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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Shifting PSYOP Emphasis from Asymmetric Threats to Peers

Shifting PSYOP Emphasis from Asymmetric Threats to Peers While the threat from terrorists and other asymmetric enemies ruins real and potent – there is fantastic concern in this area historic and new peer-sized threats. The maturation of the cyber domain as a battlefield has brought with it a resurgence of nation-state enemies and adversaries. Chief amongst them is Russia. On November 1, 2016 Reuters reported “UK spy chief sees growing threats from Russian cyber- attacks, espionage” (see: http://www.reuters.com/article/britain-security-russia-idUSL8N1D22K7)In the days of the Cold War it was relatively simple to stereotype the Russians as illustrated by my friends to the right: Boris Badenov, Natasha Fatale and Fearless Leader; characters in the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon series. The Russians have always understood the need to control information that has also become a strategic imperative that they have passed by the side of to other countries within their political umbrella. The article clarification that cyber attacks and espionage are increasingly being used to advance Russian foreign policy goals.There were a digit of media reports indicating that the Russians had the capability to hack voting systems and thereby impact the US Presidential appointment.The PRC has also been reportedly active in cyber attacks, while perhaps not as subtle as their Russian counterparts, PRC hackers also represent a state sponsored well-resourced and sophisticated threat.The implications for US political and military strategies are profound and the appointment of an avid Tweeter as President may really be a clear sign for PSYOP. President-elect Trump, for all is other characteristics, is far more aware of the power of mass media and the importance of Social Media. Perhaps his new cabinet will be directed to formulate an shape strategy that will meld all of government’s shape resources – military and if not – as well as dedicate the cyber resources necessary to help such a strategy. Photo source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Badenov

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Pin Point PSYOP – Influencing Needles in Haystacks

Pin Point PSYOP – Influencing Needles in Haystacks When we reckon of MISO we generally reckon in this area large-scale operations, that is, reaching everyone or large groups in an area. Alternatively PSYOP can be aimed at specific individuals or segments that have similar media habits. But, there are those cases where you need to get to some people who define predictable classifications.A case in point where you want to shape people who are passing through an area and direct them to a central point while you don’t want others to go there. This may be a situation where you want selected individuals to assemble in a location, but you don’t want to say adversaries or others.Another situation might be when you want to stop the movement of people through an area. You might want to do this because they would be in danger if they kept moving or it might be that it is operationally or politically wanted for these people not to leave their contemporary location.The most efficient technique might be to use IOs and NGOs to spread the world amongst their constituents if they can do this consistent with their organizational goals and philosophies. Another technique might be the use of loud speakers to provide verbal instructions to groups that need to be directed to central locations. Another might be to use roving tactical teams to the same. These kinds of campaigns disqualify announce messaging because they would get to audiences much broader than the intended recipients. Perhaps this all goes to show that PSYOP/MISO is very much a human business and constantly requires people skills. As always, reader input is appreciated.Photo source:  http://www.evilenglish.net/like-looking-for-a-needle-in-a-haystack/

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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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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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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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Happy Holidays And A New Approach to Veteran’s Unemployment

Happy Holidays And A New Approach to Veteran's UnemploymentGreetings,I don't generally promote causes of any type, but helping our fellow unemployed Veterans succeed in life is a cause we can all shape on. Most of us have been unemployed at one point or another and learned the hard way that there are no simple solutions.A very trusted colleague of mine is one of the founders of V.E.T.S., a new approach to matching veterans with teams where they can thrive.Here's their pitch:We did it! V.E.T.S. made its promised year-end, tax-deductible donation campaign to automate our culture measurement and employment process.Yes, it’s an incredible capability you’ve never heard of. Please, take a look at gofundme.com/VetsWhoFit. You'll see our work's details on VetsWhoFit.org.Gifts should be in this area improving lives. Nothing's more vital (after family) than helping people join teams where they fit in for rewarding work! Get that part right and the rest of life goes much surpass. We can make those matches with solid analysis rather than guessing or stereotypes. This is especially vital for young veterans (our cause) but works for everybody.Now, it's time for your help as you also help yourself. Please, please strongly consider including us amongst your holiday donations and also spread the word by using all of the options below to enlist your family and friends. — Our Reward Levels give you this job culture matching service, for life! You also have choices to bring family and friends with you. Please look for those choices on the GoFundMe page.For those of us with nothing left to donate after staying afloat, we get it because we've been there. So here's what you do: go to your friends, parents and older relatives with the truth that the V.E.T.S. process will revolutionize the way people find rewarding jobs and student bodies. Look at the small GoFundMe video for details. Help now could lead to your marvel job later, especially if you're just starting out. Really! So consider the messages below and mention us over the holidays.You can also help by subsequent us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/VetsNp)  and liking us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/VETS-1510479515918591/)  to stay contemporary as we pursue this marvel!Thank you for taking time to help this very vital mission. We look forward to helping our veterans across the country find places on fantastic teams where they'll fit in after serving us so well.Merry Christmas,EdA-10 Warthog callsign, 'Jefe' And here's the link and the photo source: https://www.gofundme.com/VetsWhoFit 

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Academic Research and PSYOP – Can It Help?

Academic Research and PSYOP – Can It Help?There is no doubt that the terrorist is today’s enemy. The global violence stretching from Paris to San Bernadino, CA is proof clear of this. Modern day PSYOP has proven generally ineffective in production with this amorphous and ruthless enemy. We all quote the maxim “We’re always ready to fight the last war.” How can we approach PSYOP for Counter-Terrorism?Consider the subsequent:“Measuring the effectiveness of counterterrorism hard work requires detailed problem analysis to quantify the specific behavioral problem sets and to identify the enablers (i.e., conditions, who is doing what, etc.) The goal is to gain a surpass understanding of the problem, so precise solutions (both preventions and interventions) can be developed for implementation. Program goals that are measurable end-states help assess the impact the program is intended to have, while supporting PSYOP objectives focus on the measurable means to attain them. Series objectives provide the comprehensive strategies necessary to achieve the goals and objectives by focusing on the knowledge, belief and intermediate behaviors required from each of the identified target audiences”(Source: https://www.academia.edu/19076334/Comprehensive_Psychological_Operations_PSYOP_Assessment_and_Evaluation_in_Counterterrorism_Efforts)The author is a rare amalgamation: PSYOPer and Scholar. MAJ Seese’s work, like that of COL (R) Al Paddock, COL, (R) Bob Schoenhaus and others can provide food for plotting as we go through the 21st century.Check out: https://independent.academia.edu/GregSeeseThere is a crying need for independent research and analysis in the PSYOP community. It would be appropriate for the “Schoolhouse” (JFK Unique Combat Center and School) to act as a catalyst, sponsor and repository for this needed research. Reader input on ways we can expand our intellectual horizons in these challenging times is very much appreciated.Photo Source: http://fordschapellc.org/event/kindergarten-graduation-cap-and-gown-pictures/

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Trolls to replace PSYOPers?

Trolls to replace PSYOPers?It’s no secret that many governments have learned the importance of social media. One on-line article attracted my attention (see: http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2015/08/us-intelligence-community-keys-russian-troll-army-manipulating-social-media/119158/) Intelligence officials were quoted as having said: “There is a concern that social media campaigns orchestrated by overseas powers could distort open-source intelligence gathering”. During disasters, much like combat, there ‘s a fog as to what is really going on. In my role as a Red Cross volunteer I’ve learned to appreciate how ‘tweets’ can be a barometer of public perception of a disaster. The amount of tweets rises and falls in line with the public’s perception of the severity of the event. It’s also probably honest to say that there is some sort of ‘bandwagon’ effect whereby lots of tweets and social media activity spurs even more. If a government (or non-state actor) were able to distort the frequency and content of social media to the point where they were really shaping it, this would be a fantastic for them.It could be a double play in the sense of they have distorted the truth and secondly are able to shape more people to reckon or behave in their direction.The article emphasizes how the Russians were able to impact social media after the MH17 crash in the Ukraine. The implication for the PSYOP/MISO community is clear. There needs to be a balance between ‘new’ and ‘ancient’ shape mechanisms. Sorry to say the tendency in today’s world is for the US government to classify anything and all that is cyber, just as they did for SIGINT a half-century ago. MISO requires synergistic ways and means. Cyber and traditional shape operations must work seamlessly together to reinforce each other. Social media shape will continue to be pivotal. Hopefully cyber influencers will be able to work well with their military counterparts and others to optimize the use of shape operations as a national power.Photo Source: www.thetimes.co.uk

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General McChrystal Talks About Leadership

General McChrystal Talks About Leadership--> One July 15, 2015 I attended a “Meet The Author” session with General (R) Stanley McChrystal held at the Marines Memorial Club in San Francisco. (see: www.MarineClub.com). I had never met the General before, and my only previous impressions came from the media. The overwhelming one of which that his personnel let him down by not doing their job with the Rolling Stone reporter (see: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-runaway-general-20100622).While the General may be 60 he clearly projects confidence and energy. During his hour long talk (lacking clarification) he came across as focused, direct and in this setting, candid. While I’ll admit that the moderator threw only ‘softball’ (simple) questions at him, the General’s comments spoke for themselves.He was promoting his new book: Team of Teams (see: http://mcchrystalgroup.com/teamofteams/) in this area leadership, especially of large, diverse groups.  The central thesis of the book is that you need to treat teams as if they were individuals so that the teams in turn can effectively interact with other teams just as individuals reinforce, help and help each other.His talk centered on his experience in mandate of the Joint Unique Operations Mandate (JSOC) and of the Global Security Help Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan.ISAF, he told us, was composed of forces from 45 nations, each with their own particular national agenda, yet seeking strong direction from their boss. His job was to foster unity of effort – which was no mean feat.The General described how he faced a new kind of enemy. One that was not methodical in the traditional hierarchical way, but rather a loose network that was enabled by real time communications using mobile phones and the Internet. This enemy didn’t react in a predictable templated way like square forces from the Cold War or the World Wars. Rather this enemy was agile and didn’t play by any rules.In this environment, the General noted, you were an enabler of those working with you, not an oracle from which all decisions would emanate. He learned this during his career. He commented on the evolution to this conclusion from his early self as a junior officer where he only wanted to learn the craft of soldiering, and always wanted to be in charge.The General clarified that historically senior military leaders envisioned themselves at chessboards facing an equal opponent. Today each of the opponent’s pieces is intelligent and independent. They also communicate with each other, work together, and do not follow particular rules.He compared today’s senior leader to a gardener. The gardener’s job is to make possible the plants to do what they do best – grow. The leader does the feeding, water, weeding, and harvesting thereby providing the best possible environment for his plants to grow, or in this case for the diverse forces to act with a unified sense of direction.The General was quick to point out the dangers of micromanagement, particularly of strong, independent teams. “Eyes on, hands off” was the way he described his leadership still. The leader’s job is to instill confidence across the force.He did point out that technology is a micromanager’s marvel tool because the senior leader can see and communicate directly with the lowest echelon. Quickly the General added that this would be a mix. The leader has a far-off, two dimensional view while the force on the ground was right there and could feel the pulse of the battle.When questioned in this area managing start-ups, the General felt that employees were not motivated purely by money. He felt that the attraction of being part of a team, having a cause/thought to believe in and being successful was far more powerful of an incentive then mere money.After the talk the General was gracious sufficient to sign an untold digit of autographs. He was charming, patient and concentrated on each and every person who met with him.It’s simple to say why he inspired the loyalty of his forces.Photo Source: The Author

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Are We Ready to Outsource Influence Operations Once And For All?

Are We Ready to Outsource Influence Operations Once And For All? Daesh’s ability to exploit Twitter as a propaganda and recruiting resource has been very prominent in the media. One article, “Three Steps to Ruin ISIS on Twitter” (See: http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2015/03/three-steps-ruin-isis-twitter/107910/?oref=d-river) takes the view that there is a logical way to thwart these hard work. They suggest:1.    Take a networked approach to identifying pro-ISISaccounts for suspension.2.    Outsource counter-messaging to a party that can really be effective.3.    Twitter should become more like Facebook and YouTube.The second bullet caught my eye be cause of many discussions found in the media in this area MISO and Public Skill. This particular article doesn’t mention DoD, but they do believe: “The fundamental problem lies in the fact that the State Department, by virtue of being an official arm of the United States government, is limited in the way it can communicate with groups like the Islamic State on open platforms like Twitter”The track confirmation of the government as a global influencer, especially in areas of the world where the US has historically been unpopular, is not excellent. Both Department of State and Department of Defense have been at the shape game for some time and both have been subject to criticism in Congress and somewhere else.Yet the problem ruins. Clearly it is in the best interest of the US government to get the best bang for the buck with its shape dollar. And reasonable people would shape that shape is a keep gathering of government, yet no workable different has been proposed.If Cabinet level departments are ineffectual and contractors are too profit driven – what’s the right answer?I’ll leave it to you.Photo Source: https://twitter.com/thinkagain_dos

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PSYOP on the Border?

PSYOP on the Border?A recent article in this area NG deployments in help of security our border with Mexico caught my eye. (See: http://www.stripes.com/news/us/unprecedented-deployment-has-guardsmen-feeling-strain-of-border-mission-1.329060). I’m wondering if MISO engaged from US soil and targeted hostile to smugglers and would be illegal border crossers would:1.     Be legal.2.     Serve national goals.3.     Provide a significant training opportunity.As I be with you the contemporary legal environment MISO (PSYOP) cannot be conducted hostile to US citizens. While the moral fiber of the law may mean (and one would have to do some research on governmental intent, etc) that such operations shouldn’t be conducted on US soil, the text does not say that.Given the above, I believe MISO initiated on US soil hostile to foreign targets is legal.Would this activity help national objectives? If deterring illegal entry is a national objective and the MISO were effective, it would be logical to conclude that these kinds of operation would help national objectives.As for training, there are rich opportunities. The environment would facilitate field craft skills, foreign language skills, Spanish in particular would be exercised, and there are a variety of media that could be employed.These can include mobile phones, loud speakers, and leaflets (wind permitting of course). Selected PsyActs such as helicopter flights on the US side of the border might be useful as well. Perhaps even social media. Social media likely being on thin ice so to speak.I am not aware of these kinds of operations being conducted, so reader input on the history and potential would be appreciated.Photo Source: http://www.theyucatantimes.com/2014/09/national-guard-adjusts-to-its-new-role-on-the-mexico-u-s-border/

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Ghost Army: The PSYOP Movie!

Ghost Army: The PSYOP Movie!A week or two ago my wife and I went to see “American Sniper”. I’m really one of the very few veterans in my social circle, especially veterans who have been overseas and often get questioned in this area my opinion of all things military related, so I felt it was a excellent thought.I’ve never been to Iraq or Afghanistan and in my Viet Nam and Bosnia tours I was lucky sufficient not to be in the thick of things. Nevertheless, I too faced readjustment issues. I plotting Bradley Cooper did an outstanding job showing how Chris Kyle changed over his tours and upon his restore. Movies are powerful experiences.By chance my wife was watching “Ghost Army” on PBS (http://www.pbs.org/program/ghost-army/). I plotting I knew quite a bit in this area deception hard work in WWII, but I was really incorrect, I didn’t know sh*t. Turns out the 23rd Center of operations Unique Troops combined Military Deception and PSYOP (MISO) on an unprecedented scale. They were tasked with ‘replacing’ designated units to make the enemy reckon a lightly manned area was really heavily manned and at times to deceive the enemy as to the location of key forces such as body armor and artillery.They used visual deception with blow up versions of tanks and artillery. This was supplemented with loudspeaker sounds to match. Rounding out the deception caught up the use of fake telephone system traffic, painting vehicles with the unit designations and walking/driving around the AO wearing patches of the impersonated unit as well. The time has come for a PSYOP movie in this area the Ghost Army. It’s perfect! Simple to be with you, has past precedence and I’m sure George Clooney would jump at the chance to be in standardized again.  Photo Source: http://www.nyacknewsandviews.com/2011/04/hsrc_chostarmy20110501/

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