Forwarded by: William Knowles <wkat_private> http://www.msnbc.com/news/607032.asp?cp1=1 By William Arkin and Robert Windrem SPECIAL TO MSNBC 8-29-01 On the night of May 15, 1999 day 53 of the Kosovo War a flight of American B-2 bombers attacked two industrial facilities in eastern Serbia. Before the raid, under a covert operation dubbed Matrix, U.S. and British information warfare specialists used e-mail, faxes and cell phones to forewarn the plant owners of the attack. The warnings had nothing to do with limiting casualties, nor were the targets of great military value. Rather, the operation was designed to send a message to cronies of President Slobodan Milosevics enriching themselves through these factories: Prevail upon the Yugoslav leader to withdraw his forces from Kosovo or face further attacks on your sources of income. THE ATTACKS on Bor and Smederevo were only the most dramatic examples of a joint U.S.-British effort designed to put pressure on the Yugoslav President through crony targeting. Its a powerful tonic to tell them when its going to happen and then for them to watch it happen, says an officer involved in the operation. During the 78-day conflict, the Yugoslav president and his inner circle were treated to a small taste of what future wars may hold for American foes. Coupling computer technology with the power of the military, the United States waged information warfare on Milosevics closest political associates in an effort to frighten them into abandoning their leader. This new mode of combat combines cyber-war tactics, espionage, psychological warfare and propaganda under one umbrella and seeks to coordinate it with the planes, tanks and ships of the traditional military. Like most new endeavors, the Kosovo information war got off to a bumpy start, encountered fierce opposition from traditional soldiers and was dogged by planning problems. Yet even its fiercest critics acknowledge that in the future, information warfare will be a real factor in winning the battles of the 21st century. PRESSURE POINTS The steel plant at Smederevo and the copper smelter at Bor were painstakingly monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies, which concluded that the two enterprises were being used to directly enrich the governing clique. At Bor, for instance, Nikola Sainovic, a former deputy prime minister in charge of Kosovo affairs and an indicted war criminal, used his management position to siphon gold from the plant gold that eventually found its way out of Yugoslavia and into the bank accounts of the elite. A similar kickback scheme was uncovered at Smederevo, where Dusan Matkovic, the head of the plant and ex-deputy leader of Milosevics political party, found ways of turning steel making into a major money maker for Milosevics cronies. The full story of operation Matrix and crony targeting remains locked up in top-secret files, only whispered about by information warfare specialists. In months of interviews with senior military officers and government officials, MSNBC.com was able to piece together the untold story of this first information war. As NATO moved toward armed conflict in 1999, a full spectrum information warfare plan took shape, fondly referred to as Elephant Blanket, so-called because the operations intricacies were laid out in a series of diagrams on an enormous 5-foot square piece of paper, all meticulously printed in six-point type. By the time bombing began on March 24, the Special Technical Operations cell at U.S. European Command headquarters had mapped out an exquisite information warfare campaign against Milosevic. Special Technical Operations cells, or STOs, are the super-secret covert efforts by the U.S. military and government to coordinate traditional warfare with newer modes of combat from information warfare to espionage, psychological warfare, sabotage and other special weapons. An STO cell now exists in each major combat command, coordinated by a high-level panel of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. The contents ranged from troop movements to public affairs strategies to covert action. At the helm of all of these interlocking operations and scenarios was U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark, the Supreme Allied commander of the war. MAJOR HEADACHES After the first few weeks of bombing, it became clear that the scenario Clark had predicted that Milosevic would fold within 48 hours was far too optimistic. At the same time, tremendous problems developed with the Elephant Blanket approach. The most serious issue: putting the details of sensitive operations on one document meant that only a small number of very senior officers had the required security clearance to see the whole plan. In fact, not a single European officer in the NATO command had such clearance. Information warfare officers didnt even arrive in Vicenza, Italy, to brief Gen. Michael Short, who was running the air war, until late April more than a month into the bombing campaign. One official U.S. Air Force report on this super-secret effort tersely concluded: Special Access Programs were of little value; no one was special enough to have access. A KICK FROM UPSTAIRS Frustrated by the bureaucratic roadblocks, information warfare officers managed to win support from the White House, which quickly set in motion a plan to streamline Elephant Blanket. What emerged was the Day 54 plan, an amalgam of top-secret projects developed independently by a variety of agencies. I want to see the rapid economic death of Serbia, Deputy National Security Adviser James Steinberg told covert operators, according to an account he later gave reporters. At a top secret facility near Washington, an influence net essentially a model of Milosevics inner circle was quickly prepared. It showed who owed what, who talked to whom and where influence flowed inside Milosevics Yugoslavia. The model served as the blueprint for targeting the right people. CIA, NSA and military intelligence operators broke into Yugoslav communications and computer networks, inserting messages that repeated NATOs surrender terms. Separately, broader efforts to support the Day 54 plan came into play. Diplomatically, the United States and European Union began pressuring neighboring states to freeze bank accounts and deny transit to certain members of the Yugoslav elite. In one case of a Milosevic crony, Berger says, the family in tow, suitcase bulging, found themselves denied entry to a nearby country. The Department of Treasurys Office of Foreign Assets Control set up shop in Cyprus, which one senior U.S. government official calls the money-laundering center for the region. INFORMATION OVERLOAD Despite this major information warfare initiative, high ranking U.S. officers remained deeply skeptical, most notably, Gen. Clark. Its a joke, Clark told MSNBC.com, referring to tactics that included calling and faxing Milosevic insiders. Thats not anything but harassment. The multinational war operated under such political constraints that many of the plans information warfare efforts were never fully implemented. Most urban targets continued to be restricted, for instance. Internal alliance politics also presented a problem. For instance, Yugoslav cell phone and telephone networks couldnt be bombed because Italian and Greek telecommunications companies had a financial stake in them. There also were legal concerns expressed inside the U.S. government regarding proposals to do things like insert viruses in Serb computer systems or hack into bank accounts thought to contain plundered funds. Crony targeting and Operation Matrix dirty tricks sound exciting, but all we did was spam the Serbs, says one officer skeptical of the operation. We spammed their e-mail. We spammed their faxes. We spammed their phone lines. In the end, no computer viruses were planted, and there was no effort to penetrate networks and subtlety change data. Someone wants to put a virus into a Yugoslav system, sure maybe it will work, says Clark. But is this what I would base success or failure on? Moreover, Milosevic played the information warfare game himself in some ways better than NATO. Milosevic was far more skilled in the manipulation of the media than we were in getting our message out, Secretary of Defense William Cohen told Congress in October 1999. Yugoslav propaganda dominated Western media coverage, and there are hints that Belgrades own covert psychological warfare had an impact on NATO. Though the National Security Agency wont confirm the rumor, more than one source told MSNBC.com that Serbian linguists working for U.S. intelligence quit their jobs during the war for fear of personal attack after being contacted by the Serbian diaspora and possible Serb government agents. Whatever the shortcomings of NATOs information war in Kosovo from Elephant Blanket to the Matrix operation important lessons were learned. We cannot ignore this set of tools, said a retired officer steeped in information warfare. Military strategists believe that information warfare may someday be accorded the same stature as air and ground warfare. The ultimate goal is an integrated information strike against potential enemies, with information and electrons joining traditional weapons in the American strategic arsenal. William Arkin is an independent military analyst and a frequent contributor to MSNBC.com. Robert Windrem is an investigative producer at NBC News. *==============================================================* "Communications without intelligence is noise; Intelligence without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC ================================================================ C4I.org - Computer Security, & Intelligence - http://www.c4i.org *==============================================================* - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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