Category Archives: New Initiatives

panel 3

Introduction: Challenges to Intelligence Collection

“Intelligence remains our basic national instrument for anticipating danger—military, political, and economic.”—President George H.W. Bush

In preparation for our first “Challenges to Intelligence Collection” week, our CIMSEC editors observed a surprising lack of published information on intelligence collection, both in the general world of scholarship and here at CIMSEC, despite intelligence collection being one of the most controversial topics in the media in the past year. Furthermore, few organizations have adapted as drastically to institutional and operational changes since September 11th as the intelligence community. Yet the body of knowledge on this subject remains conspicuously sparse.

Recently, John O. Brennan, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, delivered the keynote address at the first annual “Ethos and Profession of Intelligence” conference. In his address, Director Brennan admitted “the Central Intelligence Agency does not hold a lot of public conferences. Our foreign counterparts tend to hold even fewer—as in zero”. [2]  Subsequently, our valiant contributors will attempt to address this uncharted academic terrain. We will publish new articles that address and identify possible operational, procedural, and cultural impediments to efficient intelligence operations.

Georgetown University and the CIA hosted the “Ethos and Profession of Intelligence” conference on June 11th, 2014 in Georgetown’s historic Gaston Hall. Despite the overt anachronism of discussing cyber attacks and geospatial intelligence under Gaston’s neo-Gothic paneling, the elaborate setting emphasized the role of intelligence as a historically significant aspect—and perennial fixture—of the United States’ national defense organization. Conversely, panelists’ discussions addressed pressing concerns for the future of the intelligence community, such as evolutions in cyber technology, the emerging importance of public sector involvement, and the precarious balancing act between domestic transparency and community integrity. [2]

Ultimately, the conference emphasized the irrevocable tension between meeting the demands of the future while still maintaining the core tenants of the intelligence profession. The mere fact that the CIA was willing to participate in a public conference represents exactly how far the intelligence community has evolved in the past decade. The joint CIA-Georgetown University conference marked the CIA’s first-ever public national security conference, suggesting that as the intelligence community rises to meet the demands of the future, the CIA intends to lead this evolution. At the same time, the careful and intentional inclusion of the word “Ethos” in the conference title involuntarily invokes the Aristotelian appeal for credibility and the enduring need for trustworthy intelligence professionals. [3] It is also reminiscent of the gravity of the intelligence mission; in the domain of intelligence, the ability to persuade is often a matter of life and death.

In a similar vein, CIMSEC will feature articles this week that connect the intelligence community’s past to its demands for the future. Our contributors will demonstrate how far intelligence collection has evolved since the end of World War II and portend the challenges that will threaten specific intelligence communities in the future. Likewise, form will follow (editorial) function; we will feature previously published articles on Naval intelligence, cryptology, and emerging technology, highlighting the need for continued discourse on this subject and CIMSEC contributors’ willingness to address this significant knowledge gap.

Jillian Danback McGhan is a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and a former instructor at the United States Naval Academy. She is currently a student at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and a research assistant for the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorist Events (CREATE). The views expressed here are her own and do not represent those of the Department of Defense, the Department of the Navy, Georgetown University, or CREATE.

[1] “Remarks for Central Intelligence Agency Director John O. Brennan as Prepared for Delivery at the Conference on the Ethos and Profession of Intelligence, Georgetown University”, 11 June 2014.

[2] Video footage of the conference, including all panel discussions and remarks by CIA Director John O. Brennan and former FBI Director Robert Muller, can be found on the CIA’s website:

[3] For a refresher on Classic rhetorical appeals, see the Purdue Online Writing Laboratory’s summary “Aristotle’s Rhetorical Situation”,



Challenges to Intelligence Collection – Request for Posts!

During the week of 7-14 July, the Center for International Maritime Security will feature the feature week “Challenges to Intelligence Collection”. We welcome all posts pertaining, but not limited, to:

  • The history and evolution of intelligence collection, especially but not limited to naval and maritime intelligence
  • Technology shifts (from shoe phones to drones)
  • Complications created by changes to the operational environment
  • Unintended domestic and international consequences of intelligence operations
  • Managing governmental transparency in covert operations
  • Opportunities for the private sector to engage with—or potentially disrupt—the Intelligence community
  • Any other pertinent topics

Please submit all articles to by 5 July and feel free to  contact associate editors Jillian McGhan ( or Chris Stockdale-Garbutt ( with any questions.


Fleet Battle School: Innovative Ideas through Wargaming

102. In the transition from the era of sail to an era of war in three dimensions, great importance, and often inordinate value, has been attached to material developments. Material represents means and not the end. A nineteenth century sailor would be bewildered in a modern warship, but regardless of the appearance of ships, there is one element, the most important of all, that remains unchanged – the man himself. Human nature in all the changing years has altered but little. It is the human element in warfare which may, if understood by the commander, prove to be the only way of converting impossibility into a successful reality. With trained men and proper materials, the commander’s task is reduced to the preparation of good plans. A force inferior in material potency may, due to the moral resources of its men, prove superior in naval strength.
FTP 143(A), War Instructions, 1944

In the recent years of Pax Americana, we have gotten accustomed to the technological superiority of the United States. However, wars are not fought by gadgets, platforms and systems, they are fought by people. The people of the United States have developed this country and built its success not on a foundation of simply inventing new technology, but on innovative and disruptive ways to use it. The carrier and the submarine were not game-changing in their technology alone, but in how they were employed in a systematic campaign of strategic constriction through striking from great distance, island-hopping to secure bases and commerce destruction resulting in decisive victory. RADAR was a technology employed by a number of nations in World War Two, but the British early-warning system employed it through a novel concept of coordinated interception to successfully defend their island. In this same tradition, Fleet Battle School enables players to experiment with various “generations” of technological capability, indicative of what is available today and in the near future to discover not just what technological capabilities are valuable in a given situation, but how it can be used in new ways to be particularly devastating.

To this end, the CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC) developed a wargame which could be used to experiment with new technologies and innovative tactics. The Fleet Battle School game was intended to be a wargame which would enable the crowd-sourcing of ideas, an idea which project lead Jason Chuma has previously discussed on the CIMSEC website. To reach this end, the team focused on creating a game (based on a design by Paul Vebber) which would abstract a number of the characteristics used in professional wargames to create a system which is both easy to use and would portray general relationships present in a real conflict.

Most professional naval wargames are designed with a high level of fidelity. This fidelity within the “black box” of computer simulation hides the intricate interaction between weapons and targets. While this eases the burden of a steep “learning curve” to play the game and helps staffs exercise the detailed planning required to conduct complex naval operations, the lack of transparency results in little insight into why and how the result of executing the plan emerges. Fleet Battle School is not intended to be one of these games. It is a game designed to focus on the decisions which a commander would make to employ forces and allow players to experiment with how different decisions affect the outcomes of battle in a transparent manner. Thus, while Fleet Battle School has a combat system which is based on general relationships gleaned from naval warfare studies, engagements are resolved through a series of dice rolls based on incremental ‘capability levels’ attributed to the various platforms probability of successful engagement within and between domains represented in the game. Having access to the “combat results table” that indicates general probability of success of interactions between the various “capability levels”, the commander has knowledge of the general risk he accepts by pursuing a given course of action.

1277. While no one can predict with certainty in advance the manner in which an action will be fought, particularly on the part of the enemy, it is imperative, if coordinated action is to take place and if effective results are to be obtained, that the officer in command indicate his intentions and direct the units of his command. He endeavors to impose his plan upon the enemy. He has a definite intention to win by employing a definite method. Indecision on the part of the officer in command creates indecision and inaction in his command and invites disaster. An action begun with the declared intention to bring about an attainable result in a specified way gains the initiative.

FTP 143(A), War Instructions, 1944

Rather than making decisions for individual platforms, the players think at the level of the operational commander and issues orders to his forces as “missions” to perform in a given location, with caveats in the form of “commander’s intent.” These orders are given for each “game day” with the players given opportunities to adapt “the Plan” to emergent events, but at the cost of adding “friction” to the force’s ability to execute ad hoc missions which they are less prepared for than those in “the Plan”. It is assumed that the commanding officers of ships and pilots of the aircraft will execute tactics to try to best accomplish the mission assigned, though this can be affected by assumptions about overall crew proficiency and the aforementioned “friction”. The player isn’t worried about whether the ship should change speed or course, or how aircraft should be maneuvered to avoid an incoming missile – the split second decisions there are better suited for simulations. The player focuses instead on how forces are employed at the operational level, using emissions control, firing doctrine, force maneuver and air power to defeat an adversary, and most importantly, identifying the need to make a decision and what the best choice to make is at that juncture.

This approach creates three effects which make Fleet Battle School a unique wargame. First, it takes much less time to execute a scenario than a professional wargame. When professional wargames take days to play a week or so of real time, a scenario in Fleet Battle School representing several days can be resolved in a few hours or a game representing a few weeks in a few days. (The CRIC had entertained the idea of building a computer version of the game, which would shorten the time for a game to about 10-30 min per game day, depending on scenario complexity.) This makes the game much more accessible to a wide audience, by requiring less of a time investment in playing through a scenario to completion. It also supports a number of swift experiments sequentially – for experiments run over a week, players can try a variety of different decisions to better understand in what circumstances the decision is appropriate, or in the event of an unlucky outcome, how the same decision may still be the best approach.

Second, the game is very accessible to those with a wide background. Fleet Battle School was aimed at enabling junior officers and armchair admirals at home to be able to explore decisions at the operation level of war, but good operational warfare is a skill which takes a professional staff years to learn. By focusing on the decisions of the commander rather than the details of the planning, the game is accessible to people who may not have experience in maritime warfare or naval aviation, and gives them the opportunity to think through the challenges associated with naval warfare. In playtesting, one of the best players was a Marine Corps captain, who used a number of creative strategies to continue to defeat opponents with naval backgrounds.

Third, the approach keeps the game unclassified. While detailed simulation has its place, the difference of a few miles of missile range, or a different flight profile, doesn’t necessarily change decisions about how to employ forces. Basing the combat results on general incremental relationships between “generations” of capability based on unclassified studies of naval combat and operations research provide the game a backbone that keeps the effects of capabilities on decision-making consistent , without requiring details that would excessively limit the intended audience of the game.

In addition to these objectives, it was critical that the CRIC also produce a game which emphasized multiplayer interaction. Frequently, naval officers and operators are not exposed to conflict with an agile and adaptive adversary until late in their career; until then they are expected to follow and execute doctrine. Wargaming can provide a valuable opportunity for officers to develop their ability to think tactically and understand how to think through the sequence of action and counter-action to defeat a clever, creative and adaptable enemy. The ability to think like a naval warrior requires cultivation, and Fleet Battle School provides one way to allow players to do that.

Finally, if you want a wide audience to play your game, you need to make people want to play your game. Fleet Battle School aims at providing a game which flows quickly enough to keep players involved, and gives them enough decision space that they can build a narrative associated with the conflict. In the future, the game is designed to support a campaign of scenarios which would allow players to build their own order of battles and identify new technology investments. By watching how players evolve their own fleets, players develop ownership of their own fleet and are committed to its success, but the game would also provides valuable lessons on which capability and platform mixes are most successful.

New technological advancement themselves do not necessarily change the face of warfare; it is how those advancements are incorporated into new or novel concepts of operation which deliver advantage to a military. Fleet Battle School was designed by the CRIC to be a way to explore and evaluate new concepts across a wide forum to understand how the United States Navy and military forces in general can best leverage emerging technologies or new ideas. At the same time, it also helps to educate a new generation of officers in warfighting, and allow them to build experience in thinking creatively about warfare against an adaptive foe.

The Warfighting Connection blog has more information on the Fleet Battle School game, and the Fleet Power system on which it is based. The Fleet Battle School game is currently in early beta testing; intentions are to provide a playable demonstration of the Fleet Power system at the Connections Wargaming Conference in Quantico, VA, 4-7 August 2014.

Christopher Kona is a warfare analyst at Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, RI. He is a member of the CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC), and a former submarine officer in the U.S. Navy. He was project lead for the CRIC’s Fleet Battle School wargame project.


Sea Control 38: War Gaming with the CRIC Podcast (1 of 2)

seacontrol2From the entertainment of the risk board to the grand scale of international exercises… war games of varying types and scale inform and misinform us in learning about war and conflict. For the first in a two-part series on wargaming, CIMSEC jumped onboard with Jeff Anderson and the CNO Rapid Innovation Cell Podcast to discuss the CRIC’s Fleet Battle School game as well as a more general group discussion of the benefits, tripfalls, potential and limitations of wargaming. Chris Kona discusses the Fleet Battle School game and some larger wargaming programs. Jeff nerds out on Starcraft, and I talk a bit about the first world war.

Download: Sea Control 38:
War Games (1 of 2)

Speaking of wargames… remember, CIMSEC is running our “Sacking of Rome” series starting 16 June! Instead of talking about securing the commons, maintaining global security… using historic examples, modern-day developments, or predictions of the future, red-team the global system and develop constructive answers to your campaign. If you were an adversary, how would you seek to subvert or tear down the global system and how could we stop you? Paul Pryce is our editor for the week: (paul.l.pryce -at-

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Big Book

CIMSEC’s Longreads – May 20th, 2014

CIMSEC’s Longreads – May 20th, 2014

CIMSEC’s Longreads is back! Bringing you a list of the last week’s best pieces for your Tuesday morning enjoyment.

China’s Cruise Missiles: Flying Fast Under the Public’s Radar

The National Interest – May 12th – Dennis Gormley, Andrew S. Erickson, and Jingdong Yuan (Link)

An extensive look into the pitfalls and promises regarding China’s increasing reliance on cruise missiles for sea and surface strike drawing on the authors’ upcoming book A Low Visibility Force Multiplier: China’s Cruise Missile Ambitions.

How the F.B.I. Cracked a Chinese Spy Ring

The New Yorker – May 16th- Yudhijit Bhattacharjee (Link)

Espionage, intrigue, and free coffee at the local hardware store.  The New Yorker relays the down fall of a Chinese technical intelligence collection ring, while staying true to the details.

United States of Secrets (Part One)

PBS – May 13th – Frontline (Link)

The first of a two part series examining the personal clashes and ethical debates that surrounded the growth of US Intelligence Collection programs in the wake of September 11th, and their continuing legacy.

CIMSEC Member Publications

U.S., India’s Goals Diverge in New Delhi’s Near Abroad
World Politics Review - May 13th -  Nilanthi Samaranayake
“China’s Relations with the Smaller Countries of South Asia”
China and International Security - May 13th -  Nilanthi Samaranayake
Sverdlov Class Cruisers, and the Royal Navy’s Response
British Naval History – Alex Clarke – May 12th
The Great Green Sea Control Fleet
War on the Rocks – David Wise – May 12th
The Worlds Most Dangerous Pirates
 USNI News – James Bridger – May 12th
Putin in America’s Jurassic Park 
War on the Rocks – May 8th – Matthew Hipple
The Most Realistic Fish-bot You’ve Ever Seen – and What it Could Mean for Naval Warfare
 Naval Drones – May 7th - Chris Rawley
Surge Support in Tragedy’s Wake
The Navy Reservist – Scott Cheney-Peters - May 1st
The US, Japan, to Boost ASEAN Maritime Security
The Diplomat – Scott Cheney-Peters – April 30th
The Asian Century in an April Week
War on the Rocks – Scott Cheney-Peters – April 29th
War on the Rocks – Claude Berube – April 21st 
Anatomy of a crime: Some reflections on the latest killings at Fort Hood
Best Defense - John T. Kuehn, Ph.D. – April 15th 

If you have any tips, suggestions, or input for next week’s long reads, feel free to drop me a line at


06 MAY: Wargames Week Begins

F_200703_March31ed_i_30258aWargaming is an opportunity to ponder the implications of security and war plans amongst the unfolding of assumed and unexpected events. An important step in most planning processes, wargaming provides the leaders, planners, and gamers with various products and considerations, to include: the ability to evaluate strengths and weakness of ways and means; a validation of plans against a thinking adversary; potential illumination to the organizational leadership on the unique aspects, advantages and disadvantages of options, and key decisions; and an opportunity to further synchronize and refine various warfighting and interagency functions.

CIMSEC’s wargaming week will provide an opportunity for our authors to contribute to a dialogue on the current process of wargaming and to consider evaluating differing angles on wargaming maritime security. Who should participate (Red cell, green cell)? Are there strengths and weaknesses in differing methods of wargaming? Should future wargaming consider unique procedures beyond the common: action, reaction, counter reaction? Does effective future wargaming consider both rational and intuitive decision making? How will this look?

Although a narrow topic on the surface, wargaming is an expansive subject that can, and should, take many forms. CIMSEC looks forward to your thoughts, debates, and proposals in the upcoming week. For further information, please contact the Wargaming week editor, A. J. Kruppa at aj_kruppa(at) or general submissions at nextwar(at)

Strategic Insights covers from recent years

“Strategic Insights” – Call for Articles

And now, for something completely different… of sorts. If you want to expand audience for your ideas, look no further than Strategic Insights, the global maritime security analysis journal of Risk Intelligence from Denmark. Strategic Insights often goes by the short-hand SI, but it should not to be confused with the sports magazine of the same acronym, for it focuses on up-to-date and in-depth studies of contemporary maritime risks rather than on professional athletics or even swimsuit-clad beauties. So if you look like I do in a bikini, it will be much easier to publish in this version of SI! Each one of the six issues per year features an external contributor, and the SI editorial board is soliciting contributions for the 2014-2015 cycle for its new series on maritime chokepoints.

The other SI that is (sometimes) concerned with maritime security.
The other SI that is (sometimes) concerned with maritime security issues.

Anyone with an interest in writing a piece on a major maritime bottleneck of their choice (The Bosporus and Strait of Taiwan have already been taken, sorry) should send a short note Sebastian Bruns, member of the SI editorial board and fellow CIMSECian, at Please include a short bullet-point list of your take on the maritime security situation and threats to shipping at the chokepoint of your choice (ex: Strait of Gibraltar, Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal, Panama Canal, or others you may come up with), and 2-3 sentences on your professional background. If your article is accepted for publication – and there is little doubt that the cumulative intellect of CIMSEC members and readers of the NextWar blog will be willing and able to cover all major global choke points – remuneration is 300.00 € (or 400.00 USD) per article and will be paid via bank transfer on the first of the month after publication of the respective issue.

Strategic Insights draws on the focus and geographical coverage of Risk Intelligence’s MaRisk maritime security monitor, but takes a wider look at the nature of maritime risk in different threat locations around the world. Each issue goes beyond facts and figures to consider the drivers of maritime security challenges and how these challenges will evolve in the future.

The focus of Strategic Insights is on security threats and political-military developments with a maritime dimension, particularly non-traditional security issues such as piracy, maritime terrorism, insurgency, smuggling, and port security. The journal is read by players in the maritime industry, law enforcement agencies, think tanks and institutions, and inter-governmental regional security bodies. A particular emphasis is placed on articles that offer policy-relevant and operational analysis relevant to the maritime community. The style is a mix of journalism and academic, length about 2,500-3,000 words. Visit the website for more info and to download your complimentary free issue.

Sebastian Bruns is a doctoral candidate at the University of Kiel, Institute for Political Science/ Institute for Security Policy (Germany). His dissertation analyses U.S. Navy strategy. On the side, he is supporting Risk Intelligence and hoping to one day become a member of the Sports Illustrated editorial board.