Friday, August 29, 2014

Clever PSYOP or Admission of Weakness?

I’m sitting down the road from the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA. The ocean is pounding and the sun is shining. I’m taking a holiday for the next few weeks and thought I could take a break from the Blog as well.

Just not meant to be, at least this week.

President Obama is taking some well-deserved political hits for admitting that ‘we’ (meaning he of course) doesn’t have a strategy to deal with ISIS. (See for example:

The comment has served as lightning rod to the President’s critics but one has to wonder why would the head of one of the world’s most powerful nations actually get caught admitting that he hadn’t a clue as to how to deal with one of the most potent enemies to pop on to the landscape.

Could it be a great PSYOP ploy designed to lull the enemy into thinking that they have a respite period until the Commander-in-Chief gets his act together or is it an honest admission that probably shouldn’t have gone on the air?

Obviously I don’t really know, but there is a point here for senior personnel and that is remember you can never go ‘off the record’ and you can never let your guard down. Today’s 7x24 information hogging world is always ready to explode bits that could titillate.

For my American colleagues, enjoy your last holiday weekend of the summer of 2014.

Don’t be surprised if there are no Blog entries for the next couple of weeks as I am taking a holiday in Italy to concentrate on my watercolor painting.

Photo Source:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Shock Imagery: Good Or Bad For PSYOP?

We were all appalled by the beheading of James Foley and the images posted by his murderers. Journalists are defending the publication of the images (see: and academics are pondering whether the shocking images are an effective means of drawing the American Public’s attention to the event (see:

For a moment, let’s consider the use of shocking images in PSYOP.

Certainly we could point to the image as tangible proof of the brutality of the enemy.

On the one hand, this would show that the enemy could impose the same brutality on the audience and doesn’t this lead to the conclusion that the audience should support the good guys and not the enemy?

Is reposting the brutality something we really want to do? If the enemy’s goal is to terrorize and emotionally bully the target audience, wouldn’t we be promoting their cause for them?

What if the society in which the actions have taken place has a culture of violence and respects direct, brutal action as a fundamental of their culture?

Is another approach to soften the brutality image with an aftermath image? Pictures of the bereaved family of the victim as a means of generating sympathy for them and outrage against the enemy?

Or should the approach be to talk about the incident without imagery? In today’s modern society is it reasonable to assume that anyone who wanted to see the image has seen it and that many of those who did not, were subjected to it anyway?

Photo Source: USA Today

Thursday, August 14, 2014

MISO Is Gone And Other News


Effective 5 Aug 14 PSYOP units are back to being themselves. The derided and apparently ineffective switch to Military Information Support Operations (MISO) has been reversed with the unit naming convention going back to PSYOP.

At the time of the re-naming, it was contended that MISO gave PSYOP a less sinister perspective. Others argued that calling an elephant a giraffe didn’t make him one, and that the unit’s reputation or mission would be unaffected.

It’s refreshing to see common sense in action, especially in light of the world situation.

In other news, our good friends at USA Today on August 12, 2014 reported that USSOCOM is engaging in ‘market research’ in Colombia. (See:

The essence of the article is: “SOCOM has tried for years to come up with a better way to determine if its propaganda programs, also known as military information support operations, actually work.”

The implications, at least in my mind, of the tone and choice of words are: USSOCOM is engaged in evil propaganda which Congress has already tried to stop, and is a waste of taxpayer’s money.

“McPaper” as USA Today was once called comparing it to journalistic fast food (see: has published several articles in the same genre denigrating DOD influence efforts.

First of all, it strikes me that trying to find out what messages work is a good thing. Commercial marketing folks do that all the time. Does that mean it’s a slow news day for USA Today?

My first thought was that their ‘target audience’ is Congress. After all, what other group is so over-worked and under appreciated that they don’t have time to read ‘real sources’, especially since the bulk of Congressional work is done by staffers.

My second thought was, how nice of Congress to give SOCOM a plug and I wondered who else might have run a similar story, so I Googled “SOCOM propaganda Colombia” and found that AOL picked up the story and produced a video at Be forewarned you will have to endure a terrible ‘quit smoking’ commercial – or at least I did.

Couple of points here -

USA Today may actually be more of an early morning source than an influencer in its own right.

Video clips may be the next big thing in ‘news’ if they are not already. This means tactical PSYOP forces will need to be more digitally mobile and capable than ever before.

Enjoy what’s left of your summer.

Photo source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pink Slips in Afghanistan?

How do you get fired for doing a great job and one you love? Easy – be in the military at the end of a conflict. The rubber band personnel policies associated with gearing up and gearing down from conflict are in play.

There have been many recent articles about Captains and Majors receiving their ‘pink slip’ while on duty in Afghanistan. For my non-American readers, a ‘pink slip’ has two American colloquial meanings. The one used here means a termination notice from your human resources (personnel department). The other one, not used here means the title document to a motor vehicle, typically in California. (see: Black Majors dismissed at a great rate than whites at:

All of us who have served in the military have felt privileged to do so. There was a higher dimension of satisfaction with your job and you felt a kinship with your co-workers (past, and present) that is not experienced in the commercial sector.

The work is often demanding and sometimes dangerous. There is generally no such thing as an 8-hour day and my CJICTF (Combined Joint Information Campaign Task Force), the PSYOP task force, in Bosnia had no understanding of the term ‘day off’ even though our Civil Affairs colleagues were off every Sunday.

You feel the work is important and so you give it your all, consequently, when you feel you got screwed, you’re hurt and disappointed.

To this day I can remember how down I was after not being selected for Group Command. “How could the Army be that stupid?” I wondered, after all, I had a pretty good track record and I only lived 6 miles from the unit while the winning candidate lived over 2,000 miles from it.

Some time after that I was at a military cocktail party and grumbling about it to LTG Tagney. He looked me in the eye and said “Dietz – it’s the Board System and you can’t do a thing about it.”

I bring this up because I don’t want any of my soldiers who are leaving the Army to feel this action is personal. The Army is an institution and if you love the institution, you need to do what you can to stay connected in the way that makes the most sense for you.

In my case I moved on to the 315st CA Command where I served as the G2 and ultimately to SOCOM where I served as an IO Officer. While neither was as good as Group CDR, I was able to continue my relationship with the military.

Now that I have been retired over 12 years I’m still connected as an ESGR Volunteer, author of this Blog and occasionally, a small government contractor.

My advice to affected individuals is: if you can transfer to the Reserve or the Guard -do so. You’ll maintain the connection and you’ll have a pension when the time comes.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.