Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Are "Moose & Squirell" in TV Business?

Everyone knows that Rocky and Bullwinkle were the good guys and that Boris and Natasha were Russian spies, but did you know they also battle for global TV ratings? (Photo Source: http://beliefmakers.blogspot.com/2013/02/say-moose-and-squirrel.html)

The June 17, 2017 Economist ran a small article “Current Time” (see: http://econ.st/2tdxf6t; which is also the photo source.) The article profiles what they term “America’s answer to Russian propaganda”. In the olden days of the first Cold War the cross border propaganda battles were the stuff of legends.

America’s government sponsored broadcasters of Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were the US’ way of providing the truth to citizens of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Block to counter the powerful effect of Communist propaganda.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) (see: https://www.bbg.gov/) is hoping to counter recent Russian propaganda momentum with a 24-hour Russian-language TV channel called Current Time.

You can find out about Current Time at their rather drab website: https://www.currenttime.tv/p/6018.html.

It was reported that Current Time videos were viewed 40M times on line during May 2017. Current Time like its sister networks, as government sponsored entities are governed by US law which says they must “provide objective journalistic coverage, on topics consistent with American polices and values”.

In general I am not a proponent of government run communications. For one thing viewers (or listeners) realize the station’s source and regard it with a grain of salt. In addition it seems pretty clear to me that the kind of programming fare offered by government run organizations cannot compete with entertainment from the private sector.

Yet millions of dollars are budgeted for these efforts. If any of my readers have any feedback on their effectiveness, I’d appreciate a comment or two.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Blog Entry 500: The Rumors of the Demise of the “Caliphate” May Be Greatly Exaggerated

This entry marks the 500th entry into the PSYOP Regimental Blog. In December 2007 I took electrons in hand in a way that I hoped would help to advance the state of Psychological Operations (PSYOP). As the then Honorary Colonel of the PSYOP Regiment of the US Army I thought it was my duty to use my writing talents to highlight develops in PSYOP now referred to in US doctrine as Military Information Support Operations (MISO).

At first I thought this auspicious 500th post should wax eloquently about the last ten years and offer some Gandalf like insight into the future as expressed by the past. Then I realized that while I write the Blog party because I like to, I write what I want because, someone has to.

One of my favorite authoritative publications is the Economist. On July 7 they published an article “the Islamic State nears its end” (see: http://econ.st/2ufdHlZ, which is also a photo source). The article addresses Mosul, Iraq of today and how the failure to heed lessons learned from previous failures in Iraq (and elsewhere) may lead to yet other variations of jihadist or radicalism. The Economist has no illusions that a military victory is not an end, rather it is a beginning. Just because an enemy force does not have a of ground to call its own, doesn’t mean that it is defeated.

Task and Purpose, another one of my favorite sources, printed an article covering the interview that SecDef Mattis had with an enterprising High School student (see: http://taskandpurpose.com/high-school-interview-james-mattis/; another photo source). One of the key points he made during that interview was “I don’t care for ideological people. It’s like those people just want to stop thinking,” Mattis said. “I think ideologies can be countered by showing people a better education and hope for the future by learning how to get along with one another. And for all of our problems in our country, we’re probably still the best example of that in the world.”

The SecDef knows that ideologies are not defeated with guns, rather these evil ideas only fall by the wayside when they are no longer relevant and abandoned by their former believers.

Helping audiences recognize that democracy and the freedoms of speech and religion that come with it provide a lifestyle in which individuals, families and communities can thrive is a major step forward to eliminating terrorism. Helping convince people is what we in the PSYOP community do. I hope that the Regimental Blog, in it’s almost 10 year and 500 posting history has had a small part in furthering that goal.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Lego Propaganda: Children Are The Target of Long Term Influence Efforts

Over the years  I have made a number of posts dealing with long term influence campaigns aimed at children. Most of these have been centered on the Middle East and feature cartoons and other TV programs designed to picture ‘an enemy’ in such a way as to condition children to hate at any early age.

Thanks to several sources, I was turned on to an effort to provide counterfeit Legos as a way to picture ISIS as the good guys. (see: http://bit.ly/2sGeMDn; which is also the photo source). This three-dimensional propaganda is being sold in Malaysia and Australia.

Let’s look at some the targeting for a moment. Malaysia is a country of   over 30 million people (see: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/malaysia-population/) , over 60% of whom are Moslem.

Australia’s Moslem population is quite small. The country has a population of slightly less than 25 million (same source as Malaysia), but the Moslem population is estimated at about 600,000 (2.4%) However, this reflects a 77% jump over the past ten years according to http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4641728/Number-Muslims-Australia-soars-Census-2016.html.

My younger grand daughter and one of her cousins were Lego enthusiasts prior to their High School days. The phase started about 9 and continued through middle school. While I’m not an expert, this would seem to be the perfect target age to start planting the seeds of Homegrown Violent Extremism (HVE). If you want more info on HVE, check out interviews and materials by my esteemed colleague Dr. Erroll Southers (http://talglobal.com/erroll-southers/)

Unfortunately Western Thought and Doctrine does not favor long term investments, perhaps helping children around the world understand more about freedom and democracy should be an exception to this rule.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Blowing up a symbol – act of defiance or desperation?

There are two articles about the destruction of the Al Nuri Mosque in Mosul. The NY Times calls it “Another Loss for Mosul” (see: http://nyti.ms/2sVnSL8, which is a photo source) and Task & Purpose, one of my favorite military sources, calls it “ISIS Just Rage – Quit The Siege of Mosul ….” (see: http://bit.ly/2rGIrI3, which is also a photo source.)

Both articles agree that the Mosque was a center of gravity the center of the purported Daesh Caliphate.The Times provides a lot of information about the history and influence of the Mosque over time.

Task & Purpose goes into more detail from a tactical perspective and addresses the ISIS claim that the mosque was destroyed by an allied airstrike.

From my perspective, Symbolism and PSYOP are not lost on ISIS. Time and again they have proven that they understand the influence game. By blowing up the Mosque they deny the probable victors endless influence opportunities.

The Mosque has been prominent in Mosul for centuries and it is a revered and recognizable symbol. While in ISIS hands it served them well as a showcase while it was in their hands.

The destruction of the Mosque is another example of how ISIS routinely ignores rules of any kind, whether religious or secular or humanity, to further their own cause. Their track record of destroying religious artifacts is well known with the Mosque being only the latest example.

Even when people see through the shallow ISIS claim that the Mosque was destroyed by an air strike is proven false; the victors will not be able to use the ancient Mosque as a platform to proclaim their victory and the righteousness of their cause.

While I’m an Influence Operations kind of guy, there is another perspective and that is “To Counter ISIS, You Must Embrace Violence” (see: http://bit.ly/2sZoAry, also a photo source.) I’ll save violence as a PSYAct for another day

Monday, June 12, 2017

Turning Propaganda Into News

Recently I’ve focused on Twitter and how it can be used to ‘game’ the media. On June 8, 2007 the NY Times ran an article “How Russian Propaganda Spread From a Parrody Website to Fox News (see: http://nyti.ms/2sSkEFM, which is also the photo source). The block diagram below depicts the steps this fake news story followed from its inception to its legitimization by Fox News.

As a practical matter, there could have also been an another feeder stop along with the FaceBook box and that of course would be fake Twitter feeds as a means to jump start Tweets and re-tweets by legitimate and illegitimate sources. The combined velocity of social media ‘consciousness’ would add credence and value to the story. The article also references an earlier article from January 25, 2017, In Race Against Fake News, Google and FaceBook stroll to the starting line (see: http://nyti.ms/2taOwwA).

The deluge of criticism pushed FaceBook into increasing its efforts to block fake news. You can check out an earlier story from May 17, 2017 on this effort by USA Today, “Facebook takes a new crack at halting fake news and clickbait” (see: https://usat.ly/2rli0GI)

While one must applaud FaceBook for its efforts, the cynics among us (including me) believe that,  propaganda (fake news by another name) creators will employ other, more creative means to accomplish their tasks. The will be aided and abetted by a vast array of clueless people on social media as well as their own people and nefarious automated tools.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Twitter Is A Game With Real Consequences

I’m not much of games player, but I decided to play one today. I decided to follow @POTUS. I mean after all, how often is it that you can get statements right from the Horse’s Mouth.

The President has often been criticized for this Tweet from the Hip style. I dare say that it was that style that helped get him the White House in the first place. Does President Trump know how to play the Twitter game? It would seem so. (Photo Source: https://twitter.com/POTUS)

Others, like the media, perhaps, not nearly as good as understand the Twitter Game.

On May 23, 2017 the NY Times published an article entitled “How Twitter is Being Gamed to Feed Misinformation” (see: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/31/technology/how-twitter-is-being-gamed-to-feed-misinformation.html?_r=0; which is also a photo source). 

My own career has been intertwined with the media as well. I wrote articles for a variety of publications, published a couple of newsletters, and continue to write this Blog after almost 10 years.

I’ve also been someone who has worked with the international media in government, commercial and non-profit roles.

I’m learning that Twitter is not a purveyor of truth, but more of a conduit for thoughts emotions and messages. Tweeting is an accepted form of journalism and Tweets themselves are sources for journalists.

As the article notes the 140 character format is a godsend for journalists and others looking for short, pithy quotes that make their job easier. Unfortunately it doesn’t make the journalist more accurate, it just rewards laziness.

Twitter can also be the voice of the herd. Public interest and concern about national disasters can be gleaned from the type and velocity of Tweets about it. Traffic peaks and ebbs, reflecting the cumulative perspective of the herd.

Twitter is a notoriously unreliable source whose constituency includes  unreal people and groups and whose platform allows small groups to act and influence as big ones.

People and robotic re-Tweeting can add gasoline to the fire as noted in the article.

Given its importance perhaps those charged with implementing MISO should have a proficiency test as they do with their personal weapons.
Reader input invited.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Is it time to retire Loud Speakers in Favor of LRAD?

Frankly I didn’t know what a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) was until I saw an article in the June 1, 2017 printed edition of the NY Times which you can find on-line at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/nyregion/sound-cannon-protest-lawsuit-long-range-acoustic-device.html?_r=0, (which is also a photo source).

The article addressed a law suit filed as a result of LRAD use on December 5, 2014 at a protest in Midtown Manhattan against a grand jury’s failure to indict a police officer whose choke hold killed Eric Garner. Among other capabilities, the LRAD can inflict permanent hearing damage although the article notes that the LRAD was designed to repel boarders after the attack on the USS Cole.

Compared to a noise flame thrower, the LRAD offers a number of other capabilities as explained on the vendor website: https://www.lradx.com/, which is another photo source.

The vendor shows variants of the LRAD that can provide Mass Notification or Public Address capabilities as well as integrate with existing communication systems. There is also the capability of employing the devices remotely.
If one burrows down a bit in LRAD Corp’s website, under the Investor tab, you will find a Corporate Presentation. Slide 12 which appears here gives the company’s position with in the defense industry. It would seem that the HA & DR application would be a MISO/PSYOP mission while Large Crowd Communications might be a Military Police or MISO/PSYOP mission.

As with many of today’s defense systems, the LRAD is complex, yet modular. Thus far the LRAD appears to be vehicle mounted and does not seem to be available in a Man Pack configuration at this time.

Given the range of capabilities, operators will need to undergo some very solid training on ROE and the legal aspects of LRAD use. While permanent hearing damage has been noted as a potential outcome, the lethality of this weapon has not been tested.

For example, if the LRAD is ‘fired’ at a moving vehicle disrupting the operation and causing a death – does his move LRAD into the lethal force domain or not.  

Reader input appreciated.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Your BFF is a Cossack!

Magazine via an article passed to me by a colleague, the Russians are employing electronic http://time.com/4783932/inside-russia-social-media-war-america/; which is also the photo source.

surrogates across Social Media as a means of waging war. (See:

One of the interesting aspects of the campaign described in the article is the combined use of people and automation to accelerate the pace of the social media battle. The deft use of algorithms to determine targets and key targeting hot buttons helps to add focus and impetus to the efforts.

Custom tailored messages can be sent by a combination of people and bots in a cleverly orchestrated campaign to alter behavior and opinions. The old saying ‘no none knows you’re a dog on the internet’ should be taken a step further. No one knows who you really are or who you can be on Social Media would be more accurate.

Just as an individual can take on fictional characteristics in a virtual reality game, it has become quite easy to develop a fake Social Media persona and exploit that persona as needed.

Each piece of propaganda in Social Media is a seed. The seeds are fed and nurtured until, much like Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors – they are not only out on their own, but possibly more powerful than those who helped create them in the first place (Photo source for Audrey 2: http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/villains/images/d/de/Audrey2.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20091118000047)

Monday, May 22, 2017

SOCOM Deployments: A Predictor Of Future Combat

I spent more time than usual in front of my computer today and as a reward left my more enjoyable and interesting e-mail for the end of the day. I was struck by the juxtaposition of two articles. The first was from the May 17, 2017 Task & Purpose, “5 Maps that Show The Military Hotspots The US Military is Deployed Right Now” (see: http://bit.ly/2raCZjY; which is also a photo source. As an analyst I tend to look for things that are unusual.

Top of the ‘unusual’ list is the deployment of 300 Marines to Norway. The Army’s list showed a deployment of 3,500 in Poland. These two deployments are clearly meant to counter a perceived Russian threat and/or to make a statement about one. Given the headlines of actions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – these two stood out.

On the Navy list I was somewhat surprised to see that the USS Carney Ross is deployed to South Sudan. I thought South Sudan was land locked which would make it a bit difficult to deploy an Arliegh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer inland.

As it turns out, this potential anomaly tied into the second article from Task & Purpose on May 18, 2017 “Report: SOCOM Has More Troops in Africa Than Anywhere Except the Middle East” (see: http://bit.ly/2qOKJaf; which is also a photo source.)

One could view the non-SOCOM Deployments as actions that are in play. Meaning that these conflict areas have enough going-on that it is necessary to station conventional forces. The Marines and the Navy, generally viewed as more mobile can be shifted to other locations more quickly.

However, the biggest takeaway is that SOCOM forces are a ‘preview to coming attractions’ and portend where the next major deployments can be expected to take place. BG Donald Bolduc, head of SOCAFRICA’s thoughts were summarized as ““Africa’s challenges could create a threat that surpasses the threat that the United States currently faces from conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria,” Bolduc warned. He went on to cite a laundry list of challenges with which he and his personnel must contend: ever-expanding illicit networks, terrorist safe havens, attempts to subvert government authority, a steady stream of new recruits and resources.”

Reader comments, as always are encouraged and I’m especially curious as to feedback on the Carney Ross.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

On-Line Education For Terrorists & Wannabes

I have been an on-line instructor for American Military University since 2009. My students are not easy to categorize except they are mostly either serving or former military or individuals seeking to break into the intelligence community as a career.

AMU and its parent, APUS, offer asymmetrical courses. This means the students and the instructors are not on-line at the same time. The materials started out like traditional, brick and mortar schools meaning they were a combination of documents and books.

Video is generally considered a way to make the ‘classroom’ more inviting. I fact, when I developed a course for AMU entitled “Cyber & The Intelligence Cycle”, my supervising Faculty Director told me I had to provide 20 minutes of ‘entertainment’ for the students. If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll send you a like to one of the PPT lectures that I recorded with my voiceover.

Apparently the use of videos in on-line education is an international trend. While researching for this week’s Blog post I saw some information about Wilaya Ninwa, the propaganda arm of ISIS. In rummaging around the Internet I came across a new source (see: http://bit.ly/2qt4rIv, which is also the photo source).  The reference to the trigonometric formula that the tangent = the opposite/the adjacent was not lost on me and indicates a unique analytical perspective.

They featured a 35 minute video among others. The referenced link offers some analysis of the video as well as some clips.

I was struck, not by the fact that they were using videos, but the length. Given the probable target demographic I was quite surprised that the video is over 10 minutes long. Perhaps this because the video is meant to be a recruiting tool or a subliminal persuader and not a being a training vehicle.

As I learn more about video, it appears that 10 minutes is the sweet spot. I’d be very interested in learning what readers have to say on the subject.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

“The Truth” – You Can Make Fun of the Truth!

With apologies to Jack Nicholson, AKA COL Jessup, USMC (see: http://bit.ly/2pyEKCd), sometimes you help people handle the truth through fiction and even satire.

Duffleblog.com is in my opinion, one of the more acerbic and generally accurate satirical military sources. However, I’m often reluctant to repost or ‘Like’ their posts because candidly I think some people who are not familiar with the military will take the posting as ‘real’ rather than the satire it is.

They outdid themselves with “Pentagon Creates New Meme Warfare Center to Counter Online Propaganda” (see: http://bit.ly/2qUGxXb, which is also the photo source).

First of all the dateline is Fayetteville, NC the home of Fort Bragg which houses the Army Special Operations Command, parent of active duty MISO and the US Army Civil Affairs and PSYOP Command, parent of USAR PSYOP (not called MISO yet).

Fittingly the lead quote contains a misnomer. It says ‘make them go virus’ instead of ‘viral’ implying that the writer doesn’t know anything about the subject matter. They proclaimed that the boss of this organization would be a 65-year-old two star (Major General). I did a bit of research and it appears that for the mandatory retirement age for General Officers is 62 (see: http://tfumux.wikia.com/wiki/Average_ages_per_rank_in_US_Military).

MG Farmer has two strikes: he’s over the mandatory age and given the rest of the article – doesn’t really know very much about the Internet or popular culture. The implication may be that while DOD, and the Army in particular, may recognize that something is important and requires attention, the response isn’t always well thought out or appropriate.

The point for MISO/PSYOP professionals is that you can often use fiction to do what non-fiction cannot. A prominent former White House Staffer under several Presidents once told me ‘you can say more with fiction than you can with non-fiction’.

Enjoy the Food for thought.

Friday, May 5, 2017

PSYActs – What you do effects your audience.

Once upon a time, in a far away land called IGMR (Indiantown Gap Military Reservation) an intrepid young Army ROTC cadet was leading his squad down a road when an enemy tank rumbled out in front of us. That event had quite a psychological impact.

Fast forward to March 2017 when the same cadet was a retired Colonel SME orchestrating an influence campaign designed to convince an adversarial military CDR not to lead a convoy on an attack mission. While the 'shock action' of tanks was not appropriate, one avenue that open was to have a couple of ‘fast movers’ fly over the convoy sending the not so subtle message – if you move forward, the next time these jets won’t be so benign.

There is a great deal to be said in favor of non-lethal action to get results. One technique is to employ lethal weapons in a PSYAct – a psychological action – designed to send a strong sensory message.

One of my favorite military sources is “Task & Purpose”. Their May 5, 2017 e-mail included  F-35 Pilot Shares How Stealthy Fighter Psychologically Wrecks Enemies” (see: http://bit.ly/2pOoAX8; which is also the photo source)

In the article the author describes “a sense of dread” which is precisely the kind of impact you want to have on an enemy. The message sent by the F-22 was “you can’t find us, you can’t fight us.”

Other PsyActs do not have to be as dramatic. While I was in SFOR Bosnia US personnel were generally dressed in ‘full battle rattle’, meaning helmet, flak vest, etc. The British on the other hand were not.

In a confrontation the Americans had little in the way of non-lethal options while the British Army could simple go to their vehicles and ‘suit up’ in their battle gear sending a pretty strong message.

The bottom line is that all manner of influence can be employed and the psychological impact of kinetic weapons in a non-lethal message can be quite effective.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Everyone’s A Critic

I spent a fair bit of my career in marketing. I often said “marketing is like drumming, everyone thinks they can do it”.  In today’s 7x24 social media world any one can be a critic. In it’s   April 27, 2017 print edition, The Economist ran an article “The declining quality of Venezuela’s Propaganda” (see: http://econ.st/2oUcdHF, which is also the photo source).

The article addresses how even a totalitarian regime can fall on its sword when it comes to Social Media. Nicolas Maduro, the country’s president is trying to paint a positive picture of life there, much to the dismay and consternation of Venezuelans.

The power of images is reflected in the comments noted in the article. In particular pictures of obviously well-fed government officials does not play well in a country where poverty and food shortages have flourished in the past two years.

From a PSYOP/MISO perspective the message is pretty clear – you can’t turn an elephant into a giraffe. Influence campaigns need to be grounded in truth. Campaigns that are predicated on falsehoods will be quickly exposed and discredited.

While this principle has been around for a while, the 21st Century Social Media explosion has reinforced it.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Politicians Can Be Part of a PSYOP Campaign – Whether They Realize It Or Not

Many of us remember then President George W. Bush declaring victory in Iraq under a “Mission Accomplished” banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln in San Diego on May 2, 2003 (see: https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/mirror-mirror-on-the-wall/comment-page-14/?_r=0, which is also this picture’s source.)

This week Vice President Pence decided to break protocol and, according to various media, stare down the North Korean troops at the DMZ (see: http://thefederalistpapers.org/us/new-video-shows-pence-stare-down-north-korean-troops-at-dmz, which is also the photo source.) The picture is actually a still taken from the CNN video. 

Antics of one type or another across the DMZ have ranged from the comical to the tragic and the Vice President’s face making is just one of the latest. On April 29, 2016 Task & Purpose ran a story “North Korea Whines About US Troop Faces At Its Border Guards” (see: http://taskandpurpose.com/north-korea-whines-us-troops-making-faces-border-guards/, which is that photo source.)

Of course, one could also conclude that neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Pence were posing for our adversaries but were courting the American Public.

Mr. Pence’s rebellious (if you could call it that) seems to follow the pattern of the new Commander-in-Chief, that is act first and think later. This time there doesn’t seem to be much of a downside. However, it is fair to say that actions by Heads of State and other senior government leaders, whether attended or not, can have significant impact due to the 7/24 news cycle and social media.

Images can be taken out of context and used for purposes quite opposite of their original intent. A little forethought can prevent our adversaries from getting even more information ammunition.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How You Look Matters

One of my favorite military sources, Task & Purpose featured this little video about a Florida Police Department and their mission to combat drugs in their Florida County (see: http://bit.ly/2o6A6eE; which is also the picture source).

While the Sheriff certainly has the best of intentions, he and his deputies  come across as something between King Cobra’s gang (see picture at left; source: http://bit.ly/2o5Ojrx) and ISIS. The climax of the video when he and his coterie march off doesn’t help either.

An unfortunate fact of life is that many people will judge you by how you look. Many of us remember our mothers checking us out before we were permitted to leave. Some of us of have wives who fulfill the same purpose today.

In the MISO/PSYOP world there are two contexts WRT appearance.

1.     The Audience
You need to dress to have your audience feel positively about you. In sales training we often say “the prospect has to be listening to you and like you as a person before they will consider buying anything from you”. In the case of an audience that you are attempting to influence, such as the population of Lake County, you need to adapt your uniform to engender the trust of the people you are attempting to serve, yet adhere to appropriate force protection measures.

A very good example were the Brits in Bosnia. While the US troops were always in “Battle Rattle” – meaning helmet and body armor, the Brits were not. They wore soft caps and no body armor. This means if they came across a situation where a non-lethal response was preferred as a first step, the could upgrade to body army and helmets as a way of showing business.

Clearly this lesson was lost on Lake County. Of course it’s possible that the Sheriff thought only the bad guys would watch this video and get scared, but of course, that would never be the case in today’s world.

2.     The Supported Unit
MISO never works alone. We are always supporting a unit wither SF or Conventional and we need to look like we are a part of that unit in the military context.

Any potential negative impact of the Sheriff’s video may not be known, but it is at least a pretty good example for instructive purposes.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Small Unit Tactics Are Fundamental

I just finished my most recent stint as the IO SME for a Joint Public Affairs Contingency Course. As a part of the operational play I had to devise an influence campaign to try and stop a BN CDR from attacking the capitol city as ordered by his BDE CDR.

I must admit I wasn’t the best map-reader in the Army. I always tried to pair myself up with someone who was good at it. However it was clear to me that even before I could even develop my own MISO CONOP I had to understand the military operation. This meant assessing the convoy route, determining how long the convoy would be allowed to travel before being attacked from the air, etc. This analysis complemented the media analysis of how to reach the unit’s leadership.

Many people feel the same way about the cyber realm. In developing a graduate course for American Military University (AMU), “Cyber & The Intelligence Cycle” I have one lesson which is a practical exercise. I thought it would be appropriate to provide some insight into cyber attack and defense along the lines of a class military piece on small unit tactics.  My version is a couple of pages and can be found below.

Duffer’s Drift (found at: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/usmc/fmfrp/12-33/fmfrp12-33.pdf) is regarded as a classic in the realm of small unit tactics. It is set in the Boer War and describes dreams that a LT has while being charged with the defense of a key piece of terrain. You can find a copy of the book on Amazon at: http://amzn.to/2nBB0j8 (which is also the photo source).

In this version I’ve brought it up to date and analogized the small unit infantry tactics to the cyber world of today. 

There is a USMC authored Rand version for Information Operations Practitioners which is 50 pages worth and can be found at: http://bit.ly/2oL1XRI

First Dream

“Do not put off defense” can be interpreted to mean employ an active, layered defense or defense in depth means to employ a number of complementary security products and services in your defense. These include multi-factor authentication, firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, etc.

“Locals” we can define to be contractors, visitors, temporary employees and similar stakeholders. In the defense context the principles relating to ‘locals’ means that you treat everyone as a security risk who must adhere to the same policies and procedures as employees and who must be subject to the same sort of cybersecurity technology products and services as others. Security needs to be uniform across all personnel seeking to access the organization’s information technology resources.

“Tents” in the cyber context means insure that all devices and networks have at least a minimum amount of security to avoid casual use by unauthorized personnel and to discourage would be cyber trespassers.

Second Dream

The second dream makes a strong case for cyber concealment and deception. Techniques here can include honey-pots and sandboxes. Honeypots and sandboxes are technical means whereby systems and/or networks are set up that are totally isolated from actual systems and networks. They are designed as decoys to attract, study, and entrap attackers. Both of these induce the attacker into an area where they can do no harm.

As to locals in this dream – the implication is that the organization treats the employees well so that they don’t covet the contractor’s position. Contractors should not be given favorable treatment to include the need to cover shifts beyond the normal day shift/week day work schedule.

Third Dream

The third dream makes the case for stringent ‘local’ management. This may also alluded to the 21st century enchantment with Social Media and that family members might unwittingly be security risks or even targets. Executives and those in sensitive positions need to take special care to insure that the organization’s sensitive data, prototypes, plans, etc. are not accidently exposed on social media by family members. This bid for OPSEC means that family members should be aware of the dangers of social media and should have clear guidelines as to what they cannot do.

Comments with respect to trenches can be taken to mean that there is a need for advanced security architecture. Architecture should also consider how organizations should maintain security in the face of advances in smartphones, tablets, etc. Systems should be designed with cyber security as a core foundational element rather than as an add-on feature after the systems or applications are fielded.

Fourth Dream

There are several key points contained in the 4th dream. First of all, the dream correctly realizes that cyber is everywhere. This is especially critical given the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) as the 21st century version of Supervisory and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. Advice about guarding your rear could easily be interpreted as watch out for intentional (created by bots perhaps) or unintentional backdoors. Today’s software is highly complex and contains tens of thousands of lines of code. Product flaws, whether or known or unknown, can offer inviting entry points for attackers.

Huddling the men could be interpreted as meaning - don’t put all your sensitive data in one spot. This principle is a driving force behind cloud architectures software as a service. Data Centers are giving way to web services for a variety of reasons with cost reduction being a primary consideration and advanced security such as provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS) being another. Not that AWS is impregnable. They make it clear that the client bears a heavy responsibility for security as well.

Concealment needs to be addressed physically and logically. Physically it is not a good practice to make it easy to find your data center. Data centers should be concealed to add to their security and they should be buffered with appropriate physical security measures.

Interestingly enough the 4th Dream makes a case for penetration testing – “Look from the enemy’s view.” As a practical matter, penetration testing should be holistic. While employing white hat (good guy) hackers to test your IT security postures is a good idea, Human Intelligence (HUMINT) operatives should be considered to test resistance to social engineering and other people based efforts.

Fifth Dream

Makes a case for deception. Read industry expert Bruce Schneier’s brief summary at: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2014/08/us_air_force_is.html.

Sixth Dream
Use everything you have learned in all the other dreams to come up with the best possible cyber defense in your own situation.