Friday, October 5, 2012

MISO and The Emperor's New Clothes

On 20 September 2012 I posted “Green on Blue Attacks: Can Brochures Really Help? “. As a follow-up one of my colleagues referred me to a 12 May 2011 report “A CRISIS OF TRUST AND CULTURAL INCOMPATIBILITY: A Red Team Study of Mutual Perceptions of Afghan National Security Force Personnel and U.S. Soldiers in Understanding and Mitigating the Phenomena of ANSF -Committed Fratricide-Murders” which you can find at

If you are not familiar with the fairy tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes you can find a version at:

The report was undertaken to “assess ANSF members' and US. Soldiers' perceptions of each other; specifically, to identify those behaviors that upset them or cause anger.” The report came up with what I believe were very rational recommendations: “
Recommendations (n=58) included ensuring improved convoy driving practices, explaining need for roadblocks, vetting/training special ANSF search teams (including more females), reviewing base security SOPs, monitoring religious radicalism in ANSF, reforming various dysfunctional . ANSF practices, improving ANSF evaluation metrics, conducting more research in local patterns of life, and developing improved cultural and human relations trainings and behavior standards.”

If MISO really means Military Information Support Operations, is it our responsibility to be a catalyst for information (and training) of US and allied troops? We all know that US MISO/PSYOP forces are prohibited from “psyoping US forces.”

Green on Blue attacks appear to be on the rise and a fact in Afghanistan today. If we believe this report and other similar data, isn’t about time for ISAF to acknowledge that US and Afghan forces are having major issues. Candidly many of the offending behaviors on both sides are not going to go away simply because the Chain of Command on both sides has provided some training and guidance. Nevertheless, ISAF and US troops in particular will be in Afghanistan for years to come and ‘someone’ has to be responsible for trying to raise the awareness and tolerance levels on both sides.

As one of my colleagues aptly put it:
The report ignores or misses two essential ingredients in this dish: 
1) The fundamental perspective of Afghanis, who see Americans and other westerners as infidel invaders, regardless of their current posture (up to and including those who train and work with them).

2) The equally dismissive (bordering on racist) attitude of American soldiers toward Muslims in general and Afghanis in particular. I heard many service people testimonies to that effect, and it's a mistake to ignore this because it can help explain some of the base (entry) postures that lead to overt conflicts.”

Clearly preventing Green on Blue attacks is a responsibility of command and a part of military operations. Part of the challenge is providing credible and effective ‘information’ via command briefings, training sessions (combined and separate). Are these Military Information Support Operations (MISO) or not?

If the command ignores these realities they are, in my view:
1.      Fools
2.      Too afraid of pissing off their political civilian masters.
3.      Too concerned about their OER or getting the next star.
4.      Wedded to the past.
5.      All of the above and more.

Fixing the Green/Blue problem is a command effort – no doubt, but which organization within the CDR’s staff and support resources is the most qualified and capable of developing the doctrine and materials needed?

If not MISO – who? 

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