Interesting sections of the recently passed House NDAA

SEC. 218. FOREIGN MALIGN INFLUENCE OPERATIONS RESEARCH PROGRAM.

    (a) Program Required.–The Secretary of Defense, acting through the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, shall carry out a research program on foreign malign influence operations research as part of the university and other basic research programs of the Department of Defense (such as the Minerva Research Initiative).

    (b) Program Objectives.–The objectives of the research program shall be the following:

            (1) To enhance the understanding of foreign malign influence operations, including activities conducted on social media platforms.

            (2) To facilitate the compilation, analysis, and storage of publicly available or voluntarily provided indicators of foreign malign influence operations, including those appearing on social media platforms, for the purposes of additional research.

            (3) To promote the development of best practices relating to tactics, techniques, procedures, and technology for the protection of the privacy of the customers and users of the social media platforms and the proprietary information of the social media companies in conducting research and analysis or compiling and storing indicators and key trends of foreign malign influence operations on social media platforms.

            (4) To promote collaborative research and information exchange with other relevant entities within the Department and with other agencies relating to foreign malign influence operations.

    (c) Program Activities.–In order to achieve the objectives specified in subsection (b), the Secretary is authorized to carry out the following activities:

            (1) The Secretary may award research grants to eligible individuals and entities on a competitive basis.

            (2) The Secretary may award financial assistance to graduate students on a competitive basis.

    (d) Report.–Not later than March 1, 2020, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report on the progress of the Secretary in carrying out the research program under this section, including a description of the activities and research conducted as part of the program.

Section 1065

SEC. 1065. ANNUAL REPORT ON JOINT MILITARY INFORMATION SUPPORT OPERATIONS WEB OPERATIONS CENTER.

    (a) In General.–Not later than March 1 of 2020, and each subsequent year until the termination date specified in subsection (c), the Commander of United States Special Operations Command shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report on the activities of the Joint Military Information Support Operations Web Operations Center (hereinafter referred to as the “JMWC”) during the most recently concluded fiscal year.

    (b) Contents of Report.–The report required by subsection (a) shall include each of the following, for the fiscal year covered by the report:

            (1) Definitions of initial operating capability and full operational capability as such terms relate to the JMWC.

            (2) A detailed description of all activities conducted toward achieving initial operating capability and full operational capability of the JMWC.

            (3) A list of all associated funding requested for each program element for achieving initial operating capability and full operational capability.

            (4) A detailed description of validated doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy requirements relating to establishment of the JMWC.

            (5) A description of current JMWC capabilities, including information technology infrastructure and contractual arrangements.

            (6) A list of all physical locations hosting JMWC capabilities.

            (7) The number of military, contractor, and civilian personnel associated with the JMWC and any affiliated agency, service, or other Department of Defense entity.

            (8) A description of the JMWC personnel organizational structure.

            (9) An identification of inherently governmental functions relating to administration of the JMWC and execution of Military Information Support Operations (hereinafter referred to as “MISO )” programs hosted by the JMWC.

            (10) A detailed description of frameworks, metrics, and capabilities established to measure the effectiveness of MISO programs hosted by the JMWC.

            (11) A list of all associated funding requested by program element from each of the geographic combatant commanders for MISO programs hosted by the JMWC and a description of such MISO activities.

            (12) An assessment of the effectiveness of MISO programs hosted by the JMWC.

            (13) A description of efforts and activities conducted to share best practices and leverage lessons learned across the Department of Defense relating to MISO programs hosted by the JMWC, as well as a description of such best practices and lessons learned.

            (14) An identification of liaisons and detailees to the JMWC from agencies and elements of the Department of Defense.

            (15) Activities and efforts conducted to synchronize and deconflict MISO programs within the Department of Defense and with interagency and international partners related to strategic communications, as appropriate.

            (16) Such other information as the Commander determines appropriate.

    (c) Termination.–The requirement to submit a report under this section shall terminate on January 1, 2025.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization Strategic Communications Center of Excellence……………………………….   235

North Atlantic Treaty Organization Strategic Communications Center of Excellence

    The committee supports the efforts of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (SCCOE), but remains concerned that the United States has not fully resourced or participated in this important COE. As the conferees noted in the conference report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (H. Rept. 115-404), by not actively participating, the Department of Defense is unable to shape the long-term agenda for research, exercises, and policy development. Furthermore, the Department is unable to embed personnel to gain experience or insight that can only be acquired by working side-by-side. The committee notes that the SCCOE can play a unique role by increasing cooperation for strategic communications within NATO and broader alliances, and provide research that directly addresses the many problems facing U.S. forces operating in the information environment. The committee urges the Department of Defense to work with the SCCOE and the interagency to improve NATO’s ability to counter and mitigate disinformation, active measures, propaganda, and denial and deception activities of Russian and other malign actors. The committee further urges the Department of Defense to assign executive agent responsibilities to an appropriate organization within the Department of Defense to ensure effective partnering and advocacy for the COE.

    Therefore, the committee directs the Secretary of Defense to provide a briefing to the House Committee on Armed Services not later than March 1, 2020, on ways to improve strategic communications within NATO, including enhancing the capacity of and coordination with the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence.

Operational Use of Publicly Available Information……….   210

Operational Use of Publicly Available Information

    Violent extremist organizations and state-actors continue to conduct influence, command and control, and other overt operations in the information environment (IE), including on social media platforms, to achieve objectives that undermine U.S. national security. As such, the demand for the operational use of Publicly Available Information (PAI) for traditional military activities such as military information support operations, battlespace awareness, and force protection continues to increase. In fact, the 2016 Department of Defense Strategy for Operations in the IE correlates information operations and cyberspace operations with the operational use of PAI.

    The committee is aware that the collection, exploitation, understanding, and use of PAI may serve operational or intelligence operations or activities of the Department. The committee acknowledges that obtaining, understanding, and utilizing PAI for operational purposes presents significant and unique policy challenges. For example, the committee believes that protection of privacy and civil liberties of U.S. persons must remain a priority when setting forth guidance on accessing, acquiring, requesting, storing, analyzing, or otherwise using PAI for operational means, and that operational use of PAI should not serve as a replacement for Open Source Intelligence or other intelligence sources and tradecraft, or operational methods, for verifying military targets.

    The committee notes that the Department has not yet established, but is formulating, a policy and governance structure for PAI. The committee is concerned that the lack of policy and governance structure is hindering the Department from maintaining an edge in and outside of the IE. The committee also notes that cover requirements and resources for administering cover may not be conducive to responsible and expedient operational use of PAI.

    Therefore, the committee directs the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, to provide a briefing to the House Committee on Armed Services not later than October 1, 2019, on the operational use of PAI. The briefing shall include a description of the traditional military activities that may be enabled or enhanced using PAI, an update on policy formulation and considerations, frameworks for oversight and governance, cover requirements and guidance, and protection of U.S. persons privacy and civil liberties.

Intelligence Support to Defense Operations in the Information Environment…………………………….   291

Intelligence Support to Defense Operations in the Information Environment

    The committee supports Department of Defense efforts to improve capabilities and tradecraft to operate in the information environment. The committee is concerned about the Defense Intelligence Enterprise’s (DIE) ability to provide the information operations community with all-source intelligence support, consistent with the support provided to operations in other domains.

    Therefore, the committee directs the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, in coordination with the Joint Staff Director for Intelligence and the Director of National Intelligence, to provide a briefing to the House Committee on Armed Services by November 1, 2019, on intelligence support to information operations. The briefing should include standardized defense intelligence lexicon for intelligence preparation of the battlefield for information operations, efforts to develop a process to ensure the full scope of emerging defense information operations threat requirements are structured to be addressed through the entirety of DIE capabilities, and how the Department perceives the future of defense operations in the information environment.

    The briefing shall also include a description of how the national intelligence community, through the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, will account for a more dynamic use of defense intelligence capabilities to augment and enhance support to Department of Defense operations in the information environment.

   Strategy for Operations in the Information Environment

    Operations in the information environment (IE) by state and non-state actors, such as Russian cyber intrusions to undermine democratic institutions, ISIS’s recruitment through dissemination of propaganda, or exfiltration of controlled unclassified information from the defense industrial base by cyber actors affiliated with the People’s Republic of China, pose a dynamic challenge to U.S. national security. The Department of Defense, when appropriate and in concert with the interagency, must be prepared to address, defend, and respond to actions in the IE that undermine national security across the spectrum of warfare and in all types of conflict.

    In June 2016 the Department of Defense issued a strategy for operations in the IE to align Departmental actions and ensure effective integration of actions across all information domains. Section 1637 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (Public Law 115-91) directed the Department to develop an implementation plan to support the 2016 Department of Defense Strategy for Operations in the Information Environment and establish processes and procedures to better integrate strategic information operations and cyber-enabled information operations across the relevant elements of the Department, including those responsible for military deception, public affairs, electronic warfare, and cyber operations. Section 1637 of Public Law 115-91 also directed the Department of Defense to coordinate regional information strategies and interagency coordination plans of the combatant commands with the appropriate Department of State officials and the Global Engagement Center. Further, this section required periodic status reports to the congressional defense committees every 90 days on the date the implementation plan required was submitted.

    The committee recognizes the efforts of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict as well as the Department’s Information Operations Steering Group, charted in August 2016, relating to the requirements of section 1637 of Public Law 115-91 and acknowledges the periodic status updates provided to the congressional defense committees to date. The committee understands the Information Operations Steering Group has recommended the 2016 Strategy for Operations in the IE be updated and that the Department will issue the new strategy sometime this year. The committee expects to be apprised of the new strategy and expects the Department to apply the direction and requirements of section 1637 of the NDAA for FY 2018 to the new strategy. Therefore, the committee directs the Secretary of Defense to brief the House Committee on Armed Services not later than September 1, 2019, on the status of the existing Strategy for Operations in theIE, status of the implementation plan and other elements of section 1637 of Public Law 115-91,  plan for continuing to provide the congressional defense committees continuous periodic updates relating to operations in the IE, and provide detailed information on existing authorities, policies, and doctrine relating to operations in the IE.

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