The Pentagon might be taking a 1989 Kiss song a little too seriously.
The Defense Department is spending about $300,000 a year studying the body language of Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders, Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Friday.
The findings haven’t been used to help decipher the close-to-the-vest Russian leader during the ongoing tensions over Ukraine, Kirby said. “The reports are given right to the Office of Net Assessment, and as I understand it, that is where they stay,” he said.
Kirby didn’t know who specifically had seen the reports but said that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hasn’t read the studies. “I can tell you for sure that they have not informed any policy decisions by the Department of Defense,” Kirby emphasized.
And although Hagel wasn’t aware of the program before, he is now, Kirby said, adding that he “asked some questions about it this morning, and I suspect he’ll be asking more questions.”
Kirby faced multiple questions about the program at a press conference that otherwise focused on Ukraine and a proposal on revamping the military’s retirement system. Kirby characterized Andrew Marshall, who oversees the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, a DOD think thank, as “an out-of-the-box thinker who likes to study all kinds of issues.”
Whether the reports will ever see the public light of day is unclear. Though they are unclassified, Kirby said the Pentagon has no intention of “actively making it public.”
Putin was studied in 2008 and 2012, but it’s unknown which leaders — or how many — had their body language and movements studied. Kirby said he would try to provide a list, but noted that the Pentagon doesn’t provide guidance on whom to look at.
USA Today first reported on the program Thursday.
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