Can CENTCOM Lead the Way?
Reflections on OSINT & the Coalition
Robert David STEELE Vivas
Presentation to the Coalition Coordination Center
27 January 2006
A copy of these slides are at the Modern Information
Operations Portal Page at www.oss.net.
About the Speaker
• 30 years overseas
• USMC 0302/0202/9676
• 6 clandestine tours
• Founder USMC Intel Ctr
• OSINT pioneer since 1988
• Helped 19 governments by
invitation in home country
• Trained 7,500 from 40 countries
• #1 Amazon non-fiction reviewer
• Author 3 core books on IO/Intel
• Believe we all need/can use a
Operations Center (MIOC) with
Global Intelligence Failure
Breakdown in Collection and Understanding
Digital Analog Oral/Unpublished
NSA FBIS UN/STATE
1) Don’t even try to access most information
2) Can’t process hard-copy into digital
3) Can’t translate most of what we collect
*33 predominant languages, over 3,000 distinct languages, and
twelve critical Arabic dialects we do not do well at all.
Global Processing Failure
Breakdown in Exploitation, Dissemination
50% Less Costly
Does Not Exist
This is a common-sense contrast we can exploit.
HUMINT SIGINT IMINT MASINT
95% of cost 20% of value
5% of cost 80% of value
OPEN SOURCE INTELLIGENCE
OPEN SOURCE INFORMATION
Open Source Data
Open Source Information
Open Source Intelligence
Validated Open Source Intelligence
OSINT is not something the classified intelligence community should
control—it must be equally responsive to diplomats, policymakers,
operators, and logisticians—as well as all-source intelligence analysts.
What OSINT Is Not...
“…nothing more than a collection
of news clippings”.
“…a substitute for spies and
Open Sources in 33+ Languages
World War III Players
Water & War
Source: The State of the World
Atlas (1997), chart 54, 53
Local Threats to Global Survival
59 Countries & Rising
Water Scarcity &
EWthatneirc* C*onflict 18
Resource Wars, Energy
Waste & Pollution**
Censorship Very High
*State of the World Atlas (1997), ** Marq de Villier (Water), John Heidenrich and Greg Stanton (Genocide),
Michael Klare et al (Resources), all others from PIOOM Map 2002
OSINT Matters I
• "By `intelligence' we
mean every sort of
information about the
enemy and his country--
the basis, in short, of our
own plans and
Clausewitz, On War, 1832
You get no points for just knowing
secrets when they are less than 2%
of what you need to know.
OSINT Matters II
What’s on the other side of the hill?
All the business of war, and indeed all the business of life, is to endeavor to
find out what you don’t know by what you do; that’s what I called “guessing
what was at the other side of the hill”.
Duke of Wellington
quoted in John Wilson Croker, The Croker Papers (1884)
OSINT Matters III
This is what got General
• Current Awareness
• Key Personalities/Motivators
• Imagery & Image Maps
• Translation Support
• Strategic Generalizations
• Critical Technologies
Harnessing the Power of the Crowd
Seven Views of Reality
Not listening, and not sharing, costs us.
New Craft of Intelligence
Lessons of History
Spies & Secrecy
China, Islam, Ethnic, Etc.
Cost-Sharing with Others--
Shared Early Warning
intelligence of Nation
• All information, all languages, all the time
• Going back 200 years, digitizing hardcopy
• 185 languages, 33 of them “core”
• 12 relevant dialects of Arabic
• Must follow television, radio, audio, street
• 80% of this, at least, is overlooked by IC
• Cannot be made sense of by single individual
• We must find a multinational integrated approach
A Revolution is Underway
Peer-to-Peer Distributed Ubiquitous Collective Intelligence Now Possible
COMMAND & CONTROL
SOURCES & METHODS
SOURCES & METHODS
Peace & Prosperity Can Be Achieved By
Changing When & How We Intervene
• Public warning can
change public policy
– More Prevention
– More Peacekeeping
– More Education
– More Long-Term Aid
– Less Corruption
– Less Censorship
We have a sacred duty.
Between Google and Wikis, World Brain is Possible
# = Your Top Issues,
Local, National, Global
Reality-Based Behavior & Budgets
Act on 2% of the info.
Big stick works BUT
Long-term cost not
visible to public
Goal is all UN information including
field reports in real time, beginning
with complex PKI of DoD interest
and networking of all NGO
eyes & ears on the ground.
5 PB/Yr 2
10 PB/Yr 3
Pay with information
Pay with cash & information
U.S. Based Corporations
$1B is half what USDI was
prepared to authorize at FOC
Most of them don’t get it yet—stuck in
IT or KM, internally focused.
with 1-3 year
for OSINT alone. We go for JOICs,
OSINT, & integrated man-machine
Foreign Language Conversion in a
coherent manner that creates added
value for each contract, a compelling
sales point and a barrier to entry for our
competitors who miss the big picture.
Spending $15B a year now on data
mining and related IT-driven ideas.
Two tracks: one with our
team members and
their best big clients,
OMB pursuing “common solutions”
approach. We give them our model,
funded by DoD, for all of USG with
NORTHCOM as hinge and DHS as
the ultimate beneficiary. The language
capability can help us capture 911 now.
Any institution agreeing to upload the bulk of its open
research information including all student dissertations
to OSIS-X gets access to OSIS-X and to the toolkit
(registering for the toolkit recruits the individual mind “
by name” into the global network. All students everywhere
are on tap, not just for knowledge creation, but for direct
observation and nuanced evaluation. Later this allows us to
change the educational paradigm to mix distance leaning,
on-demand tutorials, help buttons for any task, and social
networking as needed. Above the cash line, we focus on
restoring education and research as the engines for wealth
production through knowledge creation. Below the cash line, we
focus on intellectual property creation, management, exploitation.
Beginning with Interpol
and drilling down locally
in all countries, we
give them OSIS-X
free to obtain
privacy OK &
All NGOs, World Bank, IMF
We get their organizations
to pay for access, but we
find a way to recruit
them as individuals
to meet our
on the side.
Labor Unions & Religions
Citizens & Advocacy Groups
It’s no longer about the collection of information or
the communication of information. The next big
thing is about the connection of dots to dots, dots
to people, and people to people. We do this with
an intelligent network and a focus on semantic
web/synthetic information architecture technology,
and the empowerment of individuals so that they
can create and share knowledge in real time
without organizational, legal, security, cultural,
or language impediments.
The next slide shows the OSS value concept,
the “I” side of the IT equation. SANITIZED
DGI: Director of Global Information GIC: Global Intelligence Council GSC: Global Strategy Council
USA DGI, GIC, GSC
World Intelligence Network
USA Earns Nobels Across S&T
Funded by DoD, Fed By OSIS-X
GPS RFID-X (All Devices, People, Locations)
OSIS-X (Global Nations, Organizations, & Individuals)
General Al Gray: “Communications without intelligence is noise; intelligence without communications is irrelevant.
Peter Drucker (paraphrase): We’ve spent 50 years on the T in IT, now it is time we spent 50 years on the I in IT.
SECRET BIG DATA
NOT SECRET BIG DATA
• UN, Red Cross, NGOs…
• NASA , public geospatial
• Amazon Inside the Book
• Napster Plus
• Dots don’t know they are secret until some
human decides this.
• Dots gain value from swarming, lose value
• Dots gain value from history and context.
• Dots gain value from speed of delivery.
• Dots in a foreign language are smarter.
• Information to one is intelligence to another.
Teams Crossing All Boundaries
Success Story: Dutch OSINT
more than www
Surface web is
NOT the Internet
(Deep web plus)
Merging with Internet
Books down, still matter as
0 500.000 1.000.000 1.500.000 2.000.000 2.500.000 3.000.000 3.500.000 4.000.000 4.500.000 5.000.000
P2P file sharing
print film magnetic optical telephone radio TV Internet surface Web deep web email
lower 327 74.202 3.416.230 51 3.488 39.841
upper 1.634 420.254 4.999.230 103 3.488 68.955 532.897 167 91.850 440.606 274 0
Success Story: Swedish OSINT
• Began with one Maj
(today LtCol), today fills
up a basement in storage
and aggregate sense-making
• Works in all languages,
manages global cover
stories, gets technical
information directly from
including Chinese and
Success Story: South African OSINT
• First to combine
appreciation of both open
source software as
affordable, and open
source intelligence as trust
• Only leader of a
warning and open source
Success Story: UK OSINT
• Started with just one
• Leveraged global
network of pro bono
advisors, many met at
• Cut cost of finding
lairs from L3000/day
to L30 in an hour by
ADDNI/OS & OSS CEO
ADDNI/OS View of OSINT OSS CEO View of OSINT
OSINT is both a supporting discipline,
and an all-source discipline.
Possible Next Steps
• In-Depth One-Day Workshop here in Tampa
• Identify and engage with your national military
OSINT POC, then exchange notes within CCC.
• Self-study at www.oss.net free web site
• Plan for attending IOS ’07 15-19 Jan 07 at no cost
(No cost travel if group aircraft can be arranged )
• Consider OSINT summit in home country
• Develop concepts for a CENTCOM MIOC
Spread the Word
Robert David Steele Vivas
CEO, OSS.Net, Inc.
Use MoveOn.Org OSINT
topic to self-organize
everywhere in the world
Hinweis der Redaktion
The U.S. Government is on a path to spend up to $2 billion a year on Open Source Intelligence or OSINT. The purpose of this briefing is to provide a very fast overview of where OSINT is today, and to suggest that a new Multinational Information Operations Center (MIOC) here at CENTCOM could energize the coalition and establish new powerful means of sharing information across all languages and borders.
Most of my life has been spent overseas, as the son of an oilman, including ten coups d’etat in Viet-Nam, then as an infantry officer and as a clandestine case officer. My transformative experience occurred when I created the Marine Corps Intelligence Command, and discovered in 1988 that 80% of what we need to know to do policy, acquisition, operations, and logistics intelligence is not secret, not online, not in English, and not known to anyone in the NCA.
This is a depiction of how little we collect in the foreign affairs arena. One study of three countries suggests that we collect less than 10% of what can be known, in part because the only people with money to buy local knowledge are the spies, and they insist on treason as a condition for employment. We are simply not serious about open sources of information, nor about information in foreign languages. To find 396 terrorist, insurgent, and opposition web sites, as OSS and its partners did in 60 days for under $60,000, requires the ability to work in 29 languages including Catelan, Gaelic, Kurdish, Farsi, Urdu, and Pashto. Today we work in 33 languages and do the rest on short notice.
It gets worse. This is an official CIA depiction, from a study done in the late 1990’s, as to the relative cost and satisfaction derived from each collection discipline. What is most noteworthy--and a major reason why we failed to “connect the dots” and prevent 9-11, is that there is no single place where it all comes together in digital form, with time and geospatial tags, such that we can automatically see patterns and detect anomalies. Summing up: we collect less than 20% of what we should, process less than 10% of what we collect, with the result that Washington is operating, at best, on 2% of the relevant and available foreign affairs information.
OSINT combines the proven process of intelligence with global multi-lingual sources, generally from commercial vendors that add value. It is an essential foundation for all-source intelligence collection and all-source intelligence analysis. OSINT could be, but is not, the foundation for comprehensive all-source intelligence collection and all-source intelligence analysis. I have spent the last 18 years attempting to help all legitimate governments improve in this area.
Open Source Intelligence is not well understood by all-source intelligence analysts. We must distinguish between data—the raw sources in many languages and mediums—information that collates data for generic audiences—and intelligence, which is tailored to the needs of a specific decision-maker. Intelligence is about supporting decisions, not about secret sources. OSINT should be done by others in support of the all-source analyst, just as HUMINT, IMINT, SIGINT, and MASINT have a cast of thousands engaged in collection, processing, and first echelon displinary analysis.
There are still some common misconceptions about OSINT among the most senior diplomats and other policymakers and operators. Here you see what OSINT is not.
It is important to emphasize the paucity of those endeavors that are limited to English or the main European languages. If one cannot work in 33+ languages on a 24/7 basis—that is, in near-real-time, one is not serious. Print and broadcast media are actually the smallest part of the open source universe. Untapped perceptions, oral histories, informal exchanges, limited edition local publications, pre-prints, and geospatial as well as imagery information of all kinds—including photos from cells phones with geospatial positioning system information—this is the larger universe.
Nation states are only ten percent of the threat. More threatening are private sector organizations that destroy people’s life savings or export their jobs, or that implant immoral capitalism abroad, enriching elites and disenfranchising all others; ethnic criminal gangs such as we see coming out of Russia, China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, and Colombia; and bacteria. Finally, we have Mother Earth, on the verge of collapse. The Earth is tired of our talk, wants peace, an end to promises, and perhaps an end to us. [Philip Levine, 1979]
This is the reality that we are not ready to deal with as we are now structured and funded. We have a world that is largely unstable and at war with itself. In 2002 there were 23 conflicts killing over 1000 people a year, 79 killing under 1000 a year, and 175 violent political conflicts internal to a specific country. Neither the CIA nor the media articulate this reality to our public. Google could, if it would ramp up its visualization and its data mining on substance rather than just clicks.
It gets worse. Everyone knows about the Holocaust against those of the Jewish faith during World War II. What most people do not realize is that there have been over 70 genocides in history, and that there are 18 genocides taking place today as we gather here to consider national security and the future of America. How we understand and deal with genocide today is a litmus test of our national competence. The people is unaware of this reality—we can make it easy for them to see.
These ethnic conflicts tend to coincide with conditions of severe deprivation. Note the red line---some of the worst water scarcity and some of the worst ethnic conflicts are along the Russian borders with both the Islamic states of Central Asia, and the Chinese state…and of course between Israel and Palestine. Water scarcity is a national security threat that does not receive enough attention. It has troubling potential here at home.
Instability spawns migrations, criminal activity, and disease as well as terrorism. There are 20 or so complex emergencies involving over 32 countries that are considered to be “failed states.” We have millions of refugees, millions of starving people, millions of people subject to plagues and epidemics. You know these challenges well—but until we educate America, and our citizens in turn demand action from Congress and the Executive, these threats to our Nation will continue to multiply and interact.
The U.S. Government spends at least $50 billion a year on the 5% of the information it can steal. It spends less than $500M on the other 95%. Clausewitz understood that we must focus on all sources, not only secret sources.
There are many different ways to look to the other side of the hill, and most of them are not secret. Knowing what it looked like historically, or through Google Earth today, can be “good enough.”
This is the slide that got General Schoomaker, then CINCSOC, to fund OSINT. Today, for less than $1M a year, the OSINT section at SOCOM answers 40% of all GWOT EEI. CIA has experienced similar results—40% of their finished production comes from OSINT at a cost of less than one half of one percent of the total National Foreign Intelligence Program.
Our team likes analogies. Here’s mine. If the information universe is a baseball game, then we can liken the governments to the team, and the rest of the world to the crowd. The governments’ traditional tools for winning the information game are the secret disciplines. HUMINT tries to recruit a player to predict where the ball will go, and send someone to catch it—or not. SIGINT plants a listening device in the dug-out, trying to overhear plans and intentions. IMINT takes an overhead photo of the field every three days and tries to call the game that way. MASINT sniffs for the ball, and the gloves. OSINT changes the rules—we give everyone in the audience a glove, and any catch by a member of the crowd is an out. That’s how we handle the information explosion—everyone gets to play, and they know we will pay cash or kind when they send us the ball they caught. It is a universal unstructured winning order of battle, a Google kind of approach.
With leadership, we can change how we make a difference, leveraging all seven tribes. Journalists, academics, business professionals, non-governmental organizations—they are all acting now in isolation, based on limited information. We can offer them all a voluntary framework for collaboration in the sharing of legal and ethical information. I have a vision of each government creating a framework to harness what all seven of its tribes know, and then helping create a World Brain.
My second book, THE NEW CRAFT OF INTELLIGENCE: Personal, Public, & Political, lays out the future of intelligence as I believe the citizen-taxpayer must insist it be. Specifically, we can no longer afford to ignore either history or the historical statements of other players in their own languages; we must devise a means of sharing the burden of monitoring all open sources in all languages all the time; we must harness the considerable knowledge we have in our private sector; and we must focus our spies on the hard stuff.
My next book, coming out in February, focuses on information operations. Here at CENTCOM the leadership and staff understand that we cannot do all sources in all languages all the time unless we have a strong coalition. We must find a new multinational integrated approach.
The knowledge-action paradigm is changing, and all over the world, informed publics are being empowered. The new paradigm is bottom-up, multi-cultural consensus, relying predominantly on open sources of information in all languages, and taking a long view because the consequences of taking a short-term view are easier to visualize and disseminate now.
We must change the intervention paradigm. The old paradigm, the secret paradigm, defers intervention until the problems are so great that they cannot be ignored. The new paradigm, the open paradigm, offers intervention very early, through peaceful preventive measures.
Massive works needs to be done in digitizing historical documents, presenting the present in a coherent form, and developing virtual reality games that will allow historical and current information to shape alternative scenarios for the near and far future that can be tested. Any citizen should be able to enter their issue and their zip code, and see all this on their Google screen, along with networks of key decision-makers and the varied constituencies.
In such a new environment, the public’s memory would be “forever” and no politician or corporate executive will be able to escape public accountability. Reality, not ideology, will be foundation for public debate about public policy, with a full leavening of foreign viewpoints that are not at all understood by even the most educated Americans today. To this we will add gaming, man-machine foreign language translation, and advanced analytics available to the individual end-user.
Here is are strategic concept for incentivizing a massive flow of information that will be available free to the coalition. Governments and corporations pay with cash as well as information, and have reciprocal access to quantities of information provided by others. Schools, Non-Governmental Organizations, Law Enforcement, Journalists, and other members of the “seven tribes” pay with information rather than cash, and also have reciprocal drawing rights.
The Open Source Information System – External or OSIS-X will accommodate all legitimate governments and organizations, while shutting out illicit organizations that can be hunted down in the wilder Internet environs. Essentially we will create a “safe zone” in cyberspace where legitimate business can flourish. The other levels we can talk about another time, but we do see a need for a global GPS RFID architecture and for a multinational Intelink-X that can share secrets among authorized organizations and individuals, including those brought in “on the fly” with CISCO AON rule changes done instantly.
The secret side of any government can use all the help we can give them from OSINT. Right now we should have two priorities: to build a Google-OSIS that can handle all the unclassified information in all languages all the time, and to scale up the system we already have between OSS and a major Combatant Command, where all of the open source information is pre-tagged to Intelink standards and can be fed up to the high side instantly with one-button acceptance.
My focus is on the larger paradigm shift that is taking place in the sources arena. I focus on the 90% of the international information that is not secret, not in English, not online, and that can be shared with and exploited by key elements of the government and their private partners. Although I could collect all this stuff before, it is only now, with CISCO and Google bringing new capabilities to market, that our global access can achieve optimal value inside of your all source Information Operations environment.
Absent some basic information sharing agreements and protocols, governments and corporations around the world are wasting billions of dollars every year. I believe that we can create coalition tiger teams that identify experts across all boundaries, and that can collect, evaluate, and share relevant information helpful to military and inter-agency planning and operations.
Eventually, not immediately, I anticipate US funding of coalition centers around the world. Initially these would be focused only on open sources of information, but some if not all could migrate toward clandestine and technical tiger teams as well.
International doctrine for OSINT does exist, and General William Kernan, then Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, gets a lot of credit for understanding that OSINT is the key to a shared view of the battlefield, and of our common challenges, when operating in a coalition environment. .
The Dutch military are, with the Swedish and Norwegian militaries, among the best in the world in this arena.
LtCol Mats Bjore created the first Swedish long range reconnaissance center for cyberspace, and then went on to help McKinsey double its knowledge management profits in the Nordic region. Today he is the CEO of InfoSphere and half-owner of SILOBREAKER, which makes Google look like a trash can. In Sweden, the private sector has gone further and faster than the military or civilian agencies.
I trained 600 people in South Africa in the 1990’s, and today they have a continent-wide early warning and information sharing system in place. They have also pioneered the use of open source software to enable affordable participation by many poor countries.
Detective Steve Edwards of Scotland Yard created the original OSINT unit that has been putting terrorists and arms merchants in jail faster, better, cheaper. Here he is shown receiving the Order of the British Empire from the Queen of England.
The ADDNI/OS has one view of how OSINT supports the secret disciplines, and I have a different but complementary view. The bottom line is that the US Government is finally taking this seriously, and we all have an opportunity to test new concepts and doctrine for unclassified information sharing here at CENTCOM.
I am under contract to CENTCOM. Here are a few possible next steps. I welcome questions, I understand we have ten minutes allocated.
The road is open for a truly global network that is multinational, multiagency, multidisiplinary, and multidomain, and that is dedicated to the proposition that sharing not secrecy, is the primary means of creating peace and prosperity. I am headed for China and the Congo. I will never be more than an email away from all of your, I deeply respect all of you and want to do what I can to coach you and nurture your own emerging capabilities and interests. I am not and do not wish to be a vendor of OSINT services. I will help any Embassy, any country, any Command, to the full extent of my capabilities. My successor will market the capabilities I have described. Now I hope you will join me for a drink, we must party on. God Bless each and every one of you. This conference is concluded.
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