Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The National Intelligence Strategy (NIS) and PSYOP

As an Military Intelligence Officer it was my job to help the CDR make better decisions by providing my best analysis of what the enemy was going to do and recommend (if asked) how to thwart those efforts. In essence the Director of National Intelligence has the same job, but for the President of the United States.

Key documents can be found:
• 2009 National Intelligence Strategy:
• 2009 National Intelligence Strategy Fact Sheet
• 2009 National Intelligence Strategy Frequently Asked Questions

Since the NIS represents intelligence thinking at the highest levels, it’s useful to review it from a PSYOP perspective and see what PSYOP can learn from it. The intelligence vision (Page 2) has a great deal of relevance to PSYOP. First of all, PSYOP must be integrated running from the most tactical of operations up through strategic communications. We too, must be agile especially since our adversaries have amply demonstrated their ability to play beyond rules and blow up the box, never mind think out of it. While PSYOP must also exemplify American’s values, for us in the community, the context means employ PSYOP lawfully to help accomplish the CDR’s mission. More often than not, PSYOPers will need to gain and maintain the trust of foreign audiences and media in addition to functioning as the consummate professional American soldier.
In assessing the strategic environment, PSYOP needs to consider how to address some of the newer and more unconventional PSYOP adversaries. Non-state actors, insurgents, violent extremists and transnational criminal organizations pose significant threats to the US and our interests. Some of these, such as insurgents and violent extremists are already on the PSYOP radar screen because of their presence in active conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq. While others, the non-state actors and transnational criminals present a different challenge because they are more difficult to locate and are less susceptible to traditional PSYOP and (at least to my knowledge) not the targets of significant PSYOP efforts. Some of our adversaries are highly focused in their targeting – we need to consider this in our actions as well.

Strikes me that the PSYOP force is not quite prepared to address these manifold challenges in part due to the fact that President Obama has not developed a comparable and overarching Information or Influence strategy to facilitate the integration of all US government informational and influence efforts to accomplish a set of high level goals and priorities.

So, while the intelligence community seems to be moving forward in a more orchestrated manner than ever before, the same cannot be said for the US Governments information and influence instruments.

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