Monday, August 14, 2017

We Need MISO For Every Line Unit – Including The Nation Guard

I had the honor and pleasure of spending time with the members of the 40th Infantry Division of the California National Guard and their employers while serving as an Outreach Advocate for the DOD Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve program.

The Division will be sending a contingent to Kandahar province in Afghanistan to bolster Operation Resolute Support and the training mission there. (see: http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_52060.htm?selectedLocale=en; which is a photo source).

The Divisions G3 who will function as the CJ3 once deployed gave an unclassified briefing about the Division’s mission. Essentially they are supporting the training efforts for the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP).

Of necessity division personnel will be going ‘out of the wire’ to help facilitate and conduct training. I have no personal knowledge of the Force make-up over there, however, I do know that there is no organic MISO in the National Guard and I’m pretty sure that USAR and active MISO do not train with them on a regular basis.

This is a mistake. MISO Tactical Teams are specially trained to work with the local population and help form positive opinions in support of deployed forces. They are also able to work with local media (if there are any) to help them understand the nature of the local population.

While MISO and Civil Affairs personnel are not intelligence collectors, they are knowledgeable observers who can provide meaningful and insightful information to intelligence and operations personnel.

As the OpTempo continues to ramp up, consideration should be given to augmenting units who go out of the wire with MISO personnel. Perhaps the best way to start is by joint training opportunities in CONUS and overseas.

(Other photos are from the author.)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Counterespionage – An Indicator of Effective Influence?


The July 19, 2007 edition of the UK publication Telegraph (see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/19/eu-employing-counter-espionage-tools-brexit-talks-amid-fears/, which is also the photo source) ran an article “EU employees espionage tools at Brexit talks amid fears of British spying”. The article talks about the security concerns of the EU BREXIT negotiating team.

The implication is that the EU is concerned that Britain would employ unfair means to learn about the plans and intentions of the EU team. Is it possible to interpret this in another way?

Increased security efforts reflect a fear that the ‘enemy’ is gaining an advantage in the ‘battle’. In this case the battle is over the terms of the British exit from the EU.

In other situations, Venezuela for instance, increased actions against opponents are often cloaked in security terms when the real motivation is that the enemy force is winning the influence battle in the mind of public opinion.

Reader comments invited.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Are "Moose & Squirell" in TV Business?


Everyone knows that Rocky and Bullwinkle were the good guys and that Boris and Natasha were Russian spies, but did you know they also battle for global TV ratings? (Photo Source: http://beliefmakers.blogspot.com/2013/02/say-moose-and-squirrel.html)

The June 17, 2017 Economist ran a small article “Current Time” (see: http://econ.st/2tdxf6t; which is also the photo source.) The article profiles what they term “America’s answer to Russian propaganda”. In the olden days of the first Cold War the cross border propaganda battles were the stuff of legends.

America’s government sponsored broadcasters of Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were the US’ way of providing the truth to citizens of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Block to counter the powerful effect of Communist propaganda.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) (see: https://www.bbg.gov/) is hoping to counter recent Russian propaganda momentum with a 24-hour Russian-language TV channel called Current Time.

You can find out about Current Time at their rather drab website: https://www.currenttime.tv/p/6018.html.

It was reported that Current Time videos were viewed 40M times on line during May 2017. Current Time like its sister networks, as government sponsored entities are governed by US law which says they must “provide objective journalistic coverage, on topics consistent with American polices and values”.

In general I am not a proponent of government run communications. For one thing viewers (or listeners) realize the station’s source and regard it with a grain of salt. In addition it seems pretty clear to me that the kind of programming fare offered by government run organizations cannot compete with entertainment from the private sector.

Yet millions of dollars are budgeted for these efforts. If any of my readers have any feedback on their effectiveness, I’d appreciate a comment or two.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Blog Entry 500: The Rumors of the Demise of the “Caliphate” May Be Greatly Exaggerated



This entry marks the 500th entry into the PSYOP Regimental Blog. In December 2007 I took electrons in hand in a way that I hoped would help to advance the state of Psychological Operations (PSYOP). As the then Honorary Colonel of the PSYOP Regiment of the US Army I thought it was my duty to use my writing talents to highlight develops in PSYOP now referred to in US doctrine as Military Information Support Operations (MISO).

At first I thought this auspicious 500th post should wax eloquently about the last ten years and offer some Gandalf like insight into the future as expressed by the past. Then I realized that while I write the Blog party because I like to, I write what I want because, someone has to.

One of my favorite authoritative publications is the Economist. On July 7 they published an article “the Islamic State nears its end” (see: http://econ.st/2ufdHlZ, which is also a photo source). The article addresses Mosul, Iraq of today and how the failure to heed lessons learned from previous failures in Iraq (and elsewhere) may lead to yet other variations of jihadist or radicalism. The Economist has no illusions that a military victory is not an end, rather it is a beginning. Just because an enemy force does not have a of ground to call its own, doesn’t mean that it is defeated.

Task and Purpose, another one of my favorite sources, printed an article covering the interview that SecDef Mattis had with an enterprising High School student (see: http://taskandpurpose.com/high-school-interview-james-mattis/; another photo source). One of the key points he made during that interview was “I don’t care for ideological people. It’s like those people just want to stop thinking,” Mattis said. “I think ideologies can be countered by showing people a better education and hope for the future by learning how to get along with one another. And for all of our problems in our country, we’re probably still the best example of that in the world.”

The SecDef knows that ideologies are not defeated with guns, rather these evil ideas only fall by the wayside when they are no longer relevant and abandoned by their former believers.

Helping audiences recognize that democracy and the freedoms of speech and religion that come with it provide a lifestyle in which individuals, families and communities can thrive is a major step forward to eliminating terrorism. Helping convince people is what we in the PSYOP community do. I hope that the Regimental Blog, in it’s almost 10 year and 500 posting history has had a small part in furthering that goal.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Lego Propaganda: Children Are The Target of Long Term Influence Efforts




Over the years  I have made a number of posts dealing with long term influence campaigns aimed at children. Most of these have been centered on the Middle East and feature cartoons and other TV programs designed to picture ‘an enemy’ in such a way as to condition children to hate at any early age.

Thanks to several sources, I was turned on to an effort to provide counterfeit Legos as a way to picture ISIS as the good guys. (see: http://bit.ly/2sGeMDn; which is also the photo source). This three-dimensional propaganda is being sold in Malaysia and Australia.

Let’s look at some the targeting for a moment. Malaysia is a country of   over 30 million people (see: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/malaysia-population/) , over 60% of whom are Moslem.

Australia’s Moslem population is quite small. The country has a population of slightly less than 25 million (same source as Malaysia), but the Moslem population is estimated at about 600,000 (2.4%) However, this reflects a 77% jump over the past ten years according to http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4641728/Number-Muslims-Australia-soars-Census-2016.html.

My younger grand daughter and one of her cousins were Lego enthusiasts prior to their High School days. The phase started about 9 and continued through middle school. While I’m not an expert, this would seem to be the perfect target age to start planting the seeds of Homegrown Violent Extremism (HVE). If you want more info on HVE, check out interviews and materials by my esteemed colleague Dr. Erroll Southers (http://talglobal.com/erroll-southers/)

Unfortunately Western Thought and Doctrine does not favor long term investments, perhaps helping children around the world understand more about freedom and democracy should be an exception to this rule.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Blowing up a symbol – act of defiance or desperation?


There are two articles about the destruction of the Al Nuri Mosque in Mosul. The NY Times calls it “Another Loss for Mosul” (see: http://nyti.ms/2sVnSL8, which is a photo source) and Task & Purpose, one of my favorite military sources, calls it “ISIS Just Rage – Quit The Siege of Mosul ….” (see: http://bit.ly/2rGIrI3, which is also a photo source.)

Both articles agree that the Mosque was a center of gravity the center of the purported Daesh Caliphate.The Times provides a lot of information about the history and influence of the Mosque over time.

Task & Purpose goes into more detail from a tactical perspective and addresses the ISIS claim that the mosque was destroyed by an allied airstrike.

From my perspective, Symbolism and PSYOP are not lost on ISIS. Time and again they have proven that they understand the influence game. By blowing up the Mosque they deny the probable victors endless influence opportunities.

The Mosque has been prominent in Mosul for centuries and it is a revered and recognizable symbol. While in ISIS hands it served them well as a showcase while it was in their hands.

The destruction of the Mosque is another example of how ISIS routinely ignores rules of any kind, whether religious or secular or humanity, to further their own cause. Their track record of destroying religious artifacts is well known with the Mosque being only the latest example.

Even when people see through the shallow ISIS claim that the Mosque was destroyed by an air strike is proven false; the victors will not be able to use the ancient Mosque as a platform to proclaim their victory and the righteousness of their cause.

While I’m an Influence Operations kind of guy, there is another perspective and that is “To Counter ISIS, You Must Embrace Violence” (see: http://bit.ly/2sZoAry, also a photo source.) I’ll save violence as a PSYAct for another day

Monday, June 12, 2017

Turning Propaganda Into News

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Recently I’ve focused on Twitter and how it can be used to ‘game’ the media. On June 8, 2007 the NY Times ran an article “How Russian Propaganda Spread From a Parrody Website to Fox News (see: http://nyti.ms/2sSkEFM, which is also the photo source). The block diagram below depicts the steps this fake news story followed from its inception to its legitimization by Fox News.

As a practical matter, there could have also been an another feeder stop along with the FaceBook box and that of course would be fake Twitter feeds as a means to jump start Tweets and re-tweets by legitimate and illegitimate sources. The combined velocity of social media ‘consciousness’ would add credence and value to the story. The article also references an earlier article from January 25, 2017, In Race Against Fake News, Google and FaceBook stroll to the starting line (see: http://nyti.ms/2taOwwA).

The deluge of criticism pushed FaceBook into increasing its efforts to block fake news. You can check out an earlier story from May 17, 2017 on this effort by USA Today, “Facebook takes a new crack at halting fake news and clickbait” (see: https://usat.ly/2rli0GI)

While one must applaud FaceBook for its efforts, the cynics among us (including me) believe that,  propaganda (fake news by another name) creators will employ other, more creative means to accomplish their tasks. The will be aided and abetted by a vast array of clueless people on social media as well as their own people and nefarious automated tools.