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Tactics 101 056 – Military Deception Means and TechniquesBy Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland | Tactics101|War College | Published: January 07, 2011 at 11:55 am
“I make the enemy see my strengths as weaknesses and my weaknesses as strengths, while I cause his strengths to become weaknesses and discover where he is not strong.”
Last month, we began our discussion of military deception with a focus on the basics. Our goal was to provide you with a foundation so we could move into the finer points of military deception. We keyed on several different areas. First, we highlighted some of the more famous uses of deception in history. Second, we gave you a definition of military deception. Third, we addressed the functions, principles, and components of military deception. Finally, we looked at the reasons why military deception works and conversely, why it fails.
Possessed with a firm foundation of the doctrine of military deception, we will delve into more specifics this month. Specifically, we will focus on the means and ways a commander has at his disposal to conduct military deception. You will find a commander has potentially much available to him. The key is taking these available assets and synchronizing them into a believable story focused at the right audience.
In the world of military deception, means are the methods and resources you utilize to convey or deny information to the deception target. As a review, the deception target is the person or group of people you are directing your deception efforts upon. This person or persons must be the decision-makers on the battlefield. The decision of the target is critical. If you get this wrong, you are wasting your vital resources.
We break up deception means into three distinct categories. These are: physical, technical, and administrative. Let’s discuss each of these.
When a commander employs physical means he is utilizing specific activities or resources aimed to influence his target. When we think of deception, this is normally the means that quickly come to mind. Normally, physical means are aimed at the visual senses of the target. However, there are also ways that physical means can be focused on the senses of hearing and smelling (we will highlight those shortly).
There are several keys to making physical means as effective as possible. First, the activity must be believable to the target. Second, the activity must be witnessed by the enemy’s surveillance systems. Finally, physical means are more believable if they are enhanced with technical and administrative means.
There are many types of physical means. These include:
** In our next article, we will discuss in detail the use of smoke in the offense, defense, and in deception operations.
However, we will not discuss this use of smoke.
In regards to technical means, there are many possibilities. Below you will find some examples of technical means (Please do not scoff too much – these means are out there):
We know these means are a bit out there. However, if you digest it a bit; they are certainly feasible if both sides possess the necessary technology to deliver and detect the indicators.
There is one category of technical means that is not so hard to fathom. This is the use of multi-media in deception. Within this area, there are certainly the obvious mediums of radio, television, print media, and of course, the internet. Multi-media have been used significantly in the past and will be used even more in future deception operations.
When we speak of administrative means, we are focused on the utilization of what is called physical evidence (sounding like CSI). A prime example of physical evidence would be for a unit to craft an operations order for a fictional mission. Then, through a believable scenario enable your opponent to somehow get their hands in it. Another example would be to craft up a false status report on your forces (showing combat strengths, etc.) and again allowing the enemy to gain access to it. Administrative means are a challenge to pull off. The difficulty is making your enemy believe his coup is legitimate and that the operation order is factual.
As we discussed earlier, there are four primary deception techniques available to a commander. These are feints, demonstrations, ruses, and displays. Let’s discuss each in detail.
The most commonly used deception technique is the feint. A feint is a type of offensive attack used as a deception technique with the purpose of drawing your opponent’s attention from your main effort attack. This could include moving his reserve or repositioning units such as his field artillery or second echelon forces. Because of the nature of a feint, it requires some contact/engagement with the enemy. That is the only way you will be able to sell the deception. Feints can take the form of a raid or even a supporting attack.
As discussed earlier, the goal of the feint is divert the enemy’s attention from the main effort attack and to persuade him to use resources that may normally be used elsewhere. Some of the key actions you would like the enemy to do in reaction to the feint are:
Two key decisions you must make in regards to the feint is where you will conduct it and at what time. Let’s discuss each below:
A demonstration is similar to a feint in many ways, but is far less resource intensive and the expectations are not as great. Within a feint, you are still conducting an attack again aimed at drawing your opponent’s attention from your main effort attack. However, there are some key distinctions.
Just the word itself, exudes of deception! In basic terms, a ruse is a ploy intended to deceive the enemy to gain a subsequent advantage over him. During a ruse, you will deliberately expose false information so that your enemy can collect upon it. It is hoped that this information will be analyzed by the enemy as truthful.
Ruses can be executed at all levels. For example, at the lower levels it could just changing vehicle bumper numbers. For those World War II enthusiasts out there, you know that the War was filled with ruses on both sides. The amount of misinformation planed by both sides was simply incredible! The more elaborate the ruse – the more time is needed to potentially pull it off.
A Factitious OPORD can be of Great Value in Executing a Ruse
The final deception technique is the display. Just as the name suggests, a display is a static presentation aimed to deceive the enemy. The display is focused on your enemy’s sense of sight. Thus, it could be geared to his radar, various types of cameras, and of course, the human eye. A display can take the form of simulations, disguises, or portrayals. Obviously, if you can effectively utilize a combination of these; your chances of success are improved. Below we will address each:
As this article has highlighted, there is much that a commander has at his disposal. At the strategic and operational levels of war there is much star wars stuff and things we will never know about. At the tactical level, there are simpler means and techniques that can and have been highly effective. The key at any level is utilizing as many techniques as feasible to sell your story. However, all it takes is for one technique or means to be determined as deception and the entire deception story is blown (an incredible waste of resources).
In our next article, we will go into detail on the use of smoke and obscurants on the battlefield. We will talk about the use of smoke in the offense, in the defense, and in the deception. The use of smoke is truly part art and part science. We will discuss both these aspects in our next article.
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