Wednesday, May 11, 2011

After Afghanistan Where Does PSYOP Go Next And How Do You Train For It?


OBL is dead and Congress is clamoring for a re-evaluation of the strategy in Afghanistan. While I’m clearly not an expert on that theater, and once I again I disclose that I’ve never been there, it strikes me that killing one guy, even one very important guy, should not call for a re-make of a strategy if the strategy was any good in the first place. Having said that – what’s next after OBL and Afghanistan?

(Photo Source: http://www.trafficsign.us/w24.html)

I believe that demand for contractors can be seen as a leading edge intelligence indicator of US involvement. I picked a well known contractor at random and tallied the total of openings by location: Iraq 42, Afghanistan 39, Kuwait 10, Africa 9, Balkans 5, and Latin America 2. Let me stress that these are not PSYOP/MISO openings, but general openings.

What does all this mean? I believe it means a couple of things. First of all, even with the end of ‘conflict’ in Iraq there is still a great demand for American support. While the number of troops might decline overall, there will be a constant need for Military Information Support Operations to inform and influence the population. The numbers in Kuwait and Africa portend that, like the Balkans, any one of a number of countries can go to crap in a New York minute.

For one reason or another we don’t seem to be training foreign forces on PSYOP/MISO which means that “we” have to do it.

Given that Reserves will bear the brunt of any support effort to the Big Army, or General Purpose Force, it follows that a major US military commitment any where will more than likely call for Reserve PSYOP participation sooner or later.

Can you train as you fight if you have no idea where you are going? In certain things I believe you can. Personal conditioning, marksmanship, combat driving and survival skills are paramount. The nuances of climate may have to depend on best guess, but it wouldn’t be crazy to train for extreme heat or cold and high altitudes.

From a technical perspective, Internet PSYOP as well as TV will be employed in selected AOs and it is possible to train on editing, composing, etc. As for being ready to go anywhere at any time, given the amount of potential locations and the language/culture variations, I think this may be difficult. Having said that perhaps learning about historically disadvantaged locations such as Africa and keeping up to date on the latest regimes in Latin American and perhaps ‘the stans’ and their brethren may make good sense. Comments invited.

4 comments:

Rick Schumacher said...

Very insightful. As a former PSYOP Specialist, I really enjoy reading your blog.

Thanks,

Rick Schumacher

Tyler said...

I was part of an effort to teach Information Dissemination Operations (IDO) to the ISF in our area during my last deployment to Iraq a year ago. It was an exhaustive effort and certainly did not happen overnight. This did not without the help of several really intelligent and driven individuals, but in my opinion it was certainly worth it. Since then, it has been a pet project of mine to think about how PSYOP/MISO could implement training host nation security forces on a larger scale. I think it may be the new way forward for MISO and could be adapted to many operational situations.

Here is a link to an article the Army did on one of our campaign efforts: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/printable/42777

Tyler said...

I was part of an effort to teach Information Dissemination Operations (IDO) to the ISF in our area during my last deployment to Iraq a year ago. It was an exhaustive effort and certainly did not happen overnight. This did not without the help of several really intelligent and driven individuals, but in my opinion it was certainly worth it. Since then, it has been a pet project of mine to think about how PSYOP/MISO could implement training host nation security forces on a larger scale. I think it may be the new way forward for MISO and could be adapted to many operational situations.

Here is a link to an article the Army did on one of our campaign efforts: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/printable/42777

Anonymous said...

Somewhat off topic, but relevant to the discussion of next steps.

I just got wind of the shenanigans my AC brethren intend to perpetrate with their RC colleagues soon. Shameful, really. You take away our voice, you cut our funding, you kill our schools, you kick us out of SOF when we're outperforming most of you in combat and then you bag on us to whomever will listen for our falling standards. Wow.

Now, you're setting us up to take RC MISO proponency out of SOCOM altogether! You've been drinking your own koolaid far too long now guys, and it's about to bite your backside. I've seen personally your tactical guys spend far too much time pretending to be Rangers and SF rather than learning their craft and end up spending six months as RIAB monkeys begging our teams to get them out the wire. This happens all the time, but deny it if you like.

This final rift in the once proud and seamless relationship between the components will undoubtably hurt you far more than us. Our reputation continues to rise amongst the units we support, as well as within the broader SOF community, while yours only seems to improve in the minds of the MISO leadership who've convinced themselves how special you all are. CAPOC is satisfied with your scraps, but the rest of us are happy to make our own seat at the table, so, with all due respect to them, understand that we are NOT them!

We are typically more educated than you are. We usually are more experienced doing the job. We very often have civilian experience spanning long careers quite similar to this in an environment demanding a higher level of success than that which you are expected to maintain. I've seen the impact of these FACTS through multiple deployments with my own eyes. Yet still, it seems your egos prevent you from doing the sensible thing and screaming to bring us closer.

It's sad, since the profession could and should be so much more. While 80% of the tactical force is left out of the decision making process, the other 20% has deluded itself into believing they don't need us, at all. Considering our dedication to the same profession and cause, it's a recipe for disaster. If those of you with voices don't quickly pull your heads out of your special fourth points of contact, there'll be no profession soon, at all.