The 26 July 2012 AP story “Pentagon still grappling with rules of cyberwar” (see http://news.yahoo.com/pentagon-still-grappling-rules-cyberwar-224538248.html) is an intelligence indicator that if the rules of ‘conflict’ are unclear then the Cyber PSYOP rules must be clear as mud.
We are facing a cross section of enemies and adversaries who are very proficient in using the Internet to further their goals and as an influence vehicle.
The notion of the ‘strategic corporal’ is real. Actions in the street in one part of the world are spider webbed globally via the Internet. We have also seen that Social Media are a powerful means to generate a wide range of actions to a variety of target audiences. In addition we know that future conflicts and hot spots will cross an incredible range of socio-economic and geographic lines. Urban centers as well as rural AOs are likely to be the setting for MISO during the next decade.
All of this means that it is vital to sort out the Rules of Engagement (ROE) for Cyber Influence now before they are needed. In fact it is probably more prudent to take diligent steps now than to sit on our hands and watch our enemies and adversaries gain even more ground in the cyber influence war.
Given all the above who should be the Champion of Cyber Influence? From a DOD perspective, it seems only logical to me that USSOCOM is the driver. According to the SOCOM website: “The Unified Command Plan assigned USSOCOM responsibility for synchronizing Department of Defense plans against global terrorist networks and, as directed, conducting global operations. USSOCOM receives, reviews, coordinates and prioritizes all DoD plans that support the global campaign against terror and then makes recommendations to the Joint Staff regarding force and resource allocations to meet global requirements.” (http://www.socom.mil/Pages/AboutUSSOCOM.aspx).
SOCOM should be leaning on the Army Special Operations Command and the Army Reserve to assist by providing personnel to assist in this vital mission. Clearly this assumes a strong linkage to the Training and Doctrine Command so that influence operations can be mainstreamed into the training of the “Big Army” to help soldiers prepare for their individual roles in the on-going influence war.
Photo: Mud Pool in New Zealand: http://www.travelblog.org/Photos/947720