The PSYOP of Elections

The PSYOP of ElectionsWith the 2016 US Presidential appointment only 5 days away and media of all sorts bombarding us with exhortations to vote their way, I plotting it appropriate to make a few comments in this area PSYOP in the context of political shape.Rather than descend into the cesspool like depths of the media barrage in the Presidential race, I felt it more edifying to look at a particular piece. There are 17 Propositions on the California ballot this year – not counting local ones. They range from repealing the fatality penalty to deciding whether starts in porn flicks should wear condoms.Behind every proposition there are people with an agenda. While some propositions are clearly worded, others are not. Wording can obfuscate the right purpose of the proposition or can be a governmental hodgepodge of sentences thrown together.To the right is a predictable direct mail piece. The focus is on personalizing the proposition in a way that the voter identifies the picture with the proposition. In this case we have a likeable sufficient looking family. Since there is no Dad in the picture we could also jump to the conclusion that this is a single Mom raising three young children. The outcome on the right is missing her front teeth possibly indicating that she is a second grader or in need of some dental help. Proposition E is a San Jose Rate that would require businesses with over 35 employees to offer extra hours to part-time workers before hiring new ones.  While the motivation behind the rate might be to give a break to those part time workers who work multiple jobs and don’t have benefits, this is not the case according to the major local newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News which said “Voters are likely to approve this feel-excellent rate, but it would be a mix. It adds confirmation-keeping burdens and lawsuit risks no other city in this district places on industry — at a time when San Jose is already is struggling to attract business and build its tax base. Vote no.”  (See: http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/10/24/editorial-san-jose-rate-e-a-excellent-thought-terribly-implemented/)In addition to personifying the message, the direct mail piece offers some general innuendos at the top right. By agreeing with these oversimplified statements the reader/voter might very well want to ‘help out’ by voting yes, which, according to the facts (or the newspaper) would be a mix.Hopefully the appointment will be over soon to clean up the airwaves.

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How do you influence the PAO?

How do you influence the PAO?The October 17, 2016 Defense News ran an article “DoD is Losing the Online  Fight to Win Hearts & Minds” (see: http://www.defensenews.com/articles/dod-is-losing-online-fight-to-win-hearts-and-minds; which is also the photo source). I was attracted to the article because of the title and probable to see yet one more treatise on how the overpaid contractors exciting with executing the DOD on-line shape war  were not doing their job. Fascinatingly, the article makes the case that a major problem with the US on-line shape programs is the resistance from Public Affairs.The article describes how NATO is trying to recognize the significance of the shape issue by forming a strategic communications directorate and that the US is the only holdout. The article’s author, Robert T. Hastings should know in this area Public Affairs because amongst other assignments he served as acting secretary of defense for public affairs from 2008 to 2009.PAO has generally taken the view that they must remain and chaste and pure, avoiding any disgrace of ‘shape’. Having had the opportunity to work Joint Exercises at DINFOS, the DOD school that trains Public Affairs Officers, I’m of the opinion that the ‘new generation’ of PAOs has a much more profound appreciation for social media and the on-line world than their top brass. The inability to integrate PAO hard work into the shape fight dilutes our shape hard work and has to stop, the sooner the surpass. While I’m generally not one to editorialize, the DOD is a sweet simple organization; it works from the top down. SECDEF needs to bring MG Malcolm B. Frost, Chief of Public Affairs (see: https://www.army.mil/info/institution/publicAffairs/chief/)  into his personnel by the side of with General Raymond A. Thomas III, CDR, USSOCOM (see: http://www.socom.mil/Documents/Command_Bios/Gen%20Thomas%20Official%20Bio.pdf) and have an open discussion in this area DOD’s need for unity of effort with regard to Public Affairs.The buck has to stop somewhere, and it looks like it needs to be at the top or we will continue to lose shape ground to our enemies and adversaries.

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Self-Help PSYOP Against North Korea

Self-Help PSYOP Against North Korea The NY Times, October 15, 2016 US photograph edition ran an article “Subverting North Korea, One Bundle of Leaflets at a Time”. The Asian version ran a day earlier and lead with “A ‘Balloon Warrior’ Subverts North Korea, Thousands of Leaflets at a Time" (US version at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/15/world/asia/south-north-korea-balloon-drop.html?_r=0, which is also the photo source.) In the day and age of Tweets and FaceBook it’s somewhat refreshing to see ancient school operations. According to the Times, Lee Min-bok is a North Korean defector with a self-avowed mission to foster well loved insurrection hostile to the North Korean government.Mr. Kim’s hard work do not receive any government help. Rather he supports himself through lecture fees and receives donations from innumerable groups. According to the article, A Japanese assemble because they want him to send leaflets to help find Japanese citizens in North Korea. Other donors include Christians who provide Bibles and food. Kim summed up his hard work this way “My leaflets are a poison for Kim Jong-un’s regime, because they help North Koreans wake up to his lies”. The leaflet bundles are high sufficient to avoid small arms fire. Kim has developed is own ‘timer’ that opens the bundles allowing the leaflets to drop down.While Kim receives security help from the Republic of Korea, his hard work are chiefly his own and is only job. While we can only assess Mr. Kim’s production and not his effectiveness, his report is an fascinating one. On the launch end Mr. Kim choses to assume a low profile and not launch from villages or populated centers so as to avoid conflicts.One wonders if this type of grassroots approach could be adopted in other areas, especially where a regime controls the information channels. Of course leaflet drops are wind dependent and the getting terrain must be open sufficient to allow the leaflets to get to their targets.Readers are invited to contribute any other examples of Self-Help PSYOP.

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PSYOP History – Hanoi Hannah Passes Away

PSYOP History – Hanoi Hannah Passes Away Tokyo Rose (see: http://www.biography.com/people/tokyo-rose-37481) was a footnote in history to we veterans of the Viet Nam Conflict. It’s probably honest to say that Hanoi Hannah is the same to Post 9/11 veterans. The NY Times featured an obituary of Trin Thi Ngo, surpass known as Hanoi Hannah in its 5 October edition (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/05/world/asia/trinh-thi-ngo-hanoi-hannah-vietnam-war.html, which is also the photo source.) John McCain was one of her regular viewers although not by choice because loudspeakers were prominent in the prison where he was a POW.Personification is a fantastic shape tool that I have written in this area on a digit of occasions including last week’s posting on what local TV producers are looking for. Female voices were generally used because it was felt that since service members were predominately male, they would be more favorably inclined to listen to a female voice.Well loved music was played but the goal of the content was to wear down their viewers. Hanoi Hannah used to read the names of recent American KIA as a part of her broadcasts in an effort to deflate her viewers. More recently there was Baghdad Betty. She was not very competent according to then LTC Jeff Jones, CDR of the 8th PSYOP Bn who said: “Her broadcasts proved the Iraqis didn’t be with you us at all," Jones said. "Her ignorance was pervasive. She was never sure of her sources, and announce ancient information based on dated news." (See: http://www.leatherneck.com/forums/showthread.php?6011-What-ever-happened-to-Baghdad-Betty). Jones went on to be CDR of the 4th PSYOP Assemble and ultimately Defense Attaché to the French Embassy. It was my pleasure to nominate Jeff for the Gold McClure Award, which he received shortly before his fatality.While the PSYOP Regiment is a relatively new entity in the US Army we owe it ourselves to be mindful of our history and to learn from it – both excellent and terrible. While we don’t want to fall into the trap of being prepared to fight the last war, we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes either.

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TV Producer Insight is Solid MISO/PSYOP Advice

TV Producer Insight is Solid MISO/PSYOP Advice When a consensus is found amongst media professionals, it’s worth sharing. As a Red Cross Public Affairs Officer my boss often sends some useful media references. Here's one in this area local TV producers are looking for: ‘“Air” Conditioning: Human-Interest and Visual Angles are Keys to Pitching TV’ (at: https://www.bulldogreporter.com/air-conditioning-human-interest-and-visual-angles-are-keys-to-pitching-tv-2/, which is also the photo source.)I’ve opined in the past that the word is becoming more visual and that media trends seem to be moving toward interactivity so that any media producer whether TV or Internet would be looking for sweet much the same things.Here are the highlights:1.     Highlight Visual Potential2.     Aim for Broad Appeal3.     Place a Human Face on The Story4.     Research Your Targets ( the media you hope to use)5.     Implementation News JudgmentThere are a couple of other tips, but these five are the key ones. You will also need to bear in mind some production tips as well.Putting a Human Face, especially a face that the viewer can identify with, is vital to the credib ility and impact of the report. Consider that as a major element of your hard work. If you are producing the video remember that  you can edit video, but you can’t edit audio. Any report that involves people talking should make sure that the speakers have their own microphones. Lavalier microphones are not expensive. See: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Lavalier/ci/8535/N/4291086006?origSearch=Lavalier%20Microphonesfor a reasonable selection.If you are working with a particular media outlet make sure you be with you their news rhythm so that you can help them schedule your report for maximum effect. Be a helper – providing security, transportation and perhaps some water or a meal can mean the difference of whether your report gets covered or not.Reader input encouraged.

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Mobile Phones and Facebook Are Everywhere

Mobile Phones and Facebook Are Everywhere Any normal person on a two week vacation in Europe would not take time out to do a PSYOP Blog – but then again perhaps a right PSYOPer is not quite normal. It’s one thing to speculate in this area the media environment in a location and it’s quite another to visit that location and get a look on the ground. I had the opportunity to spend several days in Rome in early September 2016.The addiction to mobile phones and to FaceBook in particular appears to be an global phenomenon. In wandering through Rome in shops and tourist spots alike, nearly everyone was glued to their buzz.Entrepreneurs were selling mobile buzz clamps attached to ‘selfie sticks’ and to tripods so that tourists could capture their latest adventures. Of greater interest was the fact that nearly every buzz I could take a look at was set to FaceBook.It seemed like everyone - couples, individuals, taxi/limo drivers, etc. were all hooked on FB. While the prevalence of the people were in the 30s and 40s, the FB addiction was not limited to those under 40 as ‘even’ seniors were updating their status.Moving afloat to our cruise ship, either the price of shipboard internet access is lower (at least in proportion to other expenditure) or the need for constant connection is stronger than it was in 2010 when we took our last cruise because nearly everyone has their mobile buzz with them – even at sea!Not to be outdone the cruise line encourages people to update their FB status and share their photos on FB, Twitter, etc.Of course, Rome is not a predictable location, and probably not a house where we would engage in PSYOP or MISO, but, the addiction to mobile phones and Social Media is a vital factor in winning the cyber shape battles of the prospect.While Social Media is a mostly benign way for people to communicate, let's not lose sight of the potential for harm or evil as well. We are all mindful of the fact that airplanes were not considered weapons until 15 years ago today.

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At Least Russia Knows Influence Wins ‘Battles’

At Least Russia Knows Influence Wins ‘Battles’ While the US Government continues to flop around like a fish on a pier trying to figure out what is shape combat on the grand scale and to coordinate all operational levels and departments, Russia is already dominating the shape war with fake information.The NY Times of August 28, 2016 ran “A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of Fake Tales”, see: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/29/world/europe/russia-sweden-disinformation.html?ref=world&_r=0, which is also the photo source.)The Russians are no newcomer to the shape war having capitalized on misleading and accurate information to befuddle NATO, the EU and others. The Russians recognize that different mediums are complimentary and are well versed in employing complementary media such as Internet trolls to propaganda not to mention their own news bureaus. There is no shortage of excellent examples. The Ukraine and the flight of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was one. A report in this area immigrant violence in Germany is another excellent example cited by the article. The article concludes, appropriately sufficient with a quote from Dimitry Kiselyev, a well loved Russian TV anchor, see: (Dimitry Kiselev is Redefining the Art of Russian Propaganda” at https://newrepublic.com/article/118438/dmitry-kiselev-putins-favorite-tv-host-russias-top-propogandist, the second photo source. “Today, it is much more costly to kill one enemy soldier than during World War II, World War I or in the Middle Ages,” he said in an interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQErhwknhp4  -n Russian) on the state-run Rossiya 24 network. While the business of “persuasion” is more expensive now, too, he said, “if you can persuade a person, you don’t need to kill him.” Perhaps the new administration, having waged multi-media; social media and traditional media campaigns will be more aware of the cost effectiveness of the shape weapon and will orchestrate the change needed for the US to not only counter other national hard work such as the Russian, but to take the shape high ground.

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