I have just finished my 4th iteration of being the PSYOP/MISO SME for an exercise for Public Affairs Officers. The scenario is that a Joint Task Force (JTF) is deployed in a semi-permissive tactical environment to provide Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) at the invitation of the government of a nation stricken by an earthquake.
(Photo source: http://www.uhsda.com/)
While the actual tactical situation is merely the backdrop for the real purpose of the exercise – exposing junior PAOs to life on a Joint Staff commanded by a 2*, I was able to give some thought to how MISO would support an actual operation of this kind especially if the tactical environment turned ugly.
As long as the environment is permissive, meaning no one is shooting at us, MISO functions primarily as an information channel. Loudspeaker teams with appropriate speakers or recorded messages would broadcast locations and schedules for aid distribution. Host nation and JTF print resources could be used to print with signs directing people to the aid resources and educational messages designed to teach people how to reduce their susceptibility to water borne diseases like Cholera and Typhus. Loudspeakers could also be used to broadcast into a collapsed building to assure the victims that help was there.
What happens when the bad guys start shooting? There is a great deal of doctrine and precedent on how Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPT) support the CDR in a traditional force on force situation. There’s a lot less out there on how TPT would be involved against insurgents in localized firefights – or if they would be at all.
Given that many insurgent operations are ‘hit and run’ – it strikes me that the MISO emphasis must be more on the long-term campaign, the one designed to convince adversaries to join the good guys. Perhaps there is a place for deception in making the bad guys think we have more resources than we do, or to induce them to direct their firepower at the wrong targets.
In some situations MISO could give way to EW and CNO under the right circumstances and for the proper targets. These IO options can generate the positive psychological effects as direct PSYOP/MISO.
Reader comment invited.