FaceBook – the Not So Secret Influence Tool

FaceBook – the Not So Secret Influence Tool--> I admit I’m somewhat of a FB junkie. I’m on the site at least a couple of times a day. And, like most of us, I have read in this area how the Russians purportedly influenced the US appointment by amplifying the views of  the ‘right’. An example I read today was a September 6, 2017 article in the NY Times “Fake Russian Facebook Accounts Bought $100,000 in Political Ads” (see: http://nyti.ms/2eJpGyw) addresses one facet of the Russian campaign.I frankly didn’t get the importance of FB as an shape standard until August 30, 2017 when I was questioned to be the Red Cross spokes person (I’ve been a Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer for years) at the San Francisco ABC Affiliate’s Day of Giving in help of people effected by Hurricane Harvey.In addition to taking donations and pledges over the buzz, my job would be to be a Red Cross voice if needed on camera. Since the last time I had been in a TV studio was in 1997 in Pale, Bosnia, I was rather looking forward to it.The actual ‘shooting’ schedule for the news was somewhat of a moving target, but I was told that we would be doing a segment on FaceBook Live. Presume my surprise when I was escorted to the FaceBook Live control room at the station. During the telethon I was fortunate sufficient and delighted to be on FBLive with Spencer Christian, one of the station’s key weather people.  (Photo source this week: FaceBook shots take by the Author)Unlike ‘real’ TV interviews that require heavy cameras, FB Live needs only a buzz. Of course, having a quality microphone dramatically improves the overall quality of the experience by raising the caliber of the sound.For those of us in the PSYOP/MISO world, this underscores the importance of the Internet as an shape standard. It also means that we need to always be on the lookout for people that can be effective and credible spokespeople.An unfortunate downside is that tactical CDR at all levels may assume that they are PSYOP experts and take to the airwaves themselves. History has shown that this is generally not a excellent thought, but as we have discussed on the POVA page on FaceBook and somewhere else, there is not too much you can do other than hurt control.--> Now, more than ever, we need to pay more attention to Social Media and its role in our respective shape campaigns. As always, reader input invited!

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Counterespionage – An Indicator of Effective Influence?

Counterespionage – An Indicator of Effective Influence?The July 19, 2007 edition of the UK publication Send a message to (see: http://www.send a message to.co.uk/news/2017/07/19/eu-employing-counter-espionage-tools-brexit-talks-amid-fears/, which is also the photo source) ran an article “EU employees espionage tools at Brexit talks amid fears of British spying”. The article talks in this area the security concerns of the EU BREXIT negotiating team.The implication is that the EU is concerned that Britain would use unfair means to learn in this area the plans and intentions of the EU team. Is it possible to interpret this in another way?Augmented security hard work reflect a dread that the ‘enemy’ is gaining an advantage in the ‘battle’. In this case the battle is over the terms of the British exit from the EU.In other situations, Venezuela for instance, augmented actions hostile to opponents are often cloaked in security terms when the real motivation is that the enemy force is winning the shape battle in the mind of public opinion. Reader comments invited.

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Twitter Is A Game With Real Consequences

Twitter Is A Game With Real Consequences I’m not much of games player, but I chose to play one today. I chose to follow @POTUS. I mean after all, how often is it that you can get statements right from the Horse’s Mouth.The President has often been criticized for this Tweet from the Hip style. I dare say that it was that style that helped get him the White House in the first house. Does President Trump know how to play the Twitter game? It would seem so. (Photo Source: https://twitter.com/POTUS)Others, like the media, perhaps, not nearly as excellent as be with you the Twitter Game.On May 23, 2017 the NY Times published an article free “How Twitter is Being Gamed to Feed Misinformation” (see: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/31/technology/how-twitter-is-being-gamed-to-feed-misinformation.html?_r=0; which is also a photo source).   My own career has been intertwined with the media as well. I wrote articles for a variety of publications, published a couple of newsletters, and continue to write this Blog after nearly 10 years.I’ve also been someone who has worked with the global media in government, commercial and non-profit roles.I’m learning that Twitter is not a purveyor of truth, but more of a conduit for thoughts emotions and messages. Tweeting is an accepted form of journalism and Tweets themselves are sources for journalists. As the article clarification the 140 reputation format is a godsend for journalists and others looking for small, pithy quotes that make their job simpler. Sorry to say it doesn’t make the journalist more accurate, it just rewards laziness.Twitter can also be the voice of the herd. Public interest and concern in this area national disasters can be gleaned from the type and velocity of Tweets in this area it. Traffic peaks and ebbs, reflecting the cumulative perspective of the herd.Twitter is a notoriously unreliable source whose constituency includes  unreal people and groups and whose platform allows small groups to act and shape as huge ones.People and robotic re-Tweeting can add gasoline to the fire as noted in the article.Given its importance perhaps those exciting with implementing MISO should have a proficiency test as they do with their personal weapons.Reader input invited.

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Communicating in An Urban Disaster

Communicating in An Urban Disaster --> PSYOP/MISO are often called upon to help out in Disaster Recovery by communicating information to those affected by the disaster. San Jose is the 10th largest city in America with over 1 million people. The Coyote Creek runs north from Morgan Hill, CA. It is feed by Lake Anderson, a lake behind an earthen dam – Anderson Dam. For years the dam has needed seismic retrofitting and was supposed to be kept at 68%. Due to the recent rains here the dam was at 100%. A spillway is used to drain the water. The spillway flows into the creek which meanders through San Jose. If you Google “Rock Springs, San Jose” you’ll get a nice map.At one point 14,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders. These were ‘delivered’ block by block. There was also wide spread TV and other media coverage.. This week my wife and I are working for the Red Cross in help of the San Jose (CA) Coyote Creek Floods. My role is that of Lead Public Affairs Officer.Government and community organizations needed to get information out to the affected people and the general public. The Red Cross opened two shelters to help those impacted by the disaster. Given this as background, here’s what I’ve learned so far this week.1.     Nearly everyone is glued to his or her cell buzz. 2.     Charging stations and WiFi are more vital than washers and dryers.3.     Language skills are always useful. They are helpful in working the and of course, those impacted by the disaster.4.     No matter how urbanized an area may be, you will need low-tech communication media. There is no substitute for face-to-face communications or flyers. Merely putting something on-line is not sufficient.5.     As in war, no plot survives contact. The dynamics of a disaster and the effects on the population are always unpredictable.6.     Once the disaster subsides, politicians will rush to pin the blame somewhere else.7.     Announce media channels are competitors. They are each scrambling to find the best metaphors.8.     Reporters and politicians say what they reckon their viewers/viewers or constituents are most likely to want to hear and not consider the huge picture of what actions people should take or not take to lessen the distress.Reader input invited as always.Photo Source: The Author

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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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Combatting Radicalization Through Government Influence: Good, Bad or Ugly?

Combatting Radicalization Through Government Influence: Good, Bad or Ugly?The NY Times on October 19, 2015 published an article “Britain Unveils Plans to Fight Extremism in Young Muslims” (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/20/world/europe/david-cameron-britain-muslims-radicalization.html?_r=0)While this proposed program is only in it’s formative stages, the article has some key points that are worthy of consideration by the shape community writ large.Here are a couple of key points:1.     How aggressively can a government confront extremism lacking alienating their opposing moderates?2.     Will promoting a nation’s values (British, American, German, etc.) raise strong concerns of moderates in the target consultation?3.     Is it really possible to ‘clamp down on the broadcasting of extremist messages… by involving the “industry government and the public”’?The article itself is concerned with shape hard work inside Britain, yet the three points above are applicable to many contemporary and potential shape battlefields. The notion of domestic shape is one that has not been widely considered.Recent incidents conducted by non-affiliated terrorists (e.g. Boston Bombing) or by domestic terrorists (Oklahoma City) confirm that the threat exists in the US as well as Britain. The implication is that anyone inside a country may be radicalized. Does the government have a duty to try and prevent the radicalization by employing its resources to disrupt the radicalizer and minimize the effectiveness of their messages and if so, how likely is it that they will succeed?Taking each point in turn.Any shape effort needs to strike a balance. This implies careful research and perhaps pre-testing, focus groups and enlisting moderates to help craft the campaign and its messages.Secondly, promoting one’s values to another is IMHO not a excellent strategy. Others outside your sphere really don’t want your values – they have grown up with theirs and only multi-generational evolutions can alter that path.Lastly, given the porous and borderless nature of social media, this would seem like the digital equivalent of cleaning out the Augean Stables. Even so, is it worth the attempt?Reader input invited.

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Is Media “Support” A MISO Mission?

Is Media “Support” A MISO Mission?On September 22, 2105 the Altlanticist ran an article “Western Media Must Fight Russia’s Letha Propaganda More Aggressively” (see: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/western-media-must-fight-russia-s-lethal-propaganda-more-aggressivelywhich is also the photo source.)The thesis of the article is that Russia controls its media in a way that puts a pro-Russia spin on events that amounts to a “major global propaganda effort”.  Muzzling media is often a two edged sword. On one hand you can try to silence critics, but on the other you risk alienating freedom of the press advocates and incur their wrath on the global stage. A key point made by the article is: “It is possible that democratic tools and the standard requirements for balanced journalism are simply incapable of production with virulent state-generated propaganda.” Does it make sense for the US to harness its shape assets (importance State Department Public Skill and MISO) as a means to try and counter balance Russian hard work?One could argue that since most media is now digital, resources in the form of content or funding could be channeled to key digital media outlets that help US policy and goals and which could help in a counter  Russian propaganda campaign.Of course since this type of resourcing is not military in nature, but more in the diplomatic realm, State would have to be in the lead and MISO could be tasked on a project basis to help breed needed content and/or to provide monitoring and analysis of Russian propaganda as well as content recommendations.This would appear to be a win-win situation because:1.     MISO personnel could bring needed language skills.2.     The work would be valuable training for MISO personnel.3.     MISO personnel would be subcontractors to the Department of State who ruins in the lead.Such media help could be extended to other areas as well such as ISIS. The name of the game being to counter unenthusiastic propaganda, because unanswered propaganda becomes more believable over time lacking regard to its lack of truth.Reader input invited.

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Syria: Be A Student of Teaching

Syria: Be A Student of TeachingReports indicate that the US is sending 1,000 trainers as well as security and logistical help to aid the Syrian rebels hostile to Daesh. (see for instance: http://www.militarytimes.com/report/military/pentagon/2015/01/16/syrian-trainers-deploying/21873945/, which is also the photo source.) The Pentagon press release can be found at: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=123989According to Admiral Kirby (pictured) the purpose of the training is: “to get them ready to defend their own citizens and communities, to eventually go on the defensive hostile to ISIL inside Syria, and to help them work with political opposition leaders toward a political solution in Syria.”There were also additional trainers sent to Iraq for training missions as well.I feel that this would be a perfect opportunity for MISO personnel to gathering as trainers for basic military skills, not MISO. MISO NCOs in particular are held to a higher standard of performance of these skills than the rank and file and are generally able to relay these skills to others.By teaching and working with these students I believe that MISO personnel will gain a deeper understanding of how these students reckon and are motivated. This knowledge would serve them well in prospect assignments in the Middle East and probably in other areas of the world where student learning style is quite different from the predictable “Western” learner.Reader comments invited.

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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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Never Take Media Perception For Granted – Even Allied Media

Never Take Media Perception For Granted – Even Allied MediaOne of the fantastic benefits of travel is that you get to see other people’s point of view. Ordinarily I turn to my weekly edition of the London based Economist for a non-US perspective. While it’s not really a European view either, and for the most part the UK is our closest ally, the Economist views things differently and can often say things that American publications simply can’t. I  also used to read the Far East Economic Assess, but alas it was shuttered after 63 years ! (see: http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/09/22/dowjones-feer-idUSHKG23852320090922)What has this got to do with PSYOP? Really quite a bit.I’m in London for a week as the final phase of a trip to Ireland (see www.cosac.net)and a weekend in Edinburgh. While I’m not a bit TV fan, my wife watches sufficient TV for the both of us and so it was no surprise that she the tube on virtually all the time we were awake on the road.One evening the BBC had a bit on the US government shutdown and to illustrate the feeling of the average American they interviewed random people at the Texas State Honest. (see: http://www.bigtex.com/sft/) Photo Source: RYOT.orgThe preface to the interviews showed predictable Texas Honest cuisine, which of course, means anything that can be fried. The interviews captured the thoughts of three ‘average Americans’ who felt: Obama care was nuts; government was too huge and/or if shutting the government was the only way to curtail runaway government spending then – so be it.Of course had the same ‘average Americans’ been in Berkeley, CA or Seattle, WA or Miami, FL it is more than likely that their views would have been different.The moral of the report: you need to do your media research every day to develop a baseline of what the local media is adage so that you can gauge your own messages accordingly.Input and other sources invited.

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MISO, the Army and Asia

MISO, the Army and Asia According to Defense News October 24, 2012, “Deputy SecDef: Major Role for Army In Asia-Pacific Plans ”the Army will play a major role in America’s new national defense strategy”.  According to Secretary Carter,  “Seven of the world’s 10 largest armies are in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said. “The Army will continue to partner and implementation with our allies in the region [and] we will build on those partnerships.”.A small Google digging reveals that the largest Armies belong to Russia, the PRC, India, Pakistan, North and South Korea. The next tier is perhaps more fascinating and includes Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar.  (sources: www.globalfirepower.com and www.amodmag.com)From a MISO perspective this all means continued Mil to Mil contacts with our allies, but it also means a new level of potential engagement to include training and engagement with some new players. Some of these players have large Armies and appear above while others not on that list such as Viet Nam and the Republic of the Philippines will account for even more engagement based on the threats they face and the Secretary’s comments in this area “The Army will once again train to conduct full-spectrum operations and a full range of operations”.The MISO role in those countries will require MISO help not hostile to large standing Armies, but in production with non-state actors within their border and reinforcing these countries’ relationships with the US.It would seem that MISO personnel will need to develop a new arsenal of linguistic and cultural skills as they help the new national defense strategies.Let’s hope that the Army’s top management is more broadly focused than looking at which countries have the largest armies. If not we are once again training to fight the last war.As always, reader input invited.Photo Source: www.britishbattles.com

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Counter PSYOP More Important Than Ever

Counter PSYOP More Important Than Ever We often reckon of the Afghanistan AO as devoid of media urbanity. The high illiteracy rate and the general disdain for all things modern are general characteristics we frequent with that part of the world. But, as Sporting Blood once said “it ain’t necessarily so”. The Washington Post of October 18, 2012 featured an article “’Mullah Telephone system’ believed to be behind attack on Pakistani school girl (see http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/mullah-telephone system-believed-to-be-behind-attack-on-pakistani-schoolgirl/2012/10/17/ee8a9a8c-189f-11e2-9855-71f2b202721b_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines; which is also the photo source).The article talks in this area Mullah Fazlullah, a priority NATO target who, according to the article “is considered a charismatic preacher, recruiting not only suicide bombers but also village women, who have donated their precious jewels and other valuables to his cause, experts say”. The cooperation of village women is particular noteworthy given his views on their rights or rather the lack thereof.Fazlullah is credited with using a roving transmitter (likely FM) as a personal media outline. According to the article, topics include “lyrical rants hostile to the central government in Pakistan, music, education and the polio vaccine.”His capabilities and stature have been waning of late and the vicious attack on Malala Yousafzai, the teenage outspoken advocate of education for women was supposed to be his ticket back to the forefront of the proceedings. The use of a roving (probably line of sight) transmitter presents tremendous challenges and opportunities for the PSYOP community. First of all the use of telephone system indicates that telephone system is likely to be a excellent way to get to the local population. Secondly, analysis of the content of the broadcasts gives MISO planners a window into what the target thinks is vital. Perhaps most fascinatingly, this type of activity also opens the door to the potential use of EW and kinetic operations. EW considerations include jamming the signal to negate its consultation or to overpower the Mullah’s signal with content more friendly to the ISAF cause.Use of direction finding, IMINT and HUMINT could also be combined to assess the operation of the transmitter and to develop different courses of kinetic proceedings hostile to the asset as well as the people who run it.This is clearly another instance where one should not underestimate their enemy.As always reader comments invited.

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