DROP ZONE: The Cost of a Secret?

The security they’re sticking onto this thing will kill you. It will increase your costs twenty-five percent and lower your efficiency to the point where you won’t get any work done. The restrictions will eat you alive. Make them reclassify this thing or drop it.

— Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson, Creator of Lockheed Skunk Works, Skunk Works, 1965

The Department of Defense (DOD) has maintained an advantage since the end of WWII by keeping close hold on all of its vital secrets. In the midst of the ongoing information revolution, it is increasingly challenging to keep these secrets from leaking, as evidenced by the actions of Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, or more recently, Reality Winner. As the vulnerability of our secrets has increased, the US Government, including the DOD, has boosted the security protocols and limited access to only a small group of people. These actions create barriers that hamper innovation and the conduct of operations. As commander of the elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), GEN Stanley McChrystal directed “share information until you’re afraid it’s illegal” in order to facilitate innovation and efficiency. The US military is caught in a constant struggle between facilitating progress and protecting the information that enables key US capabilities.

OTH’s first article next week, The Value of a Secret, offers solutions for the improvement of classified information management in joint operations and the acquisitions system. The article seeks to address the struggles of the operator levied against the needs of the security management apparatus.

Later in the week, Jonathan “Vapor” Bott presents his second installment of Outlining the Multi-Domain Operational Concept. Building on his first piece, Vapor discusses the evolution of the multi-domain idea, why it requires further development, and how Service parochialism risks impeding its advancement.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.


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