Disinformation and Fake News Giving Propaganda A Good Name

Disinformation and Fake News Giving Propaganda A Good Name On March 2, 2017 the Brookings Institute ran an article “Disinformation campaigns target tech-enabled citizen journalists” (see: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2017/03/02/disinformation-campaigns-target-tech-enabled-citizen-journalists/?utm_campaign=Brookings%20Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=send by e-mail&utm_content=43768809which is also the photo source).The article starts out talking in this area how today’s technology is ubiquitous and plentiful. Consequently nearly anyone with a smartphone can become a crusading reporter and expose wrongdoing. This can be especially problematic in countries where governments want to control their citizen’s perception of events. The article talks in this area a “troll factory’ where disinformation artists are paid to alter the perceptions of citizens by pumping “Out fake information in hard work to obfuscate Russian war crimes in Ukraine and Syria and retaliate hostile to Western investigators.Several disinformation techniques are noted and touched upon.All of this points to the need for more emphasis on countering disinformation hard work. Given the nature of disinformation and the sheer digit of participants, perhaps the approach should be a very unPSYOP one – that is use technical measures. If the Internet of Things (IoT) could be harnessed by criminals to launch Denial of Service attacks (see: https://arstechnica.com/security/2016/10/double-dip-internet-of-things-botnet-attack-felt-across-the-internet/for example), why couldn’t the same technique be employed as a disinformation jammer?I’ll leave that one to your imagination and your comments.

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Too Many Targets: Challenge for PSYOP and EW

Too Many Targets: Challenge for PSYOP and EW   One of the topics on everyone’s mind at the recent Association of Ancient Crows (the trade association for EW vendors and their customers) was  “Managing The Chaos of Electronic Combat” (see:  (see: http://breakingdefense.com/2014/10/battle-management-cuts-through-chaos-of-electronic-combat/ which is also the photo source. The point of the article is contained in one key paragraph:“Once upon a time, the “ducks” we had to keep track of were relatively few and well-defined: Soviet air-defense radars and center of operations telephone system transmitters, for example. But today there are more cellphone users in Afghanistan than people who know how to read, and some of them are Taliban, using those cheap, low-power, and widely available civilian systems to coordinate military operations.”An incredible array of potential targets which is the same challenge facing PSYOP  as well. The information battlefield is strewn from rural, undeveloped lands where literacy rates approach 100% to urban mega cities where mobile phones are nearly ubiquitous as cockroaches. Given the tightening budget noose and the constant struggle between domestic and defense needs, the PSYOP Community faces the demoralizing challenge of being prepared to tackle the range of information landscapes lacking the luxury of plotting that went into previous war plotting hard work. Large national potential foes such as the USSR and North Korea spawned libraries of possibility plotting, OPORDERs, exercises, etc. Today’s political and economic climate does not foster such background type plotting. While templating might have worked to lay out how a Russian Division might have been deployed, there is no such template for how non-state actors such as ISIS fight or communicate or what axis of shape may continue income.How do we meet these challenges? 1.     Stay knowledgeable – be aware of how the world’s events are taking shape.2.     Use non-US sources to appreciate viewpoints outside the US.3.     Recognize the evolution of information channels in the same way we understood Lines of Communication, Main Surface Roads, etc.4.     Work with individuals or groups that were a part of the target or at least have the capability of mirroring target response.5.     Travel when you can – doesn’t matter where, just as long as it’s somewhere you’ve never been. Look, listen, eat and delight in. You’ll be absorbing the culture as a by-product of your adventure.

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MISO Is Gone And Other News

MISO Is Gone And Other NewsHooray! Effective 5 Aug 14 PSYOP units are back to being themselves. The derided and apparently ineffective switch to Military Information Help Operations (MISO) has been reversed with the unit naming convention going back to PSYOP.(See: http://soldiersystems.net/2014/08/10/two-huge-organizational-renamings-in-socom-this-week/)At the time of the re-naming, it was contended that MISO gave PSYOP a less sinister perspective. Others argued that calling an elephant a giraffe didn’t make him one, and that the unit’s reputation or mission would be unaffected.It’s refreshing to see common sense in proceedings, especially in light of the world situation.In other news, our excellent friends at USA Today on August 12, 2014 reported that USSOCOM is engaging in ‘market research’ in Colombia. (See: http://www.usatoday.com/report/nation/2014/08/12/socom-tries-again-with-propaganda-research/13961225/)The essence of the article is: “SOCOM has tried for years to come up with a surpass way to determine if its propaganda programs, also known as military information help operations, really work.”The implications, at least in my mind, of the tone and choice of terms are: USSOCOM is engaged in evil propaganda which Congress has already tried to stop, and is a waste of taxpayer’s money.“McPaper” as USA Today was once called comparing it to journalistic quick food (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/17/business/media/17gannett.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) has published several articles in the same genre denigrating DOD shape hard work.First of all, it strikes me that trying to find out what messages work is a excellent thing. Commercial marketing folks do that all the time. Does that mean it’s a slow news day for USA Today?My first plotting was that their ‘target consultation’ is Congress. After all, what other assemble is so over-worked and under appreciated that they don’t have time to read ‘real sources’, especially since the bulk of Congressional work is done by staffers.My second plotting was, how nice of Congress to give SOCOM a plug and I wondered who else might have run a similar report, so I Googled “SOCOM propaganda Colombia” and found that AOL picked up the report and produced a video at http://www.aol.com/video/socom-tries-again-with-propaganda-research/518369638/. Be forewarned you will have to suffer a terrible ‘quit smoking’ commercial – or at least I did. Couple of points here -USA Today may really be more of an early morning source than an influencer in its own right. Video clips may be the next huge thing in ‘news’ if they are not already. This means tactical PSYOP forces will need to be more digitally mobile and capable than ever before.Delight in what’s left of your summer.Photo source: Wikipedia

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MISO-in-Chief: Syria

MISO-in-Chief: Syria President Obama is facing hard choices concerning Syria. No matter what proceedings he takes, he will impact the global shape battlefield. Conceptually high level missions like any hostile to Syria are made through the analysis of strategic goals and the best way to accomplish them. Theoretically serious consideration also needs to be given to the other intended and unintended effects of those missions. (2nd and 3rdorder effects)The President’s decisions are made considering national and global factors that would include political, military, moral, social, etc. I don’t believe that his advisors at the White House level are really going to worry in this area what the Taliban might do to exploit US attacks on yet another Arab country in Afghanistan or how Al Qaeda will control any media footage or casualties for their own ends. Yet, those of us who plot and do MISO at the operational and tactical levels need to be mindful of the likely second and third order effects and be prepared to either control them for our own purposes to accomplish our shape missions, or to plot on countering the likely campaigns seeking to exploit the attacks.Some fundamental assumptions I would work with are: rural villages have no conception of what goes on beyond the edge of town. Any attack on an Arab nation would be viewed as yet further evidence of America’s desire for world domination and suppression of Arabs and Islam in particular. The US will likely not have help from very many global partners and the American people are certainly weary of Iraq and Afghanistan. While political help may go down traditional party lines, the American public has shown a general disdain for being the world’s policeman especially in the face of economic distress at home. This may manifest itself into media coverage that our adversaries may exploit as well.So –what can we do in this area it? My cynical, Brooklynite nature says ‘not much’. Nevertheless, as excellent soldiers we need to be prepared and we need to try and learn from the past. Here are a couple of thoughts:At the tactical level perhaps metaphors of victims might be effective, although it may be hard to personalize the victims. Consider having trusted, credible spokespeople prepare interviews on the history of chemical combat and the global conventions that have banned it.Research appropriate religious references hostile to inflicting harm on innocent victims backed up by visuals that depict women and outcome victims.Monitor global news media – perhaps with unique attention to Al Jazeera America to determine the pulse of the global community and the Arab world in particular. (Photo Source: http://america.aljazeera.com/)Renew propaganda and anti-propaganda hard work in areas likely to be targets of unenthusiastic shape campaign.Reader comments encouraged. For my American colleagues, delight in your Labor Day weekend.

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