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Leaked Pentagon Documents: What You Need To Know

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(CTN NEWS) – Less than a week has passed since the Pentagon launched a full-speed damage control effort to reassure allies and determine the extent of the leak following revelations of highly classified military documents on the Ukraine war.

The information on numerous slides has revealed potential flaws in Ukraine’s air defence capabilities and exposed covert assessments by allies on various intelligence issues.

This has led to concerns about whether the leak will damage allies’ confidence in the U.S. as a source of information or impact Ukraine’s plans to step up its conflict with Russia this spring.

According to a top Pentagon spokesman, the exposed documents pose a “very serious risk to national security” as a whole.

This article examines the nature of the documents, how they may have surfaced, and their possible consequences.

WHAT DO THEY DO?

The sensitive documents, none of which have been personally authenticated by U.S. officials, cover a wide range of topics, from briefing slides outlining Ukrainian military positions to evaluations of international support for Ukraine and beyond.

How many documents were leaked is not known with certainty. About 50 documents have been read by the Associated Press, although some estimates place the amount at hundreds.

WHERE DID THEY ORIGINATE?

Nobody is certain, not even the head of the Pentagon.

“We don’t know where they were on the web, who had access at that time, or where they were exactly, but they were there. At a press conference on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated, “We just don’t know.

“Until we determine the cause of this and its scope, we will keep looking into this and turn over every stone.”

It’s probable that the leak began on the Discord chat platform.

Discord is a popular social media site among online gamers.

The Discord website advertises itself as a location “where you can belong to a school club, a gaming group, or a worldwide art community” and offers real-time audio, video, and text conversations for groups.

Members would discuss the dispute in Ukraine in one of those forums, which were initially designed to discuss a variety of subjects.

One chat participant reported that a person who went unnamed posted documents that the poster claimed were categorised by first typing them out in the poster’s own words and then sharing photographs of folded sheets as of a few months ago.

The individual who claimed to be a forum member informed The Associated Press that another individual, known only online as “Lucca,” released the documents in a different Discord discussion.

They seem to have spread from there till the media took them up.

Many aspects of the tale cannot be confirmed right away. Furthermore, senior American officials openly admit they are still seeking solutions.

WHAT HAS BEEN DISCLOSED

The revelation of the leaks has brought to light how meticulously the United States keeps an eye on how its friends and allies deal with China and Russia.

Authorities in a number of nations have refuted or dismissed claims made in the exposed information.

According to the AP, American intelligence agencies discovered Russian operatives’ assertions that they were establishing stronger ties with the United Arab Emirates, an oil-rich Middle Eastern country that is home to significant American military sites.

The UAE denied the charges, which referred to them as “categorically false.”

According to a Monday article in The Washington Post, the president of Egypt instructed his deputies to discreetly prepare to provide up to 40,000 rockets to Russia as it continues its conflict in Ukraine.

Egypt is remaining “noninvolved in this crisis and committing to maintain equal distance with both sides,” according to a representative for the Egyptian foreign ministry.

Other information has been leaked, including claims that South Korean officials were reluctant to provide artillery shells to Ukraine and that Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency disagreed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to reform the court.

The U.S. intelligence agencies, which receive $90 billion in funding annually, have broad authority to intercept electronic communications, employ spies, and use satellite monitoring.

Even in limited form, the effects of those powers are rarely displayed in public.

U.S. REACTION

To determine the impact of the leak on national security, the Pentagon has started an internal assessment.

Milancy D. Harris, the deputy undersecretary of defence for intelligence and security, is in charge of the review, a defence official told the Associated Press.

According to the official, members of the team come from the offices of legislative affairs, public affairs, policy, legal counsel, and the joint staff.

According to a second defence official, the Pentagon is likewise moving fast to limit who has access to briefings. Both officials talked under the condition of anonymity in order to talk about private issues.

The locations where the stolen slides are “being posted and amplified” are also being actively watched by Pentagon authorities, according to Chris Meagher, assistant secretary of defence for public affairs.

A separate criminal inquiry into how the presentations were acquired and leaked has been launched by the Justice Department.

William Burns, director of the CIA, described the leak as “deeply unfortunate” on Tuesday.

In remarks at Rice University, he stated that “the U.S. government takes it extremely seriously.” The Pentagon and the Department of Justice have now commenced a thorough inquiry to find out what happened.

WHAT’S THE IMPACT?

Senior military officers have been in touch with allies to deal with the consequences. This means making high-level phone calls to reassure them of our dedication to protecting intelligence and loyalty to our security alliances.

According to Meagher, these discussions started over the weekend and are still ongoing.

When U.S. officials travel to Germany next week for the next contact group conference, where representatives of more than 50 countries come together to arrange weapons and aid supplies for Ukraine, they are sure to encounter more inquiries.

But according to a senior defence official who spoke to The Associated Press anonymously to discuss sensitive issues, neither the meeting nor the allies’ willingness to continue supporting Ukraine militarily are expected to be impacted by the document leak.

Chris Skaluba, director of the Atlantic Council’s transatlantic security initiative, predicted that many allies will be more interested in learning why it occurred.

The leak raises concerns as to who “would have that much of an agenda to put it out there,” and whether the intention was to erode support for Ukraine, Skaluba added, given the high-level security clearance required to obtain the information in the first place.

Austin spoke with Lee Jong-sup, the defence minister of South Korea, on Tuesday to discuss the leaked documents.

Several of the documents were particularly sensitive to Seoul because they detailed American surveillance of its ally and South Korea’s concerns about sending weapons directly to Ukraine.

A “considerable number” of the stolen documents were falsified, the two defence chiefs agreed, according to Kim Tae-hyo, a deputy national security director, who was speaking to reporters.

He claimed that the leak wouldn’t have any impact on the two nations’ alliance and that South Korea will work to further bolster its partnership with the US.

Additionally, Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken made contact with their Ukrainian colleagues. Austin said on Tuesday that the leaks would not significantly affect Ukraine’s preparations for a spring attack.

The strategy of Ukraine “will not be guided by a precise blueprint. They have a fantastic plan to begin with, but only President Zelenskyy and his leadership truly know the specifics of that plan, according to Austin.

The lack of air defence munitions in Ukraine is one of the sensitive issues mentioned in the leaked slides.

U.S. military leaders have been pressuring allies to provide whatever systems they can, including the Iris-T systems pledged from Germany and the U.S.-manufactured Hawk air defence systems provided by Spain.

“Making the apparent anti-aircraft missile deficit public could reassure Russia. Kyiv will be appreciative if it encourages Ukraine’s allies to quicken the delivery of missiles and other air defence assets.

The bigger ‘known unknown’ is how much these leaks affect American political backing for Ukraine, according to Ben Barry, senior fellow for ground warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

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