What lessons can we derive from he experiences of World War Two deceivers for contemporary operations?
There are various lessons that have been learned throughout various wars that we can and should use today during operations. Conventional military operations, covert military operations, and covert intelligence operations can significantly benefit from lessons learned in past wars, specifically World War Two. In a document titled Second World War Deception: Lessons Learned for Today’s Joint Planner by Donald J. Bacon, there are multiple examples given. One such example is controlling important communication channels, especially if there are double agents involved. Bacon points out that “along with the double agents, the Allies also used bogus communications networks to buttress the stories that the double agents sent information.” (Bacon 1998, 14). Creating a fake channel specifically for German signals intelligence (SIGINT) to collect on allowed the Allies to control what kind of information the Germans were getting not only from double agents, but from what should have appeared to be regular communications as well. This still happens today in both military and intelligence operations, where information is created and fed to an adversary in hopes that the adversary will buy off on the information being legitimate. The end goal being that the adversary makes decisions based on false information.
Another important lesson learned is having stories that make sense that are based off of preexisting beliefs that the adversary has. Bacon states that “the most successful deception stories were apparently as reasonable as the truth.” (Bacon 1998, 17). There are numerous operations that can be read about that were successful based on plausible preexisting beliefs, and also numerous failed operations that didn’t work because the information meant to deceive did not align with preexisting enemy beliefs. It’s reasonable to say that operations almost certainly will not succeed if flase information is not created in alignment with what the enemy already thinks is true, or probable.
Bacon, Donald, J. 1998. Second World War Deception: Lessons Learned for Today’s Joint Planner. Air Command and Staff College, No.5. file:///C:/Users/aurile/Downloads/Bacon+%25281998%2529.pdf(accessed October 21, 2014).