Monday, September 8, 2008

Fusion Cells – Is PSYOP ready?

The September 6 Washington Post featured an article “U.S. Teams Weaken Insurgency In Iraq” ( The article addressed the successes gained through use of specialized teams composed of intelligence and Special Forces personnel. According to the article: “U.S. intelligence and defense officials credit the operation and its unusual tactics -- involving small, hybrid teams of Special Forces and intelligence officers -- with the capture of hundreds of suspected terrorists and their supporters in recent months.”

The article concedes that not much is known about Fusion teams, and goes on to describe their HQ: “The headquarters bustles like the New York Stock Exchange, with long-haired computer experts working alongside wizened intelligence agents and crisply clad military officers, say officials who have worked there or visited.”

Given that PSYOP will target many of the same individuals and groups, perhaps it makes sense to field special PSYOP fusion teams or to incorporate PSYOP and IO efforts within the existing teams?

Since I have no experience or knowledge concerning these teams, I felt it useful to consider the concept for PSYOP. It’s implied that the teams have a significant, multi-agency support and Reachback capability. It is also implied that the targets are destined to be destroyed or otherwise eliminated as a part of an overall plan against targeted organizations.

A PSYOP fusion team would have similar attributes. It should have specialized and timely if not real time intelligence as well as specialized media intelligence that I’ve described in previous postings. It should also have the latest in IO capabilities such as those for CNA and mobile phone PSYOP. The team should also include native speakers who can be employed in real time and that are deployable should it be necessary to execute PSYOP from forward locations.

The teams would be joint teams in order to capitalize on the unique strengths of each service PSYOP component. For the sake of unity of command it makes logical sense for these teams to be under the SOCOM chain, but to include RC PSYOP as needed even though they fall outside this chain of command.

A caveat to the employment of PSYOP fusion teams is that PSYOP in general are continuous operations over a period of time. Furthermore their intent is to influence behaviors, a goal not often realized in a short time frame. Unlike operations against individuals, PSYOP are generally executed towards a group audience with a much less well defined end goal then that of the teams described here.

Nevertheless, the fusion concept for PSYOP is worth considering.

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