Deception is a key concept in strategy and can be defined as those measures designed to mislead the enemy'. In modern warfare the methods of doing so are extremely varied, from electronic warfare to the use of spies. The aim of deception is to force the enemy to react not to act that is allow you to have the initiative and force him to react to your actions and be unable to implement his own plans fully, this can be done by the distortion or falsification of any intelligence the enemy receives. Deception operates at all levels and is key to gaining the element of surprise, at a tactical level deception focuses on camouflage and concealment making ambushes possible. At operational level it can be vital to a successful campaign as in the Gulf War of 1990/91 where the Coalition convinced the Iraqis that they were planning an Amphibious landing near Kuwait city or during Operation Overlord , the D-Day landings in the Second World War where the Germans were convinced of an invasion near Pas de Calais not Normandy. Strategic deception operates at national level and impacts on long term policy and actions of nations. Deception is of course not new from the legendary Trojan horse to the writing of Sun Tzu deception has always played a key part in any conflict, in fact Sun Tzu claimed that "War is a matter of deception" but as technology increases the amount of intelligence sources available to a commander a question remains whether deception will eventually become nearly impossible to achieve on an operational or Strategic level or will the shear volume of information make it even harder for the commander to tell fact from deception?
Sun Tzu : The New Translation (The Art of War), Short but packed with wisdom which can still be applied today , a key text on tactics and strategy
How to cite this article:
Dugdale-Pointon, TDP. (10 February 2001), Deception, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/concepts_deception.html