Congress refusing to keep military tactics from being exposed to the public

The Department of Defense is asking Congress to make certain unclassified information unobtainable to civilians- and Congress so far isn’t having it.

According to FAS, DoD submitted a documented request last week asking Congress to allow exemptions to Freedom of Information Act for military tactics, techniques and procedures, rules of engagement and other subjects that are unclassified but still considered sensitive information.

The DoD feels the logic behind the request is crucial to US success in combat.

“The effectiveness of United States military operations is dependent upon adversaries, or potential adversaries, not having advance knowledge of the tactics, techniques, and procedures that will be employed in such operations”, the document read. “If an adversary or potential adversary has knowledge of such information, the adversary will be better able to identify and exploit any weaknesses, and the defense of the homeland, success of the operation, and the lives of U.S. military forces will be seriously jeopardized.”

Under the newly proposed guidelines, exemption would require a written memorandum by the Secretary of Defense stating that the public interest is less important than the need to protect the sensitive information and would require a written statement of the basis for the use of the exemption.

Although the majority of military documents, manuals and tactics are publicly available, there are a relatively small number of materials out there that are classified, unavailable, and highly-sought after. In the gray area between the two extremes lie the unclassified information whose distribution is restricted- this is the material the proposal aims to protect.

Despite this, Congress has repeatedly shot down every attempt thus far at bolstering the firewall between the military and the public’s ability to obtain information from them. Last year, a similar proposal was rejected.

Fortunately for the DoD, the FOIA Improvement act -in which the Department of Defense’s request was included- has already passed the House and awaits consideration in the Senate. Still, it could be an uphill battle- the FOIA Improvement Act lacks structural integrity as well as fails to address several financial woes that may arise as a result of the act being passed.

The proposal can be found here.


  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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