Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Diplomat Killing in Sudan Points to Upside Down Africa PSYOP Situation

The early morning killing of USAID diplomat John Granville on New Year’s Day should be of great concern to the PSYOP Community. The headlines are normally dominated by actions in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. In these areas PSYOP soldiers are on the street performing their missions. They are trained first as soldiers and then as PSYOP professionals and are employing both sets of skills every day.

In non-combat situations, uniformed military do not perform PSYOP missions. The Department of State is the lead agency for foreign affairs and organizations like USAID are in the forefront. For those of you unfamiliar with USAID, since 1961 “USAID has been the principal U.S. agency to extend assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to escape poverty, and engaging in democratic reforms.” (Source:

While this all sounds nice and neat, it isn’t. US government interests span the globe and the Department of State is simply not properly resourced to do the job themselves. The departure of Karen Hughes as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs was another set back in a long list of setbacks to these efforts.

Information is a key element of soft power and like it or not DOD with its significant resources is an important component of the overall mix. What does this all have to do with Khartoum? Plenty. Our adversaries may have executed this action or it may be a simple street crime. Personally I don’t believe in randomness like this and as a career MI officer, I tend to assume the worst. So let’s assume for the moment that Mr. Granville was indeed targeted.

What are the implications for US interests? Does the Department of State have messages that ought to be transmitted to and through local media that will enhance US Interests? What role if any should AFRICOM play and how would this square with whatever PSYOP forces are already deployed in the AO? How would the personnel and messages differ? Should they differ? Who should assume the overall lead? The military lead?

This being the start of the New Year, I’ll leave you with these questions and let you come up with your own answers.

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