Deception

At this D-Day ‘versary time of year I often think about deception. The scale of Op Fortitude was staggering and there’s plenty of good stuff to read on the subject elsewhere so no need to repeat here.  Plus the fact as a first time blogger (long time listener)  I can’t work out how to embed a URL anyway.

What irks me is that while the need to deceive appears as strong as ever, our ability to do so appears to have fallen way behind. A good example is the Vanguard replacement for the nuclear deterrent. A decision is still awaited on whether HMG can afford 3 or 4.  Now – just imagine that we had the wit and intent to declare that we are building 4, and then went ahead only with 3 plus a deception operation – HMS Fortitude, if you like.

Would it really be impossible to devise the accompanying press releases and programmatic blah  to convincingly accompany a spoof build ?  Obviously the 4th build would also (realistically) be subject to cost and quality issues and may even be delivered late. Even a launching ceremony shouldn’t be too difficult to film,  re-using material from earlier builds in the series.

I am confident we could pull it off. In many ways the SSN offers a perfect opportunity for a spoof op as it is very rarely seen “live” anyway-  it just has to threaten.  I can’t see why a spoof boat can’t do this just as well as a real one.  It’s probably less likely to run aground, collide with another submarine or have unscheduled rudder issues, too.   The occasional port visit and open day could be achieved through ingenious name-board and hat band shuffling. Yes, clearly the deception would  unravel in the event that we actually had to launch a weapon but there’s no guarantees that all would go smoothly even with a real boat…

If you think this is swivel-eyed lunacy and such high risk it would make a laughing stock of UK MOD, just think back to the scale and chutzpah of Op Fortitude.

Respect.

 

 

[TD]

I wrote about this a few times

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2009/12/the-art-of-deception/

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/06/a-tale-of-deception-and-two-containers/

 

 

 

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Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
June 6, 2013 4:07 pm

I don`t know about (part) faking a nuclear deterrent, considering we are a democracy but certainly decoy “boats” in port or sailing up and down the esturary would aid operational security.

I believe we are firmly in the age of the precision guided weapon and with an increase in ISTAR sources we have to involve Camouflage, Concealment, and Decoys at all levels and in all our thinking.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
June 6, 2013 4:56 pm

I’d assume that all transits of choke points close to Faslane have somehow been compromised (of course there will be regular sweeps by RN assets, but it’s a bit Rumsfeldian “unknown unknowns”). I’m just suspicious and cautious. So Johnny Potential Enemy probably already knows when the boats come and go already, even if he can’t track them once they are in the deep ocean. He can focus his detection efforts onto a small window of time around the 90 day rotation.

As difficult as it might be to manage, if it is not in place already a system of irregular – indeed even somewhat random – patrol lengths might assist in puzzling how many boats we have. Pick a random number between 45 and 135 days for each patrol. Don’t let even the Captain know how long it is for until the boat is underway. The crews would have to learn to live with it: sometimes they are lucky and go for less than the standard 90 days, sometimes for longer.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
June 6, 2013 5:56 pm

Surely the point of CASD is that it is continuous and at sea. So as long as the bad boys (realistically for the moment the Sovs, but I don’t trust the Frogs much) can’t track the boats once they have dived it doesn’t matter if they know that HMS Armpit is sailing on day X and HMS CrutchRot is due in port on date Y.

Sailing and return dates are impossible to hide anyway – too many people have to know and nigh on 500 foot of submarine going down the river is a bit hard to miss even for a crap recce unit.

Rocket Banana
June 6, 2013 6:11 pm

Alternatively, forget the inflatable sub ;-) and simply build SSBN and SSN with the same hull size/shape. We’d then have 10 or so boats of which some are capable of launching ICBMs and others are just a nuclear powered boat with conventional weapons.

You could also include SSKs in the equation. Obviously there’s a bit of a problem with scaling down the SSBN and scaling up the SSN but that’s why I invented the inflatable sub nose.

Brian Black
Brian Black
June 6, 2013 10:24 pm

Has anyone ever seen a union jack emblazoned Trident missile? We’re told we have some, North Korea are told we have some, but have you ever actually seen one?

Vanguard subs could be an elaborate ruse to conceal the fact that we only have the one bomb, and no one has seen that since 1967 because the key to the cupboard it’s in is missing.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
June 6, 2013 10:30 pm

“…conceal the fact that we only have the one bomb, and no one has seen that since 1967 because the key to the cupboard it’s in is missing.”

Ahhhh! It`s the biscuit tin all over again….

Observer
Observer
June 7, 2013 2:18 am

SHHH!!! BB, that is a state secret!!!

” 500 foot of submarine going down the river is a bit hard to miss even for a crap recce unit.”

“Nah mate, that ain’t a sub, it’s a log!”
“Think it has feet boss, see the sides?”
“Oh? It must be an alligator then, they love to pretend to be logs.”
“In the UK?”
“Sure, kids keep them as pets everywhere, then when they hit 100 feet, say “He’s too big to keep!” and toss them into the Channel. So here you have it, a 500 foot long log pretending to be an alligator.”

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
June 7, 2013 7:15 am

Angular
Angular
June 7, 2013 8:29 am

The subs could be, oh I don’t know, fitted FOR but not WITH missiles. A bit like the aircraft carriers.

On a serious note, the approval would have to go through Parliament. It’s not a secret if two public bodies know.

a
a
June 7, 2013 10:26 am

conceal the fact that we only have the one bomb, and no one has seen that since 1967 because the key to the cupboard it’s in is missing.

Book recommendation: David Langford’s “The Leaky Establishment”, about working at Robinson Heath Nuclear Utilisation Technology Centre, a fictional weapons research lab entirely unrelated to Aldermaston, where Langford used to work, and whose plot revolves around frantic shuffling of fake and real pits in order to conceal the fact that the real ones keep going missing in filing cabinets, etc.

a
a
June 7, 2013 10:30 am

As for HMS Vortitude, bit of a problem – wouldn’t it involve persuading several hundred workers at Barrow to go to work every day for six months and not do anything for eight hours before coming home and saying to the missus “Yep, another day building a submarine”? A few too many moving parts there. I think the better bet would be to build the subs for real and not put missiles in them. We could tell everyone that we were going nuclear-free but in an incredibly unconvincing voice, and then refuse to allow inspectors in to verify that we hadn’t got any bombs. It worked for Saddam!

tweckyspat
tweckyspat
June 12, 2013 8:22 pm

wouldn’t it involve persuading several hundred workers at Barrow to go to work every day for six months and not do anything for eight hours ?

Maybe they could build a dummy submersible or two (one SSN and SSBN) which can sail up and down the river overtly to spoof them that watch. Once out of sight they could be moored covertly in a James Bond (Spy who Loved Me) style surface ship with a wet dock which then pootles around until its time for the next patrol to start.

As for the scrutiny of the public bodies such as Parliament I think there are already plenty of safeguards which mean spending and other decisions on sensitive issues are able to be adequately protected from unnecessary release into the public domain.