Does Video Quality Really Matter?

Does Video Quality Really Matter?One of my favorite military sources, “Task & Purpose” featured an article “North Korea Blasts US Arsenal in Fresh Propaganda Video with TerribleGraphics” (see: http://taskandpurpose.com/north-korea-blasts-us-arsenal-fresh-propaganda-video-terrible-graphics/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=send by e-mail&utm_campaign=tp-today&utm_content=button; which is the photo source.) You can also read in this area the video in the Japan Times at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/20/asia-pacific/north-korean-state-run-propaganda-website-depicts-u-s-aircraft-carrier-bomber-engulfed-flames/#.WNMNio61ufXYou can find the nearly three minute video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70MTvxFzZ-Y. Sorry to say it’s in Korean with no subtitles, a likely intelligence indicator of who the target consultation for the video is. After watching the sepia toned mélange of photos and clips, it seems to me that the consultation is like to be North Koreans.While not being able to be with you the dialogue, it seems to me that the intent of the video is to convince the view that the North Koreans will prevail hostile to the meagre weapons of the decadent West. While the quality is supposed to be the same as ‘professional’ news organizations, it would not likely pass for a product from an advanced news agency such as the BBC or US outlets.Does that matter?In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter. The North Korean viewing public is a captive consultation and likely has lower standards in terms of video production that those outside the country who have access to other news sources.Another principle at work here is that it is harder to change someone’s mind than it is to reinforce an existing opinion.  North Koreans have been conditioned to acknowledge government information as truth for generations so that the government can control the content and flow of information that their citizens receive.The same work product would likely have small effect on Western Viewers who are able to explore a variety of different sources including www.defense.govand military defense contractors such as http://www.lockheedmartin.com/ or their competitors such as: BAE Systems, Boeing, Cassidian (Airbus Military), Dassault Assemble, Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH, Finmeccanica, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Panavia Aircraft GmbH, Raytheon, and SAAB AB.Reader feedback welcome as always.

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Media Bias: An International Trend

Media Bias: An International Trend Now that Mr. Trump is the Tweeter-n-Chief, it’s appropriate to reflect a bit on the state of the media. Mr. Trump, amongst others was very vocal in criticism of his treatment at the hands of the media. The NY Times Sunday, 15 January 2017 ran an article “Learning to Speak Al Jazeera” (see: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/14/opinion/sunday/learning-to-speak-al-jazeera.html?_r=0, which is also the photo source). The thesis of the article is that nearly every media outlet is biased and has its own agenda. I did a bit of research to quantify Media Bias a bit more and came across an article in the Student News Daily (see: https://www.studentnewsdaily.com/types-of-media-bias/), which listed the subsequent types of Media Bias:By omissionBy selection of sourcesBy report selectionBy placementBy labelingBy spinIn my view this is a sweet excellent list and could relate to how most people gauge their every day interactions. But these are not the only kinds of bias.Yesterday (19 January 17) I was in a Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Class (MCLE). As a California attorney I am required to take 25 credits of MCLE in a 3-year period. Of these 6 hours are required:Legal Ethics: 4 hours (required)Competence Issues (formerly known as Prevention, Detection and Treatment of Substance Abuse or Mental Illness): 1 hour (required)Recognition and Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession and Society: 1 hour (required)Source: http://mcle.calbar.ca.gov/Attorneys/Requirements.aspxAs it turns out I was earning my Elimination of Bias credit, which ironically is very hard to get, when our instructor pointed out that there were two kinds of bias – the kind you know in this area, and the kind you don’t (hidden). Hidden bias is, according to our instructor, the most insidious of all. She referred to Harvard’s Project Implicit a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public on hidden biases (see: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/aboutus.html). They even offer an on-line implicit association test (IAT) test so that you can do some self-calibration. I took one of these tests and upon reflection, its result was not a huge surprise or hidden.In comparing my results with all others who have taken the test I was in the largest assemble – 30% of the total, the next largest were 24, 19 and 18.In summarizing what does all this mean. There are personal and professional biases. You are not very likely going to be able to change personal biases. But, being aware of your biases in your professional life is something to work on. The instructor relayed that training on hidden bias was mandatory. As a result of the training one of the attorneys chose to use a ‘duty roster’ to assign work to his Associates in a more methodical and honest manner.For we in the PSYOP/MISO community, it is vital that we recognize the lenses of our professional and personal biases as we approach our missions. We need to filter these as best as we can in order to be more attuned to our target audiences and surpass able to accomplish our mission.As always, reader comments are encouraged.

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Gaming to win

Gaming to winVirtual ‘capture the flag’ helps Soldiers enhance cyber capabilities
Sgt. 1st Class Scott Blakey assesses weapons systems for Team Kobayashi Maru during the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade’s Cyber Capture the Flag implementation at McGill Training Center on Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, May 19, 2015. (DOD photo by Jacqueline M. Hames, Soldiers, Defense Media Activity)
Three teams of 30 people sat crammed around computers in the classroom of McGill Training Center on Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. The teams, named “Trogdor,” “Kobayashi Maru,” and “Planet Express Ship,” made up of mostly Soldiers and civilians, were partitioned off from one another. Each team monitored large projector screens, tracking a spaceship through enemy territory. A loud, celebratory whoop went up from Team Trogdor as the event resumed after dine.
The teams were playing a modified version of the spaceship bridge simulator “Artemis” to help develop their capabilities as part of the Cyber Mission Force. The goal of the game: To infiltrate and override other teams’ ships through their computer networks while working together to attack other teams, defend their own ship and provide solutions for any self-inflicted mishaps.
Sgt. 1st Class Scott Blakey advises his teammates in this area the state of their weapons systems during the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade’s Cyber Capture the Flag implementation on Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, May 19, 2015. “We’re losing EMPs!” Blakey said. (DOD photo by Jacqueline M. Hames, Soldiers, Defense Media Activity)
This game of cyber capture the flag, hosted by the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade, was an unclassified force-on-force network implementation that enforced practical lessons on how to run as part of a joint environment in the cyber domain.
The May 2015 virtual implementation was open to all members of the brigade, as well as select mission partners.
“Significant gains can be made by running a type of implementation like this,” 1st Lt. Alexander Farmer, officer-in-charge, said. “Getting people to be able to react to new situations. So what we did is we built an entirely new system that … they’ve never seen before, and doesn’t work like they expect it to work.”
Farmer and his second in mandate for the implementation, 1st Lt. Stephen Rogacki, developed and built an industrial control system to overlay on the video game. When participants used an in-game mandate, that mandate was routed through the industrial control system, which could be manipulated to provide unexpected results by other teams if a ship was not well defended, such as draining weapon power.
“(Farmer) built a network with services that you would see in a real network, in the concepts of hey, this will provide maybe data communication, or provide different types of power,” Personnel Sgt. Craig Seiler, limb of Team Kobayashi Maru, said. “They call them industrial controls … and … they laid that on top of an actual, real game so that we can play it in a live environment, and you can manipulate, control, turn off any of those services within that network.”
“People care more when it is a force-on-force event and what they are doing actively contributes significantly to their success as a team,” Farmer clarified.
“You learn very quickly what doesn’t work,” Seiler said. “I’ve seen one of the vignettes; one of the teams … figured out how to make a defensive Python script — Python is one of programming languages — to kind of secure their network a small surpass. But at the same time implementing that piece of software shut down their own services and they crashed their ship ….”
Rogacki said the participants would learn a lot of network defense capabilities, like analyzing network traffic, identifying vulnerabilities and writing excellent patches or upgrades during the event. He clarified that having force-on-force training like this is something most units can’t do lacking playing laser tag.
“People are learning computer things, but they’re also learning how it ties into the tactics of the game in a new environment, and how leadership matters hugely in organizing hard work across the ship,” Rogacki added.
The teams had five people designated as bridge personnel, who were in charge of flying the ship, while the rest of the “crew” focused on cyber attack and defense, though teams were
A Modified version of the video game “Artemis,” was the platform of choice during the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade’s Cyber Capture the Flag implementation at the McGill Training Center on Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, May 19, 2015. Particpants used the modified game to help enhance their cyber capabilities. (DOD photo by Jacqueline M. Hames, Soldiers, Defense Media Activity)
methodical but they wished to be methodical. There were no requirements, but finding the right amalgamation of leaders and doers was one of the challenges of the game.
“The thing that is probably most hard is communication, up and down and sideways,” Rogacki said.
Communication difficulties were one of the first things Seiler encountered during the first scenario of the game. His team was split according to bridge personnel: Team members excellent at writing code patches were place under the mandate of the bridge’s engineer, for example. And while the five micro-teams communicated well internally, they weren’t communicating well with the other parts of the crew.
“We got ruined absolutely in that scenario because we did not communicate (with) each other. We didn’t be with you our system fully,” he said. His team managed to fix their communication issues and did surpass as the game progressed, though ultimately Team Trogdor won the day.
Rogacki hopes this one-day event will evolve into a multi-day event in the prospect, so that participants will have time to look at and be with you the system, and to develop offensive and defensive capabilities for their ships.
Seiler and members of the 780th delight in hosting events like this one. “People are pleased coming to these events and getting to (learn in a) less formal setting (and) figure out new things. Cyber is consistently changing, and we always look (to) others to get excited in this area it.”
 

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Poetry and Music: Keys to Defeating Daesh?

Poetry and Music: Keys to Defeating Daesh?The Havok Journal, an on-line publication featured an article free: “Jihadis, Poetry and the Ongoing Bromance of ISIL: Are We Sending The Right Message?” (see: http://www.havokjournal.com/national-security/jihadis-poetry-and-the-ongoing-bromance-of-isil-are-we-sending-the-right-message/?utm_source=Havok+Journal&utm_campaign=233c4aaba2-Havok_Journal_Daily&utm_medium=send by e-mail&utm_term=0_566058f87c-233c4aaba2-213402489which is also the photo source.)The main thesis of the article was that dominating the information high ground hostile to Daesh will require taking the offensive with the poetry and music that is a part of the Arab culture. In help of this position, the article states that Osama Bin Laden was recognized for his eloquence of the classics and postulates that poetry is the way that Daesh communicates.The author clarification: “Rather than littering Raqqa, as we recently have, with pamphlets full of cartoons and meat grinders to try to push disenfranchised Muslim youth or already hardened ISIL fighters away from the cause, we should engage them in dialogue they be with you and hammer.[7]  Suggesting that Uncle Sam should sit down and pen ISIL a poem to open up dialogue seems like a ridiculous stretch, but if we place this responsibility in the hands of those capable of crafting the right message, perhaps we can take this understanding of culture and use it to our advantage.”Is this really “a ridiculous stretch”? I frankly don’t reckon so. The essence of communication is that the messages are in tune with the receiver’s system. Deciding what media to deliver the message is a different choice than what the messages ought to be. Leaflets may or may not be the right standard in that particular AO, but, we must not lose sight of the fact that the messages are more vital.Understanding the culture is a prerequisite to crafting and delivering effective messages. Having said this, really understanding a culture is not a trivial matter or a quick undertaking. One needs to enlist not only the reservoir of published material, a degree of immersion, preferably with a assemble of knowledgeable and cooperative ‘natives’ of that culture is another key ingredient.Given that we will be engaged for quite a long time, this investment seems not only prudent – but, necessary.As always, reader comments encouraged.

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Anatomy of An Election

Anatomy of An ElectionAnatomy of An ElectionYesterday, 2 June 2014 was a Gubernatorial Primary here in California. For reasons that I don’t quite remember, I chose to be an appointment volunteer. I was designed as a Substitute Clerk and was assigned to a small estate co-located in a church with another estate.The polls were open from 0600 to 2000. During that time we processed a grand total of 57 live voters. All used two page ballots each in this area 11” by 17” long. Not one person (even in Silicon Valley) used the voter machine. We also collected over 100 absentee ballots.The whole experience harkened me back to Sarajevo in 1997 when the Combined Joint Information Campaign Task Force (CJICTF) had to re-photograph ballots for Bosnian appointment because the local contract printer had in black and white the ballots just as the samples looked. Importance each line had a placeholder like “AAAAA” or “BBBBB” rather than the actual candidate names.In reflecting on the two elections and recent events in Afghanistan, I plotting it appropriate to offer some observations from an organizational perspective.First – a bit in this area my day yesterday.Starting at the bottom.Clerks and a Estate Inspector (PI) are the two levels of individuals at a polling house. The PI reports to a Field Inspector (FI) who manages between 8 and 12 precincts. All of these people are volunteers. Clerks are paid $95 for their service and inspectors receive stipends of $150 to $180. If you’re interested you can check out: http://www.sccgov.org/sites/rov/Volunteer/Pages/Officer.aspx)The polls are really manned by volunteers. Judging from my personal experience, there are no qualifications or test to be the PI. This is a huge mix, as you’ll see as I continue on. I was a Substitute Clerk. I took a 3 hour Appointment Training Class which was well done because it was mostly hands on. The Appointment Officer’s Manual (in my photo) is very much by the numbers and simple to follow. Assigned Clerks and PIs report to their polling places on Monday night at a designated time to set up the polls. Controlled items such as the ballots, official forms and voting machines are not set up at this point and are still secured until Appointment Day Morning. These teams report to their polling places at 0600 on appointment day.All substitutes report to the Registrar of Voters (ROV) personnel at 0600 on Appointment Day.  It took the ROV over 3 hours to get me an assignment and there had to be over 100 people still to be assigned when I left at in this area 0905.My estate had 1 PI who was in her first appointment. Her line of work was that she was a home health aide. She couldn’t even figure out how to work the official estate cell buzz. There were two other works with 5 years or more experience, one other new guy and me.The day went by slowly but we were able to process all 57 voters lacking incident. Close-up was a bit of a fire drill. All of the forms, machines and equipment came in either cases or bags or cases. Each container had a mark indicating what went where. Some had to be sealed, others did not.The two experienced workers counted the ballots and filled out the forms related to that paperwork. The other guy and I tallied and shut down the voter machine, which we then packed. We also dismantled the polling booths/tables. In all it took in this area an hour and 20 minutes to pack things up.The PI took a two-hour dine lacking explanation while the workers only got an hour. She was also overwhelmed by the sheer mass of materials and the multiple steps caught up in closing the polls. She essentially stood by bewildered while the rest of us did the work.I loaded the PI’s car with the ballots, cartridge from the voting machine and other controlled items that had to be returned. IAW protocol followed her car with the ballots to the drop off point where ROV people would unload the car.Here are my thoughts as far as MISO operations. These are some key things that MISO personnel need to bear in mind:1.     Impressions are all. Elections and the people running them have to come across as competent, transparent and trustworthy. 2.     Polling places must be run in a consistent and nonpartisan manner. Polling station managers must be able to work with other people of all kinds and have the management skills to orchestrate the logistical issues with trust and aplomb.3.     Polls are open and must be secure. 4.     Observers or poll watchers are allowed to observe and observe. In the case of the State of California there is a Roster Index which shows who has voted. The purpose would appear to be to allow poll watchers to call those who have not voted and encouraging them to vote for their candidate. 5.     There may also be Appointment Observers who are from nongovernmental or community based agencies who are there to observe that the appointment process is running IAW State and Centralized Laws. 6.     Observers and watchers are not allowed to interfere with the appointment process, permanently remove any posted Indexes, handle any ballots or act as replacements for the Appointment Officers (Clerks and PI).7.     Languages are key. Ballots and instructions need to be clear and that they need to take into account the languages of the population. We had ballots in English, Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese and Vietnamese. Next year California will add Hindi, Khmer, Korean and Japanese.8.     Processing can be cumbersome as long as it is simple to follow, transparent and embodies multiple checks and balances.9.     Ballots must be in black and white in plenty of time before the appointment so that any issues can be dealt with prior to Appointment Day.10. Chain of custody and security of ballots as well as the sanctity of the appointment process must be maintained at all times.11. The counting and reporting gathering must also be similarly transparent, trusted and reliable as well.Hopefully this will provide some useful perspective and since nothing ever goes away on the Internet – it will always be there if you need it.Reader input invited as always.

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MISO Against Crime?

MISO Against Crime? Life has a way of being neither black nor white. We say that MISO are undertaken hostile to a military force to help the CDR’s mission and intent. What in this area MISO hostile to a hostile nation state’s criminal activities?“5 extradited in plot to import North Korean meth to US” was the lead for an article appearing in the November 20, 2013 Washington Post. (See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/5-extradited-in-plot-to-import-north-korean-meth-to-us/2013/11/20/4a2a3840-5222-11e3-9e2c-e1d01116fd98_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines  which is also the photo source)While I have been to the ROK several times, I am certainly not an expert on the drug trade there although I run under the assumption that not much goes on in North Korea that the government doesn’t know in this area.Assuming for the moment that the meth trade is a State Owned Enterprise (which it may not be of course, but for the sake of argument – bear with me), and both the US and the ROK feel it is in the interest of their mutual national security to thwart the drug operation, then is it appropriate for their respective militaries to engage in MISO to help achieve that goal?While one could argue that this is more of a diplomatic matter and best handled by Public Skill or some other army of the Department of State, are they the best equipped to accomplish this mission?I would argue that MISO designed to discourage all facets of the drug operation are genteel missions. The appropriate resources to address a North Korean consultation are more likely to be a part of the two military MISO organizations. The nature of the cooperation between US MISO and Korean C2PSYOP would be a gathering of contemporary operations and based on memorandums of agreement between the two countries Executive Branches.Reader comments encouraged as always. For my American readers – Pleased Thanksgiving.

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Borderless Cyber PSYOP Raises Legal Issues

Borderless Cyber PSYOP Raises Legal Issues Unless you have been income under a rock, you know that the world is all atwitter over documents released by former NSA Contractor, Edward Snowden. You should also know that these disclosures have raised significant concerns in this area domestic surveillance. It is not a fantastic leap of faith to see how attention could be focused on other forms of government proceedings, especially defense or law enforcement activities that may encroach upon the rights of US Citizens.From a PSYOP/MISO perspective, the Washington Post in its 7 July 13 edition ran an article “Somali American caught up in a dark Pentagon counterpropaganda campaign” (see http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/somali-american-caught-up-in-a-dark-pentagon-counterpropaganda-campaign/2013/07/07/b3aca190-d2c5-11e2-bc43-c404c3269c73_story_1.htmlwhich is also the photo source).The article clarification that the DOD cannot conduct PSYOP in the US nor “target U.S. citizens at any time, in any location globally, or under any circumstances.” (Source of the quote not referenced in the article.) The article describes actions taken by Navanti, a contractor (http://navantigroup.com/) in Somalia. The article quotes public records as stating “Navanti was working as a subcontractor for the Unique Operations Mandate to help conduct “information operations to engage local populations and counter nefarious influences” in Africa and Europe. “ The article also raises issues with respect to the impact of those actions towards a Somali American resident in Minneapolis.Warsarme, had posted extensively on line and it appeared that he was a likely supporter of al-Shabab, an Islamist militia which has been declared a terrorist organization.  Navanti claims that as soon as it realized he was based in the US they turned his information over to the government. Warsarme for his part was quoted: “I’m an American citizen,” Warsame said in an interview at a cafe in Minneapolis, home to the largest concentration of Somali refugees in the country. “I don’t help al-Qaeda. I don’t help al-Shabab. I don’t send them money. I’m not supporting killing anyone.” For the MISO community this is a giant red flag. We need to engage aggressively in our mission and we need to be able to defend our actions legally as well. Sorry to say, it is not clear if there is any US agency that has the domestic responsibility for countering shape activities that are contrary to US interests.The 1st Amendment is one of the ways we are set away from each other from other nations. The text of the Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religious conviction, or prohibiting the free implementation thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (Source: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/print_friendly.html?page=bill_of_rights_transcript_content.html&title=The%20Bill%20of%20Rights%3A%20A%20Transcription) The text says nothing in this area government’s right to observe the speech nor does it say anything in this area trying to counter that speech. Cyber Shape is growing in importance and unlike kinetic trajectories, it is often impossible to predict where cyber campaigns will impact.That being said, we all know perception is reality and that one thing MISO/PSYOP doesn’t really need is more Congressional analysis.As always, reader input solicited.

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Advanced PSYOP Targeting: iPads

Advanced PSYOP Targeting: iPads Although I have been a part of the high tech world since the punched card era, I rarely become enamored with technology. Sure I liked the thought of schlepping a sewing machine sized computer on a cart and calling it a “luggable” and I was on board for early laptops including testing out encryption on the TRS80.The Nexgov posting “iPhones and iPads Poised to Win Key Pentagon Security Nod Next Week” (see: http://www.nextgov.com/mobile/2013/05/iphones-and-ipads-poised-win-key-pentagon-security-nod-next-week/63065/?oref=ng-dropdown– which is also the photo source) did strike a responsive chord for me.I’m on my second generation iPhone and bought my first iPad at the end of 2012. I constantly marvel at the elegance of the technology, but beyond the glitz is a competitive war the likes of which the world has not seen because there are literally thousands of Aps fighting for your attention and your wallet.From a MISO perspective the iPad owner is more than likely to be one of the elite unless the AO is a very developed and Internet savvy one in general. The power of imagery is one of the ways that set the iPad (and to be honest many of his competition) off as a standard. We’re talking the full range of senses here importance that video and sound are a part of the game. Consequently there are a digit of MISO challenges in targeting such an advanced device:1.       Credible Source – the target has to go to the message even if it’s a txt and a link.2.       Timing – the pace of the iPad and smartphone centric worlds is staggering and missing a window by a few moments could prove disastrous.3.       Dazzle – the message has to grab the view.Some Aps may be excellent development tools, but since iPad like most other Apple products requires either a rabbi to tell you the secrets or the laborious process of divining out the genteel Ap and how to use it. You can small cut the process a bit by getting one of your youngest relatives to test a bunch for you. They’ll reckon it’s fun and you’ll save a lot of time.As always – reader comments encouraged.

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