Tuesday, February 3, 2009

PSYOP and the 2009 QDR

DOD outlined the three major purposes of the QDR:
1. Increase synergy across the Department’s Components.
2. Improve the effectiveness of joint and interagency operations.
3. Ensure the Department continues to efficiently invest the Nation’s defense resources to meet the asymmetric challenges of the 21st Century. The 2009 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) can be found at:http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jan2009/QRMFinalReport_v26Jan.pdf.

PSYOP is mentioned twice in the 48 page document. Once in connection with the need to balance Active and Reserve Components for Irregular Warfare (p 12) and again with regard to Strategic Communication ( p 35)

As to the former, “The Department concluded that persistent presence and sustainment of irregular warfare activities require increasing specific capabilities across the Total Force, including civil affairs and psychological operations capabilities in the Active Component force.” (emphasis added by your humble blogger)

On one hand this would appear to be a blinding flash of the obvious, on the other, it’s nice to see recognition of the issue at the highest levels of DOD. Bottom line here is that the “Big Army” needs more CA and PSYOP support – in fact rather than being an add-on requested as needed, DOD has recognized that CA and PSYOP are as important as shooters, and perhaps even more so for irregular warfare. However, there’s not much of a bull pen to meet the increased demand, and the notion of increasing the size of forces amidst the worst financial crisis in decades will likely not sit well with either the new Administration or the voting public.

DOD is faced with the need to mushroom these two vital capabilities without expanding the number of slots. Historically this has meant that the individual soldier has had to learn new skills and add them to their portfolio of talents. While not all soldiers can adapt to irregular warfare, nor can they adjust from being shooters to builders, it is clear that TRADOC will have to incorporate new doctrine into all branch training to insure at least a basic familiarity with CA and PSYOP concepts, principles and operations.

With regard to Strategic Communication, the QDR reinforces and restates “We are committed to using our operational and informational activities and strategic communication processes in support of the Department of State’s broader public diplomacy efforts. This cooperation will better enable the U.S. Government to engage foreign audiences holistically and with unity of effort.”

This lofty goal falls into the easier said than done box. In a world where the actions of a squad on the ground can be literally on the news around the world in minutes, a holistic effort doesn’t seem possible given the organizational constraints and the fact that Department of State influence does not necessarily extend very far beyond Embassy walls in hostile zones.

One way to attack this problem is to develop country and regional Information Engagement (IE) teams. These teams would be run as a joint venture between State and Defense and managed by the senior person on the ground. USAID and other resources would be marshaled in concert with the team’s guidance and the overall goals and objectives would be set by State since they are the President’s Diplomats. DOD personnel would be tasked with providing support to the program through employment of DOD’s considerable PSYOP product development resources, PAO efforts not to mention security and logistics support.

However, prior to embarking on such an ambitious goal, new rules of the road need to be establish that set metes and bounds, yet offer significant product flexibility on the far end so that USG forces can synergize their efforts to capitalize on events as they occur. The guidance offered must recognize that each theater is different so that tactical IE would vary by location, but overall messaging may not.

Recognizing the instant nature of communications, regional and transnational IE must be orchestrated in a similar fashion. As I’ve stated before, IE should consist of a corporate like entity as well as regional and local information emissaries. The multi-national corporate model may be more of a guide than even the newest DOD TO&E.

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