From 31 October through 3 November I am having the pleasure of attending the 24th Annual NATO Joint Senior PSYOP Conference. Hosted by the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU), the event is attended by representatives from over a dozen countries.
This year’s conference is focused on navigating social media and the hosts have gathered a diverse group of speakers from the military, commercial sector, and academia to provide the attendees with a broad range of thought provoking information.
I’m posting at the end of day 2 of 3 and ½. Here are some of the key points you may find of interest:
· Researchers are studying the social media aspects of the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement to see if there are any lessons learned or techniques that should be considered for future operations.
· An interesting angle on analysis is to figure out “what does the enemy worry about” and what don’t they want their audience to believe.
· There will always be no shortage of pictures or video because the population at large is recording what they see.
· Russia is not censoring the Internet, but is using organized crime as a proxy and entertainment (porn) to assuage their population.
· Contractors on the battle field are a fact of life.
· Common causes/issues behind the Arab Spring include:
o Governments rife with patronage and corruption
o Economic problems
o Inability for populations to effect change in their government
o A large and discontent young population
· Al Qaeda’s messaging is becoming irrelevant
· Some in mass movements (Occupy, Flash Mobs) may be motivated by the sense of a fulfilling experience – not necessarily any causes or deep meanings.
· Behavior changes can often be initiated through small, incremental steps.
· Conflicts occur across a ‘difference’ boundary, in other words a divide.
· NATO may be well known, but what it stands for is not. NATO needs to ‘re-brand’ itself so that the current generation knows why NATO exisits.
· Cyber conflict and incidents dos not have to be waged by governments, but cyber war does.
· Afghanistan isn’t a 10 year war, but 10 one year wars due to rotation of personnel.
· Relationship based societies do not want to be re-cast into transaction based societies.
· There is a difference between teaching and fostering learning.
· Trust is a cornerstone.
· New strategies and operational concepts/techniques need to be developed to allow forces to be in the fight, but not at the fight. (Witness Libya)
· Cyber War is a legal quagmire.
· Cyber War effects may be flu like rather than measureable like body count.
· Cyber War will likely be a prelude to kinetic war.
· Cyber Influence (CyIn) requires all source battlefield preparation.
· CNO require technology profiling of the battlefield.
My service at the NATO HQ in Bosnia was a great experience for me because I had the rare opportunity of working side by side with military and civilian personnel from throughout the NATO alliance. Shared experience builds more than bonds, it builds the kind of relationships that are needed to fight and win today’s and tomorrow’s conflicts.
As always, reader input invited.