Thursday, September 2, 2010
Combat Mission Over Declares PSYOPer-in-Chief
President Obama, the PSYOPer –in-Chief declared that combat operations are over in a White House speech delivered at 8 PM Eastern time on August 31, 2010 and which can be found at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/08/31/remarks-president-address-nation-end-combat-operations-iraq
(Photo Source: The White House)
He is of course the second US President to declare a “mission accomplished” of sorts, but what did the President really say and what does it mean to the influence operations community?
First, the departure of ‘combat’ units was chronicled far and wide and the President was kind to recognize the achievements of service personnel in executing whatever tasks they were given – “At every turn, America’s men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As Commander-in-Chief, I am incredibly proud of their service. And like all Americans, I’m awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families.”
The President also noted that he kept his campaign promise, he too has to be re-elected of course. He went on to add that “This completes a transition to Iraqi responsibility for their own security”. The speech goes on to say that there is a transition force and that the military draw down will be paralleled by a ramp up of “dedicated civilians”.
A bit over half way through the direction turned to the sorry state of the US economy and the need to more or less stop spending on war and spend on ourselves, or so it seemed to me.
Various sources peg the number of troops in Iraq at around 50,000, not a trivial number by any means.
Where does that leave MISO forces?
First of all the absence of a warfighter means that influence operations must shift gears dramatically to shore up US Department of State and other efforts and to document and publicize successes in a credible and forceful way to help the Iraqi population appreciate the efforts of the US and our allies.
Most importantly “someone” must work with local and regional media to help them upgrade their efforts and to insure that standards of fair and impartial journalism govern the media. This may require out of the box thinking. Lack of warfighters may also mean a lack of PAO resources and since the PAO is the CDR’s representative to foreign media this means that the Department of State must step up to the plate.
Having said that, select MISO NCOs and officers may be just the right candidates to help mentor journalists as long as those journalists are not tarred by the brush of working with the US military.
The post-combat MISO mission promises to be more complex , challenging and probably more dangerous. Hopefully the chain of command understands that in the real world campaign promises don’t count for much.