Thursday, April 25, 2013

Early Influence Is Hard To Overcome

Like it or not, most of our personality is likely formed before we’re very old. Our childhood experiences and memories are often the bulwark of complex thoughts and feelings, both conscious and unconscious throughout the rest of our lives. 

Rather than focus this week’s posting on the hacking of the AP’s Twitter Account and its effect on Wall Street (see I’ve decided to post on a more insidious means of influence.

Those of us who grew up in the 1950s will attest to the power of TV. Many of us spent incalculable hours watching Mickey Mouse Club, or Roy Rogers or whatever else was on. We felt that TV was our view into the world and it stood for all that was right. Fast forwarding a bit, our children were raised on Sesame Street and the Electric Company. Each of these series were also highly regarded and revered by their young audiences.

This kind of mesmerizing power must be used with caution and so when children’s TV is used to hate, there is great cause for concern. According to The Times of Israel, Hamas broadcasted a TV program where young children were praising martyrdom. (See which is also the photo source.)

Growing up with this kind of influence sets the stage for blind acceptance of progressive training all designed to shape a child in the image of a terrorist. In thinking of how this onslaught could be overcome, it strikes me that there is no simple answer. The only obvious answer is if the child viewer can counter the TV with real life experience such as having friends ‘on the other side’. 

When a predisposition is set, it is difficult to overcome and opens the target up to susceptibility for more nefarious activities and we have recently seen by the Tsarnaev brothers’ example.

MISO planners need to insure that country analysis packets are attuned to the type of influence shown on media in the AO and be prepared to provide plans to minimize or counter these efforts so as to increase the chances for ultimate normality in the AO.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Abandoning Terps – History Sadly Repeating Itself

The NY Times among others published articles “Afghan Interpreters for the US are Left Stranded and at Risk”. (See which is also the photo source). The essence of the article is that the pull out of US forces from Afghanistan will leave many who have helped the US efforts in deadly peril.

As MISO professionals we are keenly aware of the need to work through people who understand the AO, its people and their culture. Often the best and most credible hires are local nationals who have make the dangerous decision to work for the US or coalition forces. They are paid well by local standards as long as they serve. They also earn the enmity of determined foes like the Taliban, who, unlike the US forces, will remain in Afghanistan for years to come.

Afghanistan is by no means the first place where this has happened. Interpreters are often overlooked as the eagerness of withdrawal embraces those who are on their way home. Many of these valued employees seek to enter the US as a way to not only bolster their security, but perhaps find a new and better life for them and their families.

Regrettably this is a small percentage of the valued workforce. 

Advances in machine translation and ‘reachback’ support may help in some instances, but the need for a trusted interpreter who can not only be the eyes and ears of the MISO force, but who can add credibility to our messages is a critical element for success. We owe it to our valued allies to think about their future before they sacrifice their present.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

MISO Enables “Humanitarian assistance as a form of maneuver”

The headline takes a quote from MG Bill Hix, director of the Army’s Concept and Learning Directorate when discussing the “Unified Quest” war game and operations in “North Brownland”. (see

The Unified Quest war game is apparently modeled on a scenario based on the collapse of an evil country in possession of nuclear weapons. While the main points of the ‘game’ have been associated with the need to project troops and logistics, it was abundantly clear that humanitarian assistance was a vital component of the joint operation.

How a humanitarian assistance mission would flow would depend on the nature of the AO. In the case of North Brownland, the friendly force wanted to draw civilians away from their urban areas and figured that providing humanitarian assistance would be a good way to clear the urban areas of non-combatants and help the population at the same time.

Of course a key element in the success of such a humanitarian mission would be to convince the population to take advantage of that assistance and inform them of when, where and how they could do so. Under the circumstances it would seem that MISO is the only way to inform and influence the target population.

The media to be employed would vary and given an urban scenario would likely include radio and TV broadcast, not to mention SMS and mobile phone communications and perhaps even a bit of Internet communications.

MISO would also likely have to contend with aggressive deception operations by the enemy designed to convince the civilian population that the humanitarian assistance is a fraud or worse that the food and medical aid are contaminated. 

It is also likely that the enemy force would aggressively seek to disrupt or destroy the humanitarian resources or capture them and use them for their own ends so that security is also a major concern.
No matter how you slice it, the failed state scenario is a new contingency that MISO must prepare for.

Photo Source: TRADOC