Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No PSYOP Dimension to 2010 QDR – A Bad Sign

The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) was released on January 26, 2010 ( For those of you unfamiliar with the QDR its purpose is described as “This QDR report and the preceding months of deliberation served two purposes: first, to establish the Department’s key priority objectives, providing context and recommendations regarding capability development and investment portfolios; and second, to communicate the Secretary’s intent for the next several years of the Department’s work.”

In essence the QDR becomes a roadmap for DOD. It serves as standing guidance on all matters relating to the execution of DOD missions from force development, to training priorities to logistics and procurement. It also reveals the personality of the DOD and strongly suggests where resources and emphasis will go in the coming year.

Unfortunately a word search of the 128 page document did not reveal any presence of either “psychological operations” or “strategic communications”. The 2009 QDR, as I noted in February 2009, mentioned PSYOP and strategic communications once each. While it may be a stretch to read into the lack of emphasis this year, it is worthwhile to consider what is actually in the document.

The QDR analysis strongly suggested that the Department must further rebalance its policy, doctrine, and capabilities to better support the following six key missions:
• Defend the United States and support civil authorities at home;
• Succeed in counterinsurgency, stability, and counterterrorism operations;
• Build the security capacity of partner states;
• Deter and defeat aggression in anti-access environments;
• Prevent proliferation and counter weapons of mass destruction; and
• Operate effectively in cyberspace.

Highlights included:
The QDR directs the following enhancements:
• Expand future long-range strike capabilities;
• Exploit advantages in subsurface operations;
• Increase the resiliency of U.S. forward posture and base infrastructure;
• Assure access to space and the use of space assets;
• Enhance the robustness of key ISR capabilities;
• Defeat enemy sensors and engagement systems; and
• Enhance the presence and responsiveness of U.S. forces abroad.
Through the QDR, the Secretary of Defense directs the following:
• Establish a Joint Task Force Elimination Headquarters to plan, train, and execute WMD elimination operations;
• Research countermeasures and defense to nontraditional agents;
• Enhance nuclear forensics;
• Secure vulnerable nuclear materials;
• Expand the biological threat reduction program; and
• Develop new verification technologies.

The ability to operate effectively in cyberspace was noted as an important area for attention. Cyberspace is already part of the terrorist Battlespace as our enemies continue to use the Internet for communications and recruiting. Our abilities and resources in this arena must be expanded and elevated to a ‘second to none’ position if we ever hope to stem the tide of terrorist recruitment.

It is also comforting to note that DOD has recognized that they need to improve a holistic governmental approach which includes “improving our partnership with the Department of State in conflict zones” given the state of this relationship and the compelling need to integrate influence operations across the strategic, operational and tactical levels this is a blinding flash of the obvious.

Overall this year’s document is disappointing and may signal a step backwards in the face of escalating threats requiring effective PSYOP and Strategic Communications.


Anonymous said...

Strategic Communications (with the "s") is not found but, strategic communication (w/o the "s") can be found on page 25. Additionally, SOF enablers (that include PSYOP) are covered on page 91.

Strengthen key supporting capabilities for strategic communication.
As part of the U.S. Government's integrated civilian-military efforts to interact effectively with a variety of audiences and stakeholders, DoD will continue to improve key capabilities that support strategic communication. Effective strategic communication requires close collaboration across interagency lines at all stages, and DoD works particularly closely with the Department of State to support State’s core role in communicating with foreign governments and international publics. Effective strategic communication also requires the orchestration of multiple lines of operation. Chief among these are policy implementation, force employment, information operations, public affairs, civil affairs, and public diplomacy and engagement. Together, the effects of these activities support national objectives. Strategic communication is essential in COIN, CT, and stability operations, where population and stakeholder beliefs and perceptions are crucial to our success, and where adversaries often enjoy the advantage of greater local knowledge and calibrate their activities to achieve sophisticated information objectives. Elsewhere in this report, we have noted a number of current Department initiatives to improve language and cultural capabilities and to increase educational and training programs that prepare our people to work in and among foreign populations. We see these efforts as among the Department's most important investments in support of effective strategic communication.

The President's forthcoming report to Congress on U.S. government strategic communication will outline a common vision of interagency collaboration in this area and define the Administration’s position on this issue. At DoD, we will examine capabilities to better access and produce knowledge on complex social communication systems and on the perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs of populations and stakeholders. We will also assess our current understanding of the direct and indirect effects of potential actions and signals on perceptions, attitudes and beliefs, and we will formulate and deliver timely and culturally attuned messages. Finally, we will ensure that we can shape and coordinate the activities of our forces in support of our overall strategy.

In addition to bolstering the Armed Forces’ ability to conduct COIN, stability, and CT operations, these investments will improve capacity for peacekeeping operations. These investments will also facilitate unconventional warfare operations or conventional military operations against state or non-state adversaries.

Lawrence Dietz said...

Dear Anon,

Obviously you are very plugged in. Thanks for the input and clarification!