Friday, August 28, 2015

National Military Strategy: Implications for MISO and Influence Operations

 The latest US National Military Strategy (NMS) was published in June 2015 (, which is also the photo source.) Conceptually it is derived from the National Security Strategy (NSS) released in February 2015 and which can be found at:

Those of us with military experience know that ‘stuff’ rolls down hill and the impact of strategic documents is a good example. However, it is often hard to figure out what the direct impacts will be – impacts to be felt within the next couple of years.

The NMS mentions a number of nation states: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, etc. However, it is clear that the emphasis is on non-state actors, especially Violent Extremist Organizations (VEO).

Here are a couple of quotes WRT VEO.

“But it (the NMS) also asserts that the application of the military instrument of power against state threats is very different than the application of military power against non-state threats. We are more likely to face prolonged campaigns than conflicts that are resolved quickly…that control of escalation is becoming more difficult and more important…and that as a hedge against unpredictability with reduced resources, we may have to adjust our global posture.”

“In this complex strategic security environment, the U.S. military does not have the luxury of focusing on one challenge to the exclusion of others. It must provide a full range of military options for addressing both revisionist states and VEOs. Failure to do so will result in greater risk to our country and the international order.”

Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs) are taking advantage of emergent technologies as well, using information tools to propagate destructive ideologies, recruit and incite violence, and amplify the perceived power of their movements. They advertise their actions to strike fear in opponents and generate support for their causes.”

The NMS then goes on to identify 3 National Military Objectives:
1. Deter, deny, and defeat state adversaries.
2. Disrupt, degrade, and defeat violent extremist organizations.
3. Strengthen our global network of allies and partners.”

Accomplishing these objectives will require a versatile, resilient and flexible force. From an influence operations perspective, this means seamlessly reinforcing information objectives across all forces and media. This implies that all of the services, the PAO and others in the mix are all in synch and orchestrated to support the CDR’s influence objectives.

One of the glaring issues is the cyber influence world. LTG Cardon, the CG of the Army’s Cyber Command has proposed that his agency be the proponent for influence in the cyber realm (see:

The article quotes Cardon’s simplistic vision: “Under Cardon's vision, Signal Corps officers would manage communications systems, public affairs staff would oversee information operations and develop social media applications, and military intelligence units would collect and record top-secret data for the Army Cyber Command.”

These comments strike me as intelligence indicators that the responsibility for directing and carrying out the influence war is murky at best. Anyone who has ever worked with Public Affairs knows that they are very cautious about working with other influence organizations for fear of ‘contaminating’ their position.

As the new leaders at the Joint Chiefs level come into place and the Presidential election starts to come into focus, we can only expect more turmoil and less continuity.

As Lou Costello once said: “Who’s on 1st ?”

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