Wednesday, June 23, 2010
MISO: Is it soup yet?
With lightning and a clap of thunder from the Pentagon, PSYOP is to be stricken from the Defense system just as the name Moses was removed from the legacy of Egypt. The Secretary of Defense has approved the recommendation to change PSYOP to Military Information Support and/to Operations (MISO). The Army Chief of Staff, General George W. Casey, Jr. has directed his staff to develop and orchestrate a plan designed to replace “PSYOP” with MISO in the Army (and presumably DOD) lexicon and branches.
Photo source: http://www.ecosalon.com/simple-miso-soup/
The name change follows the recommendation of the DSLC or Defense Senior Leader’s Conference. This is a conference co-hosted by SecDef (Secretary of Defense) and the CJCS (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). Attendees typically include the Combatant Commanders, Service Chiefs and elements of the Strategic Planning Council. The meetings are held three times a year (Jan, May and Sep) and are executed by the Director, Joint Staff. For some key bullet points on DSLC see: http://hqinet001.hqmc.usmc.mil/dmcs/Routine%20Reports%20&%20Meetings/DSLC.htm.
The name change has been an emotional topic and has been bandied about for years. On the one hand, “PSYOP” has a long and distinguished history with traditions and a nascent branch espirit de corps. On the other, demand for PSYOP forces is escalating and the optempo is breathtaking.
Lack of emphasis of influence operations by senior combat CDR and the bifurcation of PSYOP forces between SOF and Reserve chains of command continues to hobble efforts to optimize and standardize PSYOP training and operations. Key challenges are: elevate the status and importance of information support (PSYOP/PAO) to the force; optimize force development, command and control to deal with burgeoning demand, provide for future conflicts where cyber influence – especially on non-state actors is critical.
Perhaps the name change signals a renaissance of the influence profession and missions.
It is past time for the influence aspect of military operations to assume its rightful role as a leading element in today’s force. This implies strong senior leadership support in terms of resourcing and fast tracking the policy and doctrinal changes that are needed in today’s world.
The name change is a perfect reason for renewed efforts to ‘educate’ Congress on what we do why MISO is an important instrument of government power. As a non-lethal battlefield multiplier MISO can more positively impact world opinion of US efforts than kinetic operations.
As good soldiers we have been given a lawful order and must execute it. We need to put aside any personal feelings we might have about the loss of tradition, and consider how we can leverage the name change and the massive activity that is needed to revise ‘the system’ across personnel, operations, training and logistics required to effect the change.
This is also an opportune time for the re-design of the Information Operations (IO) playing and career fields. In particular the need to integrate PAO and MISO as synergistic tools for the CDR is critical. Renaming and repositioning MISO can be a catalytic process to help foster this process.
All of us in the community need to embrace the change regardless of our personal feelings and use this window of opportunity to strengthen the community – perhaps not so much for ourselves, but for those who will come after us.