We often think of the Afghanistan AO as devoid of media sophistication. The high illiteracy rate and the general disdain for all things modern are general characteristics we associate with that part of the world.
However, as Sporting Blood once said “it ain’t necessarily so”. The Washington Post of October 18, 2012 featured an article “’Mullah Radio’ believed to be behind attack on Pakistani school girl (see http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/mullah-radio-believed-to-be-behind-attack-on-pakistani-schoolgirl/2012/10/17/ee8a9a8c-189f-11e2-9855-71f2b202721b_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines; which is also the photo source).
The article talks about Mullah Fazlullah, a priority NATO target who, according to the article “is considered a charismatic preacher, recruiting not only suicide bombers but also village women, who have donated their precious jewels and other valuables to his cause, experts say”. The cooperation of village women is particular noteworthy given his views on their rights or rather the lack thereof.
Fazlullah is credited with using a roving transmitter (likely FM) as a personal media outline.
According to the article, topics include “lyrical rants against the central government in Pakistan, music, education and the polio vaccine.”
His capabilities and stature have been waning of late and the vicious attack on Malala Yousafzai, the teenage outspoken advocate of education for women was supposed to be his ticket back to the forefront of the action.
The use of a roving (probably line of sight) transmitter presents tremendous challenges and opportunities for the PSYOP community. First of all the use of radio indicates that radio is likely to be a good way to reach the local population. Secondly, analysis of the content of the broadcasts gives MISO planners a window into what the target thinks is important.
Perhaps most interestingly, this type of activity also opens the door to the potential use of EW and kinetic operations. EW considerations include jamming the signal to negate its audience or to overpower the Mullah’s signal with content more friendly to the ISAF cause.
Use of direction finding, IMINT and HUMINT could also be combined to assess the operation of the transmitter and to develop alternative courses of kinetic action against the asset as well as the people who operate it.
This is clearly another instance where one should not underestimate their enemy.
As always reader comments invited.