Take Notice: The 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

January 9, 2014

2014-NCTC-Counterterrorism-Calendar-spiral-boundIf you didn’t catch the Washington Post “In the Loop” article by Al Kamen this week entitled “Counter terror calendar 2014 is out!,” you’ll be pleased to know that yes, the 2014 edition of the National Counterterrorism Center’s annual Counterterrorism Desk Calendar is now available for ordering on the U.S. Government Bookstore.

Image: Cover of the 164-page 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar from the National Counterterrorism Center depicts the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon. Photo Credit: David L. Ryan / Boston Globe.

The goal behind the Counterterrorism Calendar is to educate and inform both professionals– first responders, military, intelligence, law enforcement and other counterterrorism personnel– as well as civilians about the threats of international terrorism and how to prevent, respond or mitigate these threats against the United States both at home and abroad.

History of U.S. Government Inviting Citizen Involvement in Domestic Security

Since its founding, America has had a history of inviting its citizens to participate in its own defense. Even with the danger of British sympathizers turning them in, brave revolutionaries posted recruiting posters on behalf of the Continental Congress such as the one below that invited Americans to “Take Notice” and help General Washington and the Continental Army defend against “the hostile designs of foreign enemies.”

revolutionary-war-take-notice-recruiting-posterImage: This Revolutionary War recruiting poster urged brave and able-bodied young men to “take notice” and join forces with General Washington and the Continental Army in the fight against “foreign enemies,” in this case, the British. Photo Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS

In World War 2, the Federal Government issued numerous similar domestic campaigns reminding citizens that it was their civic duty to “defend America” and inviting citizens to help support the war industry and to be vigilant against spies, saboteurs and other actions by the enemy both at home and abroad.

Defend-American-Freedom It's Everybody's-Job- World War II 2 propaganda poster for civilian workersImage: U.S. Government World War II propaganda poster urging civilians to participate in the war effort. Source: University of North Texas Digital Library

Today, the war is a War on Terror, and the U.S. Government still needs involvement and vigilance of its citizens and allies, whether in the United States or abroad, to identify and protect against terrorists.

The 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

Under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Counterterrorism Center or NCTC serves as the primary organization in the U.S. government for integrating and analyzing all intelligence possessed or acquired by the U.S. government about international terrorism, including data from U.S. Federal agencies like the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the FBI as well as other domestic and international sources.

First published in a spiral-bound daily planner format in 2003, just two years after the World Trade Center attacks, the Counterterrorism or CT Calendar from the NCTC is published annually. According to the NCTC, their 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar:

…provides information on known terrorist groups, individual terrorists, and technical information on topics such as biological and chemical threats.This edition, like others since the Calendar was first published in daily planner format in 2003, contains many features across the full range of issues pertaining to international terrorism: terrorist groups, wanted terrorists, and technical pages on various threat-related topics.

Features of the Calendar

In addition to serving as a desk calendar / event planner, the 164-page 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar also serves as a tutorial on international terrorism and a gallery of “most wanted” terrorists.

The right-hand page of the planner has the event planner dates along with key historical events of significance to terrorists that might be used to plan future terrorist activities. For example, on January 8, 1998, terrorist Ramzi Ahmed Yousef was sentenced to life plus 240 years for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.

On the left-hand pages are photos, maps and/or data on terrorists and terrorist organizations around the world, from Africa and the Middle East to Europe and the Americas.

Map-Somalia-based-al-Shabaab-terror-attacksImage: Map denoting locations of major terrorist incidents likely committed by the Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin—commonly known as al-Shabaab, a “clan-based insurgent and terrorist group” operating in and around Somalia. Source: NCTC 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

“Terrorism tutorial” information ranges from cultural—details about the Islamic Calendar; the spelling of Arabic names and terms; lists of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), and logos used— to technical –  information about Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Nuclear-Explosive (CBRNE) weapons commonly used by terrorists, from suicide bombs to sarin gas, and how to detect and mitigate them.  For example, who among us would recognize the terrorist threat from these innocent-looking beans?

Castor-beans-used-to-make-ricinImage: Photo of castor beans from which the deadly toxin ricin is extracted. Ricin is poisonous if inhaled, injected, or ingested. Source: NCTC 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

“Wanted” Terrorists

Providing the real drama of the calendar are the full-page “Wanted” poster-style pages of an individual terrorist, complete with photo (if available), aliases, his terrorist activities, the reward offered, and how to report information about him.

One of the largest rewards, $25 Million, is offered for information leading to the capture of Ayman al-Zawahiri, also known as “The Teacher” or “The Doctor” who is a physician and the founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. According to the CT Calendar:

“This organization opposes the secular Egyptian Government and seeks its overthrow through violent means. Al-Zawahiri is believed to have served as an advisor and doctor to Usama Bin Ladin. He has been indicted for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. The embassy bombings killed 224 civilians and wounded over 5,000 others.”

Wanted-page-of-terrorist-Ayman-al-Zawahiri-of-Egyptian-Islamic-JihadImage: Extract from the “wanted” page of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaida leader and founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Source: NCTC 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

Civilian Involvement

Finally, the NCTC carries on the civilian involvement tradition by including instructions for citizens of the U.S. and other countries on how they can help fight terrorism. Pages on” Indicators of False Travel Documents”, “Radicalization”, and how U.S. residents can report suspicions are provided. Additionally, the  Rewards for Justice (RFJ) Program is described in detail, wherein the U.S. Secretary of State may offer rewards for information that prevents or favorably resolves acts of international terrorism against US persons or property worldwide.

On the last page is a Bomb Threat Call Procedures form with valuable details of questions to ask and information to note about the caller, such as his or her voice (accent, age, tone, language) and background sounds. Did you note if the caller was clearing his throat or had an accent? Were there sounds of machinery in the background? What kind? Any and all details could help law enforcement.

Aspects-to-note-about-Bomb-Threat-CallerImage: Table from the Bomb Threat Call Procedures form. Source: Page 160 of the 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar.

Forewarned is Forearmed

Like the tradition of the best Government civilian campaigns since the founding of the Nation, the National Counterterrorism Center’s annual Counterterrorism Calendar is simultaneously meant to alert and inform us, making both civilians and professionals alike aware of the very real dangers around us and educating us on what—and whom—to look for. With the cover photo depicting the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon– where ordinary citizens were instrumental in identifying and locating the terrorists responsible– the importance of having an informed and involved citizenry has never been clearer.

How can I get a copy of the National Counterterrorism Center’s 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar?

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Happy 66th -or 106th- Birthday, US Air Force

September 18, 2013

According to the Department of Defense’s website, the United States Air Force is 66 years ago today “that the National Security Act of 1947 turned what was then known as the Army Air Corps into the United States Department of the Air Force. A strategic, tactical and defensive force for the skies, the Air Force has become a vital role in our country’s military power.

USAF-Birthday-Video

Watch this US Air Force birthday video on YouTube.

However, if you add in the years since the Army Air Corps first flew in 1907, then the Air Force’s operations have really been going strong for 106 years today. It all depends on how you count it.

Therefore, it is fitting to look at the entirety of military aviation when looking at the US Air Force’s illustrious history.

A number of excellent publications have come out recently, both in print and eBooks, for the US Air Force, Army Air Corps and military aviation in general.

The ones we most recommend for understanding the evolution of today’s US Air Force include:

Overall History and Mission

008-070-00727-4The best two books covering the overall history and mission of what is now the United States Air Force are A Concise History of the United States Air Force and its recently released EPUB eBook version, as well as the extremely thought-provoking Air Force Roles and Missions: A History (also recently released as an eBook) which traces the evolution of the Air Force’s role and missions as well as the conflicts with other branches of the military over these definitions.

Early Beginnings through World War 1

Are you more interested in the earliest days of aviation when the Army first bought one of the Wright Brothers’ planes and its “daring young men in those flying machines” began to determine how airpower could be used for military purposes? Then you should read Logbook of the Signal Corps No. 1: The United States Army’s First Airplane in paperback or as a new eBook, which recounts the experiences of Benjamin D. Foulois, the pioneering, self-taught pilot of “Signal Corps No. 1″, the very first airplane of the United States Army Signal Corps.

HAP: Henry H. Arnold, Military Aviator, Shown here as Army Flight Instructor in College Park, Maryland. ISBN: 0-16-049071-5And don’t miss HAP: Henry H. Arnold, Military Aviator (Paperback) or the new EPUB eBook edition which tells the story of beloved Henry “Hap” Arnold, one of the first Army flight instructors and daring pilot. (See his image to the right as an Army Flight Instructor. Image courtesy: College Park Aviation Museum.)

Another very popular publication tells the story of air espionage during World War 1: Shooting the Front: Allied Aerial Reconnaissance and Photographic Interpretation on the Western Front – World War I.

Shooting the Front: Allied Aerial Reconnaissance and Photographic Interpretation on the Western Front - World War I (Paperbound)

World War 2

World War II is when it is widely acknowledged that military aviation came into its own. Toward Independence: The Emergence of the United States Air Force, 1945-1947 tells of the rapid evolution in use of airpower in the period leading up to its formation as a separate entity.

Korean War

By the Korean War, the US Air Force had become its own branch of the United States Armed Forces. Several publications chronicle the involvement of the newly formed USAF during this conflict, including Within Limits: The United States Air Force and the Korean War, Coalition Air Warfare in the Korean War, 1950 1953, and Silver Wings, Golden Valor: The USAF Remembers Korea which includes reminiscences and perspectives of Korean War Air Force veterans and historians.

Vietnam War

War Too Long: The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia 1961-1975 ISBN: 9780160613692Over 50 years later, Americans are still wrestling with the lessons of Vietnam. So, too, is the Air Force in these excellent USAF publications War Too Long: The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia 1961-1975  and War in South Vietnam: The Years of the Offensive, 1965-1968, as well as this Army digital publication, Interservice Rivalry and Airpower in the Vietnam War (eBook).

Cold War and Space Race

When the Soviets launched Sputnik, the space race was subsequently kicked off with the United States. The Air Force role was critical during the Cold War and in both in helping start our space exploration and ongoing support through to today in support of NASA. Read Early Cold War Overflights, 1950-1956 to understand the beginning of the espionage flights, and pick up a copy of the United States Air Force in Space, 1945 to the Twenty-First Century which covers the Air Force’s involvement in space exploration.

Gulf War to the Present

None of us can forget the images of bombs dropping during the Gulf War, the tale of which is told in Decisive Force: Strategic Bombing in the Gulf War.

Turning Point 9.11: Air Force Reserve in the 21st Century, 2001-2011  ISBN: 9780160914485And anyone with family in or who themselves are in the National Guard or a military reservist knows how the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan have changed the role of these personnel from backup to active participants. One of the best books we’ve read on the subject is the excellent Turning Point 9.11: Air Force Reserve in the 21st Century, 2001-2011 which chronicles these stark changes in the Air Force Reserve since the terrorist attacks on 9.11.2001.

Air Force on TV and in the Movies

Fans of the movie “War Games” will know about NORAD. Learn the true story behind this important homeland airspace defense organization in Guarding What You Value Most: North American Aerospace Defense Command Celebrating 50 Years and a new EPUB eBook version. Includes the heart-warming story of NORAD’s Christmas Eve Santa Tracker. (Read about this in our blog post Tracking “Big Red”: NORAD’s Secret Santa Mission [UPDATED].)

Fans of the TV show “JAG” Will love to discover the real history of this Air Force department in First 50 Years: United States Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Department.

Humanitarian Operations

Wings of Hope: The United States Air Force and Humanitarian Airlift OperationsLike the other branches of the US military, the US Air Force plays an important role in humanitarian operations, both here at home and worldwide. This publication—Wings of Hope: The United States Air Force and Humanitarian Airlift Operations—tells the overall story of various airlift operations. While it sounds like the plot of a disaster movie, the Ash Warriors (paperback) and its EPUB eBook version recounts the true story of the “Ash Warriors,” those Air Force men and women who carried out their mission in the face of an incredible series of natural disasters, including volcanic eruption, flood, typhoons, and earthquakes, all of which plagued Clark Air Base in the Philippines and the surrounding areas during June and July 1991. And the horrendous Hurricane Katrina brought out the best in the Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command, whose role is described in Operation Dragon Comeback: Air Education and Training Command’s Response to Hurricane Katrina.

“Blue Sky” Future

So join us in wishing a very happy 66th (or 106th) birthday to our very own United States Air Force. May there be blue skies in its future!

How can I obtain these Air Force History publications?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov, by clicking on the links above in this blog post or shopping our United States Air Force (USAF) History collection under our US & Military History category.
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Visit our Retail Store: Buy a copy of print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Find them in a Library: Find these publications in a federal depository library.

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Code Talkers to Better Walkers: How American Indians Have Helped Fight Wars and Obesity

August 21, 2013

In honor of Navajo Code Talkers Day this past week on August 14, Government Book Talk explores some Federal publications that utilize American Indian traditions and culture to combat serious problems of the past and present.

Native Code Talkers in World War I

“Code talkers” became the term used to describe Native American soldiers from various Indian tribes who communicated on radios, telephones and telegraph during World Wars I and II. They spoke in their own languages and dialects, all of which were indecipherable by enemy forces. Because few non-Indians knew these difficult native languages, which in many cases had no written form, they provided ideal codes for relaying secret operational orders.

WWI-Choctaw-Code-Talkers-w-FlagImage: The Choctaw Code Talkers enlisted in the U.S. Army in World War I even though their lack of citizenship exempted them from the draft. (U.S. Army photo)

In France during World War I, the 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Division, had a company of Indians who spoke 26 languages and dialects. Two Indian officers were selected to supervise a communications system staffed by 18 Choctaw. The team transmitted messages relating to troop movements and their own tactical plans in their native tongue. They helped the American Expeditionary Force win several key battles in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign in France, the final big German push of the war.

Soldiers from other tribes, including the Cheyenne, Comanche, Cherokee, Osage and Yankton Sioux also were enlisted to communicate as code talkers. Previous to their arrival in France, the Germans had broken every American code used, resulting in the deaths of many Soldiers. However, the German Army— which captured about one out of four messengers—never broke the Indians’ “code.”

More Native Code Talkers are Used in World War II

After the United States entered World War II in December 1941, more Armed Forces used code talking units with each unit composed of members of a specific American Indian tribe.

Navajo Code Talkers

The United States Marines recruited several hundred Navajos for duty in the Pacific region. The Marines chose these Navajos for their ability to speak their native language, Diné bizaad (Navajo), for code talking.

Philip Johnston, a son of missionaries who had grown up on the Navajo reservation, originally recommended Navajo to the Marines as a language well suited for cryptology. In a memo to the Commandant of the Marine Corps in early 1942, Navajo was declared uniquely suited to succeed more than some other languages proposed for use. At that time, most Navajos were fluent in their native language. The Marines were lucky; in 1942 only an estimated 28 non-Navajo Americans could speak the extremely difficult Navajo language!

Hitler had heard of the possibility of using Native American languages for codes prior to the United States’ entry into the war, and had sent a number of German anthropologists to the United States prior to WWII to learn Native American languages. Navajo was reportedly the only language the German anthropologists had yet to learn. Navajo also benefited by being so unlike other Native American languages that there was no language similar to it. If you’re fluent in Spanish, you might be able to muddle along in Portuguese after some basic lessons. Navajo has no analog.

Navajo-Code-Talkers-in-JungleIn May 1942, the first Navajo recruits attended boot camp; they then moved to Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California, to create the Navajo Code Talkers Dictionary. The Marines trained approximately 400 Navajos as code talkers. To relay the messages they were encoding, they had to learn to operate three types of radios. At that time the code talkers called themselves “radiomen”.

The developers of the Navajo code modeled the alphabet portion on the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet. That alphabet uses words to represent letters, e.g., Fox for the letter F. In the Navajo code, Ne-Ahs-Jah is Navajo for Owl, which stood for the letter O. To spell the word Navy, the code talker might say, “Tsah (Needle, or N), Wol-La-Chee (Ant, or A), A-Keh-Di-Glini (Victor, or V), Tsah-As-Zih (Yucca, or Y)”.

The Navajo Marines also chose Navajo words to represent about 450 frequently used terms in the military. It was hard. According to code talker Wilfred Billey, “one of the most difficult parts of forming the Navajo code was using it to relay precise information, such as coordinates or troop movements because several words in the Navajo language have various meanings” (May 22, 2003, “Navajo Code Talker Continues Oral Tradition”, Marine Core Logistics Base Albany).

Some of the choices were very creative. Navajo is a classic language that didn’t originally include terms like “tank”, so the Navajo Marines dubbed it “Chay-Da-Gahi”, or tortoise. The Navajo Code Talkers Dictionary, published by the Navy years later after it was declassified, showed the versatility of the code’s creators. The code was so effective in World War 2, it was also used in the Korean War, being phased out before Vietnam.

In fact, at Iwo Jima, Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, declared, ‘Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima’” (Navajo Code Talkers: WWII Fact Sheet). During that battle alone, the radiomen transmitted 800 messages without error.

Comanche, Sioux and Hopi Code Talkers for the Army

Although the Navajo tribe is the one most remembered for its contributions to the World War II communications code units, the US military also used Basque, Comanche, Sioux, Hopi and a number of other American Indian languages as code languages. Basque was rarely used because there were native Basque speakers in Europe which made the U.S. military wary of using it more widely.  However, because the various Army units of Code Talkers were so secret, their very existence was kept classified until the 1970s or later.

American-Indian-Code-Talkers-LanguagesImage: List of American Indian Code Talkers’ languages and the numbers of tribal members who served, if known. There were at least two Code Talkers from each tribe. Source: National Museum of the American Indian’s website.

Army-Signal-Corps_9780160453519The US Army’s Signal Corps is the military branch that develops, tests, provides, and manages communications and information systems support for the command and control of combined US Armed Forces, including code talkers. You can read the history of the Army Signal Corps in Getting the Message Through: A Branch History of the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

The US Army’s 4th Signal Company, also known as the Code Talkers, used seventeen Comanche Code Talkers. Like the Choctaws of World War I, and the Navajos in the Pacific Theater, the Comanche Code Talkers used their native language to prevent the enemies of the European Theater from intercepting messages of the allied troops during World War II. The unit was instrumental during the Normandy invasion.

Sioux code talkers, composed of Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota native soldiers or “L.D.N.’s”, spoke their native “dialects” (languages) which were understood by each native soldier in the unit. On December 19, 2000, Congressman John Thune said of the Sioux code talkers’ contribution:

“It is important for us to honor these veterans whose contributions have, until recently, been ignored. Often sent out on their own to provide communications with headquarters on enemy location and strength, they sometimes spent 24 hours in headphones without sleep or food. Many endured terrible conditions without protection from the enemy. Using three Sioux languages Lakota, Nakota and Dakota, the Sioux Code Talkers were able to communicate messages the enemy was unable to crack.”

The Hopi tribe also helped in the communications coding efforts. Eleven Hopi men developed a highly secret code language which they used to assist US Army intelligence in the Marshall Islands, New Caledonia and the Philippines during the Second World War. Again, because of the super top-secret nature of their work for Army Intelligence, the Hopi Code Talkers’ contribution was not officially recognized until April 26, 2012, on the inaugural Hopi Code Talkers Recognition Day.

Applying American Indian Traditions to the War against Obesity

The United States Government continues to utilize Native American language and traditions to solve important problems of the day. For example, with the public health issue of childhood obesity and diabetes rising to dangerous levels in the US, the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Native Diabetes Wellness Program (Wellness Program) and the Indian Health Service (IHS) Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention recently teamed up with the Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee (TLDC) to produce the award-winning Eagle Book series.

The developers of this series realized that the old, traditional American Indian diet and activity levels were in line with today’s medical recommendations to eat less processed food and more fruits and vegetables as well as exercising more. Thus, they worked with Native groups to incorporate traditional American Indian story-telling techniques and themes to promote increased physical activity such as walking and playing as well as making healthier—and more natural—food choices to reduce obesity and prevent diabetes.

Coyote-and-the-Turtles'-Dream-9780160913174 Preventing childhood obesity and diabetesThe common Native American theme of the tortoise/ turtle used by the American Indian code talkers resurfaces in the newest book in the series, Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream.  In this middle school-age mystery/ adventure book, the wise elderly box turtle helps the mischievous Coyote and the Indian reservation town’s residents solve a mystery to foil the plans of a fossil poacher while teaching the underlying message about healthy eating and increased physical activity.

With the first four books aimed at elementary schoolers– Through the Eyes of the Eagle, Knees Lifted High, Plate Full of Color, and Tricky Treats and the next book for middle schoolers– Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream– the Eagle Book series has been snapped up by teachers, nutritionists, librarians, parents and children’s health providers all over the country as an effective tool to teach children about healthier eating habits and increasing activity while also instilling an appreciation for Native culture which extols respect for elders and living in harmony with nature.

You can read more about the Eagle Book series on our Government Book Talk blog post entitled: “Native Traditions Help Kids Unplug, Read and Be Healthy.”

How Can I Obtain These Publications?

EBOOKS:

PRINT EDITIONS:

About the author(s): Adapted by Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and GPO Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram, from an original blog post by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).


Fighting Enemies or Disease, Asian Americans Offer a Rich Heritage

May 1, 2013

As Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month kicks off, and the anniversary of WWII’s VE (Victory in Europe) Day approaches (May 8), it’s a good time to talk about a major contribution of Asian and Pacific-Islander Americans.

Japanese Americans’ Battle of Wits with the Japanese in WW II

Nisei-Linguists-CMH_70-99-1The book Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During WWII published by the Army’s Center of Military History is an excellent starting point to examine that history. When the United States entered WWII in 1941, the War Department knew that their intelligence efforts would not be successful without understanding of Japanese language and culture. However, few Americans other than the 300,000 or so Japanese Americans living mainly on the West Coast and Hawaii had such knowledge.

The War Department tapped the talents and skills of the second generation (Nisei) Japanese Americans. The Western Defense Command chose sixty Nisei soldiers for Japanese language training at the Fourth Army Intelligence School at the Presidio in San Francisco. The school moved to the Midwest after Pearl Harbor, first locating it in Camp Savage and later in Fort Snelling. The program, renamed the Military Intelligence Service Language School, ran until 1946. Nearly six thousand military linguists graduated from the school to enter the Military Intelligence Service (MIS).

MISCrissyField

Image: Nisei linguists undergoing training at MIS Crissy Field.

In addition to telling the story of the program and school, the book also describes how the Nisei served with every major unit and headquarters in the Pacific theater. It is testimony to the Nisei’s loyalty and smarts that it took the War Department only two years to get the Nisei military intelligence program up and running. The Nisei braved considerable prejudice to work for U.S. military intelligence, and there is no doubt their participation in American intelligence efforts made the war end earlier.

No one told the story of these linguists for years after WWII, and it was not until the 1980s and 1990s that people began to talk about their experiences with the program. Finally in 1994, Senator Daniel K. Akaka and some other Congressional members asked the Secretary of the Army to publish an official history of the Nisei linguists. This book is the result of that request.

Learn more about the Nisei language intelligence program by picking up a copy of this fascinating volume at the GPO Online Bookstore in Paperback edition or as an eBook.

Asian Americans Battle Disease Today

Epidemiologic-Profile-2010-Asians_coverHaving turned our thoughts to how Asian-Americans contributed to the care of our nation, it’s also a good time to think about how we care for the Asian-American and Pacific-Islander American portion of the United States population. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just published Epidemiologic Profile 2010: Asians and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders.

According to the CDC, “This Epidemiologic Profile is the first compilation of infectious disease-specific data in a single report that focuses on two racial groups in the United States: the Asian population and the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population.” The volume includes a chapter in which the Census Bureau contributes to the description of the Asian and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander populations who reside in the United States.

The report tracks the involvement of Asians, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders in cases of endemic disease. Asians, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders make up a disproportionately large number of cases in some diseases (tuberculosis and hepatitis B), and in others, a smaller percentage of cases than their representation in the U.S. population (STDs and HIV). The report examines specific disease statistics, the challenges of public health education, treatment and disease risk factor mitigation for these populations.

Any public health official, student, social worker, or government employee who works with these populations would definitely want to read this book.

GPO has cataloged a record for the FREE electronic version that Federal depository libraries got in the April 2013 record load.

How can I access the records to both these publications?

How can I purchase Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During WWII?

Our guest blogger is Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). (Article is adapted from an original  post in the FDLP Community site.)


CIA’s World Factbook: Global intelligence for every thinker, traveler, soldier, spy

January 27, 2012

A great publication not only provides timely and valuable information, but it also allows us a glimpse into the times and events that necessitated its production.

Such is the case with the CIA’s World Factbook—which marks its 50th anniversary in 2012 for the classified version and over 40 years for the public version described here— and shows us a glimpse into how Pearl Harbor and the Cold War changed the way America began to gather information about all corners of the globe.

The Factbook has its origins in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the realization by Congress and the White House that lack of coordinated intelligence across all Governmental departments had left the United States woefully unprepared for the attack, and determined to correct this as a national security necessity and priority.  According to the CIA historians:

During World War II, intelligence consumers realized that the production of basic intelligence by different components of the US Government resulted in a great duplication of effort and conflicting information.

Detailed and coordinated information was needed not only on such major powers as Germany and Japan, but also on places of little previous interest. In the Pacific Theater, for example, the Navy and Marines had to launch amphibious operations against many islands about which information was unconfirmed or nonexistent.

Image above: During WWII, OSS intelligence reviewed existing maps with the military. Source: Top Secret Writers

JANIS Drops In

To correct this deficiency, in 1943, General George B. Strong (G-2), Admiral H. C. Train (Office of Naval Intelligence – known as ONI), and General William J. Donovan (Director of the Office of Strategic Services – known as OSS, the precursor of the CIA) oversaw the formation of a Joint Intelligence Study Publishing Board to assemble, edit, coordinate, and publish the Joint Army Navy Intelligence Studies (JANIS).

JANIS was the first cross-departmental basic intelligence program to fulfill the needs of the US Government for an authoritative and coordinated appraisal of strategic basic intelligence.

All groups involved in the war agreed that finished basic intelligence was required that covered territories around the world where the war was being fought. They needed detailed, up-to-date maps and geography; basic understanding of the cultural, economical, political and historical issues of the people and the region.

Compiling and publishing this information for the Allied intelligence needs, JANIS became an indispensable reference for war planning and execution.

The Cold War Gives Birth to the CIA… and the National Intelligence Survey

But the Cold War that immediately followed World War II showed that there was just as much need for continued intelligence gathering as ever. In the 1946 publication “The Future of American Secret Intelligence,” national security author George S. Petee wrote: “The conduct of peace involves all countries, all human activities – not just the enemy and his war production.”

In acknowledgement of this, the Congress established the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947 which immediately took over responsibility for JANIS. The next year, the National Security Council authorized the National Intelligence Survey program as a peacetime replacement for the wartime JANIS program. By 1955, the Hoover Commission evaluating the CIA advised Congress that: “The National Intelligence Survey [NIS] is an invaluable publication which provides the essential elements of basic intelligence on all areas of the world. There will always be a continuing requirement for keeping the Survey up-to-date.

The Sum of All Facts: The World Factbook

Subsequently, the World Factbook was created as an “annual summary and update to the encyclopedic NIS studies.

Originally published only as a classified publication starting a half century ago in August 1962 (just prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962), the World Factbook was first published in its declassified version for public consumption in June 1971, 40 years ago.

Image: CIA map produced for President Kennedy’s team estimating the range of Soviet missiles being set up in Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. Source: Canadian History Portal

Today’s World Factbook is the declassified version of the finished basic intelligence compiled by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and coordinated across all the U.S. intelligence community. It uses only recognized, authoritative sources, not only CIA-gathered intelligence, but also a wide variety of U.S. Government agencies from the National Security Agency, Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Agriculture, Defense Intelligence Agency, and hundreds of other published sources around the world.

Printed Version Provides an Annual Snapshot

Once a year, the Government Printing Office takes a snapshot of this information from the CIA as of January 1 and produces a printed version of the World Factbook. It provides unparalleled and succinct information about hundreds of countries in a format that provides an easy-to-use comparison.The Factbook has been available from GPO since 1975.

The 2011 version just published provides a two- to three-page summary of the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities, including U.S.-recognized countries, dependencies, and other areas in the world.

Each country has its own basic map and shows its flag, but of particular interest are the maps of the major world regions, as well three pull-out maps included in the publication: Physical Map of the World, Political Map of the World, and Standard Time Zones of the World Map, all of which can be used as wall maps.

Who Can Benefit from the World Factbook?

A perennial best seller in the GPO bookstore, The World Factbook is used by not only US Government officials, but is a must-have reference for researchers, news organizations, businesses, geographers, international travelers, teachers, professors, librarians, and students.

In short, after 40 years, the World Factbook is still the best source of  up-to-date, summarized intelligence about the world for any “thinker, traveler, soldier, or spy” of any age!

Image: Pupils at Crosby’s Valewood Primary School near Liverpool, England, dress up as ‘Spies’ as part of a creative project. Photographer: Andrew Teebay. Source: Liverpool Echo

To gather your own up-to-date intelligence about the world we live in, you can obtain the World Factbook 2011 at one of these locations:

How can you get this publication?

  • Buy the current version of the World Factbook and selected previous editions online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library.

Some Interesting “DID YOU KNOW?” Facts related to the CIA’s World Factbook:

  • Question: What separates “intelligence” from “information”?
    • Answer: According to the CIA: The Intelligence Cycle is the process by which information is acquired, converted into intelligence, and made available to policymakers. Information is raw data from any source, data that may be fragmentary, contradictory, unreliable, ambiguous, deceptive, or wrong. Intelligence is information that has been collected, integrated, evaluated, analyzed, and interpreted. Finished intelligence is the final product of the Intelligence Cycle ready to be delivered to the policymaker.

The three types of finished intelligence are: basic, current, and estimative. Basic intelligence provides the fundamental and factual reference material on a country or issue.

  • Question: “Why is the British Labour Party misspelled?”
    • Answer: When American and British spellings of common English words differ, The World Factbook always uses the American spelling, even when these common words form part of a proper name in British English.
  • Question: “What is a ‘doubly landlocked’ country and which are the only two in the world?”
    • Answer: A doubly landlocked country is one that is separated from an ocean or an ocean-accessible sea by two intervening countries. Uzbekistan and Liechtenstein are the only countries that fit this definition.
  • Question: “Why does the Factbook use metric units, even though Americans still use traditional units of measure like feet, pounds, and Fahrenheit?”
    • Answer: US Federal agencies are required by the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 (Public Law 94-168) and by Executive Order 12770 of July 1991 to use the International System of Units, commonly referred to as the metric system or SI. In addition, the metric system is used by over 95 percent of the world’s population.
  • Question: “Why is the European Union listed at the end of the Factbook entries? It’s not a country!”
    • Answer:  The European Union (EU) is not a country, but it has taken on many nation-like attributes and these may be expanded in the future. A more complete explanation on the inclusion of the EU into the Factbook can be found in the Preliminary statement.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (Bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public. She’s a big fan of the National Spy Museum and of spy movies, which she is going to enjoy for her birthday tomorrow.


Shooting with a Camera above the Western Front

February 25, 2011

It’s been almost a century since the outbreak of World War I. Although it’s rightfully remembered for its frightful battlefield slaughter, the Great War also marked a huge leap forward in the use of modern technology in war. One of those technological developments was the use of aerial reconnaissance photography to map enemy terrain and extract intelligence information on troop movements, defenses, and strategy.

Shooting the Front: Allied Aerial Reconnaissance and Photographic Interpretation on the Western front – World War I, published by the National Defense Intelligence College, is not the kind of product normally associated with that estimable agency, which usually deals with more contemporary issues. That’s one of the things that intrigued me about this hefty, profusely illustrated volume. It’s got lots of photographs, of course – the image of Fort Douaumont after Verdun gives new meaning to the term “leveled to the ground” – but also lots of information about how aerial photography evolved in the course of the war. It’s analogous to the progression of aircraft armament from a pistol in the hand of a co-pilot in 1914 to synchronized machine guns in1918. Interestingly, it was the French who led the way in developing aerial recon photography into a real science, and their partnership with American personnel was much more significant than is usually assumed.

I also enjoyed the brief biographies of the pioneers of Allied aerial photography: Eugene Marie Edmond Pepin, the brilliant Sorbonne graduate; John Theodore Cuthbert (known as “J.T.C.” – my initials!) Moore-Brabzon, the quintessential English gentleman (“‘You will obey your superior officers,’ the No. 9 Squadron commander once remarked early on. Moore-Brabzon replied, ‘Superior officer? – senior, if you please, sir.’”); and Edward Jan Steichen, the great American photographic master, who once joked that anyone producing a fuzzy photograph would be court-martialed! Retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in the reserves in 1924, Steichen received a commission as a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy reserves in 1941 at the age of 62, was on the carrier Lexington and in the Battle of Iwo Jima, and retired again as a Navy Captain in charge of all naval combat photography – talk about the engaged artist!

Shooting the Front is an excellent study of a neglected aspect of World War I and aviation history. At first I thought it might be too technical, but instead I found it absorbing to shift between the text and the photos, in a sense becoming a combat photograph interpreter myself. You can view the Table of Contents and Chapter I here, get a copy here, or find it in a library. For other Government publications touching on “the war to end all wars,” you can browse here.


Orientalism, Intelligence, and Empire

January 7, 2011

It took me awhile to get a handle on this one. Imperial Secrets: Remapping the Mind of Empire, published by the  National Defense Intelligence College, cites Edward Said, Francis Bacon, Jorge Luis Borges, Michel Foucault, Jeremy Bentham, T.E. Lawrence, and Joseph Conrad just in the Introduction, uses the intelligence experiences of the Roman, Ottoman, and British Empires as its core focus, and includes chapters  headed “Thuggee”, “Barzakh”, “Rhizomes”, and “Boukoloi.” This is a book that challenges its readers.

My take is that Edward Said is the real intellectual godfather of this book. His Orientalism was and remains a brilliant exposition of the West’s perceptions of the “mysterious East”. Although like all seminal works, Said’s work has been challenged, and in some ways refuted, it remains a starting point for anyone in the many fields it touches.

Although Imperial Secrets is too rich and complex a work to summarize here, it proposes that the United States, although not a classic empire, can be viewed as such, from the perspective of knowledge gathering, or intelligence, in the lands over which it exercises “imperial” influence. In the chapter on Thuggee in the British Raj, for example, an age-old Indian problem of robbery carried out via the strangulation of victims, was transmogrified by the British imagination into an organized cult of religious stranglers. Informers and punitive laws  then were employed to eliminate this phantom cult. Imperial Secrets uses this narrative to demonstrate the way empires, when faced with unfamiliar social and cultural environments, use an Orientalist discourse to fit those environments into their own frames of reference.

Another interesting theme is the value of informal networks of information, whether through the Sufi lodges of the Ottoman Empire or the transnational Freemasonic lodges of 19th Century Europe. Related to these networks are attempts by empires to use their own agents (T.E. Lawrence or the remarkable American Josiah Harlan, who had at least a shot at becoming an Afghan prince in the 1830s) and the emotional and psychological stresses that influence, or even distort, these agents’ perceptions however deeply they have steeped themselves in the cultures they infiltrate.

As I said earlier, Imperial Secrets is too intellectually challenging to review in a limited space. I haven’t even touched on its examination of Flavius Josephus as the kind of marginal informant that can to some extent transgress the boundary between and empire and its subjects, or the situationist travels of the 16th century Turkish traveler and official Evliya Celebi and their relevance as an example of  detecting information in the empty spaces between intelligence sources. (I’m starting to sound like the book, which may mean that I’m getting the point!)

Imperial Secrets is not a quick read, but it’s a stimulating one. Bear with it and you’re likely to  reap its rewards. You can read it here, get your own copy, or find it in a library.


Critical Thinking and Missile Crises

June 11, 2010

Government Book Talk got quite a bit of traffic for last Friday’s review of  Interrogation: World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq, so I thought it would be worthwhile to discuss another book just in from the National Defense Intelligence College. Critical Thinking and Intelligence Analysis is a study of the practice of critical thinking – which can be defined as simultaneously thinking and thinking about thinking as a means of an analyst “coming to a solution and improving the way her or she reasons.” Although the application of this reasoning technique to intelligence analysis is the focus of the book, the discussion of what critical thinking is, its advantages over either inductive or deductive reasoning, and its value in the analysis of a wide variety of problems and situations makes it a useful tool for academics, business people, or anyone else needing to analyze a particular scenario or set of evidence.

Because I’m not a heavily abstract thinker, I found the author’s case study very useful in getting a better handle on how the absence of critical thinking can result in a major intelligence failure. Prior to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, American intelligence analysts had received so much false or exaggerated information on Soviet military activities – including reports of Mongolian and Chinese troops –  that they seemed to believe that any such reports had to be untrue. Disinformation on the part of the Soviets added to the analysts’ disinclination to think critically about the intelligence they were receiving, so the discovery of offensive Soviet missiles was a total surprise to them.  The book also draws analogies to the failure of intelligence during the lead up to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and in the 2002 failure to detect the absence of weapons of mass destruction prior to the second U.S. war with Iraq.

The verdict: an excellent textbook for the teaching of critical thinking (there’s a syllabus in the Appendix) and a very interesting take on a crucial episode in Cold War history. You can read it here and buy it here. To find it in a library, go here.


Prisoner Interrogation in Three Wars

June 3, 2010

Interrogation: World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq is an absolutely fascinating read. This book from the National Defense Intelligence College takes both an historical and policy-oriented view of prisoner of war interrogations in three wars. The World War II section examines the Army’s use of Japanese Americans – Nisei – as interrogators in the Pacific, along with incisive discussions of why Japanese soldiers seldom were taken prisoners, why a relatively high percentage of such POWs cooperated with their interrogators, and why they furnished such a significant amount of intelligence to their captors (the Japanese military hierarchy assumed that their men would not become prisoners and so did not indoctrinate them about the importance of not giving up information if they were.) This part of the book also analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the Army and Navy Japanese language training  provided during the war.

The Vietnam section focuses on profiles of the most able interrogators in World War II (the wonderfully named R.W. G. “Tin Eye” Stephens for the British and Hans Scharff for the Germans) and a number of successful American officers during the Vietnam conflict. Throughout the book, the authors make the point that linguistic ability, a deep understanding of the captives’ culture and worldview, and a perception that torture or other violent methods were useless in soliciting information of value are the hallmarks of a successful interrogator of prisoners. This part of the book also describes these individuals’ occasional conflicts with the military bureaucracy, such as Sedgwick Tourison’s experience in reporting more information about the Tonkin Gulf incident than his superiors wanted to hear.

The final section, on Iraq, focuses on policy issues – specifically, whether Army doctrine should permit Special Operations personnel to interrogate prisoners. Again, real-world examples from personal experience provide a study that is both gripping and insightful.

Interrogation: World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq is a thoughtful and provocative analysis of what any army confronts in war – the need to gather intelligence from prisoners, the most effective way to do that, and the ineffectiveness of “harsh methods” in delivering useful information.

You can read the book here or get a copy from GPO here.  To find it in a library, search here.


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