Thursday, June 19, 2008

Visiting Team PSYOP Challenges

Like most of you I receive a variety of e-mail and take part in a bunch of e-mail lists. One of my recent e-mails contained a 5 point discussion of the advantages that the Red Force (natives to the AOR) Since PSYOP by definition is the visiting team, I felt it would be very useful to examine the home team (Red Force) versus visiting team (Blue Force) from a PSYOP perspective and offer some ideas on how the visiting team can win more often.

1. Home Field Advantage – they know it, you don’t. Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) is essential. PSYOP preparation of the battlefield should go beyond the doctrinal IPB and include as much media and influence mapping as possible. Overlays showing significant groups and or bandwidths of influence of various leaders should also be employed as a means of achieving an understanding of the audience and environment. If possible employ personnel who are from that area and who have some credibility. If that’s not possible at least employ some talent that has been in the area in the recently or worst case in the past – perhaps relatives (even distant ones) of the current residents could be extremely helpful.

2. Organizational Experience – the Red team has played together before, often the blue has not. While liaison visits can be productive. Consider frequent personnel exchanges, joint exercise training, joint social events and any other creative means to develop the kind of bonding that allows one person to pick up where the other has left off and which fosters a high degree of trust. Trust needs to go up and down the chain of command, not to mention a peers.

3. Triggers and Flexibility – Blue team can show up with only one or two plays in their book and no way of getting an early warning of what is to happen. Study of the adversary, history of the AO and alternative scenario modeling to deal with unforeseen consequences. Drills and rehearsals can reduce uncertainty. From a PSYOP perspective - - think like the adversary and so without limits. Recognize that the adversary will take advantage of friendly actions and reactions and work to minimize the enemy’s IO success by thwarting exploitation of negative events when possible.

4. Consequence – the home team never gets to leave. Their relatives, friends and neighbors will not easily forget. This works both ways. PSYOP personnel need to be put themselves in the position of their audience to create messages that resonate on an emotional level and that are likely to cause reflective thinking by the audience long after transmission.

The visiting team is always behind the power curve; however, the curve can be flattened if the team recognizes the nature of the audience and the nuances of the AO on the same level as those who live there.

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