if we knew exactly what they were, and the current large scale North American Air Domain Awareness Surveillance (NAADAS) Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) – with its many SAPs – seems to be scared of its own shadow in terms of what needs to be done to secure America’s skies, that is, what will be done without public debate if possible.  Finally, NORTHCOM and its Army law enforcement component – Joint Task Force North in Texas – seems to be involved in a number of SAPs, all of which I’m sure are SAPs merely because their revelation would be politically controversial.

Right now – this week – almost 40 companies are advertising over 200 jobs requiring Top Secret clearances with ability to gain access to special access programs.   I made a list, of course of the companies and the locations of the work (some are contingent on award of contract):

  •  Apogee Solutions Inc.: Langley AFB, VA
  • Automation Technologies, Inc. (ATI): Augusta, GA; Columbia, MD
  • BAE Systems: Lexington, MA
  • Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.: Broomfield, CO
  • Boeing Global Services and Support: Oklahoma City, OK
  • Booz Allen Hamilton: Dayton, OH
  • BOSH Global Services: Ellsworth AFB, SD
  • CACI:  Arlington, VA: Springfield, VA
  • Chenega Corporation: Langley AFB, VA
  • CSC:  Huntsville, AL; Washington, DC (area); Nellis AFB, NV
  • Cubic Mission Support Services: Washington DC (area)
  • General Atomics: Poway, CA
  • General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems: Dayton, OH
  • Honeywell International: Clearwater, FL; Herndon, VA
  • Insignia Technology Services: Shaw AFB, SC
  • KEYW Corporation: Annapolis Junction, MD
  • L-3 Engility Corporation: Dayton, OH
  • L-3 Global Security & Engineering Solutions: Beale AFB, CA; Offutt AFB, NE; Arlington, VA
  • Leonie: Washington, DC (area)
  • LinQuest: Washington, DC (area)
  • Lockheed Martin: Yuma, AZ; Edwards AFB, CA; Palmdale, CA; Eglin AFB, FL; Fort Worth, TX
  • MacAulay-Brown, Inc.: Dayton, OH
  • ManTech International: Huntsville, AL; Los Angeles, CA (area); Hickam AFB, HI; Barksdale AFB, LA; Kirtland AFB, NM; Dayton, OH; Arlington, VA; Dahlgren, VA
  • MYMIC LLC:  Arlington, VA
  • Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems: Palmdale, CA
  • Northrop Grumman Information Systems: Beavercreek, OH; Arlington, VA; Chantilly, VA
  • Northrop Grumman Special Projects: San Diego, CA
  • Northrop Grumman Xetron: Cincinnati, OH
  • PL Consulting Inc.: Arlington, VA
  • Raytheon: Tucson, AZ
  • Raytheon Applied Signal Technology: Annapolis Junction, MD
  • Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems (IIS): Aurora, CO; Garland, TX
  • Raytheon SI Government Solutions: San Antonio, TX
  • Riverside Research: Dayton, OH
  • SAIC: Adelphi, MD; Columbia, MD; Springfield, VA
  • Scientific Research Corporation (SRC): Colorado Springs, CO; Tampa FL; Honolulu HI (area); Arlington, VA; Norfolk, VA (area)
  • SI Organization: Chantilly, VA
  • SOS International Ltd. (SOSi): Northern VA (CIA)
  • Summit Technical Solutions: Edwards AFB, MD
  • TASC: Vienna, VA
  • Textron AAI Corporation: Hunt Valley, MD
  • Trinity Technology Group, Tampa, FL; Fort Washington, MD
  • U.S. Falcon:  Beale AFB, CA; Ellsworth AFB, SD
  • WBB (Whitney, Bradley, & Brown, Inc.):  Hampton, VA
  • XL Associates: Langley AFB, VA

Government Conferences: The GSA Merely Got Caught in Las Vegas

No one in their right mind would want to stand up and defend the GSA’s $823,000 conference meeting in Las Vegas, which has become the latest paradigm of government waste.  Las Vegas in particular provokes images of ID card lanyards swinging around poles as the DC-revelers crowded the strip clubs on Industrial Road.

Now, as Fierce Government reports, the White House is imposing cut backs on conferences and travel expenses, directing agencies in a May 11 memo reduce expenses by at least 30 percent in fiscal 2013.  Deputy Secretaries will have to review any conference where the agency spending could exceed $100,000 and no agency can spend over $500,000 on a conference – well, that is, without a waiver.

I can’t imagine that anyone thinks this will change a thing, except make every Las Vegas planned event “sensitive.”  And of course it is just spitting in the wind when it comes to the industry and association sponsored conferences, the modern-day back rooms where deals are made and future careers for military officers are lined up.  These military – and increasingly homeland security – conferences are going on almost daily.

From the GovEvents website, I picked up 91 such events scheduled for the next six months.  At the bigger events, a dozen or more government and military officials can make presentations (at what cost to the taxpayer?) and loads of military personnel and government employees attend.  Looking at some of the more specialized IT symposiums, it can cost up to $500 each for each participant.  So if only 20 government participants attend these, not including travel and lost time, the cost is already $1 million. See how ridiculous efforts to save government – taxpayer — money are?

The Conferences and Expos:

Soft Power Becomes a Military-Dominated Counter-Everything…

Soft power, all the rage in the ivory tower, but ever so slowly being eclipsed in the Defense Department as mission excitement builds for China and that old foe Iran, is here to stay in that way that the Pentagon knows how to overdo everything: write the regulations and doctrine, open specialty institutions, build an internal constituency.  And of course, spend money, which in the military budget is a pittance but in comparison to other departments and agencies is a King’s ransom, which is why soft becomes hard, and everything that the U.S. government attempts to turn into non-military becomes military by default.

As Secretary Robert Gates nudged the rest of the government to do more so that the military didn’t have to do everything, and the commentators of everything-is-pathetic-except-for-the-military love to point out that the State Department can’t even find enough volunteers to man its hazardous posts in the perpetual warzone.  Come to think of it, I wonder if DOD could if their assignments were equally voluntary.

But I digress.  Institutionalized soft power a la Pentagon practice does take resources, and bodies, and pretty soon, hard power is compromised.  So there’s a double loss for America: Military priorities get distorted, and the distinction between what is military and what is civilian fades.

This week, European Command (EUCOM) announced the opening of a new Joint Interagency Counter Trafficking Center in Stuttgart, Germany; a kind of unremarkable and typical blah, blah, blah, even for the once important European Command constantly looking for mission and relevance.  The new center focuses on trafficking in drugs, weapons, humans and other illicit commodities.  Army Brig. Gen. Mark Scraba, the center’s director, told American Forces Press Service that criminal networks were increasingly able to operate across national borders and build alliances.  Among the greatest concerns, he said, is the convergence of drug and terror networks.  The fusion center, the director says, has fewer than 40 staff members, and includes representatives of the FBI, DIA and other U.S. government agencies.

Fewer than 40 staff members indeed, but you gotta ask: Why is this paid for out of the defense budget?  Why does the military have to take the lead for the interagency to work?  How many additional contractors and supporters are really expended?  How does this subtly impact and undermine core military missions?  How does it slowly turn the military into a global law enforcement entity?

When the U.S. government started trumpeting the term narco-terrorism after 9/11, I took it to be a cynical effort to rename the war on drugs and the activities of the left-out combatant commands like Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in the new mono-focus of terrorism.  The term in fact had been coined by President Fernando Belaúnde Terry of Peru in 1983, according to Wikipedia.  The adoption by DOD was in fact cynical, but soon enough they discovered that the most pressing narco problem was in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a mission that initially they relegated to the Brits and the NATO partners, but have been slowly taking over.  EUCOM’s center is really a product of endless fighting in Afghanistan.

EUCOM’s center joins the counter-narcotics and counter-narcoterrorism effort at Central Command (CENTCOM), which takes place in the Afghanistan and Pakistan Center (APC).   SOUTHCOM has their new Countering Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) division.   Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has both a CTF [counter-threat finance] team and a TNT/CNT [transnational terrorism/counter narcoterrorism] division.  So does Northern Command (NORTHCOM), which has built up a whole group of Colorado Springs-based efforts fighting transnational criminal organizations (narcotics trafficking, human smuggling, weapons, money laundering/threat finance etc.), focused mostly on Mexico.

All of these field outposts feed into the counter-narcotics and counter trafficking intelligence efforts of the CIA – through its long-standing Crime and Narcotics Center — NSA, DIA, Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), etc.  Even the Navy’s Nimitz Operational Intelligence Center has a Transnational Threat Department (TNT).  This is not even to mention the two Joint Intelligence Agency Taskforces focused on the war on drugs: South (JIATF-S) in Key West and West (JIATF-W) at Camp Smith, Hawaii.  The Department of Homeland Security, of course, has gotten into the act, opening an ICE Bulk Cash Smuggling Center and other organizations.

None of this particularly surprises me, even when budgets are supposedly so strained.  But I can’t help continue to think that the entire effort is both cynical and ass-backwards.  If we want soft anything, we have to lead with non-military efforts.

The Obama administration, not surprisingly, has made it worse, contributing to the mission creep into organized crime and human trafficking, through its Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Addressing Converging Threats to National Security, released in July 2011.

That Strategy called for DOD to enhance its support to law enforcement with the creation of the  Narcotics and Transnational Crime Support Center.  James Miller, the new Under Secretary of Defense for Policy called the Center “a dedicated DoD-led center that integrates military, intelligence, and law enforcement analytic capabilities to go after key nodes in global criminal networks.”  It reflects, he says, “the added value that the Defense department brings to whole-of-government efforts against transnational organized crime.”

Kathleen Hicks, who replaces Miller as Principal Deputy, told Congress:  “DoD should also consider how it can play a role in breaking the links among criminal organizations, terrorists, and insurgencies.  As the President’s strategy states, “terrorists and insurgents are increasingly turning to TOC [transnational organized crime] to generate funding and acquiring logistical support to carry out their violent acts.” As the Department continues with its counterterrorism efforts around the world, it will be important to account for the links between criminal and terrorist entities.”

I’d never heard of this Center, and Internet research turns up very little.  What I’ve pieced together is that it is located in Crystal City, Virginia, and the director reports to the Deputy Assistant Security of Defense for Counter Narcotics and Global Threats.  Camber Corporation is providing signals intelligence (SIGINT) expertise to link the Center to NSA.  Semper Fi Solutions, Inc. is providing CENTCOM liaison officers in Tampa to the Crystal City based center, as well as corruption and “predatory” analysts.

Other contractors providing intelligence support to the trafficking empire include: BAE Systems, Celestar, Delex Systems, Duer Advanced Technology & Aerospace (DATA), FedSys, Inc., General Dynamics Information Technology, L-3 STRATIS, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Prosync Technology Group, and SAIC.  Parsons Corporation is working on the methamphetamine/precursor chemicals problem set for the DIA.

Finally, one has to ask, with all of the enhanced intelligence collection and sharing and border control that is part of the post 9/11 world, why is this problem getting worse?  How is that possible, that borders are more porous?  So much for the war against terrorism.  No wonder they call it the forever war.

In Defense of Defense of the F-22

Should we say Bravo! to the Air Force for doing its job, for doing what the military services are supposed to do, which is to train and equip, to advocate for their mission and specialty, and then to move out smartly when overruled by higher ups?  Or should we just shut down the junior service because it’s so pathetic?

The Air Force received the final, 187th F-22 Raptor jet last week in Georgia, destined to join the 3rd Wing’s 525th Fighter Squadron, stationed at the Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska.  Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz was on hand to blather on about “America’s first 5th generation fighter aircraft,” thanking the line workers, and then heading back to his Pentagon credenza, where no doubt he was preparing to weather the onslaught.

First came ABC News, with Senator Take-No-Prisoners McCain repeating the old bombast that the F-22 is useless because it has never been used in combat.  In almost seven years not a single one of the jets, which cost an estimated $420 million-plus each, has ever been used, ABC said.

60 Minutes followed, sucking all of the oxygen out of any decent discourse, scoring the coup of having actual pilots “without permission … blow the whistle on a plane they love to fly.”

The GAO piled on.

Lockheed Martin tweeted and tweeted in response how fabulous the plane is, oblivious to what was going on all around.  The Air Force produced Gen. Mike Hostage – no kidding – to tell us that the F-22 was in fact being deployed and used all over.  This nation needs this airplane – and every one of them,” he said. “I wish I had ten times as many as I have.”  Really only the Air Force Association and the network of retired airpower advocates have joined the battle, attempting to answer the F-22 critics.

They are all missing the point.

There’s so much to be said about the news media and how opportunistic it is, stuck in a mode of having to make every story a bombshell.  There’s so much to be said about the Air Force, which just can’t get beyond its institutional inferiority complex and can’t see the big picture because it is constantly bunkered and under attack.  There’s so much to be said about the idiocy of the public defense debate stuck in some 1980’s mode of waste, fraud, and abuse, weapons-won’t-or-don’t-work.

But the real issue is that we have no defense policy, no national security strategy.  We’re fighting in Afghanistan and no one other than the government and military supports it or cares; we’ve declared terrorism an existential threat that isn’t one; we’re pivoting to Asia to unstick ourselves from the Middle East, making believe that there is some military solution in the future; we’re hanging on to and hostage to gajillions of dollars of nukes – “not used in combat” in 60 years, get it?; we’re watching new constituencies in favor of perpetual war emerge – homeland security, the intelligence community, special operations, the cyber warriors, the counter-IED kingdom, the counter-threat finance sleuths, the counter-narcoterrorism fighters – and seem oblivious to the age of special interests that takes advantage of the absence of a national security strategy.  No wonder every Congressman and woman just tries to get and save bases, contracts, and weapons in their districts and states: The Defense Department and the federal government has completely failed to articulate in any useful way why x is needed and y isn’t, so it all boils down to politics, what’s best for the district or State, and every special interest just establishes alliances to pursue what it can get.

The F-22 symbolizes all of this dysfunction, particularly that part about our debate stuck in some weird 1980’s time warp.   But what’s really happening is that the plane is just too good, too good for even the pilots, too powerful, too fast, too flexible, too magnificent.  And as such, it should be seen as part of a sea change, as a seam between an old era and a new, rather than some industrial object to be audited.

Like the 10 last-inch-seeking hyper-reliable MIRVs that we finally stuffed on top of the triple-somersaulting MX missile in the 1980’s (and then abandoned for being too much), the F-22 is too much for what is really needed for our national security, which is to say, that just because it’s the best doesn’t mean it’s buying us anything.

I’m an agnostic one way or another about the airplane, but do appreciate the details of its capabilities, including how fabulous it is as an intelligence platform, how it can dog fight and bomb at the same time…  The real question we have to ask ourselves is whether 187 of anything carrying two or twenty bombs, no matter how accurate, is going to defeat a China or Russia?  Of course it isn’t; it’s a “deterrent,” it’s a symbol; it’s a lab experiment.   It’s all sorts of things that might actually be good for America except that we can’t really determine whether that’s so unless we look at our national security in a lot broader way, shorn of love for boots on the ground and hate for the fly boys, shorn of pro-Europe and Pacific and anti-Middle East, shorn of COIN versus big war.

Is this my only choice: More killer drones?  More main battle tanks?  More opaque spending on intelligence and special operations?  More cyber this and that?  More PTSD?

In which case then, I’ll take the F-22s.   Everything that the drones and the tanks and the magnificent covert operators represent seem both more mischievous and dangerous for the future of America.

Wa$hington Clean$ Up

Defense Daily reports today that DRS Technologies, maker of communications and intercept equipment for the military, will move its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Northern Virginia, joining almost all of the top 10 defense and national security contractors inside the Beltway bubble.

In 2006, DynCorp announced it would move its headquarters from Irving, Texas to northern Virginia, followed by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and the U.S. affiliate of the British giant BAE Systems two years later.  Northrop Grumman and SAIC then both fled southern California for the financial sunshine of Washington, joining Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Booz Allen Hamilton, ManTech, and CACI already headquarters inside the Beltway.  These are not just the biggest defense contractors, they are some of the largest corporations in America.

DRS, an operating division of Italy’s Finmeccanica, also picked up Obama administration first Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Lynn, who took office only with an ethics waiver from the President, as chairman and CEO earlier this year.  Former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff was appointed chairman of BAE Systems earlier this month.  Former Air Force chief of staff Gen. John Jumper took over SAIC.

Some facts about Washington from the 2010 Census: 10 of the 15 wealthiest counties in America by per capita income are in the Washington DC metropolitan area:

  • The richest county in America: Loudoun County, Va.
  • 2nd richest: Fairfax County, Va.
  • 3rd richest: Howard County, Md.
  • 5th richest: Arlington County, Va.
  • 7th richest: Stafford County, Va.
  • 9th richest: Prince William County, Va.
  • 12th richest: Montgomery County, Md.
  • 13th richest: Calvert County, Md.
  • 14th richest: St. Mary’s County, Md.
  • 15th richest: Charles County, Md.

End the All-Volunteer Force? End the Stranglehold of the National Security Elite!

Tom Ricks is a keen observer of the military, but his op-ed proposing to scrap the all-volunteer military, no matter how clever his reasoning, is dead wrong.

“Our relatively small and highly adept military has made it all too easy for our nation to go to war — and to ignore the consequences,” Ricks argues.

If we had a draft, Ricks says, public opinion might have prevented us from going to war in Iraq, and if we returned to conscription, “the people” would again be reconnected with the armed services.

Captive inside the Beltway and surrounded by military friends and colleagues and national security wonks, I can imagine that the world looks this way to my old friend Ricks; but he is wrong about the military, wrong about Iraq, wrong about the people, and wrong about the solution.

The military – our military – doesn’t need a draft, and the notion that hundreds of thousands of young men and women being drafted would help or that they would be drafted so that we can create a coherent national security policy, repair our broken political systems and end a new class structure in our society, is ludicrous.

First, technology has forever changed the face of war.   Boots, and boots on the ground, might be a central component for demonstrating some kind of tangible political commitment behind all of our impetuous military interventions, but increasing the quantity of people available in uniform has little to do with the central military task: Which is defending the United States and vanquishing our enemies.  Quantity isn’t needed to fight terrorism, and quantity wouldn’t even be needed to ‘defeat’ a China, at least not vast quantities of infantrymen.  (And if it ever came to the point where a Nazi Germany or peer competitor military power arose to threaten us, mobilizing the nation to support the fight would be a piece of cake).

No, the truth of the matter is that warfare is indeed easier to wage today because of the shift from the industrial to the information age, and even in wars like Afghanistan and Iraq where we make fruitless and desperate attempts to create heroism and a sense of chivalry through manpower-intensive force deployments, most of that manpower is superfluous to the actual fighting, and the number who are truly at risk in combat, even within military ranks, is incredibly small.

After a decade of constant war, our military still hasn’t adjusted to the new realities, though pockets of elite organizations – special operations and tactical ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] have.  Even in the case of ground forces, brigade-sized combat organizations (augmented by airpower) are so more lethal, flexible, and powerful than divisions of old.  We just don’t need as many people to generate combat power.

Need of course has to be defined by our national security policies and purpose, and here is where we have the greatest crisis.  A national security class – mostly civilian and corporate, mostly in and around Washington – has taken over American foreign policy making and they decide national interest on the basis of self-interest and global experimentation and damaged political psyches.  It is romantic to imagine that a flood of “people” into this closed world could reform the system, but that’s all it is.  Certainly the draft-dodging Dick Cheney’s and Bill Clinton’s will continue to rise to the top, so the burden will fall to the people while the power will remain as is.

Even in the case of the 2003 Iraq war, I’m unconvinced that the absence of an all-volunteer force would have changed things.  The intelligence community failed, the presidency stumbled, Congress abstained; the news media, the international community, Baghdad,  the U.N., all played a tired and predictable role, but the “people” could have and would probably have been just as easily manipulated with images of mushroom clouds had there been a draft.

Fighting seemingly cost-free wars began with Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990’s, even with the first Gulf War.  Iraq in 2003 wasn’t that much of an anomaly, no matter how costly it ended up for those in uniform.  They should be the ones who are angriest, the ones fighting the most for political change, not for a draft.  Again, I think in order to create heroism in our society, in order to honor military service, there is a tendency to objectify a lazy and indifferent civilian class – those who went shopping, in Ricks’ characterization – but this is the equivalent of blaming all of the failed mortgage holders and investors rather than the bankers and money-elite for the 2008 financial meltdown.  Frankly, our society needs more “soft” and less “hard” when it comes to national security.

The solution to our perpetual war-making and our foolish military-first foreign policy and our muscle-bound-tone-deaf war against terrorism isn’t conscription.  Citizen participation is needed, that’s for sure, but avenues for citizen participation in veteran care, homeland security, cyber defense, first response, and emergency management have been hijacked and militarized since 9/11 in such a way that more involvement just means more national security making, which ultimately leads us down the same dead end.