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Are Communications Between The Pentagon and the U.K Ministry of Defense Really Compromised?

On 17 October 2022, U.K. Minister of Defence, Ben Wallace, made a hurried, unscheduled trip to Washington, D.C. for an emergency meeting with the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Milley and other senior U.S. officials. One explanation suggested insecure communications as the motive for the frantic visit.

Via The Dail Mail.

A defence source told The Telegraph the meeting Mr Wallace had could have been held in person because of concerns about the security of communications between the Pentagon and Ministry of Defence.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: ‘The Defence Secretary is in Washington DC to discuss shared security concerns, including Ukraine. He will be visiting his counterpart at the Pentagon and senior figures at the White House’.

After further reflection, I have concluded that explanation is nonsense. Classified communications between London and Washington can be handled in a number of ways, such as:

  1. A “secure” telephone–STE (Secure Terminal Equipment) and other equipment using the more modern Secure Communications Interoperability Protocol (SCIP).
  2. Secure Video Conference Call via the internet. I am talking about an encrypted ZOOM call. It is not really called ZOOM, I am using the term because most folks understand what a ZOOM call is.
  3. Tactical Satellite phone call.

If Wallace really believed that all of these three systems were compromised, then we are talking a extraordinary counter intelligence problem. The only way you find out that your communications have been compromised is that someone from the side of the adversary tips you off or you discover that something you said on a secure call quickly shows up in the foreign press. If one of the U.K.’s foreign adversaries had succeeded tapping into the secure communications network, they certainly would be loathe to let that secret out of the bag.

Remember how a team of Brits and Americans cracked the NAZI Ultra code and went to great lengths to hide that fact? Same principle applies to any foreign intelligence service that has deciphered the encrypted communications of an adversary. By the same token, if you have discovered that your communications have been breached the last thing you want to do is advertise that. If you know that the Russians, for example, are listening in then you can feed them bullshit painted to look like gold.

So what was Ben Wallace up to? I believe what Ben Wallace had to say to the United States officials was so sensitive that it had to be said in person with a strict accounting of who was in the room hearing what he had to say. As Donald Trump learned in his phone call with Vladimir Zelensky, even a secure phone or computer communication can produce a transcript or can have other people who are not principals listening in. If Wallace is sitting in Lloyd Austin’s office with General Milley in attendance, he could ensure that only a limited number of people were present to hear what he had to say.

What did he have say that was so important he needed to deliver the message in person? Was he explaining the details of an alleged dirty bomb pretext that the Brits were helping the Ukrainians prepare? Had British intelligence assets been compromised or penetrated? I am pretty sure he was not delivering a weather report nor his assessment of the next British Prime Minister. Whatever the substance, it was so important and so sensitive that it had to be discussed in person.

I had another fascinating chat with Gerry O’Neil, an Irish podcaster. We covered a range of issues regarding Ukraine and NATO’s military capability.

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