Topic Actions

Topic Search

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 17 guests

NEED TO KNOW

Join us in talking discussing all things Honor, including (but not limited to) tactics, favorite characters, and book discussions.
NEED TO KNOW
Post by cthia   » Thu May 05, 2022 8:48 pm

cthia
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 14679
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:10 pm

NEED TO KNOW



As I posted in another thread, Apollo made me wonder more closely about the military's need to know policy.

Members of Eighth Fleet's crew would have known about Apollo, as a necessity to be able to perform their jobs. I find it ironic that a lowly CPO would know more about the most classified weapon in Manticoran history than just any given "lofty" Captain or Admiral. From Wikipedia ...

The term "need to know", when used by government and other organizations (particularly those related to the military or espionage), describes the restriction of data which is considered very sensitive. Under need-to-know restrictions, even if one has all the necessary official approvals (such as a security clearance) to access certain information, one would not be given access to such information, or read into a clandestine operation, unless one has a specific need to know; that is, access to the information must be necessary for one to conduct one's official duties. This term also includes anyone that the people with the knowledge deemed necessary to share it with.

As with most security mechanisms, the aim is to make it difficult for unauthorized access to occur, without inconveniencing legitimate access. Need-to-know also aims to discourage "browsing" of sensitive material by limiting access to the smallest possible number of people.

-snip-


How far does need to know go? Are there ever naval secrets that are kept from the Crown? Should there be?

Do American Presidents know the 411 on Area 51?

Son, your mother says I have to hang you. Personally I don't think this is a capital offense. But if I don't hang you, she's gonna hang me and frankly, I'm not the one in trouble. —cthia's father. Incident in ? Axiom of Common Sense
Top
Re: NEED TO KNOW
Post by Jonathan_S   » Thu May 05, 2022 9:12 pm

Jonathan_S
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 7769
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 2:01 pm
Location: Virginia, USA

cthia wrote:How far does need to know go? Are there ever naval secrets that are kept from the Crown? Should there be?

I'm sure there are. Just like US Presidents are almost never briefed on who our espionage agents are in hostile countries. They don't need to know that, and what they don't know they can't accidentally leak.

And then the Crown likely doesn't have need to know about the technical details of any number of cutting edge systems. Being briefed on their existence and general capabilities is one thing, being briefed on exactly how to build them, or even the specific physics or material science breakthroughs that enabled them, is quite another. The Crown doesn't have the need, and frankly doesn't have the time to waste, to learn minutia of no applicability to their job.

FDR knew the Manhattan project was working on atomic bombs. But I doubt he was briefed on the various proposed designs, nor the exact details of how you initiate the atomic explosion, nor the physics behind each of the various uranium enrichment schemes that were tried. (However later presidents who are focused on non-proliferation would need more briefing on enrichment techniques so intel briefs about, say, Iran picking up a lot of a specific grade of aluminum are meaningful [used for centrifuges in gas centrifuge enrichment])


Now would there be entire naval systems for which the Crown didn't need to know? Probably not any that were ready to begin deployment into the fleet. Maybe not even any ready to move into serious development trials. OTOH the Crown seems unlikely to be getting in depth briefings on every single experimental research projects going on in Wayland and other secret labs. 90% won't pan out, so why waste the Crown's time learning about all the hopeful new breakthroughs before there's any solid indication they can be turned into a practical device. (And on the off-chance they are one that pans out there's no action yet the Crown needs to take and so no need for them to be briefed yet)

Need to know isn't just "do you need to know this system exists?" but "if so what level of detail do you currently need about it?"
Top
Re: NEED TO KNOW
Post by tlb   » Thu May 05, 2022 9:20 pm

tlb
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 3003
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:34 am

cthia wrote:How far does need to know go? Are there ever naval secrets that are kept from the Crown? Should there be?

Do American Presidents know the 411 on Area 51?

The US President has the power to waive classification on any secret. It is unlikely that every President knows every secret; but nothing that the President wants to know can legally be withheld.

The same should be true of the Crown in Manticore; the Queen is head of state and everything is hers to command. Again that does not mean that she does know everything, just that she has the right to know whatever she wants.

In both of these cases, the head of state puts trusted people in charge of the places that hold the secrets; so there should be no secret that is not known by someone in the trusted chain of command.

The Queen however is not head of government (I believe), but the Prime Minister still has to give her reports of what is happening..
Top
Re: NEED TO KNOW
Post by kzt   » Thu May 05, 2022 9:29 pm

kzt
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 11070
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:18 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM

tlb wrote:The Queen however is not head of government (I believe), but the Prime Minister still has to give her reports of what is happening..

The Navy owes loyalty to the crown, not to the PM.

But an obvious Honorverse example is that the Queen has no need to know where Bolthole is located. Nor does anyone else we have encountered aas a PoV character in the books. It’s like everyone knowing that the reason why you have been winning is the Jack Jones, the chief of staff of the enemy fleet, is your agent. This might enliven discussion at the Navy Ball, but perhaps there might be a problem that shows up?
Top
Re: NEED TO KNOW
Post by tlb   » Thu May 05, 2022 9:46 pm

tlb
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 3003
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:34 am

tlb wrote:The Queen however is not head of government (I believe), but the Prime Minister still has to give her reports of what is happening..

kzt wrote:The Navy owes loyalty to the crown, not to the PM.

But an obvious Honorverse example is that the Queen has no need to know where Bolthole is located. Nor does anyone else we have encountered aas a PoV character in the books. It’s like everyone knowing that the reason why you have been winning is the Jack Jones, the chief of staff of the enemy fleet, is your agent. This might enliven discussion at the Navy Ball, but perhaps there might be a problem that shows up?

I agree, I was merely pointing out that some departments report through the Prime Minister. Even the Navy ends up getting a First Lord of the Admiralty picked by the party in power.

I also agree that the it would be less than optimal for the President or the Queen to ask about certain specific things. However if the President or Queen does ask, then legally the answer must be given; unless someone can persuasively talk the question into being withdrawn.
Top
Re: NEED TO KNOW
Post by Daryl   » Fri May 06, 2022 3:23 am

Daryl
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 3347
Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2010 1:57 am
Location: Queensland Australia

Need to know can be a double edged sword, and I was at times involved in deciding who needed to know what.
An analogy I can give domestically, is that I have a hidden safe at home. The only people who know where it is are my wife (naturally), and one of my adult children. As I tell the others, what they don't know, they can't accidentally let slip. There was a case in this country, where in the exact same situation the family backup had a few drinks and told a "friend", she then told her criminal boyfriend. The result was a home invasion and torture of the elderly couple.
Top
Re: NEED TO KNOW
Post by munroburton   » Fri May 06, 2022 4:42 am

munroburton
Admiral

Posts: 2328
Joined: Sat Jun 15, 2013 10:16 am
Location: Scotland

There's a relevant scene in Storm from the Shadows about the "need to know" situation.

"Bill is good, very good," she said. "I really wanted to go on hanging onto him, but I couldn't justify it. Or, rather, I couldn't justify doing that to him. He's been with BuWeaps ever since he was an ensign—as Vice Admiral Adcock's flag lieutenant, originally—and he's way overdue for a rotation. In fact, he's at the point where he needs a shipboard deployment in his File 210 if he doesn't want to get stuck dirt-side permanently. Besides, I know how badly he's wanted one for years, even if he didn't exactly sit around crying about it. And, as I say, he's always been very good at whatever we've asked him to do."
"That was my impression of him, too," Michelle agreed, but she was watching Hemphill's expression a bit more closely than she had been. The last three hectic days seemed to have confirmed her initial concern that Edwards was more of a techno-type than a combat officer. In many ways, that was fine, since the communications department was a lot less likely than others to find itself making tactical decisions, and there was absolutely no question of Edwards' outstanding competence where hardware and administration were concerned. Still, Michelle had continued to cherish a few concerns.
"I sometimes think Bill would have been happier in the tactical track," Hemphill continued, rather to Michelle's surprise, given what she'd just been thinking. "I think he probably would have done quite well there, in fact. The problem is that while he might have done well there, he's done outstandingly on the development side. He's nowhere near as strong on pure theory as some of my people are, and I don't think he'd ever have been happy at all on the research side of things. But where development is concerned, he has an absolute talent for recognizing possible applications and seeing what he calls 'the shooters' perspective' on what we need to be doing. In fact, he had quite a lot to do with what we're going to be discussing today. Which," she shook her head, her expression suddenly wry, "undoubtedly explains why he's being sent in the opposite direction from where the new systems are actually likely to get used!"
"I hadn't realized he was directly involved in developing Apollo," Michelle said. "He hasn't even twitched a muscle the time or two I've wandered a bit too close to mentioning it to the rest of the staff."
"He wouldn't have," Hemphill agreed. "One thing about Bill; he knows how—and when—to keep his mouth shut."
"So I've just discovered, Ma'am."
"Well," Hemphill shrugged, "I know Bill doesn't exactly come off looking like a classic warrior, Admiral. Not until you get to know him, at least. And, as I say, he knows how to keep his mouth shut, which means he's not going to be polishing his image by dropping hints about all of the wonderful things he did for the Fleet's tactical sorts while he was over here at BuWeaps. To be honest, though, he did do some pretty good things while he was here, which is why I took it upon myself to mention that to you. I'm sure he'd be upset if he found out I had, but, well . . ."
She let her voice trail off with another shrug, and Michelle nodded once more. Much as she despised the patronage game herself, she had no problem with anything Hemphill had just said. Making certain the admiral a subordinate who'd served you well was now serving was aware of your high opinion of the subordinate in question was light-seconds away from the kind of self-serving horse-trading of favors which had so bedeviled the prewar RMN.
"I won't mention this conversation to him, Ma'am," she assured Hemphill. "On the other hand, I'm glad you told me."
"Good," Hemphill said again, then gave herself a little shake, as if to shift mental gears.
"Tell me, Admiral Gold Peak. Just how much do you already know about Apollo?"
"Very little, really," Michelle replied. "As one of Duchess Harrington's squadron commanders, I was briefed—very generally—on what the tech people were trying to accomplish, but that was about as far as it went. Just far enough to make me really nervous about the possibility of spilling something while I was the Havenites'... guest, you might say."
Hemphill snorted at Michelle's wry tone and shook her head.
"I imagine I'd probably have worried about the same thing myself, in your place," she said. "On the other hand, when we're done here today, you're definitely going to know enough to be nervous about 'spilling something.' "
"Oh, thank you, Ma'am," Michelle said, and this time Hemphill laughed out loud.
"Seriously, Ma'am," Michelle continued after a moment, "I'm not at all sure that giving me any sort of a detailed briefing at this point is a good idea. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm curious as hell. But like Commander Edwards, I'm headed in the opposite direction from where it's likely to get used. Do I really have the need to know any of the details about it?"
"That's an excellent question," Hemphill conceded. "And, to be honest, I'd really like to keep this whole thing closed up in a dark little cupboard somewhere—preferably under my bed—until we've actually used it. The tests we've carried out with it have made it clear we substantially underestimated the tactical implications in our original projections, and I've had more than a few bad dreams about the secret getting out. But there actually is a method to our apparent madness in briefing you fully on the system capabilities."
"There is?" Michelle tried not to sound dubious, but she suspected she hadn't fully succeeded.
"Given the possibilities offered by this summit between Her Majesty and Pritchart, it's at least possible we're going to see a cease-fire, maybe even a long-term peace agreement, with Haven," Hemphill said. "In that case, we're not going to need Apollo against the Republic. But it's entirely possible we will need it in Talbott if the situation there turns as nasty as it still could. And you, Admiral Gold Peak, are the designated commander for Tenth Fleet. So the feeling here at Admiralty House is that if we suddenly find ourselves able to begin transferring Apollo-capable ships to Talbott, it would be nice if the Fleet commander who's going to be using them was already aware of the system's capabilities."


Beyond the hints in this extract, the full extent of how "need to know" works within the RMN is clearly a need to know issue. And we don't need to know. :lol:
Top
Re: NEED TO KNOW
Post by Jonathan_S   » Fri May 06, 2022 9:30 am

Jonathan_S
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 7769
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 2:01 pm
Location: Virginia, USA

munroburton wrote:Beyond the hints in this extract, the full extent of how "need to know" works within the RMN is clearly a need to know issue. And we don't need to know. :lol:

:lol::lol:
Top
Re: NEED TO KNOW
Post by cthia   » Fri May 06, 2022 11:31 am

cthia
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 14679
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:10 pm

munroburton wrote:There's a relevant scene in Storm from the Shadows about the "need to know" situation.

"Bill is good, very good," she said. "I really wanted to go on hanging onto him, but I couldn't justify it. Or, rather, I couldn't justify doing that to him. He's been with BuWeaps ever since he was an ensign—as Vice Admiral Adcock's flag lieutenant, originally—and he's way overdue for a rotation. In fact, he's at the point where he needs a shipboard deployment in his File 210 if he doesn't want to get stuck dirt-side permanently. Besides, I know how badly he's wanted one for years, even if he didn't exactly sit around crying about it. And, as I say, he's always been very good at whatever we've asked him to do."
"That was my impression of him, too," Michelle agreed, but she was watching Hemphill's expression a bit more closely than she had been. The last three hectic days seemed to have confirmed her initial concern that Edwards was more of a techno-type than a combat officer. In many ways, that was fine, since the communications department was a lot less likely than others to find itself making tactical decisions, and there was absolutely no question of Edwards' outstanding competence where hardware and administration were concerned. Still, Michelle had continued to cherish a few concerns.
"I sometimes think Bill would have been happier in the tactical track," Hemphill continued, rather to Michelle's surprise, given what she'd just been thinking. "I think he probably would have done quite well there, in fact. The problem is that while he might have done well there, he's done outstandingly on the development side. He's nowhere near as strong on pure theory as some of my people are, and I don't think he'd ever have been happy at all on the research side of things. But where development is concerned, he has an absolute talent for recognizing possible applications and seeing what he calls 'the shooters' perspective' on what we need to be doing. In fact, he had quite a lot to do with what we're going to be discussing today. Which," she shook her head, her expression suddenly wry, "undoubtedly explains why he's being sent in the opposite direction from where the new systems are actually likely to get used!"
"I hadn't realized he was directly involved in developing Apollo," Michelle said. "He hasn't even twitched a muscle the time or two I've wandered a bit too close to mentioning it to the rest of the staff."
"He wouldn't have," Hemphill agreed. "One thing about Bill; he knows how—and when—to keep his mouth shut."
"So I've just discovered, Ma'am."
"Well," Hemphill shrugged, "I know Bill doesn't exactly come off looking like a classic warrior, Admiral. Not until you get to know him, at least. And, as I say, he knows how to keep his mouth shut, which means he's not going to be polishing his image by dropping hints about all of the wonderful things he did for the Fleet's tactical sorts while he was over here at BuWeaps. To be honest, though, he did do some pretty good things while he was here, which is why I took it upon myself to mention that to you. I'm sure he'd be upset if he found out I had, but, well . . ."
She let her voice trail off with another shrug, and Michelle nodded once more. Much as she despised the patronage game herself, she had no problem with anything Hemphill had just said. Making certain the admiral a subordinate who'd served you well was now serving was aware of your high opinion of the subordinate in question was light-seconds away from the kind of self-serving horse-trading of favors which had so bedeviled the prewar RMN.
"I won't mention this conversation to him, Ma'am," she assured Hemphill. "On the other hand, I'm glad you told me."
"Good," Hemphill said again, then gave herself a little shake, as if to shift mental gears.
"Tell me, Admiral Gold Peak. Just how much do you already know about Apollo?"
"Very little, really," Michelle replied. "As one of Duchess Harrington's squadron commanders, I was briefed—very generally—on what the tech people were trying to accomplish, but that was about as far as it went. Just far enough to make me really nervous about the possibility of spilling something while I was the Havenites'... guest, you might say."
Hemphill snorted at Michelle's wry tone and shook her head.
"I imagine I'd probably have worried about the same thing myself, in your place," she said. "On the other hand, when we're done here today, you're definitely going to know enough to be nervous about 'spilling something.' "
"Oh, thank you, Ma'am," Michelle said, and this time Hemphill laughed out loud.
"Seriously, Ma'am," Michelle continued after a moment, "I'm not at all sure that giving me any sort of a detailed briefing at this point is a good idea. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm curious as hell. But like Commander Edwards, I'm headed in the opposite direction from where it's likely to get used. Do I really have the need to know any of the details about it?"
"That's an excellent question," Hemphill conceded. "And, to be honest, I'd really like to keep this whole thing closed up in a dark little cupboard somewhere—preferably under my bed—until we've actually used it. The tests we've carried out with it have made it clear we substantially underestimated the tactical implications in our original projections, and I've had more than a few bad dreams about the secret getting out. But there actually is a method to our apparent madness in briefing you fully on the system capabilities."
"There is?" Michelle tried not to sound dubious, but she suspected she hadn't fully succeeded.
"Given the possibilities offered by this summit between Her Majesty and Pritchart, it's at least possible we're going to see a cease-fire, maybe even a long-term peace agreement, with Haven," Hemphill said. "In that case, we're not going to need Apollo against the Republic. But it's entirely possible we will need it in Talbott if the situation there turns as nasty as it still could. And you, Admiral Gold Peak, are the designated commander for Tenth Fleet. So the feeling here at Admiralty House is that if we suddenly find ourselves able to begin transferring Apollo-capable ships to Talbott, it would be nice if the Fleet commander who's going to be using them was already aware of the system's capabilities."


Beyond the hints in this extract, the full extent of how "need to know" works within the RMN is clearly a need to know issue. And we don't need to know. :lol:

Thanks for that passage. I was certain I had recalled the need to know policy mentioned.

It can cut both ways too. IINM, at one point Honor was harboring a secret or two that she might should have shared with the Admiralty if she didn't; if you recall the time she met with the Havenite's top spy aboard her ship.

Son, your mother says I have to hang you. Personally I don't think this is a capital offense. But if I don't hang you, she's gonna hang me and frankly, I'm not the one in trouble. —cthia's father. Incident in ? Axiom of Common Sense
Top
Re: NEED TO KNOW
Post by tlb   » Fri May 06, 2022 12:46 pm

tlb
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 3003
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:34 am

cthia wrote:Thanks for that passage. I was certain I had recalled the need to know policy mentioned.

It can cut both ways too. IINM, at one point Honor was harboring a secret or two that she might should have shared with the Admiralty if she didn't; if you recall the time she met with the Havenite's top spy aboard her ship.

But she did not keep it a secret, in the very next paragraph (56) in At All Costs she informed the Prime Minister:
"Anton Zilwicki didn't come to visit me by himself," she said. "He brought a Mr. Cachat with him."
"Cachat," Grantville repeated. It was apparent the name was ringing bells, but that he hadn't quite put his mental hand on the memory.
"Victor Cachat," Honor said helpfully. "As in the same Victor Cachat who engineered the entire Torch gambit in the first place."
"A Peep spy?" If Grantville's expression had been incredulous before, it was dumbfounded now. "You had a Peep spy aboard your flagship?"
"Not just any old spy." Honor couldn't help it. Despite the anger beginning to bubble under the shock in Grantville's mind-glow, she felt a certain manic glee in the admission. "As a matter of fact, he's now the Havenite chief of station for their entire Erewhon-based intelligence net."
The Prime Minister stared at her. Then he shook himself.
"This isn't funny," he said coldly. "It's entirely possible someone could make a case for treason out of what you've just admitted to me."
"How?" she challenged.
"You had a known senior secret agent of a star nation with whom we're at war aboard your flagship in a restricted military area, and from what you're saying, I feel quite confident he's not still there in a cell. Is he?"
"No, he isn't," she said, meeting his cold anger with a hard eye.
"And just what information did you allow him to take away from this completely unauthorized meeting, Admiral?"
"None he didn't bring with him."
"And you're prepared to prove that before a court-martial, if necessary?"
"No, Prime Minister, I'm not," she said in a voice of matching ice. "If my word isn't sufficient for you, then file charges and be damned to you."
At the end of that paragraph:
"I'm sorry to hear that," she said. "I think they're right, at least about whether or not what's happened represents the official policy of the Pritchart Administration."
"I realize that," Grantville said, and looked into her eyes. "And because I know you genuinely feel that way, I have to ask you. Are you still prepared to carry out your orders, Admiral Alexander-Harrington?"
She looked back, hovering on the brink of the unthinkable. If she said no, if she refused to carry out the operation and resigned her commission in protest, it would almost certainly blow the entire question wide open. The consequences for her personally, and for her husband and wife, would be . . . severe, at least in the short term. Her relationship with Elizabeth might well be permanently and irreparably damaged. Her career, in Manticoran service, at least, would probably be over. Yet all of that would be acceptable—a small price, actually—if it ended the war.
But it wouldn't. Grantville had put his finger squarely on the one insurmountable weakness: the lack of proof. All she had was the testimony of two men, in private conversation. At best, anything she said about what they'd told her would be hearsay, and there was simply no way she could expect anyone outside her immediate circle to understand—or believe—why she knew they'd told her the truth.
So the war would continue, whatever she did, and her own actions would have removed her from any opportunity of influencing its conduct or its outcome. That would be a violation of her responsibility to the men and women of Eighth Fleet, to her Star Kingdom. Wars weren't always fought for the right reasons, but they were fought anyway, and the consequences to the people fighting them and to their star nations were the same, whatever the reasons. And she was a Queen's officer. She'd taken an oath to stand between the Star Kingdom and its enemies, why ever they were enemies. If the Star Kingdom she loved was going back into a battle in which so many others who'd taken that oath would die, she couldn't simply abandon them and stand aside. No, she had no choice but to stand beside them and face the same tempest.
"Yes," she said quietly, her voice sad but without hesitation or reservation. "I'm prepared to execute my orders, Willie."
We even know from chapter 20 of Storm from the Shadows that a report of that meeting has gotten back to Bardasano and Detweiler.
Top

Return to Honorverse