Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Influence Operations and the Treatment of Journalists

The NY Times of August 10, 2015 ran an OpEd “The Pentagon and the Wartime Press”, when I went on line to give y’all a URL reference, I couldn’t help but notice that the on-line title was “The Pentagon’s Dangerous Views on the Wartime Press” (see:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/10/opinion/the-pentagons-dangerous-views-on-the-wartime-press.html?_r=0; which is also the photo source).

The source, Law of War Manual can be found at: www.defense.gov/pubs/Law-of-War-Manual-June-2015.pdf.

The OpEd is concerned with the US DOD treatment of journalists. It is more or less implied that journalists provide a vital and Constitutionaly protected service by informing US citizens about what their military is doing.

While I haven’t read the Manual, I will make the assumption that the Manual is trying to provide ‘guidance’ for OPSEC purposes, not to muzzle the press.

We all realize that careless reporting, like careless use of Social Media can have dire consequences in combat and it’s always useful to have a source to help justify actions.

Unfortunately I have to characterize the Gray Lady’s piece as a knee jerk, out of context, arm-waving diatribe.

However, the point of this posting is not to critique the piece, but rather cause a pause in the ‘community’.

Our world is outside the US. MISO take place outside the US and are addressed to foreign audiences. Of necessity foreign audiences include foreign journalists.

Public Affairs is the lead organization for working with foreign media and there is absolutely no question that this is the case. MISO often needs to optimize foreign media support for the CDR’s goals and operations.

MISO often functions as an advertiser in foreign media and can retain writers and journalists in foreign markets to develop work in foreign media that supports the CDR. In some cases this may rise to the level where MISO becomes the champion of selected foreign media to help them get the support they need to tell our story.

One of the elements missing in the OpEd is that most overseas operations are not undertaken by the US alone. General McChrystal noted 46 countries taking part in Afghanistan. Not having deployed recently – I look to y’all to advise whether or not the US rules for journalists was the SOP for Coalition forces and to comment on whether the Coalition partners all followed the US rules or if they took certain liberties either with their own national media or ‘favored’ foreign media.

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