Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays And A New Approach to Veteran's Unemployment


I don't generally promote causes of any type, but helping our fellow unemployed Veterans succeed in life is a cause we can all agree on. Most of us have been unemployed at one point or another and learned the hard way that there are no easy solutions.

A very trusted colleague of mine is one of the founders of V.E.T.S., a new approach to matching veterans with teams where they can thrive.

Here's their pitch:

We did it!
V.E.T.S. created its promised year-end, tax-deductible donation campaign to automate our culture measurement and employment process.
Yes, it’s an amazing capability you’ve never heard of. Please, take a look at You'll see our work's details on
Gifts should be about improving lives. Nothing's more important (after family) than helping people join teams where they fit in for rewarding work! Get that part right and the rest of life goes much better. We can make those matches with solid analysis rather than guessing or stereotypes. This is especially important for young veterans (our cause) but works for everybody.
Now, it's time for your help as you also help yourself. Please, please strongly consider including us among your holiday donations and also spread the word by using all of the options below to enlist your family and friends. — Our Reward Levels give you this job culture matching service, for life! You also have choices to bring family and friends with you. Please look for those choices on the GoFundMe page.
For those of us with nothing left to donate after staying afloat, we get it because we've been there. So here's what you do: go to your friends, parents and older relatives with the truth that the V.E.T.S. process will revolutionize the way people find rewarding jobs and student bodies. Look at the short GoFundMe video for details. Support now could lead to your dream job later, especially if you're just starting out. Really! So consider the messages below and mention us over the holidays.
You can also help by following us on Twitter (  and liking us on Facebook (  to stay current as we pursue this dream!
Thank you for taking time to support this very important mission. We look forward to helping our veterans across the country find places on great teams where they'll fit in after serving us so well.
Merry Christmas,
A-10 Warthog callsign, 'Jefe' 

And here's the link and the photo source:


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

That Old Time Religion – A Daesh Antidote?

The NY Times of 21 December 15 ran an OpEd piece entitled “A Medieval Antidote to ISIS” (see:, which is also the picture source.)

The article was written by Mustafa Akyol, who is a self-described lenient Muslim. While many of us are familiar with our own religions and many others, I suspect that not many of us are familiar with “Murjia” or irja. Adherents to this variety of the Islamic religion are simply called “postponers” because they believe in a pluralistic, tolerant form of Islam.

Many religions are not uniform. They run from the strict, conservative approach to the laws espoused by the religion to the more reform or lassiez faire who adopt more of a buffet approach where they take what they want in terms of religious guidelines.

Many in the PSYOP/MISO Community regard the war on Daesh as one of competing philosophies and ideals.

Is it reasonable to assume that an approach based on lesser-known aspects of a religion can be used to persuade zealots and jihadists to become more moderate?

While I don’t think either a historical or a logical argument will win over these extremists, I do believe that it may be possible to show existing moderates or undecided followers that there are historical and less violent ways to follow their religion.

Here, as with other campaigns, it would be necessary to employ credible spokes people to employ and inside out approach so that people within the community are trying to influence their co-religionists rather than outsiders promulgating this philosophy.

The last paragraph of the article sums up its perspective nicely:
Aware that irja is its theological antidote, the Islamic State presents it as a lack of religious piety. It is, however, true piety combined with humility — the humility that comes from honoring God as the only judge of men. On the other hand, the Islamic State’s zeal to dictate, which it presents as piety, seems to be driven by arrogance — the arrogance of judging all other men, and claiming power over them, in the name of God.”

Thursday, December 17, 2015

EPA: New Propaganda Machine?

On December 14, 2015 the NY Times claimed that the EPA engaged in “covert propaganda” in its social media efforts to support the President’s rule to better protect waterways. (See:,.)

The EPA was aggressively employing social media to support its mission. The agency mobilized efforts o Twitter, Facebook, and You Tube as a means of countering opposition (Republican of course) to its water rule. As the article notes, this campaign was one of many employed by the Obama administration as a way to go directly to the American public and bypassing traditional media.

Just as US military forces are legally barred from influencing US audiences, federal agencies are barred from using federal resources for lobbying – inducing citizens to contact Congress in support or opposition to pending legislation.

The nub of the issue seems to be whether or not an individual could easily determine if the message was written by a government entity. The classic argument put forward by the agency was that it was not hiding its role in the campaign.

A more recent piece appeared on December 17, 2015 (see:, which is also the photo source) Said “EPA ‘propaganda isn’t quite as dramatic as advertised”

MSNBC pointed out the ‘paid pundit ploy’ during Bush administration as a counter weight to the current imbroglio.

The lesson learned for PSYOPers is that if you’re going to engage in “Gray” propaganda (meaning it’s not quite obvious who the source is), you had better be prepared for your informational adversaries to jump on it and cry “Propaganda!”.

You may inadvertently trigger this reaction even unintentionally if it is not abundantly clear as to who the source really is. Perhaps the real lesson here is that it is not what you say, but whether someone can tell you said it!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Academic Research and PSYOP – Can It Help?

There is no doubt that the terrorist is today’s enemy. The global violence stretching from Paris to San Bernadino, CA is proof positive of this. Modern day PSYOP has proven generally ineffective in dealing with this amorphous and ruthless enemy.

We all quote the adage “We’re always ready to fight the last war.” How can we approach PSYOP for Counter-Terrorism?

Consider the following:
Measuring the effectiveness of counterterrorism efforts requires detailed problem analysis to quantify the specific behavioral problem sets and to identify the enablers (i.e., conditions, who is doing what, etc.) The goal is to gain a better understanding of the problem, so precise solutions (both preventions and interventions) can be developed for implementation. Program goals that are measurable end-states help assess the impact the program is intended to have, while supporting PSYOP objectives focus on the measurable means to attain them. Series objectives provide the comprehensive strategies necessary to achieve the goals and objectives by focusing on the knowledge, belief and intermediate behaviors required from each of the identified target audiences”

The author is a rare combination: PSYOPer and Scholar. MAJ Seese’s work, like that of COL (R) Al Paddock, COL, (R) Bob Schoenhaus and others can provide food for thought as we move through the 21st century.

There is a crying need for independent research and analysis in the PSYOP community. It would be appropriate for the “Schoolhouse” (JFK Special Warfare Center and School) to act as a catalyst, sponsor and repository for this needed research.

Reader input on ways we can expand our intellectual horizons in these challenging times is very much appreciated.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Lessons From the ISIS Propaganda War

I am a big fan of the Economist Magazine. I like it mostly because it’s not an American view, but a remnant of more objective journalism. Towards the end of my tour in Sarajevo I was able to buy the Economist at a local newsstand. I called it ‘the answer key’ because I learned what actually happened in Bosnia the week before. Something I couldn’t really do even though I was there.

I take a pile of magazines on trips. I call it “One Way Reading” because the magazines only go one way and are discarded before I return home. I clip articles and tuck them away in my briefcase for later reading.

On my latest trip last week I cam across an Economist article from August 15, 2015 entitled “The Propaganda War” (see :, which is also the photo source).

The article provides some analysis that is relevant and appropriate for the PSYOP/MISO Community.

First of all the article notes that many of the ISIS messages are loathsome to Western audiences. Beheadings, drownings, and other macabre methods of torture and execution are repugnant to Western audiences.

However, they are not designed to attract those audiences, but rather mainstream media attention so that the images gain exposure and perhaps even credibility far in excess of the original.

The article also notes that ISIS has excelled in their video production skills and in their ability to reach wide audiences through Social Media and leveraging traditional media coverage.

Their production is also impressive. The article noted a week’s worth of production included 123 media releases in six languages with almost 20% of them video (as reported by Aaron Zelin of the Washington Institute for Near East Studies.

Another key point was that a major line of emphasis was positive. Portraying the utopian Caliphate lifestyle and the ‘good’ things they were doing with smiling children, new schools, hospitals, etc. In other words – Civil Affairs projects (or at least the impression of the projects).

Brookings was quoted as saying that the positive images were what kept them in power.

The bottom line for PSYOP/MISO is that we need to understand why the enemy is successful and adopt some of their lessons as our own. I should point out that defeating the enemy propaganda machine is not a simple feat.

A combination of military success against them combined with removing the underlying attraction to recruits is the only way to defeat them and clearly not a short time nor single nation mission.

Unraveling the Gordian Knot of issues in the Middle East and facing Muslims around the world appears to be a multi-generational effort. However, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. “Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu. Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)