Explain foreign denial and deception practices and discuss some historical examples. How might intelligence analysts counter these practices?
Enemy denial and deception techniques are pitfalls for intelligence analysts. Nation-states and non-state actors are well aware that they are targets of American intelligence collection and analysis. They work hard to deny the United States the means to steal via the various intelligence collection methods their secrets.
Their denial efforts will make American collection efforts more difficult. Russia, for example, might keep all of its land-based ballistic missile silos sealed to deny American spy satellites the opportunity to see which silos are operational and which are not. The Chinese are mounting their newest ballistic missiles on mobile launchers that are more difficult to detect and tract than fixed missiles silos. North Korea and Iran have dug deep underground tunnel systems to hide their ballistic missile forces from prying American spy satellites.
Deception techniques, on the other hand, are designed to influence the perception of American intelligence and, in turn, policy makers. Adversaries know that they will not be able to shield some of their activities from American intelligence. So they design and spread alternative and benign explanations to put the United States at ease. China, for example, might conduct yearly and large-scale military exercises off the coast of Taiwan. But in the future, these expected yearly exercises might be a cover for a massive military assault on Taiwan.
We will examine the theory of denial and deception as well as study them in an historical case study. The 1973 Middle East war—often referred to as the “Yom Kippur War” after the Jewish holiday on which the Egyptian attack took place—is a classic study intelligence failure. We will examine this historical case to see how enemy denial and deception techniques are effectively used and how they might be countered. We also will study the case with an eye toward other pitfalls in intelligence analysis such as “mirror imaging” and “group think” that we had previously discussed.