The United States Air Force (USAF) was revealed to have requested bids for persona management software by which a single operator could oversee the conversations and other interactions between up to ten fake, software-assisted personas and the online public, with licenses for five users specified as a requirement.
Contract & Bid
The specific nature of the desired software was described by the USAF as follows on its June 22nd, 2010 call for bids:
- "0001- Online Persona Management Service. 50 User Licenses, 10 Personas per user.
- Software will allow 10 personas per user, replete with background , history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent. Individual applications will enable an operator to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries. Personas must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms. The service includes a user friendly application environment to maximize the user’s situational awareness by displaying real-time local information."
The 'Primary Point Of Contact' was:
- 'Russell Beasley, Contracting Officer, [email protected] Phone: (813) 828-4729 Fax: (813) 828-5111'.
According to one report those who expressed an interest in the contract included:
- HBGary Federal
- Global Business Solutions and Associates
- UK Plus Logistics
- Nevin Telecom
- Bunker Communications
- Planmatrix LLC
MacDill Air Force Base
This particular bid request was put out by MacDill Air Force Base, which itself had just become home to the Joint Intelligence Operations Center the previous year.
The official announcement from MacDill stated:
- "The massive structure is four-story, state-of-the-art facility sized at approximately 270,000 square feet. It provides space for approximately 1,300 workers and centralizes intelligence functions which previously were spread throughout several facilities on base.
- In addition to CENTCOM members, the new facility also houses CENTCOM partners from other U.S. government intelligence agencies, such as the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. Aside from supporting the intelligence needs associated with operations in CENTCOM's area of responsibility in the Middle East and Central and South Asia, the new facility provides enhanced training capability for intelligence members."[]
The USAF has since confirmed] that it is the CENTCOM members who would be overseeing the use of the software. A military spokesman asserted that "this contract supports activities at US Central Command, as opposed to the Air Force. The software supports classified social media activities outside the US intended to counter violent extremist ideology and enemy propaganda."
Other USAF Bases
MacDill would appear to be on of at least two Air Force bases who have requested Metal Gear capabilities and which house intelligence units capable of putting them to use. As seen here, the USAF awarded two contracts in June of 2010 to Booz Allen Hamilton and Wyle Laboratories, respectively, with both contracts going for a bit above $24 million, both to be carried out at Offutt Air Force Base, itself home to the intelligence-oriented 55th Wing.
The DoD announced the following on the occasion:
- "Booz Allen Hamilton was awarded a $24,534,711 contract action for naval operations and warfighting capability development for the commander, Navy Warfare Development Command. At this time, $1,500,000 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (HC1047-05-D-4005).
- Wyle Laboratories received a $24,359,812 contract modification for the Reliability Information Analysis Center which will apply reliability, maintainability, quality, supportability and interoperability engineering principles and analysis to enhance interoperability of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems; technology enhancements; and new capabilities and legacy systems. At this time, $605,000 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-03-D-1380)."
Like MacDill, Offutt maintains a CENTCOM presence.
Note that two informants from the respective militaries of two different countries who spoke to the emergent Anonymous committee investigating Metal Gear have asserted that elements of Metal Gear will soon be joined with Echelon, Carnivore, Einstein, and other advanced signals intelligence apparatus operated jointly by the U.S. and several English-speaking allies to comprise something far more advanced that what such nations had managed to acquire in the past. Others who have looked into the issue also believe that CENTCOM is merely a sort of filter by which certain components of this alleged updating process are acquired and sent upwards to the joint command in question.
As of 2009, the U.S. military was spending half a billion dollars each year on "psychological operations," as was noted by the AP after an investigation that year.