Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Is Media “Support” A MISO Mission?

On September 22, 2105 the Altlanticist ran an article “Western Media Must Fight Russia’s Letha Propaganda More Aggressively” (see: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/western-media-must-fight-russia-s-lethal-propaganda-more-aggressively which is also the photo source.)

The thesis of the article is that Russia controls its media in a way that puts a pro-Russia spin on events that amounts to a “major global propaganda effort”.  Muzzling media is often a two edged sword. On one hand you can try to silence critics, but on the other you risk alienating freedom of the press advocates and incur their wrath on the global stage.

A key point made by the article is: “It is possible that democratic tools and the standard requirements for balanced journalism are simply incapable of dealing with virulent state-generated propaganda.”

Does it make sense for the US to harness its influence assets (meaning State Department Public Diplomacy and MISO) as a means to try and counter balance Russian efforts?

One could argue that since most media is now digital, resources in the form of content or funding could be channeled to key digital media outlets that support US policy and goals and which could help in a counter  Russian propaganda campaign.

Of course since this type of resourcing is not military in nature, but more in the diplomatic realm, State would have to be in the lead and MISO could be tasked on a project basis to help generate needed content and/or to provide monitoring and analysis of Russian propaganda as well as content recommendations.

This would appear to be a win-win situation because:
1.     MISO personnel could bring needed language skills.
2.     The work would be valuable training for MISO personnel.
3.     MISO personnel would be subcontractors to the Department of State who remains in the lead.

Such media support could be extended to other areas as well such as ISIS. The name of the game being to counter negative propaganda, because unanswered propaganda becomes more believable over time without regard to its lack of truth.

Reader input invited.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Focused Cyberattacks as PSYOP

One of my many lives is that of Corporate Attorney. I serve as General Counsel for TAL Global, an international consulting firm (www.talglobal.com). The July issue of Corporate Counsel Magazine (see: http://www.corpcounsel.com/id=1202729634316?keywords=Cyberattacked&publication=CC+Corporate+Counsel) featured an article entitled: “When Bloggers Attack and Companies Fight Back” (The website for the target is pictured below: www.oldhill.com).

The article describes how a false Blog entry spiraled upward to negatively impact a successful business. Among the key points made in the article was how the initial attacks were by little known Bloggers and how initial attacks were allegedly paid for by someone with a grudge to settle against the target. These postings were then picked up by legitimate media and rebroadcast in a fashion.

One of the key points is that “Howe (the CEO of the Company) is still fighting to get the posts removed from the Internet, even though he has proved that the information in them was fabricated.“

It is also important to point out that this cyber influence tactic would be very useful in the world of Public Diplomacy where the Blogsophere and the media are more of a factor than tactical MISO where the AO may have a high illiteracy rate or where the Internet may not be a factor in daily operations.

The message for the MISO and Cyber Command community is clear. Cyberinfluence or CyberPSYOP if you prefer is an exceptionally cost-effective weapon that can be employed to manipulate the media and influence behavior. Given that MISO is the province of the SOF and the USAR and Cyber Command is yet another intermediate entity, this begs the question – are we training as we are already fighting?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

FM 22-5 or Drill and Ceremonies As PSYOP

PSYActs can take many forms. Those involving imagery are generally the most powerful. One of the more interesting PSYActs recently took place in Beijing. On September 8, 2015 Diplomat Magazine published article about the parade at: http://thediplomat.com/2015/09/wondering-why-china-held-its-parade-here-are-5-things-beijing-accomplished/

The article contends that the parade was held for a number of reasons:
1.     It shows that Xi Jinping is the undisputed leader of China.
2.     Ordinary Chinese people have a very positive attitude toward their military.
3.     To show the world that China has a wide array of modern missiles.
4.     The Chinese wanted to show that they are not a threat to other countries by announcing the reduction of their forces by 300,000.
5.     South Korea and Russia showed they support the PRC.

Today’s post is not about this parade, it’s about PSYActs and how the military performs them intentionally or unwittingly.

One of my favorite good examples is the British Army in Bosnia. While I was the Deputy Commander of the Combined Joint Information Campaign Task Force (CJICTF) I visited the Multi-national Division (MND) HQ. As an American soldier in the NATO Force I was dressed sort of as a Mutant Ninja Turtle with my flak vest and helmet. The British on the other hand wore soft caps and no body armor.

The PSYAct comes into play when there is a need to convey to an audience that you are serious and they need to comply. The Americans didn’t have very many non-lethal alternatives while the British simply could upgrade their protection with Body Armor and Helmet. This act alone often had the desired effect.

A more recent military PSYAct is was when the US military drove convoys through Europe in March 2015 (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/30/world/europe/an-american-military-convoy-in-europe-aims-to-reassure-allies.html?_r=0). Photo Source for kids and armor.

A key point is that CDR at all level need to consider the intended and likely unintended consequence of actions from the psychological perspective as well as the kinetic one.

Additional Photo Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoC0Xcjko0A