Fox news has reported that President Bush has ordered the military to spearhead the humanitarian aid missions to Georgia. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,402982,00.html).
Given the lack of overt USG action on the world stage up to this point and the suffering of the Georgian population it is incumbent on the USG to accompany aid with some strong PSYOP. Large military aircraft are indeed a PSYACT and the sight of a modern day “Berlin Airlift” is likely to be viewed positively, but there has to be more. The USG must orchestrate a multi-pronged information offensive designed to restore the confidence in the US by the Georgian people and the rest of world.
Not only should the aid packages have prominent display of appropriate messages, but media coverage, in particular TV should be encouraged. Viral marketing employing UTube should be aggressively employed. Consideration should be giving to encouraging and authorizing as individuals taking part in the operation to document their personal humanitarian efforts. Putting a face on those being helped is a positive idea.
Logistical and PA support should be provided to the appropriate NGOs. It might also be a good idea to send in a limited number of Civil Affairs teams to do damage assessment and see how the infrastructure of the region has been impacted.
In short the USG needs to get in front of the traditional and new media ASAP. This particular crisis also underscores the need to have properly vetted and prepared contingency PSYOP forces (perhaps consisting of retired and/or civilian personnel) ready to be employed as surge personnel when needed.
Image Courtesy of the RAF (because it was easier to find an appropriate shot from them based on a Google Image Search)