War Thunder fan accidentally shares classified military documents to make digital tank more realistic

    
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No, that headline is not an Onion-style bit of satire because we genuinely live in a world so unapologetically stupid that satire is dying screaming. Apparently, an active member of the UK military and a fan of the online military vehicular battler War Thunder had some opinions about how the game’s version of the Challenger 2 tank fell short of its real-life counterpart, and consequently he shared images from an official Army Equipment Support Publication (AESP) for the tank to make his argument. However, this particular manual has not been officially declassified, meaning the user effectively broke military law.

Developer Gaijin Entertainment received written confirmation from the UK Ministry of Defense, which confirmed the AESP’s sensitive nature and pointed out that the user could receive up to 14 years in prison for violating the Official Secrets Act. The studio was further warned that continued dissemination of the AESP could spell trouble for their staff, which has led to a pretty massive scrubbing of the thread in question.

As to whether the details will be used in-game, the answer from Gaijin is unsurprisingly obvious: “There is no valid source material that can be used. Therefore no change will take place. We have made it very clear our stance on source material.”

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Schmidt.Capela

I wonder if the guy even knew the information was classified.

I mean, if I correctly understood the nature of the document, it’s a maintenance manual that a lot of people have access to — including military personal in Oman, which also fields that tank — for a tank that is almost three decades old and will be retired in less than 15 years. Given its age and wide availability it quite likely has already been obtained by every spy agency that has an interest in it.

Also, there’s a lot of publicly available information on all kinds of military vehicles, including tanks, and a lot more that can be inferred from that by someone with related technical skills. If I remember correctly, there were even cases in which a fictional recreation of military vehicles was so spot on that the devs received a visit from the secret service to make sure they didn’t steal military secrets. So, while this specific source might be classified, there’s a good chance the same information is available from non-classified sources.

What he did is still stupid — for this kind of document, if in doubt always assume it’s classified — but I at least can understand someone thinking there’s no issue in sharing it.

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John Mclain

*Facepalms* You know China doesn’t even have to use espionage and hacking anymore to steal classified military secrets and technology, they just have to wait till someone does it for them now.

It’s like playing an espionage game on ultra-easy, you start the game at a gas station 50 miles from a classified facility where you hope to steal documents, and some kid runs up to you and hands them to you. “MISSION COMPLETE”

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SmiteDoctor

Well, that military tactical genius sure showed that 12 year old Nerd who’s the Boss Man of the Big D#$k Forum . . .

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traja

Hopefully he doesn’t do actual time because this seems like nothing but a stupid mistake. There is some responsibility on the government too if the material was not clearly marked as classified.

Also I feel like this should have been handled as quietly as possible on part of the goverment. The fact that Massively is reporting on it shows that the Streissand effect is present. You can’t remove information from the internet and now you told the world that it is there to be looked at.

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Jack Pipsam

I get it’s serious, but I can’t help but enjoy this story, it’s hilarious XD

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NeoWolf

Considering he is on Active service and the MOD found out about it, I think it is safe to say he is understanding the depths of his fu** up now. The MOD don’t mess around.

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Neurotic

Yeah, I read a detailed version of this somewhere else and thought the same thing. :D

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Arktouros

I mean I like arguing on the internet as much as the next guy but I can’t see myself breaking the law to do so.

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John Mclain

Well in the EU, just about anything needed to have an argument online is now against the law, including mild insults. (Not a joke, they just made online insults a crime there.) Of course it’s totally unenforceable on anyone outside the EU.

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Schmidt.Capela

Why the heck would insults, even mild ones, be ever required in order to have an argument online?

(As an addendum, I don’t know which law in which country you are talking about, but in many countries throwing insults willy-nilly can be illegal, and even criminal, depending on the specific insult and context since way before the Internet even existed.)

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Neurotic

I think he might be referring to the case in France, in which 11 people were found guilty of online harassment and making death threats against a teenage girl who went on an anti-Islamic rant online.

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Bruno Brito

11 people were found guilty of online harassment and making death threats

Those are not “mild insults”.

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Neurotic

They do qualify as “anything needed to have an argument”, tho. 😁

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Bruno Brito

They do, but i’m yet to see a good conclusion come out from an argument that uses threats and harassment.

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Neurotic

Totally, yeah.

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Arktouros

Oh no, my European vacation is ruined Interpol will be after me.

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Armsman

I’m sorry but I’ve got to ask how stupid can someone be. When does an argument on the internet get to the point that anyone with a functioning brain goes:

“I’ll prove my point with classified documents…”

I honestly thought there would be an intelligence test for anyone going through the process of obtaining a high level security clearance?

The level of abject stupidity on display here by the person who disseminated the documents from the classified manual is unbelievable.

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rk70534

Few weeks ago secret UK government documents related to the war in Afghanistan, and to an incident between British and Russian warships off the coast of Ukraine during this summer, were found left beside a bus stop.

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EmberStar

That’s a different kind of thing though. That’s just being distracted (and possibly also dealing with stress, lack of sleep, and whatever else is going on in the life of any kind of official. Was it a mistake? Yes. Huge. But speaking as someone who will walk to the grocery store, and has had to walk *clear back to get my wallet* even though I was *specifically* going to the store… sometimes you’re just that distracted.

The person in this story wanted to win an argument on the Internet. They made a deliberate choice. They took documents that were almost certainly stamped “classified” on every page, stored in a folder marked “Classified,” from a file cabinet that was almost certainly in a locked room somewhere, and scanned them and posted them online. To win an argument. On the internet.

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Peregrine Falcon

No. It was a maintenance manual. As someone who’s seen those I can tell you that they’re NOT stamped ‘classified’ on every page, and that they are often just lying around on desks or tool boxes.

I understand what you mean about walking and being distracted. I think it’s happened to all of us. However, since you’ve clearly never been in the military you should probably stop thinking that you know anything about it.

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EmberStar

Could you be a bit more of a blatant asshole about it? I feel you’re not being direct enough, and I might have missed the point.

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Blake

I mean I guess they won the internet gaming argument, right? So they get lots of internet points for that … and also some new living arrangements and a distinctive lack of video gaming play for up to fourteen years!

Winning!