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.
I wrote about this a few times