Created: 12/1/1959

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

cia historical review program release as sanitized

TITLE: The Monitoring Of War Indicators

AUTHOR: Thomas J. Patton


* ' m



A collection ol articles on Ihe historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ot intelligence.


All statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are those of

the authors They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of Ihe Central Inielligence Agency or any other US Government 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.


_ US. strategic warning walchtower still under


To provide warning of any surprise attack against the Doited States and Itsur first national Intelligence objective, but one. it has been our experience, that cannot be adequately served by the normal processes of estimative or current Intelligence. We have therefore found It necessary toomewhat specialized intelligence effort forstrategic early warning. This effort, which we have termed Indicationseeks to discern In advance any Soviet or other Communlit Intent to Initiate hostilities, whether against the United States or its forces. Its allies or their forces, or areas peripheral to tbe Soviet Orbit. It also seeks to detect and warn of other developments directlyof enemy exploiting action which would Jeopardize tbe security of tbe United States; and this effort has beenIn practice to any critical situation which might give rise to hostilities, whether or not there Is an lrnmedizle threat of direct US or Soviet involvement.

Weharp distinction between this intelligence

earlystrategic warning in advance of military

operations, based on deductive conclusions about Sovietoperational early warning, tactical coneluslonz from information on Soviet operations now obtained largelyike to thfnk of the indicationsas having four aspects:',

First, it la the cultivationental attitude which leads to first assessment of aU Soviet or Communist action tn terms of preparation far early hostilities. .

Second, ft is tha developmentody of doctrine which can serve as guidance for the collection of warningfor Its physical handling, and for Itshe Isolation of those actions which would be moat likely to constitute preparations for hradffltW, whether

, ijaksjaii

Monirorino Of War Indicators

deliberate or in response to the Immediate internationalIt Is the creation, through experience,ody of -common law" applicable to the selection, evaluation andof Information pertinent to warning.

Third, it Is the development of new techniques andthe collection, processing, evaluation, and analysis ofsignificant principally or solely for purposes ofearly warning. These techniques and methodsfinding new sources to analysis by electronicthe development of missiles and the consequentin the time lag between an enemy decision tothe attack, we must give this aspect of the activityattention. The alternative wouldegree ofby Intelligence toonsequent

Fourth, It is the organization of the Intelligence community at all levels so that It can process most rapidly and effectively information from every source which could provide Insight Into Soviet preparation for hostilities. This processingevery step from Initial screening, or even collection, to the reporting of conclusions to responsible officials of thearm of the government. This continuous process is an integral part of. and yet different from, the currentand estimative processes.hreat appears great, as in moments of considerable crisis, the Indications process tends to coalesce with both the current Intelligence process and the estimative process, at least at the national level.

Before treating these aspects Inhall outline the organization and procedures for advance strategic warning which have evolved in the United States. Far from perfected and stm evolving as they are, they will at least Illustrate one national effort to provide intelligence indications ofwar.

The Watchers and Their Work-Week

The Director of Central Intelligence and the US Intelligence Board, who have the ultimate national responsibility for this warning, have In effect delegated the function to the TJSTB Watch Committee. The Watch Committee is composed ofIntelligence officers at the general officer of senior colonel

Tno Monitoring Of War Indicators

level representing tho major Intelligence agencies, and is chaired by tbe Deputy Director of Central meets only weekly during normal times, or perhaps dally during crises, its function is continuous, exercised through frequent liaison and contact andonstant routine exchange of Information and evaluations, formal or informal

Serving the Committeeermanent staff in the National Indications Center, the physical locus of Committee functions. The NIC staff ofs composed of Intelligence officers at the colonel or naval captain level representing each of the major Intelligence agencies, assisted by administrative,and graphics personnel The Center itself is linked by electrical communications to the major agencies. It receives from the US IBlow of possible indicationsbothoutine across-the-board basis and as evaluated and selected for possible pertinence. Ithourduty officer who is in frequent contact with duty officers In other agencies and with members of the staff. Through these contacts and communication links thereonstant interchange of Information and views, but formally the Watch Committee functionseekly cycle which can be telescoped during crisesatter of minutes. The cycle is rather elaborate, and while Imperfect It at least alms at thoroughness. It runs roughly as follows:

Friday to Monday noon: Screening and processingin the NIC and in each member agency.

Monday afternoon: The NIC staff reviewsrelurunary agenda lor the Wednesday Watch Committee meeting, and teletypes It to member agencies.

Tuesday: "Pre-watch" meetings in each member agency, attended also by NIC staff members, at which available information is reviewed and selected for the Watchmeeting. Final agenda and graphics are prepared In the NIC.

Wednesday morning: Watch Committee meeting. Alland operational information consideredand Its Interpretation is reviewed, orallywo- to three-hour session. The Committee drafts its conclusions at the table.

The Monitoring Of War Indicator;

Afternoon: Watch Committee members check itsmdividually with TJ8XB members. The conclusions, when coordinated through the medium of the NIC, are then published as USEB flews and transmitted togovernment officials and other recipients around the world. NIC prepares tbe draft body of the Watchummarization of the evidence considered by the Committee, and sends It by courier or teletype to USIB member agencies.

Thursday morning: The draft Watch Report is reviewed, updated, and commented on by USIB members and by responsible analysts at the desk level in all major agencies.

Afternoon: The NIC staff, on the basis of agency comments,inal draft report and submits it to USIBfor approval

Friday rooming: The printed report Is disseminated to all recipients; all concerned breathe deeply and plunge into the cycle again.

This fairly exhaustive procedure Is complex, sometimesand time-consuming. But In addition to theof the formal Committee reports, it has served another very Important purpose: It has accustomed all those involved to the Joint hammering-out of all the issues, including minor or particular ones- This means that when time Is pressing and the Issues really urgent we can arrive at Joint evaluations and conclusions very quickly. Uponommittee conclusion has been passed to the White House less than an hour after the Committee was summoned to meet.

Within most of our agencies, the normal internalprocesses and organizations are relied on to flush out and evaluate the information which is passed to the NIC or utilized by Watch Committee members at their meetings. Several agencies, however, maintain small internal groups whose sole (unction is to screen out warning information and seek or stimulate evaluations of it. They are parallel pieces, by way of Insurance, to the normal Internal intelligenceand process. In Air Force, forhour indicatlons center is maintained to serve USAF Headquarters and to act as centralet of small mdl cations centers in the major geographical air commands.

The Monitoring Of War (ncJicotorj

Each of our major Joint military commands outside theUnited Stateseplica of .the national Watch Committee. These are responsible to" the theater Jointbut forward their reports to Washington, where they axe regularly considered by the Watch Committee. Thus in our national intelligence warning process the Watchcycle has its concurrent parallels abroad dealingwith local warning problems. In some instances the timing of the process abroad has been adjusted to that of the Watch Committee.

With these mechanicseturn to the four aspects of indications intelligenceentionedmental attitude, doctrine, the development of techniques, and organization. My remarks constitute an amalgam of the experience and ideasmall number of us who have worked in indications intelligence for some years. Some of these ideas have jet to be adopted throughout our community, but our experience leads us to believe that In time they may be more widely accepted.

Attitude of the Watcher

Ideally, for the purposes of indications InteUigence, some or all of the following assumptions must be made as basichypotheses, though each can be legitimately challenged in any given situation:

77ie Soviets, together with the other Communist states, are seeking an opportune time to initiate hostilities to achieve their ends.

The attack unit attempt maximum surprise, possibly during

periods of mternational calm. The decision to initiate hostilities may be made without the

military capability which we would consider requisite. Any estimates which argue from other assumptions may be

quite wrong.

If intelligence officers drmling at any stage with potential warning information can be conditioned to these assumptions, we feel that wereater chance of detecting that pattern of developments which may attend preparations for anInteUigence officers need not be ruled by thesebut they should be conscious of them when any possibly relevant Information Is considered: for Instance, military exer-


Monitoring Of Wat Indkaton

cises should always be considered as deployments and as changes In degree of military readiness or as rehearsals for an impending attack.

We must Instill and maintain this attitude ta all personnel dealing with potential warning information, particularlynon-critical periods or during the fading daysrisis. Thisifficult task, especiallyargeigh degree of specialization and compartmcn-taUzation. There are two obrious alternative ways of going about it One Is toelentless educational campaign among the body of our tateUigence personnel. This method faces some of the obstaclesighway safety campaignampaign against sin; and it is possible that ta layinggeneral stress on the warning problem we might overdo it and give rise to unbalanced or unduly alarmist mtelligenceand estimates.

Tbe other approach,avor, is tomall group of Indications tateUigence officers, eitherody or spread among various organizations but maintaining close contact Such officers would considerfrom the warning point of view only, would provide continuity ta the development of doctrine, would serve asamong both collectors and analysts, and would keep pressing for adequate attention to fragmentary Information of potential but not necessarily apparent significance toSuch officers need not achieve great depth ta anyor functional Intelligence field, since they could rely on experts for the necessary support It has been our experience that intelligence officers given this responsiblity becomeIf not zealots, of the tafflcatlons hunt, andsensitive to those visceral signals which In the last analysis may well be the vital factor ta our Judgment as to the Imminenceoviet attack.

In the United States several mtelligence agencies have made use of this approachreater or less degree. Otherslargely upon having their representauVes ta our National Indications Center and upon the fact that our major Joint current tateUigence committee, the Watch Committee, focuses on indications of hostultles and does not spread Its conaldcra-

The Monitoring Of War Indicators

tlon to all matters of general intelligence significance.It might appear that this specialization couldredispositionoo-frequent crying ofe feel that the Joint nature of the considerations which precede theof our warnings tends to preclude the danger. In practice, we have found that the nature of our system has served to reduce the number of alarmist "flaps" which arise, particularly outside intelligence circles, from undeliberated interpretation of developments.

Doctrine of the Watch

In the developmentoctrine to guide and assist us to provide warning of an attack, we have sought first to identify In advance those actions which would constitute preparations for hostilities. Such pre-ldentlflcations, useful to bothand collectors, we have compiled into Indicator Lists. An indicator we defineajor action which the Soviets must take before they arc ready for hostilities, whereas an indication Is evidence that such an action is being or has been taken. The distinction is an essential one which all of us tend to lose sight of in common usage.

In isolating those actions which we designate as indicators or potential indicators, we are seeking answers to several key questions:

What are the essential steps the Soviets and their allies must take in their preparation for early major hostilities?

Which of these stepsegree of nationalwhich would only, or most likely, follow thcir dcclsion to initiate hostilities?

In the light of the nature of information currently available to us, or which can be expected, what sort of Information will we accept as evidence that these preparatory orsteps are being taken?

How do we distinguish, during periods of crisis, between those actions which are precautionary and those which are preparations for deliberate hostilities?

What actions constitute evidence that the Sovietprocess is In action, possibly considering theof hostilities? '

Monitoring Of Wor Indicators

We hare atlempled tocries of preparation phases representing progressive stepsecision^to attack or progressive Mrnmltment of the enemy state to war. We group the Indicators to four such stages as follows: Long Range: Actions involved in the toter^Ul^of specific military capabUIUes^^vc ^defensive essential tothe prosecuttOTTcT^eneral hostUltles which are either generally anticipated or deliberately planned-Medium Range: Actions or developments which mightor follow adecjsion to ready the nation or the military forces generally for any eventuality, or which mighteliberate decision for war but precedeissuance or implementation of specificplans and orders. Short Range: Actions which might follow or accompany the alertinR and/or positioning of forces for specific attack^ "operations or to meet an estimated possible US attack. Immediate or Very Short Range: Actions which mightor immediately precede_ajfc;rte^ combined in practice with the precedinghese stages can, and- have been, defined at greater length or quite differently, but the purpose is thearriveisting which groups at one end those actions which may represent long-range preparations for hostilities, but nota commitment to them, and at the other end those actions which, by their urgency and costliness, appear toa commitment of the enemy state to war. It also givesensing of the imminence associated with suchs we may detect, and of the phasing to time among them. In our listings we attempt to give not only the majorwhich constitute indicators, but also some of theIndicators which, if noted in concert, would comprise evidenceajor indication otherwise undetected. Our phased approach also serves to isolate actions by which we hope to gauge the extent and danger of Communist reactionarticular, perhaps seerningly localized, crisis. Our proposed schedule of lists will include:eneral Indicator list stating in broad terms the major actions we would expect.

The Monitoring Of Wor Indkaton

eries of funcUonal Lists In much greater detail. There wfll be separate lists for Long Range Air Force preparations, ground force

preparaUons, political andactivities, clandestine activities, civil defense,medicine, weather service, etc.eries of lists which address themselves tosources, irwiudinp the technical sources. These lists, in effect, are an application of the preceding lists toprovided by individual sources, particularly to changesoutine Lake whose warning algnlflcence might not be tmrr'.'Aatelv apparent. One such listitself lo monitored changes In the conduct of Soviet broadcasting. Another might concern radarAnother would cover observa'ions our embassy personnel in Moscow might make In the nprxnal course of their daily routine: closure of some subwayxample, and an absence of Ore engines from" tlons might provide confirmation for suspicions that Late-stage civil defense preparations were under way. AList for legal rail travelers would Includerain window which might fit Into indicator patterns.

eries of target lists naming those installations or outfits by whom or at which certain activity would be of major significance, and those by whom or at which any activity would have major significance. Examples of the latter might be an elite Long Range Air Force unit or an air transport unit suspectedole limited to the ferrying of nuclear "pills" to operational commands.

This is an ambitious program, reflecting primarily theof available information, particularly information on the major instruments of Soviet attack. When completed, it wfllassive document We also plan,ighlyone-sheet version of each list, perhaps in tabular form.

Such lists must be looked on only as guides, and quite often they rapidly become obsolete. In some Instances wo have failed so far to come up with anything reallymost notably in tbe missile field But when we have badexperience with our own missiles and with Information on Soviet missile operations, we expect to be able to list actions

The Monitoring Of" War Indicalort

readying of the

these^uesW1formiuallon **

ow oftenivenaform officials of the executive arm of the government?

* to dcterrnlnearning situation exists?

Our fkst premise is that we should provide executivewith the earliestmeans. In ef-

eneralisedrf3 conveying only our sense of uneasiness, through a

tXurther actions

it may be that hostilities are imminent, to an un-

one conveying our conviction that an attack Is


The criteriaarning situation lie In patterns, Inof Soviet or Communist activity which might be consistent with some stage in preparations for early war. Once an apparent pattern Is detected, giving an Indications situation although not necessarily an alert situation, the hypothetical patterns which we have constructed in theof our Indicator lists suggest further developments to look for. If information on such developments Is subsequently received, we have then progressed toward an alert situation

When we note apparent patterns of preparation we alert our field collection, particularly to our need for information on major Indicators. When we receive Information on theof one or more isolated major indicators, we also alert the field, this time to our need for Information on those other indicators we might expect to see patterned with them. In both instances we feel that we have the basis for some form of warning to the government, even though we may have no convictionre-war situation exists.

The pattern approach is particularly applicable to theattack; it has limitations In situations of localizedwhere the buildupimited attack may be asas it will ever be, but where there may have been no political decision to make the attack. The indications effort

The Monitoring Of War Indicator*

may suggest refinruents in our collection, and it may assist in narrowing the field we must search in order to detect evidence of the decision; but It cannotreat deal further.developments^ are sometimes almost exclusively matter for tactical or operational mtelligence. Indications mtelligence is looked to, however, for warning of preparations toocalized situation or to cope with an expected broadening.

Techniques and New Techniques

Our attempt to develop techniques has thus far been aimed at facilitating the processing and analysis of Information and the detection of patterns, and at exposing areas requiring further analytical investigation or more extensive collection eflorts. We have used extensively the more orthodox methods, although despite their usefulness we have had to abandon some because of their expense in time and personnel. Toa few:

Card flies of information extracted only for apparent or potential indicationsItemard in three separate flies, according to functional fields, date, and the apparent axis or targets of Soviet/Communist attack.

Running lists constituting highly condensed summaries of apparently significant developments arranged according to the apparent axis of attack.

"Shelf-paper" roils of charts with summarized Information of apparent Indications significance entered according to date of activity, area and functional field, or to other

Highly condensed summaries of apparent currentnegative and positive, bearing on particular

Quarterly summaries of indications, including only selected developments of apparent medium- or long-range

There have also been efforts, some only experimental, at posting developments on display charts or boardsvariously according to area, functional field, date of activity, and degree of Imminence or hypothetical lengthe-attack time remaining. Through the use of colors

-ev'-- 65


Monitoring Of War Indicator*

and other devices, such displays serve to call attention to possibilities which need further investigation. Tbe Air Force, which has been the most active among ourin the development of indicator techniques,such an indicator display board for use in all Air Force Indications centers and is now experimenting with other graphic means of calling attention to trends and potential warning situations.

There haveumber of suggestions for the use of electronic devices which could store information so coded and weighted that when queried they would respond with areadingredicted area and time of danger. We have been hesitant to plunge into this sort of thing,the information fed in would in many cases be soand Itswould reflect immediateas to Itsmoreo not believe, however, that we should rule out this approachIn many respects, our most important warningIs becoming more and more fragmentary and more and moreechnical nature, ft Is hard Information, such asof radar emanations, but difficult to evaluate, analyze and record by our conventional methods. It may be that an iniaginatlve and Judicious use of machines will enable us to put such information quickly into meaningful patterns which can contribute to our warning.

In developing these techniques we are merely seeking aids to analysis and to presenting the situation. In no sense do we believe that intelligence warning can be performedalthough thereurprising number of people who believe that this is possible or that It is what we are trying to do.

There iseed for development of new collectionfor warning purposes. One thing that can be done is tooordinated series of collection requirements and reporting directives which would be put into effect only during periods of alert or international crises, when certain types of information would assume new significance. Another hi toeries of routine mordtoring-type missions against selected targets for mdicaUons purposes only,iew to detecting any changes from normal activity. The targets

The Monitoring Of War Indicators

themselves might be of minor Importance, but changes in their activities might reflect far more important activitiesA series of somewhat riskier pre-planned monltoring-type missions could be reserved for periods of alert, when the risks could be Justified by tbe depth of our suspicions.

It may be possible to devise new technical collection systems or adapt some now in use to the purposes of warningElectronic inteUigence, fornderstand now produces chiefly information on capabilities, new technical developments and order of battle. We must rethink It to see if It can produce unique Information on changes in day-to-day activities which would be meaningful to indicationsEarly in the development of any new coUection device its possibilities for Indications intelligence should be examined. This Is frequently done far too late.

There Iseed, presumably through communications techniques, for reducing the time lags between collection of Information and Its effective presentation for evaluation. Our air defense has found It necessary to develop methods for automatic or semi-automatic presentation, and even analysis, of tactical air warning information. But mteUigenceInformation, although we have been able to cut downtransmission timesew highly select messages from field collection points, is loo often subject to completelyeven though understandable, delays.

Organizational Devices

I have touched In the foregoing sections on some of thedevices introduced in the National Indications Center and member agencies in support of the Watchfunction, devices which range from the establishment of the NIC itself and the USIB coordination mechanism to the creation of small parallel indications staffs in Individualelieve that certain other organizational measures might in some form or combination further facilitate our warning efforts. One wouldort of national directory of mteUigence assignments which would locate and fixfor analysis and reporting of potential warningfor every segment of our mteUigence coverage, no matter how minor.

Ihe Monitoring Of War Indicolort

Then there might beody of collectioneven supportedollection coordinationwould work in harness with the Watch Cornmltle*National Indications Center. This might assist,

larly during moments of crisis when time is short, in thesearch for missing dements of inlormatlon or In the rapid clarification of uncertain information.

Finally, we could organize against emergencies aphased national Intelligence alert, making provision for availability of intelligence personnel, extenthouravailability of administrative support (Including, comprehensive situation reporting by fieldand by Intelligence agencies, and the initiation ofcollection measures such as the assignment of new priorities and targets and the activation of reserve or one-shot sources.otal alert would be very difficult to arrange and to keep current, but It could save precious hours.

There is such great change either present or impending to methods of warfare and the balance of power between East and West that the task of providing warning is increasingly difficult- The two major factors to this increasing difficulty are a) the accelerating compression in time between the enemy decision to launch an attack and its launching and between the launching and Its delivery, and b) the concurrentIn the amount and variety of discernible pre-attack acUv-lty. It seems to me that now. as never before, we mustour intelligence organization and processes for collection and evaluation to continuing scrutiny, and must improve or adapt them to cope with the changing conditions. We must ensure that we are collecting and considering the properand that we eliminate every possible delay In the processing of the potentially vital Information. Furthermore, in order to provide warning, no matter how contingent, at the earliest possible stage, we must improve our understanding of Soviet Bloc decision-making and strategic doctrine.

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