Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Triple Play: Congress on MISO; Circumventing Government Communications and VOA Lessons for MISO

This is the first time that I’ve covered three topics in one posting – sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

First – Congress on MISO

I was kindly referred to pages 69 and 70 of HR 1540 – FY 12 National Defense Authorization Bill; Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities (You can find it at:

While we don’t normally think of Congress as very up to date on most matters, the last couple of pages of this document are quite revealing. Some interesting quotes for you to consider:

“However, the committee is concerned about a growing operational, technical and capability divide between the Active and Reserve Components of MISO forces which could limit options available to geographic combatant commanders and chiefs of mission..”

“This capability divided between Active and Reserve components could fracture overall US Government efforts and activities….”

The Committee directed the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, Low Intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities in coordination with CDR, USSOCOM to provide a report outlining a comprehensive MISO strategy to include roles, etc. for MISO and Active Reserve Components.

The Committee members are listed at: If you are represented by any of them, I urge you to contact them via e-mail and let your voice be heard.

When the Report is presented – let’s hope it becomes available to the public.

Second – US Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors

Sunday, June 13, 2011’s NY Times featured a front page article describing how the US State Department has the technical means to allow key individuals and groups to circumvent either government censorship or adversarial denial of mobile phone use. (See (Also the photo source)

I’m not going to recap what is in the article. Rather this is a classic example of how Computer Network Operations (CNO) must work hand and hand with influence operations. It also shows how the lines between strategic (national) resource and tactical (localized) deployment are blurring. The technical capability is all well and good, but capitalizing on it is another matter. Normally this requires content and lots of it. Credible content in the local language is the heart of any influence campaign. Hopefully the Department of State is working with DOD in most cases since DOD forces are on the ground. I would also expect that many Military Information Support Teams (MIST) would be involved as liaisons and information conduits when necessary and appropriate.

This kind of integration of CNO and MISO must be as much a part of our training and doctrine as marksmanship and PT. Ultimately perhaps there will be regional packages that will facilitate regional communication such as would be applicable in village oriented AOs like Afghanistan.

Thirdly – VOA – Lessons For MISO

Adapting the Cold War born Voice of America to the Twitter Age is the subject of a June 8, 2011 article in the NY Times (see:

The article discusses current successes and failures with a variety of media from short wave to Twitter. It points out that not many Americans (including me) didn’t know that the VOA reaches 100 countries in 59 languages. More well known efforts include the classic Radio Free Europe and Radio/TV Marti. There are also relative new comers like Alhurra set up to be an Al Jazeera knock off.

Some key points for MISO: some old technologies are still good ones in selected targeted areas, and staunch governments like the PRC employ stringent technological means to control what media their citizens can get. The Chinese move from radio to the Internet has been especially perplexing to VOA.

National level MISO resources, which are likely SOCOM or 4th MISG centric at the moment are not the exclusive property of those units. Rather they are as much a part of the DOD arsenal as MREs. The SOCOM chain of command needs to insure that their RC brothers and sisters are aware of the resources and trained on them so that combatant commanders are able to exploit all their options.

Frankly if Congress, with an overall lack of military expertise is concerned about inequalities of capabilities, how in the hell should we in the community feel?

Comments encouraged.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said - unfortunately without a significant and cogent lobbying effort from the PSYOP community, the SUBCOM, and Congress in general, will continue to allow the top-down changes that affect our influence capabilities in a way that essentially eliminates any contribution from the community itself. The fact that we use "Inform and Influence" as if they are nearly interchangeable speaks to how far into the woods we've gotten at this point.