Friday, June 25, 2010
PSYOP Name Change: A Historical Perspective
I've been getting a lot of traffic on the changing of the PSYOP name to MISO. Frankly the name change has been kicking around at the highest levels for some time. COL (R) Paddock, leading SOF historian, former CDR of the 4th POG and the first Honorary Colonel of the PSYOP Regiment among others has been a very vocal opponent, but the train has left the station.
While I'd like to be optimistic and appreciate the positive spin MG Csrnko put on the change, the practical side of me feels that MISO will not fare any better in terms of funding or standards and that the resources and changes that are needed will not be made.
The ebb and flow of PSYOP reminds me a lot of the SIGINT side of military intelligence. In the early days we were a cult behind the green door. As technology and tactics evolved it was clear that SIGINT needed to be spider webbed through the force and made quickly accessible at the lowest technical level without the shibboleths normally shielding it from the masses.
History has shown that tactical SIGINT has been a good thing yet moving it down the chain of command has not resulted in a diminution of the need for SIGINT specialists. The SIGINT specialty and the intelligence resources behind it has evolved in spite of what might be viewed as popularization.
The actions of our very senior leadership through and including SecDef Gates need to match the rhetoric surrounding the name change. As a minimum these steps need to include:
1. Reuniting all MISO under one chain of command - USSOCOM.
2. Establishing a flag officer led command at SOCOM that leads the strategic influence fight across the board.
3. A top to bottom revamping of MISO training to insure that every soldier with the MOS has the same skills.
4. Enhancing the training and scope of the MISO field to include cyber influence and personal selling/negotiation skills.
5. Integrate commercial on-line training as a part of the MISO professional education track to include reimbursement or payment of selected live and on-line training.
6. Insure that the new and improved MISO takes the lead in NATO information doctrine and TTP.
7. USSOCOM should embark on a vigorous Congressional information program to insure that all the key military committees are well informed concerning the criticality of influence operations.
8. ASOC/SWC to establish and maintain an exchange program with DINFOS wherein MISO and PAO officers and NCOs attend each other's schools and perhaps even acquire the respective MOS.
These just scratch the surface - but are all steps that need to be taken. Failure to follow-through will have a significant negative impact on the total force and in the long run, America's ability to dominate the growing information battlefield.