Amorphous international groups are especially difficult PSYOP (these enemies require more than just MISO) targets. The February 5, 2014 Foreign Policy Article “War on Error” (see: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/02/04/war_on_error_al_qaeda_terrorism) piqued my interest for this week’s posting.
The article talks about how al Qaeda is addressed inside the beltway and in the real world.
The article, in my opinion, properly concludes that al Qaeda “has morphed from a discrete terrorist group into a wide-ranging fighting movement that conducts insurgencies, recruits foreign fighters into conflicts, raises funds, and conducts terrorism on the side -- almost certainly its least-resourced component.”
The enemy forces arrayed under the al Qaeda banner include those that are formally loyal to Zawahiri, as well as affiliates and allies and self-proclaimed followers. This broad band of people makes target analysis difficult.
One approach is to look at the target geographically with heavy densities of al Qaeda concentrated in Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Mali, Syria and Somalia. While this approach has some merit, it would exclude targets in potentially active AOs such as other countries of Africa and dormant cells in the US and UK.
Perhaps a better approach would be to look at the ‘who’ and the ‘why’ so as to be able to develop influence products to counter the AQ influence. This analysis must be multifaceted and include psychological, sociological and cultural aspects
Just as the targets occur across a broad swath, the influence products needs to counter them will include a broad range as well. Graffiti, posters, “tweets”, and chat room arguments for example are needed along with more traditional TV, radio and print efforts.
Given the changes in demography, economics and sociology expected over the next decade, one could argue that the globally amorphous target will emerge as more of the norm than the exception.
As always, reader input encouraged.
Photo Source: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/01/31/they_who_must_not_be_named_al_qaeda_terrorism_list