I find the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement to be a fascinating sociological phenomenon. For one thing it spans multiple geographic areas simultaneously. For another, it doesn’t seem to have a hierarchy nor a stated specific purpose. OWS is unlike the classic protests of the 1960s and 70s which were formed to protest the war in Viet Nam or even the popular movements called the Arab Spring which were focused protesting government rule and in my view may be indicative of future activities.
(Photo Source: CDC, Atlanta, GA www.cdc.gov)
The noted former Presidential Advisor, Richard Clarke once said “The future will not be like the past.” To me the Arab Spring and the OWS are perhaps a window into the future and as such are worthy of detailed study by PSYOP/MISO professionals. Both are mass movements involving significant amounts of people. Both have provoked kinetic and non-kinetic government responses and both have managed to put a spotlight on how governments react.
In previous postings I addressed the combination of physical and cyber action and used the San Francisco based protests of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) actions as examples. Recently there were some reports indicating that Anonymous was going to add another dimension to their activities by attacking the broadcast media. See:
Going back to the laboratory concept for a moment, overseas PSYOP/MISO could find itself in a precarious position – having to not only defend the government’s actions, but to counter PSYOP of organized protest groups and disaffected individuals.
This kind of counter-campaign will require incredible creativity and resiliency at the Team level. It will require NCOs in particular who have diplomatic and cultural skills as well as the pre-requisite multi-media and face to face influence skills.
Given the tenor and the tone of many of the comments I have received over the past several weeks, I don’t doubt that we have the individuals up to the task. The question I raise is do we have the doctrine, TTP and resources to back them up? Furthermore, have we really solidified the link-up between DOD and the Department of State so that MISO is reinforcing the messages promulgated by the Ambassador and the Country team?