Monday, November 28, 2016

Shifting PSYOP Emphasis from Asymmetric Threats to Peers

 While the threat from terrorists and other asymmetric enemies remains real and potent – there is great concern about historic and new peer-sized threats. The maturation of the cyber domain as a battlefield has brought with it a resurgence of nation-state enemies and adversaries.

Chief among them is Russia. On November 1, 2016 Reuters reported “UK spy chief sees growing threats from Russian cyber- attacks, espionage” (see:

In the days of the Cold War it was relatively easy to stereotype the Russians as illustrated by my friends to the right: Boris Badenov, Natasha Fatale and Fearless Leader; characters in the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon series.

The Russians have always understood the need to control information that has also become a strategic imperative that they have passed along to other countries within their political umbrella. The article notes that cyber attacks and espionage are increasingly being used to advance Russian foreign policy goals.

There were a number of media reports indicating that the Russians had the capability to hack voting systems and thereby impact the US Presidential election.

The PRC has also been reportedly active in cyber attacks, while perhaps not as subtle as their Russian counterparts, PRC hackers also represent a state sponsored well-resourced and sophisticated threat.

The implications for US political and military strategies are profound and the election of an avid Tweeter as President may actually be a positive sign for PSYOP. President-elect Trump, for all is other characteristics, is far more aware of the power of mass media and the importance of Social Media.

Perhaps his new cabinet will be directed to formulate an influence strategy that will meld all of government’s influence resources – military and otherwise – as well as dedicate the cyber resources necessary to support such a strategy.

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