Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Arggh! PSYOP and Pirates
Somehow it seems fitting to Blog about PSYOP and piracy on the day that US taxes are due. The Pirates and the Navy’s recent rescue of a Merchant Marine Skipper have been all over the media. The pirates, however, undaunted by the sniper induced deaths of the colleagues, continue to ply their trade at sea capturing several more ships.
Sooner or later the subject of information engagement, especially PSYOP, will come to the fore. In a 4 hour drive today I pondered to say about the subject and while I don’t have an immediate or short term fixes I have some observations and recommendations. Since I’m not actively involved in today’s operations I have no personal knowledge of what is already going on, so here’s my two cents. It is important for me to point out early on that I don’t see the “Pirates” as a top down formal hierarchy, but as a loosely configured nest of criminal gangs where they have likely taken formal or informal steps to divide territories and potential targets among them.
1. Put The Navy In Charge
First of all the Navy is the lead and the Naval Special Warfare Command (http://www.navsoc.navy.mil/default.htm) should be the designated proponent for information engagement doctrine and TTP concerning pirates. Information engagement against this form of enemy must include the full range of options: PSYOP, CNO, Deception, EW, and deception. Furthermore, the Navy should immediately commission a study of pirate activity over the past 5 years to be able to dissect past attacks to develop taxonomy of the enemy TTP and a range of courses of action to employ against them.
Pirate operations should be included in any upcoming reviews and enhancement of maritime strategy for littoral areas as well as traditional ‘blue water’ operations.
Naval officer and NCO training, especially surface warfare, electronic warfare, intelligence, and communications Navy Occupational Standards (NOS) should all receive cross training in the form of a mandatory information engagement module with a variety of case studies designed to challenge the students and incorporate a wide range of possibilities.
3. Numbered Fleet Ramp Up
Each numbered fleet should have a reinforced Information Engagement section headed by a Commander (05) with experience in the full range of information engagement operations. If the Navy is unable to fill these billets, then consideration should be given to rotating tours for Army PSYOP personnel, and in the event neither is available, retired personnel or contractors could be employed if necessary.
When necessary consider augmenting specific information engagement resources with other personnel who may be qualified by NOS, civilian expertise, cultural knowledge and/or other factors.
Numbered fleets should prepare information engagement contingency plans and should carefully consider who communications with media (especially non-US media) and what messages concerning the current action should be transmitted. This recommendation means that PAO is a critical element in dealing with the pirate enemy and must be given as much consideration as when to deploy snipers.
4. Include the Marines
In addition to Navy actions, Marines stationed on board vessels should be qualified in Marine Corps PSYOP TTP (which is the same as the Army’s).
As always, reader comments are invited.