Monday, June 22, 2009

PSYOP and Iran

I believe that the US should stay out of the melee in Iran, however, the events unfolding there can be harnessed for great effect in other theaters to convey some very important and powerful messages:

1. Fundamentalist dictatorships will never acquiesce to their people’s wishes.

2. Support of fundamentalist regimes can lead to violence against citizens who dare to oppose them.

3. In times of stress Fundamentalist dictatorships will do all they can to limit communications. State media will often be the only ‘authorized’ media covering events. Those seeking to let the outside world know the truth will have to rely on technology and creativity to get their messages out and wills subject to personal peril.

There are some observations which ought to be noted as well:

1. The Internet and amateurs may be one of the few ways to transmit messages and images from forbidden/denied areas and incidents.

2. Covert cameras need to be employed during incidents to reduce the chances of the communicator being singled out of a crowd.

3. Even the most repressive of governments (North Korea perhaps being an exception) cannot keep a total lid on negative images and communications flowing out of their countries.

From a military PSYOP perspective harnessing the images and Internet exploitation of them should take several directions. A trans-regional campaign is in order to inform moderate Islamic audiences of the events unfolding in Iran and transmitting the messages I’ve noted above and others as appropriate. Tactical PSYOP production units should accumulate file footage (often called b-roll or background roll) to be used as needed later on.

Training institutions such as SWC should develop case studies to be used in future PSYOP training and/or exercises based on two alternative scenarios. One scenario is that PSYOP forces are inside the country where the events are taking place and the other is that PSYOP forces are outside the country. The second scenario would pose questions as to how or if these images and news stories coming out of Iran should be used elsewhere and if so how.

Consideration should also be given in the use of covert cameras during hostile situations so that local images may be captured for subsequent use as well. This training should be provided out of DINFOS as well as SWC and other appropriate training venues.

I would also recommend that PSYOP Groups assign an informal project team to keep track of the events in Iran and to search out, store and categorize the images and stories as they unfold.

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