Military Deception

Joint Publication 3-13.4

  • Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Department of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard
  • 79 pages
  • Public
  • July 13, 2006

4. Military Deception and Information Quality
Care should be taken to protect the quality of information available for friendly decisions and public dissemination. This will ensure the JFC has accurate information by not allowing staffs to unknowingly perceive the joint task force’s (JTF’s) MILDEC efforts as accurate information. This will also ensure the information made public by the JFC is not part of any MILDEC action and lose the public’s trust. MILDEC by design should affect the quality of information available for adversary decisions in the following ways:

a. Deliberately presents misleading information to adversaries to degrade the accuracy of adversary information.

b. Seeks to give adversary decision makers a false sense of completeness about friendly forces or intention.

c. May cause the adversary to misjudge the relevance of available information and misallocate operational or intelligence resources.

The functions of MILDEC include:

a. Causing ambiguity, confusion, or misunderstanding in adversary perceptions of friendly critical information, which may include: unit identities, locations, movements, dispositions, weaknesses, capabilities, strengths, supply status, and intentions.

b. Causing the adversary to misallocate personnel, fiscal, and material resources in ways that are advantageous to the friendly force.

c. Causing the adversary to reveal strengths, dispositions, and future intentions.

d. Conditioning the adversary to particular patterns of friendly behavior to induce adversary perceptions that can be exploited by the joint force.

e. Causing the adversary to waste combat power with inappropriate or delayed actions.

b. MILDEC Tactics. The applications of tactics vary with each operation depending on variables such as time, assets, equipment, and objectives and are assessed for feasibility accordingly. The tactics of MILDEC may:

(1) Mask an increase in or redeployment of forces or weapons systems spotted by the adversary.

(2) Shape the adversary’s perception and/or identification of new forces or weapons being introduced into combat.

(3) Reinforce the adversary’s preconceived beliefs.

(4) Distract the adversary’s attention from other activities.

(5) Overload adversary ISR collection and analytical capabilities.

(6) Create the illusion of strength where weakness exists.

(7) Desensitize the adversary to particular patterns of friendly behavior to induce adversary perceptions that are exploitable at the time of friendly choosing.

(8) Confuse adversary expectations about friendly size, activity, location, unit, time, equipment, intent, and/or style of mission execution, to effect surprise in these areas.

(9) Reduce the adversary’s ability to clearly perceive and manage the battle.

c. MILDEC Techniques. MILDEC operations apply four basic deception techniques: feints, demonstrations, ruses, and displays.

(1) Feints. A feint is an offensive action involving contact with the adversary conducted for the purpose of deceiving the adversary as to the location and/or time of the actual main offensive action.

(2) Demonstrations. A demonstration is a show of force where a decision is not sought and no contact with the adversary is intended. A demonstration’s intent is to cause the adversary to select an unfavorable course of action (COA).

(3) Ruses. A ruse is a cunning trick designed to deceive the adversary to obtain friendly advantage. It is characterized by deliberately exposing false or confusing information for collection and interpretation by the adversary.

(4) Displays. Displays are the simulation, disguising, and/or portrayal of friendly objects, units, or capabilities in the projection of the MILDEC story. Such capabilities may not exist, but are made to appear so (simulations).

d. Unlawful Deceptions. The use of unlawful or prohibited deceptions is called “perfidy.” Acts of perfidy are deceptions designed to invite the confidence of the enemy to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protected status under the law of armed conflict, with the intent to betray that confidence. Acts of perfidy include, but are not limited to: feigning surrender or waving a white flag in order to lure the enemy into a trap; misuse of protective signs, signals, and symbols in order to injure, kill, or capture the enemy; using an ambulance or medical aircraft marked with the red cross or red crescent to carry armed combatants, weapons, or ammunition in order to attack or elude enemy forces; and the use in actual combat of false, deceptive, or neutral flags, insignia, or uniforms. Perfidious acts are prohibited under the law of armed conflict because they undermine the effectiveness of protective signs, signals, and symbols and thereby jeopardize the safety of civilians and noncombatants and/or the immunity of protected structures and activities.

e. MILDEC Procedures. Procedures vary with each MILDEC operation and are conducted in accordance with the commander’s guidance.

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