Friday, June 25, 2010

PSYOP Name Change: A Historical Perspective

I've been getting a lot of traffic on the changing of the PSYOP name to MISO. Frankly the name change has been kicking around at the highest levels for some time. COL (R) Paddock, leading SOF historian, former CDR of the 4th POG and the first Honorary Colonel of the PSYOP Regiment among others has been a very vocal opponent, but the train has left the station.

While I'd like to be optimistic and appreciate the positive spin MG Csrnko put on the change, the practical side of me feels that MISO will not fare any better in terms of funding or standards and that the resources and changes that are needed will not be made.

The ebb and flow of PSYOP reminds me a lot of the SIGINT side of military intelligence. In the early days we were a cult behind the green door. As technology and tactics evolved it was clear that SIGINT needed to be spider webbed through the force and made quickly accessible at the lowest technical level without the shibboleths normally shielding it from the masses.

History has shown that tactical SIGINT has been a good thing yet moving it down the chain of command has not resulted in a diminution of the need for SIGINT specialists. The SIGINT specialty and the intelligence resources behind it has evolved in spite of what might be viewed as popularization.

The actions of our very senior leadership through and including SecDef Gates need to match the rhetoric surrounding the name change. As a minimum these steps need to include:
1. Reuniting all MISO under one chain of command - USSOCOM.
2. Establishing a flag officer led command at SOCOM that leads the strategic influence fight across the board.
3. A top to bottom revamping of MISO training to insure that every soldier with the MOS has the same skills.
4. Enhancing the training and scope of the MISO field to include cyber influence and personal selling/negotiation skills.
5. Integrate commercial on-line training as a part of the MISO professional education track to include reimbursement or payment of selected live and on-line training.
6. Insure that the new and improved MISO takes the lead in NATO information doctrine and TTP.
7. USSOCOM should embark on a vigorous Congressional information program to insure that all the key military committees are well informed concerning the criticality of influence operations.
8. ASOC/SWC to establish and maintain an exchange program with DINFOS wherein MISO and PAO officers and NCOs attend each other's schools and perhaps even acquire the respective MOS.

These just scratch the surface - but are all steps that need to be taken. Failure to follow-through will have a significant negative impact on the total force and in the long run, America's ability to dominate the growing information battlefield.


Anonymous said...

Wow. This is rediculous. Stop calling it MISO! Its not MISO its PSYOP. That's like saying "hey, you there, rangers....yeaahhh, we just decided we'd call you special forces. Yeah, we know you do two completely different things, but to be fair, you're both USSOCOM. So were cool, right?" No. No. No! I wonder how high the reclass rate will be out of PSYOP after this? I'm reclassing.

Brad said...

I like the list of steps you list for our senior leadership and I agree. As MAJ Lopacienski eludes to in his article on the Small Wars Journal Blog, the MOS 37 community needs to grab this "re-branding" by the horns, own it, and ultimately make positive changes with it. At this point, just sitting around complaining about the name change without constructive progress will only continue to diminish and erode away at our ability to positively influence our Nation's and our Allies' adversaries.

Wizard said...

Incredible. For the 20+ years I have been associated with PSYOP the senior leadership within the community (and by extension the senior leaders in USASOC) have essentially punted away anything that would have solidified our standing within DOD. While doing this we have watched IO grow from an "Activity" element on Ft. Belvoir to a Command, we have watched the preeminent PSYOP unit "reorganize" itself with virtually every new commander, we have watched the focus of this unit shift from being Airborne to being language qualified to being Airborne to being tactical to being strategic, we have watched as fully 90% of our force was kicked to the curb by USASOC, we have watched as we became a core capability of IO. This reeks of a senior leadership failure. And Now, NOW we are being top fed a name (and EVERY DOTMLPF-P implication that comes along with it) and being asked to OWN it and grab it by the horns. Who is telling us to do this? Our senior leaders of course. This is the death knell for PSYOP as we knew it. Welcome to IO. Case the colors.

Anonymous said...

Would it be possible for you to post the MG's memo for us? I completely agree with the last comment...this has been a slippery slope for quite a while now.

Lawrence Dietz said...

Glad to - send to

Anonymous said...

Brad and Ed Lopacienski are right. We can be defeatist (wizard) or we can recognize that this opens opportunities. Yes, SOF sr leadership (and as a subset PSYOP leadership) has been sorely lacking in attention to taking care of the force, the craft, and the profession. True. We have not defined for our customers what the differences are between the activities we undertake depending upon whom we work for and at what level we operate. Worse yet, we have allowed our training base to become a miserable backwater. Where we were once 96F and fully qualified FAOs, we now lack even any access to classified information in the training base. Yet, under past USACAPOC CTSSB guidance we allowed that the single true Army certification we would receive from training (other than a watered-down 37F qual) was a HMMWV drivers license!! Our association with CA and disassociation with intelligence and special operations functions has been to our great disservice. Currently the USAR does not even attend the same curriculum as the Active Army! Why? Ask CAPOC, it is certainly not what USAR PSYOP desires... must be another CA thing. If we truly want to put this in a historical perspective, who did the 4th PSYOP Group work for in Vietnam? Who (MOSs) comprised both 7th and 4th POGS back then? Who was the founder father of Army Special Operations? I am not trying to be rhetorical, but to lead you in a direction. Now is the time to step up and discuss with the leadership about what we can do if we are provided appropriate training, resources and mission sets. It is also time to cast away over-reliance on past structures, naming conventions, etc.