There is much discussion nowadays about the Insider Threat. While the IED threat is at practically unimaginable levels today, the biggest single killer of USSF and other elements that work closely with Afghan National Army or other security forces is “bad seeds” in those forces. The suits-and-stars levels of the defense establishment have been trying their best to pretend this hasn’t happened, so they can focus on their prime objectives, like beancount “diversity” and social-engineering games. To the extent that the rampant insider threat is acknowledged, it is treated as if it were an entirely new thing. This is the best you can expect from an Army with a weak institutional memory, ADHD-like assignment policy, and resolute fixation upon the present. Welcome to Baby Duck World, where all things are novel and unprecedented.
Except, of course, they’re not, really. In Vietnam the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) or Strike Force program was plagued with insider threats. You may remember the 1968 John Wayne movie The Green Berets (we reviewed it here almost two years ago), the one so much hated by Hollywood critics and cognoscenti, and still entertaining the rest of America despite its lapses? In it, George Takei as the South Vietnamese Luc Luong Dac Biet (LLDB; VNSF) officer darkly warns: “I got VC in my own strike force.” The warning foreshadows insider counteraction during the battle for the camp. But that, like many of the details taken from Robin Moore’s novel, was quite accurate. The year before the movie premiered, a quarterly report from the 5th Special Forces Group, titled Operaticnal Report for Quarterly Period Ending 31 July 1967 and dated 15 August 1967.
This wasn’t John Wayne stuff. It was stone serious lessons learned in the crucile of combat, far from support, in small, isolated camps deep within the turf of a wily, tough, and courageous enemy. The report was originally classified SECRET but after three years downgraded to CONFIDENTIAL, and after three more completely unclassified. Now, it resides on the Web via the Defense Technical Information Center.
Gentlemen, WeaponsMan gives you The Insider Threat, Summer of Love Edition.Lessons Learned at the time were reported in an Item, Discussion, Observation(s) format:
a. ITEM: Viet Cong Emphasis on Infiltration of USASF Installations and Security Elements. (Source Co C)
(1) On 4 May 1967, the USASF at Lang Vei came under VC attack with the result that the USASF team leader and Executive Officer were among those killed and the majority of the above-ground structures destroyed. Subsequent investigation and interrogations revealed that CIDG personnel inside the camp assisted in the attack by the outside force. One subject named Nhom was contacted by the VC prior to the attack and was directed to join the CIDG at Lang Vei, in order to obtain information on the camp. After joining the CIDG, subject recruited four other CIDG to assist him in reporting information concerning the camp to the VC. One man was to determine the locations of all the guard positions and how well the posts were manned, the third was to make a sketch of the camp, and the fourth was to report on supplies brought into the camp from Khe Sanh. The VC contacted Nhon on four separate occasions prior to the 4 May attack to obtain the information that had been collected. On the fourth occasion, the five VC within the camp were told about the impending attack and were given instructions as to what to do during the attack. They were told to leave their shirts off in order for the VC to recognize them durxng the attack. On the night of the attack, subject Nhon and another CIDG killed two of the camp guards and led the VC force through the wire and mine field defenses into the camp perimeter.
(2) In addition, a JTAD agent report, dated 18 July 1967, disclosed a VC propaganda meeting held on 17 July, 1967 in Quang Tri Province. At this meeting the district cadre of Ba Long and Huong Districts reportedly praised an individual who worked at the Lang Vei Special Forces camp, for being instrumntal in the 4 May attack on the camp and a subsequent mortar attack a few weeks later. At this same meeting,, priority of effort was reportedly directed toward infiltration of CIDG units and the security elements of Special Forces and othur installations.
OBSERVATION: Infiltration by the VC of CIDG units and indigenous elemrnts providing security for installations is unquestionably an effective method of reducing the defensive capability of friendly units. It is logical to assume that the VC will continue to place great emphasis on this tactic. It isessential that Special Forces detachments enact the necessary counterintelligence measures, to include the establishment of an effective informant net within the installation, to detect VC infiltration.
b. ITEM: Screening of CIDG Personnel. (Source Gp S2)
DISCUSSION: Since the CIDG prrsonnel are recruited from among those indigenous to specific localities with, according to US standards, insufficient background investigation, there is no positive means of insuring that VC are not inadvertently recruited. Clearance performed amounts to local agency hecks conducted by the LLDB and MSS, in conjunction with local officials. Sources testifying to the reliability of CIDG are themselves of unknown reliability. It is known that the VC are capable of applying presaure and persuasion in special localities, sufficient to cause concealment of VC association of members of the CIDG. Once recruited into the C iDG, the member has basement and access to further VC intentions concerning espionage, sabotage and subversion.
OBSERVATIONS: To counter this potential, counterintelligence measures being taken are:
(1) Increased emphasis on making the clearance program more adequate.
(2) Establishment of CI informant nets within the ranks of the CIDG, to identify, neutralize and exploit VC in the ranks.
(3) Development of usable infrastructure information to identify VC sympathizers, to ensure reliability of subjects and sources.
(4) Development of Blacklists.
(5) Planned use of the polygraph in a personnel reliability program to check interpreter/translators, sources and principal agents in nets, as well as to verify information proffered by interrogees,
(6) Interrogation of prisoners and detainees for information of CI interest as well as OB information. Predetermined questions will be given to RVN interrogators.
c. ITEM: Installations are Vulnerable to Sabotage. Stolen supplies are channeled to the VC. (Source Gp S2)
DISCUSSION: Insufficieut physical security allows access or potential access to the VC. Such access increases the possibility of successful sabotage. The VC are known to be targeted against US installations. The ethics of the Vietnamese are such that theft is not considered to be morally or legally wrong. The VN loses “face” not by stealing, but rather by being stupid enough to be caught stealing or not having taken sufficient precautions to secure his own property.
OBSERVATION: The following counterintelligence measures should be taken:
(1) Surveys and inspections should be conducted with a view toward identifying weaknesses and making recommendations concerning their correction. Particular emphasis is placed on fencing, lightIng, guard and reaction worse systems, visitor contrel, pass procedure, security of critical and restricted areas, and proper logistic procedures.
2) Investigation of thefts should be conducted to determine identity of cuIprits and Ultimate disposition of stolen material. Emphasis is placed on whether or not theft is for profit or resupply of VC.
There’s more than that in the whole AAR of course — a lot more. But those sensible and practical anti-Insider Threat measures were workable in 1967, and they’re going to be workable in 2013. One wonders if anyone assigned to deal with or study the Insider Threat in Afghanistan has read this document, or studied any of the CI measures used in the Vietnam War, or by the OSS, SOE and SIS in World War II for that matter.
This lack of historical orientation in the Army’s and the nation’s premier unconventional warfare organization, whose very existence is dedicated to the potential of working by, with and through natives of our operational areas, is embarrassing. Nobody should get out of the SF Detachment Officers Qualification Course or the SF Intelligence NCO Course without being advised of the existence and application of these historical resources.
The CIDG program, in the end, beat its insider threat and survived to be handed over to the RVN (who squandered that asset, but that’s another story). Right now, political forces are working to commit SF to another decade of thankless service in Afghanistan. It would be nice to get a handle on the insider threat there. With the level of trained counterintelligence agents available to a Special Forces Group, let alone a CJSOTF or a battalion deployed as an FOB, SF leaders can’t rely on the “pros” to do it for them.