9 U.S. military commanders have written to intelligence chiefs to expand declassification of Russian and Chinese intelligence

Former acting U.S. Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire (second from left).

U.S. intelligence officials recently said the agency is looking at ways to expand the scope of declassification and release more Chinese and Russian intelligence in order to facilitate the U.S. information war.

Nine U.S. military regional combatant commanders signed a memo last year calling on intelligence agencies to provide the military with more publicly available intelligence for the U.S. and its allies in the so-called “gray zone,” Politico reported on 26 June. The memo was signed by nine U.S. military regional combatant commanders last year, calling on intelligence agencies to provide the military with more publicly available intelligence to “provide ammunition” for the United States and its allies in the so-called “gray area” of narrative warfare to help defeat the “harmful practices” of adversary nations.

The newspaper disclosed that the memo was initiated by Philip Davidson, the then outgoing commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, and was echoed by regional combatant commanders in Europe, Africa and Latin America, as well as leaders of special operations forces and Space Command. The memo is also known as the “36 Star Memo” because all nine are four-star generals.

The memo states that the status quo makes the military inadequate to counter Russian and Chinese propaganda, and that satellite imagery is an area of intelligence that needs to be made more public. Washington can only consolidate the support of U.S. allies by addressing the challenges of the 21st century with facts in the public domain, but overly strict secrecy norms undermine these efforts.

The newspaper also cited comments from several administration officials that nine of the 11 U.S. military combatant commanders signed the memo, which is unheard of and underscores the extraordinary level of vigilance among the military’s top generals. When they sent a letter to Joseph Maguire, then acting director of national intelligence, it rocked the Pentagon, the intelligence community and Congress.

Kari Bingen, deputy principal deputy secretary of defense for intelligence, said the Russian and Chinese governments had weaponized information, “a major concern being raised by military leaders and intelligence professionals alike,” and that Avril Haines, the current director of national intelligence, was assessing the situation. Haines is assessing this.