Building A Task Force? Start at the top.

Building A Task Force? Start at the top.One thing in this area the military and that is you can count on a manual or a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for just in this area anything. Whether it’s marching or filling out a form, there’s sure to be a document around to tell you how to do it.So – why does it often make sense not to even open the book?I’m on assignment where we are simulating the personnel of a MG that has been hastily assembled in response to a quandary in a foreign country. As typical, I’m the IO SME and the task of establishing the nature of the MISO task force falls to me.My starting point was the probable rank of the Task Force (TF) CDR and a SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) as to the comparable size of the MISO unit. Having had many years of production with real and notional Task Forces as well as a perspective on their size and leadership through the years, my gut feel is sweet excellent and, as it turns out, backed up by doctrine as well.Over the years I’ve learned some valuable lessons. One of those is that success on a personnel may be due in part to your ability to gain access to the right meetings and working groups and to be able to hold your own in these groups. Sending an exceptionally talented officer who is too junior in rank might work in the commercial sector, but not in a senior center of operations.I recall that my boss in Bosnia was an 06, while I was a humble 05. He felt that access to the GOs was so vital to the ultimate success of the unit that he insisted on billeting with them at the NATO HQ while I was ‘with the troops’ on the other end of town.Turns out that he was right as some battles where just to get in and see the right person to able to state your case. Access was very much based on rank rather than competence.Reader input is encouraged.

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The 2016 Super Bowl and PSYOP

The 2016 Super Bowl and PSYOPI’m probably the last guy in the world to use sports analogies and I duly apologize to my non-US readers – but the 2016 Super Bowl was a fantastic example of PSYOP. The ‘smart money’ was on the Carolina Panthers and their astounding Quarterback, Cam Newton, to best the ‘ancient-time’ Denver Broncos and their fading leader, Peyton Manning. Manning was, after all, the oldest QB to play in a super bowl.(Score Photo Source: http://www.nfl.com/scores While Denver had a excellent defense, the Panthers were touted as an all around surpass team. After all, they had a 16/1 confirmation and had won a digit of games in blow-outs during the season, while Denver had some real squeakers to make it to the Super Bowl. Their young and mobile QB was 6’5” and weighed in at 245 pounds – larger than ‘normal quarterbacks. (See: http://espn.go.com/blog/statsinfo/post/_/id/111444/sizing-up-cam-newton)A key military principle is that the advantage goes to the defender. Does this mean that a excellent defense will counter a fantastic offense? Perhaps, but not by itself.In the case of the Super Bowl we had kinetic PSYACTs. QB sacks and mandatory fumbles combined to rattle the seemingly always-confident Newton. Perhaps it was because Carolina had not faced such a excellent defense all season, or perhaps Newton is too young and inexperienced in the NFL to deal with setbacks or perhaps the Super Duper Super Bowl stage was too huge.Here’s a shot of Cam Newton during the Star Luminous Banner (source: http://thebiglead.com/2016/01/13/panthers-fan-writes-epistle-to-editor-to-instruct-panthers-on-genteel-national-song of praise-propriety/)Here he is walking off the field. Clearly a general who has been defeated, perhaps by himself. His counterpart, Peyton Manning was not much of a star, but he was the general of the winning ream.  (Source: http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2016/02/07/cam-newton-exits-post-game-press-talks/)PSYOP can work in many settings – even in sports!

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PSYOP and Commercial Influence: Another Perspective

PSYOP and Commercial Influence: Another Perspective I was attending a training session for the DOD Employer Help to Guard and Reserve (ESGR). During the session I was questioned to give an impromptu introduction into “Marketing”. Since there is an on-going conversation as to the similarities and differences between commercial shape (marketing, sales & Public Relations) and PSYOP/MISO, I plotting I would share the essence of that presentation in this posting.I view the commercial shape world as three complementary functions: Public Relations (PR), marketing and sales. Unlike the military where the reporting structure is clear, this is sometimes not the case in the commercial sector. I have been in organizations where Marketing, Sales and PR each are headed by Vice Presidents and report to the CEO. In other places Marketing and PR are combined.PR has a clear mission: communicate the organization’s messages.Sales also has a clear mission: breed revenue.Marketing’s job is primarily to help sales, but can also provide help to PR.In the military world Public Affairs (PR) is the CDR’s voice to the media. They get to target audiences both foreign and domestic through the media. PSYOP, for the sake of discussion, has the marketing and sales missions.In this case I equate sales to “Face to Face” communications. PSYOP teams are in direct, personal contact with the population and take on the role of a sales force.MISO forces make products that are used in the media and are used directly with the population. MISO can buy or trade for photograph space or announce time. They can, as do commercial entities, hire contractors to write white papers, articles and OpEd materials in help of the CDR’s messages. (Note: this post is not meant to chat about issues of sourcing and attribution, but rather only the techniques. MISO also makes leaflets (sort of like commercial brochures), posters, comic books, etc.Commercial entities are making aggressive use of Social Media with an emphasis on FaceBook and Twitter. Strikes me that PA is the right military specialty to take the CDR’s messages through Social Media. I’m not quite sure that MISO doctrine has caught up with MISO’s role in Social Media and invite knowledgeable readers to chime in here.The point of today’s entry is that there are valid comparisons between commercial shape and PSYOP/MISO. They may not be exactly right – but they certainly can clarify MISO to CDR and other stakeholders.

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Rules for Playing On the Islamic Home Field

Rules for Playing On the Islamic Home FieldWith the 50th Super Bowl around the corner, sports metaphors abound this time of year. The PSYOP Community finds itself playing in ‘home fields’ around the world. Many of today’s AOs are in the Islamic world, an area of the world and a culture that are foreign to many of us.I had the fantastic pleasure of attending a lecture sponsored by the Safe Communites Institute, a part of the USC Price School of Public Policy. The speaker, Dr. Doron Pely is the Executive Director of the Sulha Research Institute (see: www.Sulha.org) and a colleague of mine at TALGlobal (www.talglobal.com).While we are taught that it’s often perilous to generalize, sometimes an educated, Kentucky windage leveraged analysis is a surpass house to start than one of ignorance. Today’s posting is a synthesis of the hour and half lecture. The data upon which it is based comes from a few sources. The essence is a comparison of perceptions of Israeli’s by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and vice versa – the perception of Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza Strip by Israelis. Arabs gathered Arab perception data while Israelis collected Israeli perception data.The yucky generalization is that these perceptions will closely align with perceptions of the “West” by Islamic populations in areas of conflict, especially those AOs with active military operations. How does the target consultation perceive you?According to the research, the West is viewed with the subsequent descriptors:·      Terrible, dishonest and uneducated.·      Cowardly and cruel.·      Violent with a lack of pity.The research also indicated that the West is perceived as lacking understanding of Islamic culture and lacking in empathy. This last point is vital because empathy is a vital prerequisite for conflict resolution.Research also showed that the Palestinians were split sweet evenly as to whether they felt it was beneficial to achieve a peaceful agreement. This point means that most Islamic conflict AOs will start with the West playing bump-up in gaining the trust and confidence of the population. The New “Normal”Those of use who have studied psychology in Western Universities learned the classic Maslow hierarchy of needs as shown below. (Diagrams courtesy of Sulha Research Center)But, the Sulha Pyramid below shows a juxtaposition that is fundamental to understanding Islamic culture. Notice that the basic physiological needs are in the middle of the pyramid with Honor & Admire needs as the base and Belonging as the second layer. Prior to wrapping up, let me offer the best practices provided in the lecture.1.     Mind the rituals.Small cuts won’t cut it. Building trust and respecting the process is a key to success.2.     Watch the state of Honor.Honor as fundamental in Islamic culture as fundamental as food and drink in the West.3.     Mind PrecedentsJust as you would with a court case, do some research to validate that what you want to do now has been done in the past.4.     Remember your role.A vital hint is that those with power ‘pull’ while those who perceive themselves as victims will ‘push’. Pulling implies indirect pressure.5.     Keep the constituencies in mind.Consider each party’s perspective.6.     Use creative reframing.Constantly insure that you are in empathy with the process while framing your positions.We in the PSYOP community need to be lifetime learners, sometimes this also means we need to search for new perspectives that help us optimize our hard work in diverse AOs.Reader input encouraged!

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Narratives and Messages – Key to Influence & Counter-Influence

Narratives and Messages – Key to Influence & Counter-InfluenceFocus is a key to shape success. Unless you know your messages and that of your opponent, you will not succeed. A narrative often forms the core of an enemy’s attraction. For example, Qulliam, a UK based reckon tank characterizes the ISIS narrative as: “Islam is under attack and we must defend it”  (see: quilliam.org; Countering Islamist Extremist Narratives: A Strategic Briefing, January 2016).Quilliam also reports that “ISIS publishes more than 30 unique pieces of propaganda each day, and its broader narrative can be stratified into six sub-themes: Brutality; Mercy; War; Victimhood; Belonging; and Utopianism” and argues that “Only by countering the broad Islamist narrative, and how ISIS uses it in its propaganda to radicalise and recruit, will we be able to make progress in our foreign policy priorities for pursuing peace and stability in the region.”Developing an effective counter narrative requires an in depth understanding of the basis for the target narrative as well as a keen grasp of the communications media and vehicles use to shape target audiences. Naturally language and credibility are key as well as the ability to raise issues with the enemy narrative while not denigrating the base documents upon which the enemy alleges that the narrative is based.While Quilliam may argue that an attack on the broadest of narratives is the most logical starting point, an different approach might be to address sub-themes through a family of messages for each sub-theme and building up a case with the attack on the broader narratives. The report noted above has some brilliant references and examples and is worth your time to check out. As always, reader input encouraged.Photo Source: http://www.penguin.com/book/moby-dick-by-herman-melville/9781101100431

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