A “cover” is a covert operative’s operational persona (visual representation) that protects his/her actual identity. A “cover story” is the narrative representation of a “cover”.


Covers are disguises of personas, separate from actual physical disguises but highly effective when used in unison, which can be further enhanced with backdstopped ID detailing.

A covert operative, by definition, operates under an assumed identity as a socially integrated individual or as an anonymously isolated individual.

This persona is called a “cover”, of which a story is critical to make it work . To give it life, form, structure and viability, this is called a “cover story”.

      The ‘Cover’

A ‘cover’ is the visual or external representation of how a covert operative wants to be perceived by whomever he comes near or into contact with.

For example; if an operative needs to be perceived as a street-level drug dealer, he would alter his personality, mannerisms and vocalics. Clothing and other tangible changes are secondary to a cover story.

The required integrity level (strength) of a cover ranges from a 5 second random encounter with a nonessential person to a 5 month deep relationship with an essential target.

The base level of a cover should be effective with just a sight (of the operative) but still needs a cover story just in case interaction is unavoidable.

      The ‘Cover Story’

If how a covert operative looks like is an external / visual representation of his cover, than a cover story is the narrative / verbal representation of it.

So while a cover can pass just on a visual “inspection” with non-interaction scenarios, a cover story is necessary when there’s communication of any sort.

As the name implies, a cover story needs a “story”. A cover story is one part an actual story about what and who the operative (his cover) is and what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. The story’s extent is dependent on the integrity level of the cover.

The second part is vocalics, not what is spoken but how it’s spoken; tone, accent, dialect, slang etc.

For example; a cover as a street dealer from New York may look like a street dealer from London but will distinctly speak differently in all vocal facets including words, all the while speaking the same language.

      Establishing a Cover Story

Start with a cover concept that you think would suit you visually and narratively then work outward towards a basic and easy to remember cover story.

The key is to have a boring story. Something easy for you to remember but easy for people to forget.

You must visualize a way to have yourself embedded in the target environment in a plausible but forgettable way. A cover story is for when you have to interact with people, however, ideally the goal is to not be talked to in the first place – if not mission critical.

Establishing a cover story should be kept as simple as possible with vague details drawn from your own experiences and within the boundaries of your own knowledge (if prior research wasn’t done) to keep interactions natural and fluid.

With deception, people mistakenly offer up more details than necessary, weakening their stance.

The same should be avoided with cover stories. Say only what needs to be said and only elaborate when necessary. A boring lie is more convincing.

      The ‘Cover Story’ Directive

The purpose of a cover is to gain access to and operate within a place, group or organization.

[OPTICS : Hanoi, Vietnam]