Please reply to this post by responding to the following:
The readings this week covered the topic of deception in the Cold War, highlighting the practices of both the Americans and the Soviets. Select one of those examples and explain which information operations practices (Week 3) and biases/errors (Weeks 1 and 2) are at play in your chosen case study. Then explain one possible change that might have helped improve the results of your chosen case. Support your arguments.

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Lesson info

Lesson 6: Deception in the Cold War
This week we move from World War II in which deception became formalized and specialized in nature and in practice. Further, these changes help fuel the behavior of countries dramatically in the post-WWII era. In this lesson, we reach the most complicated phase of deception and information operations yet. The art and science of the last two world wars combined with increasing globalization, rapid technological change, and the threat of global nuclear warfare. The capabilities, the reach and the risk had never been greater. Further, new actors were beginning to enter the picture.

The United States, the Soviet Union, their respective allies, and most other countries in the international system began to engage in deception and information efforts on a daily basis. In the Cold War, it becomes difficult to determine what was true and wasn’t. During this time, governments used propaganda, deception, and other information and influence methods routinely. With propaganda infusing government statements at all levels, it became increasingly difficult to determine what was true. For example, the Soviet practice of maskirovka would grow to permeate its entire society. Likewise, the open, democratic society of the United States would discover there were more than enough secrets and deceptive efforts from its leaders. Many of these involved extensive information campaigns that built on lessons from Operation Bodyguard, but in some cases the complexity might have arguably been greater. This lesson touches on some of these as a means to build your understanding further. It focuses on examining case studies from various actors during this time frame.

The Red Iceberg Poster
The Red Iceberg (1960)

Deception in the Cold War moves from efforts developed in the First and Second World Wars to bring some practices to new heights of development. What had been art in WWI would become sciences in WWII. The Cold War provided opportunities worldwide to further develop those sciences. Though they were two “gorillas” in this conflict — the United States and the Soviet Union — there were other affiliated actors and some free agent countries. For both these countries and many of their allies, the Cold War was framed as an existential threat. It was to be seen as a life and death struggle in which no mistakes could be made. This lesson will look at all of these with an emphasis on the competing efforts of the United States and the Soviet Union. However, other elements will also be touched on.

Arguably the struggle between the superpowers to outdo the other during the Cold War would not have worked for either side if deceptive tactics were not used. As in WWII, the practice of deceiving enemies and domestic audiences continued. In fact, they arguably grew.

Below you see a decoy road mobile nuclear launcher that was used to deceive intelligence agencies of the United States and its allies.

The 45th Separate Engineer-Camouflage Regiment of Russia

United States
The United States of America had the challenge of being an open democracy facing a more closed, oligarchic state. This meant that U.S. efforts had to be more robust in order to keep plans from being leaked (OPSEC), consistent with U.S. law, and able to withstand congressional and judicial scrutiny.

The need to be more subtle and controlled in deception efforts from within an open, democratic society cannot be understated. In contrast, countries like the Soviet Union and China could control most forums of media. This often led to less careful efforts.

Likewise, the United States developed a range of deceptive efforts that covered all kinds of strategic systems to include things like the underwater sonar arrays (SOSUS) that were essential to detecting Soviet nuclear submarine movements. However, efforts here generally needed to be more nuanced, more controlled.

Soviet Union
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The integration of deception in Soviet government was extensive. One example that can easily be drawn upon was that the Soviets used fake missiles in their parades around Red Square. This was done for a few reasons, to confuse adversaries on how many missiles they truly had, and also to further bolster nationalism within the USSR as the missile arsenal was seen as a source of pride among Soviets.

Kuban Cossacks during the Moscow Parade

Allies/Surrogates/Other Actors
For those who didn’t live through the Cold War, it can be difficult to conceive of how pervasive deceptive efforts really were. In addition to the United States and the United Soviet Socialist Republic, there were allies, independents, and other actors.

The United States was considered the “leader of the West” with greater or lesser degrees of leadership given to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries, Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) countries (Australia, France, New Zealand, Phillippines, Thailand, and the United Kingdom), and countries in other organizations in South America, Central America, Africa, and the Caribbean. All of these member states had their own interests to promote and used influence and information operations to promote those interests.

Allies/Surrogates/Other Actors Continued…
As we look at the Cold War this week, one thing you’ll see is that the one thing that gets increasingly more difficult to sort out is the truth. Deception and propaganda become constants in all phases of life. Consider this as you translate previous weeks’ concepts into this new, challenging period.

Knowledge Check
Question 1
The United States was considered the “leader of the _______” with greater or lesser degrees of leadership given to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries, Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) countries (Australia, France, New Zealand, Phillippines, Thailand, and the United Kingdom), and countries in other organizations in South America, Central America, Africa, and the Caribbean.





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Abstract image of a propaganda poster that says conclusion

In this lesson, we investigated the highly globalized, highly technical, new world order in which deception and information efforts by states became common instruments of policy. Often these efforts were deemed essential to avoid the worst-case scenario. They were also becoming a staple of non-state revolutionary movements. These practices would become even more important as these types of movements increased in number. In Lesson Seven, these factors will become more important as the Cold War comes to an end and these groups grow in number and importance. During this period, understanding deception efforts continued to be important, even though peace seemed to be ever more common.

Hansen, James. 2002. “Soviet Deception in the Cuban Missile Crisis.” Studies in Intelligence: 49-58.

Vankin, Sam, 2000. The False Maps of Maskirovka. Central Europe Review 23, no. 23 (June 12), Accessed July 12, 2012 http://www.ce-review.org/00/23/vaknin23.html.

Image Citations
Everything for the Front, USSR WWII propaganda poster – Public Domain

“The 45th Separate Engineer-Camouflage Regiment of Russia” by https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aircraft_preparation_-_S-300_SAM_mock_up_%283%29.jpg.

“America Calling Civilian Defense Poster” by https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%22America_Calling%22_Civilian_Defense_-_NARA_-_513793.jpg.

“Kuban Cossacks 1937” By rkka.ru (Photo courtesy of Alexander Kiyan rkka.ru) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

English 101: Planning

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