Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cyber PSYOP: A Sneak Preview

Cyber PSYOP Primer – Sneak Preview

I have just submitted an article to Perspectives, the PSYOP Association Professional Journal. Since Cyber PSYOP is a topic near and dear to my heart, I’m kind of pressed for time this week in DC, and because I would like to encourage readers of my Blog to read Perspectives, I’m providing a summary of the article as this week’s Posting.

History has shown that the US DOD has a strong tendency to favor kinetic operations even in the face of a nimble and capable opponent. The discipline of PSYOP has been ignored for years to its detriment. As we enter an era of uncertainty with respect to potential enemies and adversaries exacerbated by shrinking budgets, while it is readily acknowledged at the highest levels of our government that Cyber Security is important, there is almost no attention given to Cyber PSYOP.

Cyber PSYOP, simply stated, is the application of PSYOP principles to electronic media, systems and networks. Unlike many other forms of PSYOP, CP operates at all levels: strategic, operational and tactical. The virtual nature of CP blurs the lines of deployment so that even the most tactical of attacks, say on a targeted individual, can spider web out through cyber space and rise to the strategic level.

Target analysis is critical in CP because CP can be employed with laser like focus against individual targets through their devices (e.g. smart phones), their social connections (e.g. Facebook, Linkedin, MySpace, etc.) or more broadly aimed at larger groups such as government bureaucrats who are on the same network or within the same department, agency or bureau.

Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) for Cyber PSYOP involves target profiling and technology profiling.

CP is an important part of our influence operations arsenal. Its importance is directly proportional to the technology reliance of the target. The more reliant the target is on technology, the more susceptible they will be to CP.
I believe that within the next few years CP will emerge as a mainstream discipline ahead of the employment of CNO as a warfighting systems. CP will prove itself in urban conflicts to come. However, the nature of CP also appeals to our enemies. They have shown themselves to be creative and adaptive and at times far more nimble then we are. Consequently part of our CP resources must be devoted to developing and executing counter CP operations to minimize the impact of enemy CP and insuring that we dominate the information battlefield.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The article sounds very interesting, and the practice of cyber PSYOP, or MISO in today's language, should become a focus of our profession. Utilizing cyber means of influence to bolster traditional media efforts will ensure that influence efforts saturate all media assets utilized by a given target audience.

Obviously, the legal considerations always move to the forefront of concern anytime the Internet and cyber-space come into play. The always-present concern of our product encountering a U.S. population will have to be addressed. While it is possible to include blocks to U.S. audiences, those are not guaranteed.

The issue then becomes the approval process. We as a community have to understand the possible complications the use of Cyber PSYOP applied at the tactical and operational levels will undoubtedly have on the approval process. Possible negative political, host nation, and international response to a product encountered will adversely affect the approval authority's willingness to accept risk in approving the effort.

I do look forward to the entire article, because the summary provided allows for many possibilities for future efforts.

MAJ David Flowers, PSYOP, ILE Student