Monday, August 29, 2016

At Least Russia Knows Influence Wins ‘Battles’

While the US Government continues to flop around like a fish on a pier trying to figure out what is influence warfare on the grand scale and to coordinate all operational levels and departments, Russia is already dominating the influence war with false information.

The NY Times of August 28, 2016 ran “A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories”, see:, which is also the photo source.)

The Russians are no newcomer to the influence war having capitalized on misleading and accurate information to befuddle NATO, the EU and others. The Russians recognize that different mediums are complimentary and are well versed in employing complementary media such as Internet trolls to propaganda not to mention their own news bureaus.

There is no shortage of good examples. The Ukraine and the flight of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was one. A story about immigrant violence in Germany is another good example cited by the article.

The article concludes, appropriately enough with a quote from Dimitry Kiselyev, a popular Russian TV anchor, see: (Dimitry Kiselev is Redefining the Art of Russian Propaganda” at, the second photo source. “Today, it is much more costly to kill one enemy soldier than during World War II, World War I or in the Middle Ages,” he said in an interview (  -n Russian) on the state-run Rossiya 24 network. While the business of “persuasion” is more expensive now, too, he said, “if you can persuade a person, you don’t need to kill him.”

Perhaps the new administration, having waged multi-media; social media and traditional media campaigns will be more aware of the cost effectiveness of the influence weapon and will orchestrate the change needed for the US to not only counter other national efforts such as the Russian, but to take the influence high ground.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Counterintelligence & PSYOP

We often talk about the symbiotic relationship between PSYOP/MISO and intelligence. We know that we have to perform Intelligence Preparation of the Influence Battlefield (IPIB) and that this requires a combination of intelligence sources and work products.

General intelligence can yield information about the target area, demographics, terrain, weather, etc. Media specific intelligence can compare alternative media such as broadcast (tv/radio), print (newspapers/magazines) and social media to determine the audience composition of each and to suggest what combination of media would be the best for the mission at hand.

Not much thought seems to be given to the relationship between counterintelligence and PSYOP.

The August 20, 2016 edition of the Economist ran an article “Driving away the shadows” (see:, which is also the photo source.)

From a MISO perspective the relevant paragraph in the article states: “Other parts of the programme have grown, too. In 2015 social-media snoopers removed 55,000 pieces of propaganda, 22% more than in 2014. The government’s counter-propaganda was viewed 15m times, compared with 3m times in 2014. A typical example features interviews with the parents of British IS fighters, interspersed with scenes of Syrian devastation.”

 The term ‘social-media snoopers’ is interesting not just because of the catchy name, but because of the function. One could argue that these ‘snoopers’ are PSYOP analysts whose job it is to spot and remove enemy propaganda. Is that an intelligence or PSYOP function? Removal of enemy propaganda would logically reduce its effectiveness (as suggested by data in the article) and could also be seen as a way to bolster OPSEC as well.

In any event, it would appear that CI and PSYOP/MISO are closely related. This relationship is no doubt strengthened because of the use of Social Media for enemy propaganda and the real time interaction it generates.

The article also stands for the old saying that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ meaning that good CI (and positive influence of course) can be part of a comprehensive program designed to thwart recruitment efforts.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Forget the Internet – You Need People To Stop ISIS Recruitment

Lawfare, an on-line site publication had an article on August 16, 2016, “To Stop ISIS Recruitment, Focus Offline” (see: The article seems counter to the popular believe that the Internet is the major recruiting source for ISIS.

There is no doubt that the Internet can provide information, act as a communications medium, and serve as a refuge for some. It can also be a communications medium where views and information are exchanged. The article states “A review by the Program on Extremism of the 100 ISIS-related legal cases in the United States shows that, with rare exceptions, friends, families, and romantic partners tangibly influenced the radicalization process.”

The level of influence from person to person contacts is probably higher than that in the virtual world. The article and others point to live social interaction as a starting point for relationships that grow into support and recruiting efforts.

The Islamic community in Minneapolis, the subject of the article, has been profiled in other articles such as the CBS Evening News, November 19, 2015 (, which is also the photo source).

A key tread is the isolating felt by youth in the community. Isolation can be assuaged through friendships made over basketball or other social activities. Once the individual’s trust is earned, then the recruiting can begin in earnest perhaps starting with propaganda videos and Internet activities.

The impact of the Internet should not be doubted. Here’s another piece first published by CNNMoney on September 30, 2014 (see: which does a nice job addressing the Internet side.

Reader comments encouraged.

I’m also looking for any feedback on the use of MISO Companies to support BCTs rather than MISO Companies supporting divisions.



Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Cultural Knowledge 101 – Vital to PSYOPers

NFL Summer training camps always begin with the fundamentals. I came across an article in the July 31, 2016 print edition of the NY Times, “When ‘Yes’ Means Not A Chance”, it appears on-line as “How to Deal With A Foreign Colleague Who Can’t Say No” (see:, which is also the photo source).

The essence of the article is that you need to be familiar with local culture and customs no matter where you go. The article addresses some basic concepts such as “on time”, which in many cultures, means whenever it happens.

The article touches on graft and corruption as an every day fact of life in many places and how the notion of ‘law and order’ doesn’t necessarily mean that at all.

The need for cultural familiarity, to include nuances and little known ‘rules’ is a critical element in the success or failure of localizing products from a far off location.

I worked for Symantec for many years in Corporate Marketing. Corporate was the keeper of the brand and the source of global campaigns and marketing materials. However, each region needed to not only pick and chose what was appropriate for their market and their audiences, but how to modify the corporate piece so that it would be effective.

As your team hits the practice field – maybe you should too.

A very special ‘shout out’ to my brothers and sisters attending the POVA meeting in Fayetteville – I’m with you in spirit.