Thursday, June 27, 2013

MISO and Lebanon Training Teams – Essential or Risky Business?

The Associated Press reported through Yahoo News (see and other outlets that “US looks to send training teams to Lebanon, Iraq”. GEN Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff  was quoted “"Militarily, what we're doing is assisting our partners in the region, the neighbors of Syria, to ensure that they're prepared to account for the potential spillover effects," Dempsey said during a Pentagon briefing Wednesday. "As you know, we've just taken a decision to leave some Patriot missile batteries and some F-16s in Jordan as part of the defense of Jordan. We're working with our Iraqi counterparts, the Lebanese Armed Forces and Turkey through NATO."

While I’ve never been to either Lebanon or Iraq, I suspect that they share a number of similar characteristics: strong factions that are bent on destroying each other, urban population centers, reasonable Internet access, adequate telecommunications and a host of broadcast and print media.
This Area of Operations (AO) is more amenable for MISO than is Afghanistan – but do we really want MISO to be a part of this  “training team”?

On the pro side is the fact that MISO (formerly PSYOP) was born out of Special Operations. Special Operations Forces have training foreign militaries as a core competency. Does it follow then that MISO should be as welcome by our “allies” as F-16s?

I frankly don’t think so. Even though we would be risking lives and assets by providing training teams in the first place, I’m not convinced that the governments we would be helping are anxious to try and influence their populations using American resources. In fact the very use of US resources as a means of influence directly or indirectly might undermine the host nation government even more.
It looks like training teams in this context ought to be limited to things that blow up stuff and how to move, shoot and communicate.

Reader input encouraged.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Personal PSYOP - The Time is Nigh

In the PSYOP and MISO world we generally think in terms of campaigns and motivating groups. This week I was thinking about the notion of personal PSYOP. Sort of an advanced version of activities you might have practiced on the playground or in High School.

The aim of personal PSYOP is to ‘mess with’ the mind of the target. Essentially you want the target so concerned about a peripheral matter that it takes their mind of the really important things they have to do.

Of course this requires an intimate knowledge of the target individual and for this particular example to work the target needs to be dependent on Social Media, Especially Facebook. Previously I posted about how a hijacked Twitter account brought some very bad publicity to Jeep and Burger King.

In today’s scenario Tommy The Target (T) is addicted to Facebook. Even though he is  a rising star in a prominent law firm and is deeply committed to his lovely girlfriend. Tommy is also very concerned about how he looks to his friends and checks his Facebook account regularly.

Arnie the Adversary (A) works with T in the same law firm. A knows that he and T are vying for the next opening for Partner and that their meeting with the Managing Partner is scheduled for the next day.

A manages to takeover Greta (Tommy’s Girlfriend’s )(G) Facebook Account. Seems Arnie found out he could get a password cracker on the Internet for free and Greta, a graduate student in art is not very concerned about her security.

Once in the account Arnie posts some pictures that look like T. These pictures show T engaged in smoking what looks like pot, and shows other compromising views. In addition G has made some negative statements about T and has broken up with him.

T is devastated after he checks his FB page in the morning. Needless to say his performance at the Managing Partner interview does not go well.

This is an example of Personal PSYOP in the commercial sector, I’m sure all y’all can see how it can be applied for MISO purposes.

 Comments always welcome and see you at Bragg for graduation.

Photo Source:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Must Be A Pretty Good Magazine

I have had a few posts on “PSY Acts”, those things you do rather than say. Recently the Al Qaeda digital magazine Inspire suffered a bit of a cyber casualty. See “US Disrupts Al Qaeda magazine at:

According to the article, the US ‘covertly’ sabotaged the magazine and within a half hour the problem was corrected and the site was back up. Inspire has been cited as a primary motivator behind the Boston attacks - see picture.

While I’m not a Counter Terrorism expert, I believe that there are a large number of disaffected individuals and small groups who intend to do us harm. I also believe that a significant number of these enemies have no natural command and control chain and seek to fly under the radar until they feel that the time has come from them to execute. They need inspiration, financing, references and support. The magazine appears to be something they need and attacking a Center of Gravity is a proven military strategy.

One should never under estimate one’s enemy. The magazine surely knows it is on the US (and other countries’) ‘radar’. They also know that the US and our allies have cyber capabilities. Their half hour reaction time is likely to be better than many business entities although electronic media is among the up and coming buyers of information security products and services such as Managed Security Services.

Perhaps we can analyze this attack on Inspire with a boxing analogy. This attack was one of many left jabs that are being thrown at the opponent. While I don’t believe there will likely be a single knock out punch, we need to demonstrate more persistence and long range thinking in our PSYOP/MISO targeting to keep our enemies off guard.

May I quote one of my favorite philosophers: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!"

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Collaboration and Security – Necessary Elements in MISO

Today’s posting addresses some of the components of MISO that are not taught in schools. As usual the media offers some fodder as articles and commentary about the latest information leaker (see about the NSA leaker, Edward Snowden. (Also the Photo Source)

MISO is an especially interesting and challenging field because it involves art, science and people sense. This trio represents the core of MISO. We need art to create, science to help figure out what to create and the people sense to see if our brilliant ideas pass the “BS” factor test.

One of the highlights of my military career was to serve at the NATO SFOR HQ in Bosnia. The reason I enjoyed it so much was I had the unique opportunity to work with colleagues from a variety of nations in many different ways. Collaboration with others who do not necessarily share the same views with you is a Socratic way of learning more about the subject at hand.

However, it is fair to say that each nation approaches the Alliance with their own national goals and priorities, some of which they would rather not share. Knowing how to balance collaboration with your nation’s secrets is part of the job.

As military professionals (and contractors of course) we are bound by our legal and moral obligations. The legal obligations with respect to protection of classified information are clear. The line between sensitive and not sensitive is a bit more blurred but still such information has a classification.

While we may have complete creative freedom to design and implement MISO campaigns IAW our missions, we don’t get to decide if a piece of protected information should be released to one of our non-cleared colleagues simply because we trust him or her and think it’s a good idea.