Thursday, February 18, 2010

Family PSYOP

As a creature of Silicon Valley I’m often immersed in complex and sophisticated issues such as intellectual property theft, and teaching military intelligence subjects on-line. I’ve commented on rural PSYOP and urban PSYOP not to mention Cyber-PSYOP.

Over the past few weeks three deaths have hit my world. First there was the death of a fellow Red Cross volunteer with whom I had worked with occasionally, but who always set an outstanding example and could always be relied on to be a learned voice of reason. As a member of the Public Affairs team I was asked to write his obituary. I have written many pieces in my career but this was among the hardest. The task was to capture a life and a spirit in a few paragraphs that would be read by those who knew him and those who did not. It was a challenge, but I’m pleased to say that the result has received quite a bit of favorable comments.

The second death was that of COL (R) Jeff Jones. I had worked with COL Jones when he was the 4th PSYOP Group CDR and I was the 7th PSYOP Group S3 and stayed in touch with him over the ensuing years (see my previous posting). I reflected that it was indeed satisfying to see COL Jones presented with one of the first gold McClure awards for PSYOP excellence in June 2009 at PSYOP Regimental Week.

As close as I may have been with these men, it would be unexpected death of my brother in law, who I hardly ever spoke to that would cause the most direct involvement in my life. My wife and her brother had never been close and they hadn’t spoken to each other for the past two years when the call came in.

It was a Thursday night during February 2010 where snow storms had plagued the northeast and even Delta was forced to cancel 1,100 flights mostly due to weather at their Atlanta Hub. It was also President’s Weekend and the beginning of winter vacation for many schools. Flights were hard to come by and they were expensive – even the red eyes! Nevertheless we had to go and go we did.

The point is that, while it is all well and good to assess PSYOP on the strategic and operational level, we must address the audience with the most powerful direct influencer – and family is one of the strongest. The attachment to family and tribe as a superset of family is one that must be considered in each and every PSYOP work product and campaign. The temptation to go global must always be foregone to maintain local relevance and power.

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