Saturday, February 23, 2013

PSYOP Regimental Association (PRA) is Finally A Reality!

It is with great pleasure that I am pleased to report that the PSYOP Regiment finally has an association. 

After more years in the making than I care to remember, the PRA was officially launched on 22 February 13. The website is and the organization is based, logically enough, at Fort Bragg, NC.

The formation of the PRA marks the culmination of years of efforts. According to the organizations’ press release the PRA “has been officially recognized by the PSYOP Branch Proponent at the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School”. This is an important milestone because it bridges the gap from informal group to formal organization and forges a critical link to the force.

 “The vision of the PRA is to become the premier PSYOP advocate by hosting social events, professional lectures, formal balls, competitions, and publishing and distributing an Association publication.  The purpose of these efforts is to ignite PSYOP pride, invigorate PSYOP tradition, and create a sense of belonging not just for 37 officers and NCOs of the Active and Reserve components, but for the printers, the broadcasters, the graphic designers, civilians and anyone, past and present, who have played a role in our regiment's success. We believe that, like other Army branches, the members of the PSYOP community deserve a proactive organization that fosters pride in our profession among all who have ever served or supported a PSYOP unit or PSYOP mission in both the Active and Reserve components.” (Source for the quote and the photo: PRA Website).

The PRA is now accepting members and complete information can be found on their website.

Fittingly enough the PRA will hold its inaugural meeting on 4 March 13 from 1500 to 1600 at the Kennedy Hall Auditorium, Building 3004, Ardennes Street, Fort Bragg NC. The date is significant because it marks the 115th anniversary of the birth of MG Robert A. McClure, father of modern PSYOP and the namesake for the Regimental Award.

As a former Honorary Colonel of the PSYOP Regiment, I am delighted to offer my congratulations to the founders of the PRA and wish them well on their journey. I encourage all of my readers to support the fledgling PRA in its efforts.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Twitter Cyber PSYOP Strikes Consumer Companies

A few notable Twitter hacks appeared this week. One with Jeep’s Twitter account and the other with Burger King. You can check out one article at: which is also the photo source.

The Burger King hack centered on degrading that brand in favor of its arch rival, McDonalds. The Jeep hack said that Jeep was sold to Cadillac. The latter used its own Twitter account to deny involvement.

What has this got to do with PSYOP?

Plenty. While the media is awash with allegation of Chinese cyber sleuthing, there is no doubt that individuals, groups and nations are busily working at their cyber influence tradecraft and strategy.
While these Twitter attacks may seem like harmless pranks or justifiable satire, there is a sinister side that should not be ignored. Many people (especially those addicted to their smartphones and tablets) rely on Twitter as their major source of news and information. Studies of disasters have revealed that Twitter activity seems to be a reliable indicator of the public’s perception of when a disaster is evolving and lack of activity an indicator of when the public perceives the disaster is over.

Influence operations are routinely multi-dimensional and developing the array of skills and strategies needed to synergize those activities is clearly a challenge. Hopefully SWC and JSOU are both hard at work developing the training needed. In addition they should be working hard a mechanism to insure that the latest technology is constantly integrated into influence operations planning.

On another note, the largest information security conference in the US, the RSA Conference gets under way. I’m delivering two presentations and if you are attending the show in San Francisco Tuesday on 26 Feb or Thursday, 28 Feb drop in! (

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The PSYOP of Valentine’s Day

Since President Obama gave his State of the Union address last night and we’re all worried about sequestering and the sky falling, I thought I would lighten the mood with this week’s posting.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day which is sometimes referred to as “National Guilt Day”. The price of roses more than doubles, the TV blares jewelry commercials day and night. Not to mention the barrage of chocolate commercials and solicitations by school groups entreating the world to buy See’s Candy or some other treat for your special valentine.

A very long time ago I learned not to buy my wife (HRH the QM) clothes. If they were too small I heard “do you expect me to wear that?” If they were too big it was “Do you think I’m that fat?” Clearly either was a no win situation.

Jewelry is always a good choice. Easy to pack and fits all the time. Finding the right jewelry and the cost are downsides to consider.

The perfect solution would be a gift that is romantic, guaranteed to please and one that has a residual effect during the year.

Last year I hit upon such a gift and a gift where part of the price is tax deductible as well! One of our local non-profit organizations supports a park. (see

They offer an “Adopt A Rose” package. While it’s available all year, it gets the most traction for Valentine’s Day. The donor writes an inscription which gets posted on the rose of his (or her choice) in the park’s Heritage Rose Garden. The recipient gets a big red box with ribbon that contains: a certificate, a box of chocolates and a card. The card is taken to a local florist where a free rose every month can be picked up.

This is a winning campaign. Not only does your valentine get a great gift on ‘the day’, but you can present a rose (which you don’t pay for) every month for a year AND you can plan a special trip to the park on a nice sunny day and admire your rose. Followed by an appropriate outing or meal.

If that’s not enough - when you fill out your 2013 taxes you get a deduction and support a worthy cause.

Photo Source: The Author

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Information Operations is Dead – Long Live Influence Operations

The Army is not often accused of being a forward thinker. The January 2013 release of FM 3 -13 “Inform and Influence Activities” (see may actually be one of these times.
The introduction makes an interesting yet uncharacteristically visionary.
“Today’s global information and communications environment means that messages and actions delivered to one audience also reach other audiences. The Army’s concept of IIA is the integration of information-related capabilities that informs and influences audiences simultaneously.”

Figure 2-1 Information Environment

A new primary staff officer the G/S7 is identified thus elevating the IIA function to a senior level within the CDR’s inner circle and an upgrade from the special staff designator given to the IO officer as a subordinate of the “3”.

The manually unceremoniously declares IO assets, IO capabilities, IO cell, computer network exploitation and computer network exploitation as rescinded and offers up the new terms of information-related capabilities and “soldier and leader engagement”.  Other IO terms are removed from the lexicon and no longer formally defined. These include IO mission statement, objectives, resources, tasks and vulnerabilities. However it is important to point out that the FM urges the reader to “See JP 3-13 regarding information operations.”

While this all may be a good start, the cyber element and some others are not embraced in the new “Inform and Influence” paradigm. The manual also pays a certain amount of attention to Strategic Communications which was de-emphasized late in 2012 while the manual was in development.

Other positive elements include the recognition for the need of synchronization and avoiding information fratricide. The manual also recognizes the critical and constant role of Leaders and Soldiers:
Leaders ensure Soldiers stay continually aware of current messages and consider them during conduct of operations and when engaging with the audiences in their area of operations. Through training and command information efforts, commanders empower Soldiers to influence foreign audiences significantly.

This addresses key lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq that everyone in the battlespace is under a spotlight and that action or inaction conveys messages that can reinforce or damage the operation at hand.

Information related capabilities are:

  • ·         Public affairs.
  • ·         Military information support operations.
  • ·         Combat camera.
  • ·         Soldier and leader engagement.
  • ·         Civil affairs operations.
  • ·         Civil and cultural considerations.
  • ·         Operations security.
  • ·         Military deception.

Activities in support of inform and influence include:

  • Cyber electromagnetic activities, including—
  • ·         Electronic warfare.
  • ·         Cyberspace operations.
  • ·         Electromagnetic spectrum management operations.
  • ·         Special technical operations.
  • ·         Presence, posture, and profile.
  • ·         Physical attack.
  • ·         Physical security.

Based on a cursory reading, the IO Working Group morphs into the IIA Working Group with the players and methods reaming pretty much the same in both. Chapter 8 addresses the principles of Soldier and leader engagement.

·         Successful Soldier and leader engagement is:

  • ·         Consistent
  • ·         Culturally aware
  • ·         Adaptive
  • ·         Credible
  • ·         Balanced
  • ·         Pragmatic

While the manual certainly appears to be a step forward, it is hard to say how CDR and other leaders will implement its principles, especially under the duress of combat situations. Hopefully the manual is evidence of the criticality of information dominance in the conflicts of the future.