Monday, September 11, 2017

MISO Malpractice: The Latest Leaflet Debacle



Apparently it was amateur hour in the leaflet production campaign in Afghanistan. The http://bit.ly/2gYdTkw) was dropped in Afghanistan in early September 2017 broke some of the most basic rules by quoting the Quran. (see: http://nyti.ms/2eSdknQ, which is also a photo source). 
leaflet

IN addition to the suicide bomber noted above, additional reaction is shown in the picture at left (photo source: http://nyti.ms/2eSdknQ). At issue was the use of words from the Quran in a leaflet. Frankly, you would have to be living in a cave for the last 16 years if you didn’t realize that the Islamic faith takes their Holy Book and their Prophet far more seriously than other religions.

The Charlie Hebdo killings in 2015 (see for example: http://nbcnews.to/2xgTmxG) and the 2012 incident where US troops burned the Koran (see: http://bit.ly/2wlsGb4) are only two of the incidents that serve as very good bad examples and should have put everyone on notice of what to expect.

Know your audience is the first rule of PSYOP/MISO and of course any influence operation. The blatant ignorance displayed by the leaflet creators and those in the approval chain should be considered MISO malpractice.

The FindLaw Legal dictionary defines malpractice as: “negligence, misconduct, lack of ordinary skill, or a breach of duty in the performance of a professional service (as in medicine) resulting in injury or loss” (See: http://dictionary.findlaw.com/definition/malpractice.html)

If these leaflets were created by an outside contractor, this type of malpractice should be considered a material breach of their contract.  The contract should be terminated immediately and consideration should be given to litigation for damages to the Coalition campaign and reputation.

As for the notion of yet more cultural training – it strikes me as playing training whack a mole. When military personnel deploy they go through a pre-deployment training and certification. Current deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan must have training on Islamic traditions and protocol to include role-playing situations designed to illustrate the right and wrong ways to work in theater.

There is simply no excuse for this type of ineptitude, especially in our longest running AO!


Thursday, September 7, 2017

FaceBook – the Not So Secret Influence Tool

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I admit I’m somewhat of a FB junkie. I’m on the site at least a couple of times a day.

And, like most of us, I have read about how the Russians purportedly influenced the US election by amplifying the views of  the ‘right’. An example I read today was a September 6, 2017 article in the NY Times “Fake Russian Facebook Accounts Bought $100,000 in Political Ads” (see: http://nyti.ms/2eJpGyw) addresses one facet of the Russian campaign.

I frankly didn’t get the importance of FB as an influence medium until August 30, 2017 when I was asked to be the Red Cross spokes person (I’ve been a Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer for years) at the San Francisco ABC Affiliate’s Day of Giving in support of people effected by Hurricane Harvey.

In addition to taking donations and pledges over the phone, my job would be to be a Red Cross voice if needed on camera. Since the last time I had been in a TV studio was in 1997 in Pale, Bosnia, I was rather looking forward to it.

The actual ‘shooting’ schedule for the news was somewhat of a moving target, but I was told that we would be doing a segment on FaceBook Live.

Imagine my surprise when I was escorted to the FaceBook Live control room at the station. During the telethon I was fortunate enough and delighted to be on FBLive with Spencer Christian, one of the station’s key weather people.  (Photo source this week: FaceBook shots take by the Author)

Unlike ‘real’ TV interviews that require heavy cameras, FB Live needs only a phone. Of course, having a quality microphone dramatically improves the overall quality of the experience by raising the caliber of the sound.

For those of us in the PSYOP/MISO world, this underscores the importance of the Internet as an influence medium. It also means that we need to always be on the lookout for people that can be effective and credible spokespeople.

An unfortunate downside is that tactical CDR at all levels may assume that they are PSYOP experts and take to the airwaves themselves. History has shown that this is generally not a good idea, but as we have discussed on the POVA page on FaceBook and elsewhere, there is not too much you can do other than damage control.

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Now, more than ever, we need to pay more attention to Social Media and its role in our respective influence campaigns. As always, reader input invited!