On November 20, 2012 I wrote about how one of the MISO Contractors was in the spotlight and not in a good way. The source of that article was an article on the Rendon Group. On May 23, USA Today ran “Report raps military propaganda efforts as ineffective” (see http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/05/23/military-propaganda-operations-poorly-coordinated-often-ineffective/2354235/?goback=.gde_910477_member_243749097 – which is also the photo source)
Once again, USA Today is selling papers at the expense of our Community. This time they are using a GAO Report as the source. After a bit of Googling I found what I believe is the text version of the report at: http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/592219.txt.
But as PSYOPers (MISOoers just doesn’t sound right) let’s deal with the perception the article is likely to create rather than what the actual text does or does not say.
The key points of the article can be plugged into a couple of major topics.
1. Measures of Effectiveness and ROI
“Pentagon propaganda programs are inadequately tracked, their impact is unclear, and the military doesn't know if it is targeting the right foreign audiences.” While the report says some of the military's propaganda teams have succeeded in the 22 countries, "it is unclear whether MISO activities are effective overall." The Pentagon can't measure the effects of propaganda programs well enough to know where to allocate funding.
2. Management and Planning
The Pentagon and Congress "do not have a complete picture" of the efforts and the funding used to pay for the programs.
Lacking goals, the Pentagon does not have "reasonable assurance" that it is putting resources into countries that need it.
"websites have the potential to unintentionally skew U.S. policy positions or be out of step with other government efforts in a particular country."
It also relies heavily on contractors to produce advertising, leaflets and radio broadcasts, many of them unattributed to the U.S. government because locals do not trust western influence, senior military officers told USA TODAY last year.
The report also pointed out that its reserve forces may not be adequately trained or equipped.
What of this is new news?
MOE – still chasing that rabbit down the rabbit hole. MOE is hard especially in combat areas and when your goal is long range change of behaviors.
MISO in today’s world is a bottom up endeavor inside and outside the MISO chain of command. This being the case it is no wonder that DOD doesn’t have a notion of the big picture – there isn’t any. There is on overall “Corporate” Influence Plan under which the lower echelons are supposed to nest.
WRT resources, DOD cannot possibly staff up to provide every kind of influence support in every language in all media, consequently there is a need for contractors. The real issue is given the byzantine nature of government contracting are we doing as best as we can to manage the contractors?
As for the RC, hopefully the path to put them back under the SOF umbrella is well under way.
Reader input encouraged.
Thoughts on what to tell a PSYOP Graduating Class are welcome as well.