OPERATION LINCOLN

Created: 12/1/1963

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STUDIES

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INTELLIGENCE ^/

A collection ot articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ot

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theey do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of (he Central Intelligence Agency or any otheremmem entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations

Ristoryurposeful legal' travel collection operation run from the Untied. States.

OPERATION LINCOLN Robert Vandnveer

CIA's organization for thb collection of foreign Intelligence from sources In the United States has longajor part of Its effort toward exploiting the Intelligence potential. travelers abroad. During the past seven or eight years of Increased tourist travel to the USSR and official exchange visits of experts ln various fields it hasreat deal of time and energy to briefing and debriefing those who may thus have opportunities to make useful observations, seeking to exploit these sources of opportunity with reference toofeparting traveler would be briefed about what Intelligence was needed in the field of his own specialty; but beyond this the operation did not go.

Afterad intensified and focused attention on the problem of the Soviet long-range missile threat, however, and the location of missile sites became the number-one priority collection task of the intelligence community. It wasthat such travel had additional potential which could be tapped. It was decided that travelers whose discretion could be trusted and whose itineraries looked promising for the purpose would be so briefed as to be able to recognize and report Indications of missile activity, especially launching sites and production facilities, without getting themselves into trouble with the Soviet authorities. In9 the new program, designated Operation Lincoln, began.

First

It wasimple matter of passing out the word; much preparation was required. The domestic collection officers were not expert in missile requirements and Indicators, hi the details of travel procedure in the Soviet Union, or in the nice-tics of operations approaching the clandestine Closewith missile analysts and clandestine offices was

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needed. Since the traveler sources vould be scattered all over the United States, the domestic field offices would need centra] directioneadquarters stall competent In the Lincoln program. And there was none too much time before thetourist season, April to October.

Representatives from the Interested scientific and economic analyst offices were appointed to maintain liaison with the directing stafl^providing ennsumer supporten* contactfieldthree headquarters officers were putrash trainingwith the help of the analyst offices and the clandestine collection staff concerned with. The ten became ,the Lincoln officers in the field who helped recommend the selection of travelers to be exploited and, when these were approved, briefed them on requirements and procedures and trained them in making observations; the three went into the Lincoln Staff at headquarters which directed the program, passed on field officer recommendations, arranged special briefings and training as required, and processed thereports for dissemination.

During9 season the program was intentionallyand conservative At itsravelers had been screened, preuminary assessments madendassessments, andeen briefed. To keep the risks within reasonable limits these travelers wereto visual, photographic, or conversational observations. They did not see any long-range missile sites, but they helped map the deployment of antiaircraft missiles,umber of their reports were given high evaluations. Lincoln had not been expected to provide answers to the majorquestions confronting the Intelligence community. It had been hoped, however, tbat its travelers could discover clues to the presence of missile activity and, secondly,operational intelligence for clandestine operations against likely targets. It was beginning to fulfill especially the first of these hopes.

The value of9 experiment was twofold. First, the wrinkles which any new program Is bound to have could be spotted and ironed out. Second, the positive results were promising. Some of the weak points were delays In reporting.

insufficient deiail in reports, and dependence in areas of prime interest upon people in exchange groups, who may have less freedom of action than individual tourists. With respect to consumer guidance, requirements were too often compiled at the last minute, lacked background Information, and were not kept up to date after the travel season started.

On the positive side, the high criteria for Lincoln reporting raised the ovcr-aU^juality of domes lie-source reports, thetended to focus more of the domestic-source activity on. and it demonstrated that observationalis possible on subjects outside the observer's specialty. Lincoln's main accomplishment, however, was to show the value of giving specific guidance to the observer, concentrated on particular known or suspected intelligence targets.

The IWO travel season was expected to produce betteradditional Information on suspect areas, fullof specified air routes, and the locations of more airmissile sites. The Guided Missile Task Forceew handbook with expanded target Information andrequirements on targets But these hopes were dimmed in May byncident, whichan onsketching, and note-taking by Lincolnases were originated5 resulted in travel to the USSR, andf theroduced reportingto missile requirements. This proportionally highwas attributed to the better understanding ofthat resulted from close contact with the Guided Missile Task Force.

The period from0 to1 was an uncertain one for Operation Lincoln There were serious doubts among some policy makers as to the wisdom of utilizing us travelers to the Soviet Onion for intelligence purposes. But the need for information on the Soviet missile threat continued high, and the operation nowood record both for supplying missile intelligence of significance and for avoiding serious political difficulties. Its continuance was thereforewith tightened-up control of Initial approaches tocoordination of briefings with the competentservice offices,ontinued ban on photography, sketching, and note-taking. Plans were laid for expanded

erationsnowever, with further strains in the international climate, the briefing of Lincoln travelers was prohibited.

Second

Meanwhile the community's technical intelligence had done so well with missile deployment that the main focus of un-fulfilled need shifted to pre-deployment missile acUrtty, toand development In this field'no observationscould make would be likely to contribute much; the only likely source of information wouldoviet citizen employed in the activityelated one. It might be. citi2en with whomoviet citizenommon bond to draw him out in friendly, conversation to the point of revealing somethingprocess known in clandestine tradecraft as elicitatlon.

Elicltation has the advantage of being operationally safe-there Is nothing illegal about it. It is most likely to beIf carried outecure and relaxedanguage barrier, using an approach which Is indirect butense of direction, and working inductively from peripheral manifestations toward the central question Ifilent partner expert in the particular technical field can provide back-up. The elicitor can of course bedeceived; but the possibUity of deception is not unique to ellcitatfon. The important precondition of abond is satisfied if the Americaneputation in the Soviet citizen's professional field or one related to it.

With these considerations in mind Operation Lincoln was now radically reoriented, and approval was received for aof. scientists in missile-related fields to elicit InformaUon from Soviet scientists. The intensive briefingroad summary of the organization of research and development under the Soviet Academy ofrief summary of what we know of the Soviet missileetailed examination of the Soviet effort in the elicltor's own scientific field, detailed data on the personalities andwith whom he may be in contact, and information on Soviet counterintelligence and provocation practices and how to defend himself from them. Envisaged is the development

Opcraiiot, Lincoln

elatively small number of well-trained, long-range US. ciUien sources whose information should be reliable because of their own stature and the position of their SovietThe program would concentrateirected searchimited number of specific targets

Experimental projects along these lines have broughtresults. The reporting onh InteraaUonalnautical Federation held ln Washington during1 was evaluated outstanding as an example of whatelicitation techniques can accomplish. It gave new as well as confirmatory information about the Soviet man-in-space effort and the fundamentals of Soviet space Right. There was consequently established forn Space Research an ad hoc task force tointelligence exploitation, and the results achievedfavorably with those from1 conference. Some Important information was obtained in the field otand the elicitation from Gherman Titov wasquite good.

It is too early to Judge what the ultimate value of the eUci-tation program will be; more time and experience are needed. But the principal beneficiaries of the reoriented Lincolnthe scientific analysts, are enthusiastic about the prospects of this special collection effort mounted on their behalf. They have drawnist of priority interests to guide it and nave attempted to point out individuals or types of persons who may make good sources And at the time of writing thereecommendation before the L'SIB for tbe expansion of Lincoln Into other fields of science than those related to guided missiles It is Judged that the program has already provided useful information andotential for even more useful Information in the future.

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