Monday, November 27, 2017

Islamic Military Counter-Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC): Islamic Country Alliance Against Terrorism

I was attracted to a full-page ad in the NY Times, of November 26, 2017 placed by the IMCTC, an organization that I hadn’t heard of until I read the ad. As it turns out Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia was hosting the first IMCTC Conference today (See:

The array of members is pretty impressive as you can see with the Flag display above and the member listing below. These 41 countries are looking to the IMCTC as a coordinating force as “"pan-Islamic unified front" against violent extremism.”
(see: which is also a photo source)

The alliance was announced in 2015 under the auspices of Prince Mohammed, whose rapid ascent since his appointment as heir to the throne in June has shaken the political scene across the region.”  However, this is their first meeting. This alone tells me something.

The alliance is focusing on four domains: Ideology, Communications, Counter Terrorist Financing and Military. The Communications objectives could well be the foundation of Allied PSYOP Efforts pinned on three principles:
1.     Counter enemy influence efforts.
2.     Promote positive values.
3.     Communicate through credible influencers.

In reviewing their military objectives, it would seem that the Coalition’s goals are similar to allied efforts. The member nations are generally Sunni-majority or Sunni-ruled countries. General (R) Raheel Shareer formerly Pakistan’s Army Chief) indicated that support would be primarily intelligence sharing and capacity building.

The Coalition was conceived and started by Saudi Arabia. Can it emerge as an “Islamic NATO”? See:

Anyone who has ever served in a NATO billet knows the organization is its own beast. While some nations appear to be better represented than others, NATO forces are truly multi-national military forces when they deploy. There are always conflicts among national interests, and NATO appears to have been able to absorb them.

Once can’t help wondering if the same sort of unity would be possible in the IMCTC.

Reader comments are invited!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Social Media: The Elephant of Influence

I have been a reader of the Economist since 1997 when I was in Bosnia. The situation on the ground there was so complicated that the only way I could figure out what was really going on was by reading the Economist, albeit over a week late.

The impact of Social Media is another one of those topics that requires neutral and comprehensive attention. The November 4, 2017 edition of the magazine ran an in-depth article “I can haz all your votes” (see: which is also the photo source) which struck a chord with me since I’m teaching a graduate course on Propaganda and Disinformation for American Military University.

The article analyzes the role and impact of Social Media in the political arena. Some governments such as the Philippines and South Africa (according to the article) have made very good use of Social Media as a way to spread false narratives and bolster the government’s hold on power.

Russia of course is the leader in harnessing Social Media having employed the full range of Social Media techniques in the Ukraine, France, Germany and influencing the American Presidential election.

My personal experience in recent disaster confirms that Social Media often has more impact and reach than ‘traditional’ media. The article notes that from a quantitative perspective Social Media is virtually everywhere as more and more smart phones are connected. While this may not be the case in every area of operation, it is certainly the case in populated areas.

The article cites a variety of motivations for the use of Social Media besides political gain and makes some very interesting comments about what sells best on Social Media: Humor and Outrage. Both of these have been prominent in Social Media campaigns ranging from the Arab Spring to Hillary Clinton. President Trump, it is conceded is a master of outrage in the way his Tweets can ride the outrage or inspire it.

Noting that Facebook and Google account for about 40% of America’s digital consumption it is no wonder that these companies are under attack to do more about controlling what’s out there. The sheer volume of Social Media content is mind-boggling and it would appear that there is no real way to tame the beast whether technological or regulatory.

The message for PSYOP is clear – Social Media is the Elephant in the Influence Living Room!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

YouTube Should Be in Your PSYOP Toolkit – It’s in the Russian’s!

We all know that a picture is worth 1,000 words. In a previous posting I addressed the trend of video becoming the most powerful and popular means of influence … chiefly through Social Media.

As it turns out YouTube is a pretty good tool for amateurs and professionals alike. On October 23, 2017 the NY Times published an article “Russia’s Favored Outlet is an Online New Giant. YouTube Helped” (see:, which is also a photo source)

The article focuses on the cozy relationship between Russia’s state owned RT outlet and YouTube.

I’d like to offer a more personal perspective. As an instructor for American Military University I was asked to develop a course called “Cyber and the Intelligence Cycle”. It was a two pronged course that looked at the use of the intelligence cycle against cyber targets and the use of cyber tools to enhance the intelligence cycle. A requirement of the development was that I had to provide “20 minutes of entertainment” each week for the students. I decided to employ Camtasia a program that allows me to record what’s on my screen (PPT) and a voice over.

Then I had set of pretty large files that were often impossible to send anywhere – enter YouTube. I could simply upload the files to YouTube and provide links.

A similar situation happened recently when I found myself with a couple of very important video recordings on my iPhone6. A blessing of being an all Apple user is that photos and videos from your phone magically also appear on your iMac. Once that happened it was a simple matter to upload the videos on to YouTube.

YouTube also offers several alternative levels of classification so that you can offer some of your work to the general public, but keep some accessible to only select audiences.

Oh I would be remiss if I didn’t give a giant Hoo Aah! To my good friends at SOCOM for returning unit designations back to PSYOP. Glad to see y’all had a good does of common sense!

Reader input, as always invited.