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US Army ATP 2-22.9 on OSINT

This summer, the US Army has released its unrestricted 91-page Army Techniques Publication No. 2-22.9 on ‘Open Source Intelligence’ (also available via FAS) aiming at division level audiences, superseding its last such publication from December 2006. If you are not familiar with the “foundational concepts and methods” of OSINT within the military, this is your one-stop-shop. But even if you are, there are quite a few generally noteworthy remarks, some of which are cited in the following in order to better understand the US Army’s take (which to some extent is congruent with our very own definitions and assumptions) on the topic beyond warfighting support:


“The world is being reinvented by open sources. […] The significance and relevance of open-source intelligence (OSINT) serve as an economy of force, provide an additional leverage capability, and cue technical or classified assets to refine and validate both information and intelligence.” (p. v)

“Open source is any person or group that provides information without the expectation of privacy––the information, the relationship, or both is not protected against public disclosure. Open-source information can be publicly available but not all publicly available information is open source.” (p. 1-1)

“Publicly available information is data, facts, instructions, or other material published or broadcast for general public consumption; available on request to a member of the general public; lawfully seen or heard by any casual observer; or made available at a meeting open to the general public.” (p. 1-1)

“Open-source information provides the majority of the necessary background information on any area of operations (AO).” (p. 1-1)

“AR 380-5 directs that Army personnel will not apply classification or other security markings to an article or portion of an article that has appeared in a newspaper, magazine, or other public medium. Final analysis of OSINT may require additional restrictions and be deemed controlled unclassified information or sensitive but unclassified information.” (p. 2-9)

Open Source Information Reliability and Credibility Ratings

© US Army ATP 2-22.9 (2012)

“Information generally available to the public can reveal the existence of, and sometimes details about classified or sensitive information that can be used to neutralize or exploit military operations.” (p. 2-8)

“Deception and bias is a concern in OSINT exploitation. […] It is important to know the background of open sources and the purpose of the public information in order to distinguish objectives, factual information, identify bias, or highlight deception efforts against the reader and the overall operation.” (p. 2-9)

“The ability to gather and analyze foreign materials is critical in OSINT exploitation.” (p. 2-10)

“Media monitoring systems like the BBN Broadcast Monitoring System™ (BMS™) create a continuous searchable archive of international television broadcasts.” (p. 2-12)

“In order to access the full array of domestic and foreign publicly available information, the processing of materials oftentimes requires OSINT support to personnel operating in the areas of document exploitation (DOCEX).” (p. 2-16)

“Intelligence requirements that need to be satisfied can extend beyond the scope of OSINT, resulting in gaps. OSINT is subject to information and intelligence gaps that need to be satisfied using other appropriate methods to close those gaps.” (p. 3-2)

“OSINT validation is necessary when dealing with a large amount of classified information. OSINT validation is used when classified sources are unavailable or to confirm or support preexisting classified sources. This strengthens the credibility of OSINT products in support of all-source intelligence.” (p. 3-2)

“Analysis of the media is the systematic comparison of the content, behavior, patterns, and trends of organic media organizations and sources of a country.” (p. 4-6)

“When creating products from raw information, write-to-release at the lowest classification level to facilitate the widest distribution of the intelligence.” (p. 4-12)

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