Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dozer Speaks

Michael Hoffman of Air Force Times adds another element to the story of “Dozer,” the F-22 pilot who was the subject of a recent operations security (OPSEC) briefing, compiled by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. As we noted in a recent series of recent posts, the AFOSI presentation suggested that Dozer divulged operational and technical details of the fifth-generation fighter, through his comments on a popular internet aviation forum. Yet, our own analysis revealed that virtually all of the information discussed by the pilot was already in the public domain.

As this blog reported last week, the Air Force reached the same conclusion. An OPSEC study by Air Combat Command (ACC) and a security review by an Air Force acquisitions directorate determined that Dozer’s on-line comments did not divulge classified information.

The widely-circulated OPSEC briefing was prepared by the OSI’s detachment at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona after completion of the ACC study and the security review. Members of the Davis-Monthan detachment were not involved in the study or review, and the base has no role in the F-22 program.

In an e-mail exchange with Mr. Hoffman , Dozer said he was unfairly targeted by the briefing, which highlighted his various forum posts and responses to questions by other participants. Dozer, who now serves as commander of an F-22 squadron in Alaska, said he was cautious in posting information about the Air Force’s newest stealth fighter:

I only discussed items that were open source and available to the public,” he said. “It is also why I did not answer many of the questions that were asked because they would have touched on issues that were not appropriate.”

Two Pacific Air Forces officers, who asked to remain anonymous because of the story’s sensitivity, said they were surprised a training tool would use a current commander as an example of inappropriate behavior.

“How is he supposed to ever counsel an airman on OPSEC again?” one officer asked

A better question might be why the briefing was prepared in the first place. An AFOSI spokeswoman told us last week that someone at ACC identified the F-22 incident as a “good example” of on-line security hazards. Members of the Davis-Monthan detachment then prepared their briefing, which was presented to the base Threat Working Group last month.

While the OSI stresses that the unclassified presentation was intended for training purposes only (and not for wider release), those caveats are not listed in the 28-slide briefing. And, while the presentation does not describe Dozer’s on-line activity as an OPSEC violation, it suggests that potential adversaries could have gained valuable information on the F-22 through the internet discussion.

The briefing is also misleading in terms of its suggested scope. On the cover slide, there is a silhouetted F-22, along with the shields of the AFOSI, the FBI, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Inclusion of those shields implies that the other agencies assisted in preparation of the presentation.

In fact, none of those organizations participated in development of the briefing. The OSI says the organizational shields were included because those agencies assist the Air Force in the investigation of cyber-crimes, and participate (as required) in base-level threat working groups, the intended audience for the F-22 presentation.

But we'd guess that’s little consolation for Dozer, whose professional reputation was unfairly maligned in the briefing. In reality, he had been encouraged by Air Force leadership to discuss the F-22, and served as one the program’s most visible representatives.

Before taking command of the Alaska unit, Dozer served as the Air Force’s first F-22 demonstration pilot, showcasing the jet at air shows around the country. He also appeared—with the service’s blessing--in several television documentaries on the jet. During those appearances, his name, rank and status as an F-22 pilot were clearly identified.

Some would say that the OSI owes Dozer an apology, but we say that process ought to begin at ACC. It’s a bit odd that someone on the staff would identify the on-line comments as an example of a security risk—after the same headquarters conducted an OPSEC review that exonerated the F-22 pilot.

In fairness, we should note that the ACC staff is very large; it’s quite possible that the OPSEC study was conducted by a different directorate than the one that communicated with the OSI detachment at Davis-Monthan.

But there’s also the possibility that the ACC tipster had some knowledge of the original OPSEC study, and misrepresented its findings.

If that was the case—and it’s a very big “if”—then Dozer may have been the target of a personal vendetta. And that’s a matter worth looking into.

Author’s note: In preparing our posts on the F-22 matter, we elected not to publish “Dozer’s” real name. The pilot’s identity had already been established in various websites, articles and on-line forums. In our judgment, reprinting “Dozer’s” name and rank would not add to our coverage. We also believed that Dozer was entitled to the same degree of privacy he sought in making his on-line comments.


Andy said...

I'm wondering if the authors of this blog know what OPSEC is. OPSEC is not revealing classified information. Here's what OPSEC is:

Operations security (OPSEC) is a process that identifies critical information to determine if friendly actions can be observed by adversary intelligence systems, determines if information obtained by adversaries could be interpreted to be useful to them, and then executes selected measures that eliminate or reduce adversary exploitation of friendly critical information.

OPSEC is a methodology that denies critical information to an adversary. Unlike security programs that seek to protect classified
information, OPSEC measures identify, control, and protect generally unclassified evidence that is associated with sensitive operations and activities.

The fact of the matter is that Dozer's comments CONFIRMED information already out there - that is generally considered an OPSEC violation. As an actual operator and now unit commander, his comments are credible because of his experience and position.

Let's give you an example you may be familiar with as an former AF intel officer: The three-dash-one, any intel weenie's bible. Now, many of the systems listed in the 3-1 are well understood in the unclassified world in pubs like Janes. But would you, as an intel officer, CONFIRM the stats or capabilities listed in Janes as true on a public forum? I sure as hell wouldn't.

Finally, the PACAF officer's comments are way off base. So are we to believe that mistakes, even relatively minor ones, should not be noted because of one's leadership position? Bullshit to that. Commanders should set the example and I guess the example here is that it's OK to talk about the F-22 as long whatever you're saying has been mentioned somewhere else in the open press. What if it was Airman smuckatelly who decided to blog the same info as Dozer? Would it still be OK? Somehow I doubt it, RHIP and all that. Also, are these anonymous officers really unable to comprehend how Dozer will be able to counsel subordinates on OPSEC? Please. After all, if Dozer's behavior is acceptable for a Commander then it must be acceptable for subordinates, right?

Ken Prescott said...

The fact of the matter is that Dozer's comments CONFIRMED information already out there - that is generally considered an OPSEC violation.

Said information came from HQ AF during the endless effort to justify the F-22. I'd say it was "pre-confirmed" in that case. You going to red-hand the entire USAF staff? Somehow, I don't think so.

Andy said...


Not sure what your point is since not everything Dozer said was officially published by the AF.

OldSarg said...

NIS, CID or OSI. They have all had a history of hurting their own worse than the enemy. When you give mediocre Soldiers, Seamen, Airmen, NCO's and young unexperienced Officers a hidden rank and too much authority, without proper supervision, you end up with problems like these. Haditha of late and several other incidents we have all known of. This is a good example of the OSI having the wrong focus.

Ken Prescott said...

Not sure what your point is since not everything Dozer said was officially published by the AF.

Ah, I see. So when some O-8 in the A-3 shop spouts off to Aviation Leak, it doesn't count as an OPSEC violation because it's not "official."

The only use I've actually seen of the OPSEC regs was to give my last CO an excuse for killing someone's career.

The alleged OPSEC violation?

The guy wrote an article for Marine Corps Gazette that stated something blindingly obvious:

(a) that the F/A-18D had significantly different capabilities than the A-6E; and

(b) theater commanders would need to be educated on this topic lest they fail to properly integrate the F/A-18D into their contingency plans.

If that's an OPSEC violation, then I can neither confirm nor deny that the Sun rises in the East, go talk to the SSO.

Unknown said...

Joker--I'm intimately familiar with the difference between OPSEC/EEIs and classified information. If I didn't make that distinction clear in recent posts, my apologies.

However, after reviewing Dozer's posts in detail--and comparing them to what was available in other MSM and open-source forums--I still don't see where he "confirmed" anything in the way of sensitive information. You can find multiple, on-line references for virtually every topic he addressed. True, his position as an F-22 pilot lent credibility to previous discussions, but I don't believe they met the criteria for an OPSEC violation--and the Air Force agrees with that assessment, based on the outcome of their inquiries.

I'm not necessarily endorsing what Dozer did. Posting a picture of yourself in front of your jet--with your face and name tag clearly visible--isn't the smartest move. On the other hand, Dozer was annointed as an official spokesman for the program, so his identity as an F-22 driver was hardly a secret.

Andy said...


Ah, I see. So when some O-8 in the A-3 shop spouts off to Aviation Leak, it doesn't count as an OPSEC violation because it's not "official."

Uh, where did I say that? You keep trying to steer the debate on this particular instance other anecdotes - one wonders why.

If you don't think that CONFIRMING F-22's were not standing alert in Alaska is a valid OPSEC concern then I don't know what to tell you.

Andy said...


I have a copy of the brief myself and I agree that much of what Dozer said was innocuous, but some was not. There was a time when discussing alert status of aircraft and what airfields were standing alerts was classified - but now it's ok to post that on the internet? I don't think so. The AF "investigation" doesn't mean much to me - again, do you think if Airman Basic Smith posted alert information on a web forum he wouldn't be busted or at least formally counseled?

Other things he said were confirmations, some was new information and some was readily available elsewhere.

I'm not calling for Dozer's head or even suggesting his career should be negatively impacted. We don't need anymore of the 1990's zero-defect mentality. My concern is that by brushing this aside and claiming there was nothing at all wrong with what he did sets a bad precedent and lowers the bar to an extent that OPSEC becomes meaningless.

patriot.100 said...

I've seen this Opsec briefing (circulated where I work, a friend from a large aerospace firm sent it to me, it was circulating there!). I've also just read this air force article and have been reading a ton of posts all over the place, man this guy is getting cruicifed. How about some common sense here.

#1 This pilot was given a job, and part of that job was to "sell" the F-22 to the public, he was specifically told to counter the negative on the internet (in addition to other media). The F-22 was at a critical crossroads as to whether or not it would be cancelled or bought, still seems questionable to me but that's another topic. The air force brass was desparate to get a positive spin to the public about the aircraft and what it could do.

#2 Everyone in the military has to get training on what is / is not classified and what they can / can not discuss. This pilot, unfortunately for him, was obviously caught in a direct crossfire between doing what he was asked to do and having to watch how he did it. It's obvious from that he was already well known from being involved in shooting down aircraft, a position the US government put him in by sending him to war and then putting him in front of the press to "show off" one of their pilots. I GUARANTEE you he was told to do that for the advantage of the air force, maybe he should have gotten those directions on paper too? (How often did you ask senior officers for a written piece of paper before you'd do what they ask just in case it came back to bite you? I bet zero). If he's been made the public face of the F-22, how could he NOT be googled and everything found out about him? They paint him into a corner and the OSI makes him look like a fool for it, as if he caused that and could do a damn thing about it. They obviously have him in a position where he had to interview how many dozens or hundreds of times and I'm sure it must have been going through his mind to not say anything wrong or that would get him in trouble, sounds like a nice no win situation to be in.

So he was investigated, so what? Isnt' that how the system is supposed to work if someone has a questions about something going on. If something is found to be amiss my guess is the security services handle it (probably lose their security clearance and/or get some form of reprimand or worse depeding on the severity of the incident, there are a lot of cases like that out there, I've read plenty of stories). If not, the individual is cleared an life moves on. The security apparatus obviously found nothing amiss in this case or this pilot would be in trouble. Too many cases of people being crucified, they have no problem "eating" their own when they screw up. No, makes no sense that they're hiding anything, other than maybe what the OSI did.

Here's why this is damaging from what I can gather.

1 the USAF gave this pilot a job and some pretty specific guidance on how to go about it.
2 the pilot did what he was asked to do.
3 an "unknown" source reports "suspcious" information on a website (God only knows who that might have been, maybe a wannabe pilot that couldn't make it)
4 the pilot is investigated, not once but twice, cleared of any "wrongdoing" or release of information that wasn't already "open source" as they called it
5 the OSI decides to take it upon themselves to write up a brief regardless of that fact with a ton of personal & identifying information, to include character judgement & "defamation of character" (that's what a lawyer friend of mine said after seeing it).
6 the OSI blows off all rules about "for official use only", FOUO it's called, and personal privacy act rules and sends this brief out around the planet (you should hear what my lawyer friend says about THAT!).
7 this brief spreads like wildfire across the internet because it's F-22 related, appears scandalous and we do love our scandals, and it trashes a pilot & officer - what better sport than to bash the military, officers, and especially those "arrogant" pilots
8 it appears the AF brass is protecting the OSI and from what I hear they know they screwed this up big time, so now they DO have an issue because an official government employee / office / agency has legally defamed another official of the US government, who was cleared of talking about anything classified.
9 so far from what I've seen / heard, not one official or officer of the air force has stepped up to defend this pilot for doing what they asked him to do. They seem to have made excuses for the OSI but no one has pubilcly defended him. Seems to me this would be a lawsuit in the making for whoever put this brief together and allowed it to be distributed. Hell maybe he should go after the air force for it, it's his name being tarnished. And this thing has reached across the planet, its not contained by any stretch. I've seen some of the posts and this guy is being seriously trashed, especially since its hitting major news sources.

So what's really happening here? It would appear the air force is hanging one of its officers out to dry and no one wants to stick their neck out for him. Especially if they cleared him, why hasn't anyone stood up for him? Makes me glad I'm not in the military, this guy ought to come out with guns blazing to defend himself. My guess is the brass is hoping this thing will just blow over as opposed to having to do right by this guy. Having seen how they tend to clamp down on things they don't like it wouldn't be surprising at all if they're putting the hammer on him and not letting him defend himself, especially since it appears they know this doesn't look good for the air force. How could it? One brief makes it appear a officer screwed up and on the other hand it appears the OSI screwed up.

Why hasn't anyone crushed this OSI for doing this? It appears to be a clear case of defamation of character. It appears the "OPSEC violation" is not anything the pilot did but in fact what the OSI did. They took a whole bunch of his personal information and collected it and presented it for the world to see and use in this brief, remember this is supposed to be legally protected information, and who doesn' t know that in this age of identity theft? They made damning character assesments about him, all apparently without even bothering to interview him, how nice! Nothing like judging people you've never met. They also framed him by writing the brief such that it appeared he answered all the questions asked of him, its now been shown that's not the case (in my book that's called lying to make your point). I've seen a copy of the powerpoint brief and you walk away thinking this guy has sold all the F-22's secrets, when in fact (and I was told this), he didn't answer any of the questions the brief made it appear he did (that's called twisting the truth). The OSI then goes on to claim he answered all of these other questions that to the uninformed make it appear he's provided classified / sensitive information about the F-22! When in fact ALL of the information was "open source" as they call it. So if he's only talking open source and its sensitive then the air force, and the government are also wrong because they've allowed that information to be released, shouldn't they be held accountable as opposed to one lone pilot? Sounds to me like he's a scapegoat.

It sure seems to me the only thing that's happened wrong here is that this OSI has screwed up royally and the air force is covering for them, and certainly not the pilot, he's apparently on his own. If I was this guy I'd be in court tomorrow trying to get my name cleared, he's being absolutely strung out. Either he's got a lot of guts to take this on the chin or someone is making him be quiet. Maybe a congressman or two in his state should take a look into why this is happening. I read the first or second post earlier and it would seem they're going to lose this experienced pilot and all the money the US taxpayer has invested in him, all because of a brief that turned out to be mostly bogus, what have we come to? How can our military, already stretched so thin, continue to function, recruit & retain the caliber of people we need to defend our country when our military personnel get treated this way?

I'm horrified and absolutely disgusted at how quickly we rush to judge people and seem to believe anything that's said or written until all the facts come out. Especially true of our military who sacrifice so much for us. By all accounts it sounds like this guy has honorably served his country for many years, to watch him be crucified in such a manner makes me very, very sad.

Unknown said...

Dozer is simply a man-boy trying to show everyone what a big-shot he is (and he is in fact a big shot).

It's actually pathetic. It's as if a top CIA agent went online, spoke about things he had done - while saying 'Look at me! Look at what a great spy I am! Ain't I the coolest?'

Unknown said...

If this was not an OPSEC violation than I guess everything is up for grabs. We should just try and keep a lid on the important stuff like troop movements, system capabilities, timelines - oh wait, he did talk about that stuff. Come on, he was talking in detail about supercruise. No Officer should ever be giving away (or confirming) this kind of information or anything that can be gleaned into other usable Intelligence. You never give away anything about yourself or your unit and it's capabilities, no matter what! I'm not sure if the AF teaches it that way but it is common sense.

The Air Force doesn't want to actually prosecute one of it's own higher ranking officers because the top brass knows that it will fall back on them for making such an effort to "sell" the F-22. If he was being pushed that hard, then he should have reported it. Not to mention it will make the Air Force look bad and who needs that right ?


So it's far easier to say that what he provided was already open source and make it go away. Truth is, it's not that simple. Although I would agree that the OSI themselves leaked too much about this, it just goes to prove that the AF needs to do some house cleaning. "Dozer" got off way too easy.