Saturday, October 27, 2012

MISO, the Army and Asia

According to Defense News October 24, 2012, “Deputy SecDef: Major Role for Army In Asia-Pacific Plans ”the Army will play a major role in America’s new national defense strategy”.  According to Secretary Carter,  “Seven of the world’s 10 largest armies are in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said. “The Army will continue to partner and exercise with our allies in the region [and] we will build on those partnerships.”.

A little Google digging reveals that the largest Armies belong to Russia, the PRC, India, Pakistan, North and South Korea. The next tier is perhaps more interesting and includes Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar.  (sources: and

From a MISO perspective this all means continued Mil to Mil contacts with our allies, but it also means a new level of potential engagement to include training and engagement with some new players. Some of these players have large Armies and appear above while others not on that list such as Viet Nam and the Republic of the Philippines will account for even more engagement based on the threats they face and the Secretary’s comments about “The Army will once again train to conduct full-spectrum operations and a full range of operations”.

The MISO role in those countries will require MISO support not against large standing Armies, but in dealing with non-state actors within their border and reinforcing these countries’ relationships with the US.

It would seem that MISO personnel will need to develop a new arsenal of linguistic and cultural skills as they support the new national defense strategies.

Let’s hope that the Army’s top management is more broadly focused than looking at which countries have the largest armies. Otherwise we are once again training to fight the last war.

As always, reader input invited.

Photo Source:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Counter PSYOP More Important Than Ever

We often think of the Afghanistan AO as devoid of media sophistication. The high illiteracy rate and the general disdain for all things modern are general characteristics we associate with that part of the world. 

However, as Sporting Blood once said “it ain’t necessarily so”. The Washington Post of October 18, 2012 featured an article “’Mullah Radio’ believed to be behind attack on Pakistani school girl (see; which is also the photo source).

The article talks about Mullah Fazlullah, a priority NATO target who, according to the article “is considered a charismatic preacher, recruiting not only suicide bombers but also village women, who have donated their precious jewels and other valuables to his cause, experts say”. The cooperation of village women is particular noteworthy given his views on their rights or rather the lack thereof.
Fazlullah is credited with using a roving transmitter (likely FM) as a personal media outline. 

According to the article, topics include “lyrical rants against the central government in Pakistan, music, education and the polio vaccine.”

His capabilities and stature have been waning of late and the vicious attack on Malala Yousafzai, the teenage outspoken advocate of education for women was supposed to be his ticket back to the forefront of the action.

The use of a roving (probably line of sight) transmitter presents tremendous challenges and opportunities for the PSYOP community. First of all the use of radio indicates that radio is likely to be a good way to reach the local population. Secondly, analysis of the content of the broadcasts gives MISO planners a window into what the target thinks is important.

Perhaps most interestingly, this type of activity also opens the door to the potential use of EW and kinetic operations. EW considerations include jamming the signal to negate its audience or to overpower the Mullah’s signal with content more friendly to the ISAF cause.

Use of direction finding, IMINT and HUMINT could also be combined to assess the operation of the transmitter and to develop alternative courses of kinetic action against the asset as well as the people who operate it.

This is clearly another instance where one should not underestimate their enemy.

As always reader comments invited.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Putting The Band Back Together

Today’s post is more of a group scavenger hunt. As a former MI Officer and current security professional, I tend to get a bit paranoid about sourcing. I believe that one has to cite your sources. If you do it shows that you have done your homework and if the reader or listener takes issue with what you have provided, then their issue is with the source not you.

All of us feel passionately about where PSYOP/MISO belongs. Those of us who had the privilege of being a part of the Special Operations Forces (SOF) strongly believe that all MISO needs to be united under this banner. USASOC via the JFK Special Warfare Center & School, the proponent for the branch. ASOC is in a much better position to be the overall lead/command for the branch for many reasons not the least of which is mission knowledge and history.

Recently several of my sources have advised me that 
the ASD SOLIC has reported to Congress: 

"The 2006 realignment and subsequent designation of more than two-thirds of the force as non-SOF contributed to unintended funding, equipping, ownership, and interoperability constraints on the acquisition, procurement, and sustainment of MISO
equipment for Army Reserve forces.  For efficiency, unity of command, unity of effort, and the ability to support both special operations and conventional forces more effectively, the Commander, U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), the Army’s designated proponent for MISO, will lead the effort for future consolidation of the Army’s Active and Reserve MIS force under a single command. "

"This report is submitted pursuant to section 1086 of the Conference Report
(House Report 112-329) to accompany H.R. 1540 the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012" 

I have sent an e-mail to my Congress person asking her (Rep Zoe Lofgren (D) San Jose) to get a copy for me. If any of y’all have a copy or a URL I’d appreciate it.

Photo of Honorable Michael A. Sheehan, ASD SOLIC, Source:

Friday, October 5, 2012

MISO and The Emperor's New Clothes

On 20 September 2012 I posted “Green on Blue Attacks: Can Brochures Really Help? “. As a follow-up one of my colleagues referred me to a 12 May 2011 report “A CRISIS OF TRUST AND CULTURAL INCOMPATIBILITY: A Red Team Study of Mutual Perceptions of Afghan National Security Force Personnel and U.S. Soldiers in Understanding and Mitigating the Phenomena of ANSF -Committed Fratricide-Murders” which you can find at

If you are not familiar with the fairy tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes you can find a version at:

The report was undertaken to “assess ANSF members' and US. Soldiers' perceptions of each other; specifically, to identify those behaviors that upset them or cause anger.” The report came up with what I believe were very rational recommendations: “
Recommendations (n=58) included ensuring improved convoy driving practices, explaining need for roadblocks, vetting/training special ANSF search teams (including more females), reviewing base security SOPs, monitoring religious radicalism in ANSF, reforming various dysfunctional . ANSF practices, improving ANSF evaluation metrics, conducting more research in local patterns of life, and developing improved cultural and human relations trainings and behavior standards.”

If MISO really means Military Information Support Operations, is it our responsibility to be a catalyst for information (and training) of US and allied troops? We all know that US MISO/PSYOP forces are prohibited from “psyoping US forces.”

Green on Blue attacks appear to be on the rise and a fact in Afghanistan today. If we believe this report and other similar data, isn’t about time for ISAF to acknowledge that US and Afghan forces are having major issues. Candidly many of the offending behaviors on both sides are not going to go away simply because the Chain of Command on both sides has provided some training and guidance. Nevertheless, ISAF and US troops in particular will be in Afghanistan for years to come and ‘someone’ has to be responsible for trying to raise the awareness and tolerance levels on both sides.

As one of my colleagues aptly put it:
The report ignores or misses two essential ingredients in this dish: 
1) The fundamental perspective of Afghanis, who see Americans and other westerners as infidel invaders, regardless of their current posture (up to and including those who train and work with them).

2) The equally dismissive (bordering on racist) attitude of American soldiers toward Muslims in general and Afghanis in particular. I heard many service people testimonies to that effect, and it's a mistake to ignore this because it can help explain some of the base (entry) postures that lead to overt conflicts.”

Clearly preventing Green on Blue attacks is a responsibility of command and a part of military operations. Part of the challenge is providing credible and effective ‘information’ via command briefings, training sessions (combined and separate). Are these Military Information Support Operations (MISO) or not?

If the command ignores these realities they are, in my view:
1.      Fools
2.      Too afraid of pissing off their political civilian masters.
3.      Too concerned about their OER or getting the next star.
4.      Wedded to the past.
5.      All of the above and more.

Fixing the Green/Blue problem is a command effort – no doubt, but which organization within the CDR’s staff and support resources is the most qualified and capable of developing the doctrine and materials needed?

If not MISO – who? 

Picture Source: