UAV’s and Propaganda

UAV’s and PropagandaLast night my wife and I saw “Eye in the Sky” with Helen Mirren (see: http://www.wired.com/2016/04/eye-in-the-sky-modern-war-film/) .The film does a nice job of dramatizing the choice making behind the go/no-go choice for an attack. The scenario is set in Kenya, an ally. Helen Mirren, as a British Colonel has been tracking a British national who was radicalized, her husband and two new suicide bomber recruits. The plot leads all of the suspects to be in the same house at the same time in a militia controlled slum. The drama is went by the side of by having the consultation identify with a local young (12?) girl who is selling bread outside the house.Mirren’s personnel calculates a 65% certainty that the girl will be killed in a missile strike. Proceedings goes back and forth until the two new suicide bombers are fitted with vests and explosives. Ultimately Mirren forces her targeting officer to lower his Guarantee Hurt Estimate (CDE) to 45% which she believes will turn the no-go into a go.Part of the opinion center on the propaganda value of the strike. The diplomats argue that killing the one girl gives the propaganda victory to the enemy while allowing the suicide bombers to strike a soft target and cause extensive carnage would give the allies the propaganda victory.While there was a flying cockroach like recon drone taking footage of the suicide bombers getting their vests – and of course all was recorded, no mention was made of the need to justify the strike using that video.Worth your time and probably a excellent write off as a business expense!Photo Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOqeoj669xg

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Must Read Wired Article – Why ISIS is Winning the Social Media War – April 2016

Must Read Wired Article - Why ISIS is Winning the Social Media War - April 2016 Why ISIS is winning the Social Media War – Brendan I. Koerner Wired Magazine, April 2016 Wired magazine ran a very fascinating and must read article for PSYOP professionals addressing the why and how ISIS has turned itself into a media and branding machine. I couldn’t find the article on line for some reason – it’s worth buy the magazine this month just for this article! Here are some key points: Daesh “has long taken pride in its flair for developing content that is innovative and repugnant in equal rate.” P 78 The shrewd use of digital media was integral to ISIS’ lightning-quick expansion in 2013 and 2014” p 80 The videos serve many purposes besides recruitment. Videos produced on ride alongs with fatality squads have “helped persuade police and soldiers in other cities to melt away rather than resist when they heard that ISIS forces were on the march.” P 81 “social media has lowered the bar of entry for recruits” p 81 The article concludes “ We must resist the distorting effects of the media “media halo” that the Islamic State has built for itself, while never forgetting the considerable power of our own.” Photo Source: Wired Magazine pages 76 & 77, April 2016

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Can Irrational Leadership Help PSYOP Campaigns?

Can Irrational Leadership Help PSYOP Campaigns?We all know that to be effective PSYOP must be based on truth. In watching the pandemonium we call the Presidential appointment process, I’ve been wondering – would MISO/PSYOP be simpler if the enemy believed your nation’s leader was irrational?I recognize that this is a weird premise – not unlike the basis for the Broadway show “The Producers”. In the show Leo Bloom, an accountant convinces Max Bialystock a washed up producer that unscrupulous producers could make more money from a show that flopped than from a show that was successful. His theory was that if the show goes belly up the investors would not be looking for any of their money back so that the Producers could keep that money.Returning to the case of irrational leaders – would a PSYOP campaign claiming that a potential catastrophic event will take house be more credible if the consultation believed that the country’s leader would really go through with it lacking regard to the rational consequences?Turning to a very excellent example of irrational leadership, Kim Jong Un. Would we be more inclined  to believe that he would launch a nuke than we would one being luanched by a less ‘erratic leader’? I dare say that the media, at least ,pays attention to all that the Supreme Leader says and scrutinizes it afterwards.This is clearly not the case with Park Geun-hye, the President of the Republic of Korea to the South who is a more traditional head of state.Consider this as our appointment season continues to tell.(Photo Source: http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/02/kim-jong-un-north-korea-understanding)

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State Department to Lead New Global Counterterrorism Communications Office

State Department to Lead New Global Counterterrorism Communications Office The White House issued an Executive order on March 16, 2016 establishing the Global Engagement Center (GEC) “which shall lead the coordination, integration, and synchronization of Government-wide communications activities directed at foreign audiences abroad in order to counter the messaging and diminish the shape of global terrorist organizations, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), al Qa'ida, and other violent extremists abroad” (See: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/03/17/2016-06250/developing-an-integrated-global-engagement-center-to-help-government-wide-counterterrorismand  http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/01/251066.htm)Here are a couple of highlights of GEC’s responsibilities taken from the Executive Order:1.     coordinating, integrating, and synchronizing all public communications of the United States Government directed toward foreign audiences abroad in order to counter the messaging and diminish the shape of global terrorist organizations and other violent extremists abroad;2.     identifying, engaging, employing, or acquiring the best available talent across the U.S. and from global private sectors, academia, and somewhere else to help the Center's mission;3.     identifying shortfalls in any U.S. capabilities in any areas relevant to the Center's mission and implementing or recommending, as appropriate, necessary enhancements or changes; and4.     (developing, supporting, and sustaining networks of governmental and non-governmental partners, to provide original content and disseminate messaging products to foreign audiences abroad and to make, develop, and sustain effective clear different narratives consistent with U.S. policy objectives.The order also indicates that other departments are to cooperative in this venture.What does this mean to the MISO Community?For one thing it’s recognition of a worldwide communications challenge that needs to be globally managed. It also properly recognizes that communications outside the US is a diplomatic job and puts the onus where it belongs.Conceptually at least this may mean an opportunity for members of the MISO community to be loaned out for TDY to help out. This may also mean that appropriate MIST teams may find themselves engaged with a fledgling entity.In any event, it looks like a reasonable way to approach a growing challenge. Why the Gecko? Well GEC seemed to lend itself to the acronym and the linkage - after all, many people had quite a bit of fun with the swap of PSYOP for MISO. (Photo Source: www.geico.com)

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PSYOPing Convoys – Any Suggestions?

PSYOPing Convoys – Any Suggestions?  Normally my postings are in ‘transmit mode, that is I’m sending information and/or opinion and analysis. Today’s posting is a bit different. I’m asking for some suggestions. Recently I was working a CPX where the scenario called for non-kinetic measures to be applied hostile to a convoy to encourage them to turn around before kinetic measures were taken. The scenario was written before I arrived on the scene so all I could realistically do is to work with what was given.Small country wherein an Army officer had the loyalty of several brigades. One of those brigades was slated to go from its home location to the capital city as a part of an attack to dislodge the government.The scenario I was given said “there were leaflets on the ground”, etc.Other facts included that this particular army had no anti-aircraft capability other than small arms and RPGs. The convoy had only one route by the side of the MSR.My op was sweet simple. Rotary wing aircraft dropped leaflets on the convoy’s route with some of them really falling over the vehicles (remember this is make believe). Of course the convoy continued on until a couple of F18s took out the lead element.I’ll be replaying this scenario in the near prospect and would appreciate any suggestions from the field.

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To Lealet or Not To Leaflet – That is the question!

To Lealet or Not To Leaflet – That is the question! Leaflets and loudspeakers go together like “hearts and minds”. Are they as universally successful as some PSYOP/MISO experts would like us to believe or is their use over rated? The MISO world is well-known for, as I call them, “Give up Now and Beat The Rush” campaigns. The classic campaigns in Iraq were touted as resounding successes and we have probably littered the landscape in nearly every conflict we’ve been in. (see: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1915&dat=20030201&id=bp5GAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3PgMAAAAIBAJ&pg=2995,18570&hl=en)The US is not the only country engaged in leaflet operations. The Koreas have traded leaflets over their borders for decades and even Israel has gotten into the act (see: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2006/07/im_covered_in_leaflets.html)Are we caught confusing Measures of Performance (MOP) with Measures of Effectiveness (MOE)? MOP would be the digit of leaflets dropped and MOE is what happened afterwards. How many enemy (or friendly) behaved in the manner prescribed by the leaflets.In some conflicts such as Afghanistan the illiteracy rate is very high. Consequently leaflets cannot contain terms. Given the culture abyss that exists between East and West – can effective leaflets be conceived that work on illiterate populations?Sometimes leaflets lacking terms are like jokes you don’t get. While the reference website for this week’s picture is not necessarily in the best of taste, the meme captures my feelings sweet well.I’ve been caught up in a digit of exercises while serving and thereafter. Generally the faithful leaflet is called into service in just in this area all of them. Are they useful in some situations – of course, are they the PSYOP silver bullet?I reckon not.(Photo source: http://www.quickmeme.com/Psyops-Leaflet-Drop)

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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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