On November 16, 2021 The Brookings Institute ran an article “How the Kremlin has weaponized the Facebook files” (see: https://brook.gs/3CAi3Dll, which is also a photo source).
Many of us have followed France Haugen’s denouncements of Facebook to learn more about the internal workings of the internet juggernaut. This article describes how the Russians have exploited the whistleblower to “paint the United States as hypocritical in its support for freedom of expression and provided a boost for China’s autocratic model of internet governance, normalizing Russia’s own repressive model.”
The Russian propagandists are showing a remarkable ability to adapt various situations and sources to accomplish their disinformation mission. Among other things the article continues “Russian state media has seized on Haugen’s testimony to argue that her revelations reveal the benefits of China’s model of internet governance.”
Another adversary, Iran has also been a player in strategic disinformation as demonstrated by the recent indictment of two Iranian nationals were charged in campaign to undermine 2020 US election (see: https://abcn.ws/3qQtMv5)
This article noted: "As alleged, Kazemi and Kashian were part of a coordinated conspiracy in which Iranian hackers sought to undermine faith and confidence in the U.S. Presidential elections," said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams.”
Today’s posting is not an analysis of either of these two disinformation attacks, but rather an argument that perhaps we need to vary our influence operations training to a sort of “Influence Ranger School” (no tab of course).
I have always admired those who have graduated Ranger School because they demonstrated the drive, discipline and teamwork needed to overcome the school’s rigorous demands and because they learned survival and coping skills in hostile environments such as the mountains and the swamp.
It seems to me that given the top to bottom nature of influence operations (meaning from strategic through operational and down to tactical) requires new, innovative, and rigorous training. This training should include the digital and technical side as well as working with new cultural and linguistic environments as well.
Some of the training could be classroom or online. However, there is a critical need for field training in unfamiliar physical environments.
PSYOP has always lived in the shadows of Special Forces, the time has come to elevate the influence game and beat the adversary on our terms rather than becoming the global informational punching bag.