Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Juggling Multinational MISO: Turkey – Iran – Iraq

The P-5+1 talks concerning Iran will resume on 21 January 2011 hosted by Turkey. (See “P-5+1” means the five permanent members of the UN Security Council + Germany. While Turkey has promised to serve merely as the host and not a participant, their impact on the talks will surely be felt through their direct and indirect acts.Photo Source is link above.

Stratfor reported that “Then there are the Turks. The Turks opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq because they expected it to fail to establish a viable government in Baghdad and thereby to destroy the balance of power between Iraq and Iran. The Turks have also tried to avoid being drawn into the south beyond dealing with threats from Turkish Kurds operating out of Iraq. At the same time, Turkey has been repositioning itself as both a leading power in the Muslim world and the bridge between the Muslim world and the West, particularly the United States.” Read more: The Turkish Role in Negotiations with Iran | STRATFOR

Clearly the US has strong interests and goals with respect to Iran and that Iran is a pivotal player in the troubled region. How does this translate into the MISO/PSYOP world?

The MISO community has a critical need for people that understand a variety of cultures and that can quickly build rapport with other military personnel. Some of these skills can be built from NATO assignments.

For example while I was in Sarajevo the Turks provided security for our quarters. The guards were mostly young conscripts who were eager to obviate their military obligations with a single year of service. Albeit this service was not easy and their lives during the year were hard ones.

Interestingly the more senior (in rank and age) officers went for a daily run when curfew was lifted. This gave us time to spend with the guards prior to our run. They were a fine group of lads and were very interested in learning English. I gave them all my magazines and newspapers including some on esoteric topics like stamp collecting. They were eager to learn and practice their English and they had a great sense of humor.

I had the opportunity to learn more about the culture of the Turkish military when I attended the Allied Command Europe (ACE) PSYOP Officers Course in the UK where I served as the informal escort officer for a Turkish Colonel.

Many of our MISO personnel have the opportunity of serving on Military Information Support Teams (MIST) in our embassies. I have talked to many of these soldiers at Fort Bragg and I can tell you that they are extraordinary. They are articulate and culturally oriented with many conversant with one or more foreign languages.

Notwithstanding today’s optempo, we need to provide more opportunities for MISO personnel to become culturally familiar. This could include training with other forces, college abroad as well as authorizing modest amounts of funds to pay for memberships in local clubs that foster this kind of knowledge. A good example Is the Japan Society of Northern California (

We also need to place a higher priority on NATO support and integration than we do in order to insure that we learn more about how to work with our allies and that we indeed train as we fight.

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