Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Middle East: PSYOP’s Ultimate Battlefield

One of the unique facets of PSYOP is that it can be employed at all organization levels from strategic to tactical. Nowhere is this more evident that the Middle East. While one could probably argue that there was more than a little early Middle Eastern PSYOP involving a snake, an apple and a garden – there is no doubt that PSYOP is a key element of conflicts in the Middle East.

At the Strategic level, heads of state take steps they know will not directly effect their adversaries, but would position them more favorably in the court of world opinion. One such PSYACT took place when Israel unilaterally accepted the short-lived “Truce” announced early this week brokered through Egypt. Israel announced that they would abide by the truce knowing that Hamas couldn’t go along with the truce without losing face among its own people and appearing to be weak in dealing with its enemy.

Given the small size of Israel, what might have been operational level influence efforts turn out to be more tactical ones. Leaflets and SMS warning Gaza residents of impending attacks and urging them to flee are tactical in nature. Yet the act itself could be considered operational or strategic because of the way it would show the international community that Israel is really the good guy here because it is seeking to avoid collateral injury and death to civilians.

The efforts on both sides offer some best practices:
1.     Images coupled with music are a good combination and reinforce each other.
2.     All influence channels have to work together. While it is fair to say that neither Israel’s Defense Force (IDF) or the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or Hamas do not have the separation of Public Affairs and MISO that the US and others have, during active conflict all elements need to work together.
3.     Knowing the communications landscape is key. Use of SMS is vital in densely populated areas.
4.     Traditional techniques may have side effects. While one may debate the use of leaflets as a MISO tool, there can be no doubt of the psychological effect of thousands of pieces of paper streaming down from aircraft. The implication is control of the sky and ability to drop more lethal ordnance from aircraft.
5.     Language is key. You use your language, your enemy’s language and English to reach the world media.
6.     While Internet exposure may not impact tactical operations, the internet facilitates global influence.

The Middle East conflicts are an on-going laboratory for PSYOP and MISO.

Readers should be aware of these activities and store them away for training or other lessons learned activity. If there are readers who speak either Arabic or Hebrew, I’d appreciate knowing how the English differs from those two languages.

As always, reader comments encouraged.


Hamas Propaganda Videos:
Video pushing Beer Sheeva Evacuation:
Iron Dome is a "failed project," Israel is concealing death toll:

Propaganda Song against Egyptian President Sisi Surfaces on Hamas Forum:

Israeli Counter-Propaganda:

Hamas' Actions Match Its Words

IDF Leaflets Over Gaza:

Gaza: Israel Warns Targets by SMS And Phone To Leave Before Bombing

NY Times article on Recruiting Foreign Fighters for Syria:
Gaza: Israel Warns Targets by SMS And Phone To Leave Before Bombing

Photo Source:

No comments: