Friday, January 22, 2010

Winning the Battle – Losing The War

You don’t often see simple and elegant statements that describe complex issues. I found one such statement in the January 22, 2010 edition of Small Wars Journal ( ). I have commented about the lack of unity of effort for information engagement. While no one would argue that LTG Patton was always in charge, today as well stated by the Small Wars Journal: “Our enemies are winning in the information environment, while we continue to discuss and debate how to operate in this environment. Our adversaries are using simple, cost-effective means to close the physical battle space gap by taking control of the narrative and effectively subverting with their radical ideology and propaganda. It is absolutely critical for every government agency within the U.S. government to participate, coordinate, cooperate, and arrive at a final, integrated and definitive standard of Strategic Communications against terrorists.”

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The authors are all senior deployed practitioners with extensive experience and the article concentrates on Cyberspace. I’d like to do the authors one better by saying isn’t this the case for all communications both verbal and nonverbal?
As the January 2010 earthquake relief assembled and poured into Haiti a unity of purpose seemed apparent. While there were disparate actions in terms of search and rescue, food and water distribution and medical care, you just got the feeling that each of the pieces were moving forward, albeit slowly.

The Iraqi ‘battlefield’ may no longer be fraught with daily small arms fire and may have moved into cyberspace. However, Afghanistan is just ramping up. PSYOP soldiers on the ground are at the center of a maelstrom of Afghani political jockeying, Taliban insurgent activity, combat troops moving around attempting to secure ground and people while the citizens wonder when all the interlopers will leave.

It would appear that the State Department needs to concede information coordination to the military command responsible for a regional AO. Each region needs to adapt them to the local environment. This means understanding all the aid efforts and using concrete achievements and testimonials as a means of informing the local population and as a way to shape positive influence. This presupposed that the State Department or the military command knows what is going on to include activities by Non Governmental Organizations (NGO).

The regional effort in turn would be translated into village programs that ultimately become a two way flow of information from national down and from local up. The local information can consist of success stories, testimonials in video and other formats which could in turn be harnessed by other regions and local campaigns. At the national level the programs and input could be consolidated with access granted to other information programs globally.

However, all this implies a unity of effort that we have yet to see. Perhaps this Small War Journal article can be one small step to information dominance.

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