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SWJED
10-06-2007, 10:41 AM
Strategic Communication: A Tool for Asymmetric Warfare (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/10/strategic-communication-a-tool/) by Emily Goldman at the SWJ Blog.

Strategic communication is a vital activity for supporting our military operations and national interest. Information can affect attitudes, and ultimately behavior. It is one of the most important tools we have to shape the battlefield months and years in advance. It is indispensable now for fighting adversaries who employ non-traditional and asymmetric means. It can be effective in shaping memories of the past as well as planning for the future.

Communication can be a strategic weapon of mass influence to assure allies and dissuade and deter adversaries. It can give non-state actors state-like power to affect world events. Our adversaries are using communication and information very adeptly to do just that.

There are many unknowns about the future, but we know our adversaries will challenge us in the realm of ideas and information. They are doing so now. They are doing it effectively. We have not yet risen to the challenge. Strategy dictates that you play to your strengths and exploit the enemy’s weaknesses. Our enemies know where we are strong and where we are weak. The question is, “Do we know where we are falling short and are we committed and able to adapt to the challenge?”

Currently, OSD, DOS, USAID, the Joint Staff, and Combatant Commands are developing strategic communication plans across a range of functional issues and regional areas because of the importance of the “contest of ideas” in many of the battles we face today. Strategic communication can be a cost-effective way to operate along the continuum from persuasion to coercion...

Emily Goldman is a Strategic Communication Advisor in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State. Previously, she served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Policy), Support to Public Diplomacy. She is an Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California, Davis.

Rockbridge
10-26-2007, 04:26 PM
While I agree with the vast majority of her assertions, the challenge we're faced with is that unless there is a single coordinating body that has tasking authority over those action agents in the SC business, this is really just intellectual masturbation. Unfortunately, the NSC under the current administration is only a coordinating body, and does not have directive authority over the various govt agencies. Unless that changes, we will continue to show SC successes based on informal "dope deals" between individuals rather than as a matter of policy. Even if the NSC did have directive authority, any public official can call a press conference and derail a carefully coordinated SC effort.

It would be nice if all USG agencies worked off the same sheet of music, toed the party line, got on the same page, blah blah (similar cooperative metaphors).... but our system of government is deliberately built to encourage internal dissent and debate. Unfortunately, our internal debate is wide open to external parties, presenting the (accurate) impression that there's no coherent USG policy on ANY issue.

Regards,
Rockbridge

Adrian
10-26-2007, 10:22 PM
I think SC is the kind of thing that you can't get right under a hierarchical structure where one guy at the top has directive authority over the whole operation, especially the NSC. A few reasons:

1) Whenever the NSC has tried to take operational control over something, they screwed it up. Example: Iran-Contra. The NSC functions better when they provide broader principles, which I think is what SC by nature demands anyway.

2) If you have an organization, especially at the national level, that has ultimate authority, that's going to slow up the process of getting your message out. People are going to cover their ass by sending it up the chain of command, and by the time the message gets out, its irrelevant.

3) It's my understanding that most Iraqi insurgent groups have no body with directive control over their message - they just get their videotape on the net as fast as possible. But because they all know the general idea of what they want the message to be, it's not a problem.

I think the NSC or a body at that level needs to be involved, but not with directive authority. If they just set broad operating principles, and make sure that there's coordination between the different players (so that everyone is 'on the same page') I think we'd be doing a lot better.

Rockbridge
10-26-2007, 11:53 PM
If all agencies operated with the intent of taking action to achieve common goals versus studying, observing, considering, debating, slow-rolling, and hoping problems would go away, I'd agree. Unfortunately, the response to SC coordination efforts has usually been "I'll take that recommendation under advisement," followed by an echoing silence and lack of action. If somebody actually was in charge, maybe it would work better. I'm not advocating a draconian "Ministry of Information," but it sure would be more effective if there was someone (or some group) other than POTUS who could direct agencies to take action.

Adrian
10-26-2007, 11:56 PM
I think the key is that, in addition to a coordinating body in the NSC or wherever, you need the individuals who head up the various agencies to actually care about SC. I don't think there's a purely organizational cure.

Rockbridge
10-27-2007, 12:10 AM
..and there rarely is just an organzational cure for anything. I agree.

St. Christopher
11-04-2007, 10:17 PM
I think the key is that, in addition to a coordinating body in the NSC or wherever, you need the individuals who head up the various agencies to actually care about SC. I don't think there's a purely organizational cure.

I'd go as far as to say that those individuals need not merely care about SC but understand it. PAOs need to understand PSYOP and vice versa. Info warriors may specialize in a specific SC discipline like PA, PD or IO, but they should all be fully trained and educated to understand the entire spectrum. If it is an organizational solution, let that organization be an institute that qualifies interagency strategic communicators.

There are several fellow travelers like you out there in the Interagency that get this. Keep your eyes and ears open-- we pop up with a win every once in a while.

Du4

BScully
11-06-2007, 03:06 AM
I've been pondering how to apply a corporate brand management model to US Strategic communications and may write a paper about it for school at some point. There have been some articles/papers written and found on this site that are particularly interesting.

A few things that I think we need:
1. A U.S. brand strategy - What image does the U.S. want to have domestically and internationally...basically an overarching goal that all depts and agencies communications must support. This has to be something that can last over many administrations as it takes a while to build a strong brand identity.
2. We need to better link our communications to our programs and policies. In a corporate environment with a strong brand (think volvo, coke, disney) everything the company does supports the overall brand image. For example, there are many in the marketing profession who believe that Volvo used to make very boxy cars to further sell the idea that the vehicles were safe. Not that communications should drive our policy, but we should enter policy and program decisions fully understanding the implications.
3. We need a central organization that manages the U.S. brand and provides support to depts and agencies in implementing it. This office/organization should develop a national strategic communications plan that provides guidance and ensure its execution. I would also create a PCC type working group that brings together the communications directors from all the depts and agencies involved in national security (actually, it'd probably be best just to have them all).
4. We need to provide support to the field personnel, not just beating on them to get the message right. In corporations, there is typically a communications staff that strictly focuses on supporting sales and account management types to ensure they have the tools (brochures, messaging, multimedia, whatever they may need) to get the job done on the ground. So ideally, you'd have a dedicated group that the field folks can reach back to and say I need x, y, z to support this operation and the support folks can take care of it quickly. This allows them to focus on developing the relationships and overall understanding of the people they're trying to influence.
5. Field metrics that link back to strategic communications. I had an interesting conversation with some folks who had been in Iraq about how they measured success. What dawned on me is that our metrics (how many schools/hospitals/etc. have we built) do not necessarily tell us how opinions/perceptions are changing. We assume that by doing these things we're having the impact we want...but maybe we're not. So we need to make sure metrics at all levels support what we really want to achieve...which isn't just rebuilding the infrastructure, but gaining the necessary public support to achieve our missions.

One final thought to close this rambling message...we need to figure out how to link our strategic communications to our operational (department/embassy/COCOM) level communications, to our tactical/field communications and ensure they information flow is going both ways--up and down.

These are just some initial thoughts I've had based on some conversations and very limited research. At some point, I'd really like to dig into this deeper and see if the corporate brand management model is really something that can be applied to government. Right now there are many significant holes in my knowledge and challenges to the concept. In the meantime, I'd certainly appreciate your experience/thoughts on any of this.

Take care,
Brian

invictus0972
11-08-2007, 07:33 PM
While I agree with the vast majority of her assertions, the challenge we're faced with is that unless there is a single coordinating body that has tasking authority over those action agents in the SC business, this is really just intellectual masturbation.

I agree with Rockbridge. There is not enough coordination with our strategic communications. I am sure you are all familiar with the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) debacle. This organization was established in order to provide within the DOD the kind of strategic level coordination necessary to successfully wage this ideological struggle. Unfortunately, bureaucratic infighting and public ambivalence to "propaganda" resulted in the closure of the office only four months after its inception. The DOD needs to relook the decision to close this office, and the U.S. government needs to wake up and reconstitute the United States Information Agency. Once we get serious about the ideological implications of the so called GWOT, we will begin to make serious strides toward achieveing victory.

St. Christopher
11-15-2007, 02:44 AM
The DOD needs to relook the decision to close this office, and the U.S. government needs to wake up and reconstitute the United States Information Agency. Once we get serious about the ideological implications of the so called GWOT, we will begin to make serious strides toward achieveing victory.

I would submit to you that DOD is the absolute wrong place to headquarter a strategic information/influence/communication organization.

But then, so is the State Department.

selil
11-15-2007, 03:00 AM
In "Reshaping national intelligence for an age of information", Treverton, Gregory, Cambridge, 2003 he discusses the current and previous states of information assessment for the OSS through the NSA. I seen interesting similarities between the use of intelligence (communication inputs) and strategic communication (communication outputs). It seems that each of the two types of communication and source/message grooming that occurs have a lot in common. Maybe not the science of the two disciplines but the organizational issues and problems.

The military wants to own the assets that do strategic and tactical intelligence analysis and keep the products near to the commander. Regardless of NRO or NSA whomever developed the intelligence the push is to put the flatten effect into place and give the commander overall control of the filtering process.

It looks like the concept of strategic communications would subject to the same kinds of "controls" and that the concept of the government speaking with one voice would be drowned in the cacophony of silent objection.

I could likely draw more parallels but I figure somebody else has already figure it out.

kehenry1
11-15-2007, 04:22 AM
I had started a similar project on developing a model for SC: Developing Effective Strategic Communications (http://themiddleground.blogspot.com/2007/09/gwot-developing-effective-strategic.html)

We have a tendency to look at effective communications from the top down. In other words, we tend to look at the organizations involved and try to decipher their responsibilities, appropriate message and correct actions from that perspective. Instead, we should begin this discussion from the bottom up: focus on "target audiences" and work backwards. In fact, from a "customer service" background, the most effective strategy is to first understand who the "customer" is, the needs and demands of the "customer" or "target audience" and then effect the delivery of message or product that best suits the "customer"..

Among issues that I have not yet addressed, is the problem of the number of actors that are able to effect the message. Not all of them are "bad guys". Most of them are internal players or allies who are using mass communication to get their own message out.

At this time, anyone with internet connections and the ability to write effectively, particularly in the language of the target audiences, and with their own agenda, is capable of shaping a message. Anyone with a cellphone. Anyone with a camera. Anyone with the ability to record a voice.

For instance, the story from the Italian paper claiming that White Phosphorous was a chemical weapon and had been used against civilians inside Fallujah. Photoshopped photos that were allegedly of victims of unprovoked attacks. A woman in Sadr city was photographed holding unfired 7.62mm rounds. The photographer/stringer's caption said that the bullets were from coalition forces and had gone through her window, shooting into her bed and wall. The rounds were unfired.

Staged photos, fake interviewed, fake claims of abuse...all meant to play off of already existing ideas that US forces were uncontrollable trigger happy guys that shot everyone within range, didn't care about civilians and routinely did so. That was helped along by reports from our own media and opinion pieces from allied commanders in the field that basically intimated the same.

I have read several similar reports from allied commanders in Afghanistan claiming that US are basically rough and loutish, badly effecting their own attempts at gaining the trust of the locals, etc, etc, etc. It may or may not be true, but all of it effects are global message and damages the central message which has been "liberation" of both AFghanistan and Iraq from brutal, totalitarian forces.

Thus, every action on and off the field effects the "message" in and out of theater. That does not even account for the "counter message" of the Islamists who also put out stories about coalition "rape and pillage" through every sort of media in order to attract recruits from around the world.

Our problem internally is that we do not have a monolithic polity. That polity is not above using every means possible to get out their own messages that may or may not be helpful in shaping the "message", whether over all or for a given issue. If we attempted to do so in this day and age, if we attempted to persuade people that their message was damaging, as some have over the course of the war to date, it would be rejected as attempting to propagandize our own or allied population. They would reject it as a fascist attempt to silence the opposition. They would claim that they have the right to speak against it or share their own message under the first amendment.

All of which is true, but it still means no centralized message that is promulgated across global communications. In today's world, just like trying to market a soft drink in a world awash with soft drinks, the message has to be strong, capable of projecting above the others and winning a majority of the population. Selling it, per se.

The "great divide" in our society is both a help and a hindrance. Now we have to figure out how to use that divide to our advantage.

Cannoneer No. 4
11-16-2007, 06:10 AM
How is the "great divide" in our society a help? Before "we" can figure out how to use that divide to "our" advantage, the factions that can be properly described with those pronouns must be identified.

Jedburgh
11-16-2007, 02:01 PM
15 Nov 07 testimony before the HASC Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee on Strategic Communications and Countering Ideological Support for Terrorism:

Duncan MacInnes (http://armedservices.house.gov/pdfs/TUTC111507/MacInnes_Testimony111507.pdf), Principal Dpty Coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs, DoS

Capt Hal Pittman USN (http://armedservices.house.gov/pdfs/TUTC111507/Pittman_Testimony111507.pdf), Acting Dpty Asst SecDef (Joint Communication), DoD

Michael Doran (http://armedservices.house.gov/pdfs/TUTC111507/Doran_Testimony111507.pdf), Dpty Asst SecDef (Support for Public Diplomacy), DoD

invictus0972
11-16-2007, 04:02 PM
I would submit to you that DOD is the absolute wrong place to headquarter a strategic information/influence/communication organization.

But then, so is the State Department.
St. Christopher,

Why do you feel this way? I know there is some criticism about the fact that the DOD might lose some credibility if it were viewed as engaging it propaganda type operations. However, it is already doing these types of operations Joint Psychological Operations Support Element. Also, it is going on unofficially everyday in press releases and other types of media engagements. The problem is that there so many core competencies within the DOD that contribute, explicitly or implicitly, to IO, and they have all their own agendas. Would it not be better to acknowledge this situation and create a strategic level DOD office to coordinate the activities? If the so called GWOT is a true ideological confrontation that is critical to national security, shouldn't IO fall under the auspices of the DOD? Look forward to your comments!

Adrian
11-16-2007, 04:14 PM
If the so called GWOT is a true ideological confrontation that is critical to national security, shouldn't IO fall under the auspices of the DOD?

Plenty of things that are critical to national security aren't within DoD - intelligence/covert ops (granted 80% is DoD but still much is outside), state, the economy, etc. Just because something is national security doesn't mean DoD has to do it.

I'd favor bringing back the independent USIA instead, having a direct line to the White House rather than having to go through SecDef, who's priority won't be information operations or ideological warfare.

invictus0972
11-16-2007, 04:52 PM
Plenty of things that are critical to national security aren't within DoD - intelligence/covert ops (granted 80% is DoD but still much is outside), state, the economy, etc. Just because something is national security doesn't mean DoD has to do it.

I'd favor bringing back the independent USIA instead, having a direct line to the White House rather than having to go through SecDef, who's priority won't be information operations or ideological warfare.

Hi Adrian,

As I understand things, the military is, in fact, involved in a lot of covert intelligence operations. The NSA actually coordinates these operations. I suppose I am thinking ther should be an NSA-type organization for IO. Thanks for your thoughts, and I look forward to your response.

Adrian
11-16-2007, 04:55 PM
Yes the military is involved in a lot (not all) of covert ops, but my point was that not all covert ops - and not all national security affairs in general - are under control of the Department of Defense. If, for example, the economic aspects of national security (Treasury freezing the assets of terror sponsors, for example) aren't under DoD, why should IO be under DoD just for the reason that it's national security?

invictus0972
11-16-2007, 05:20 PM
Yes the military is involved in a lot (not all) of covert ops, but my point was that not all covert ops - and not all national security affairs in general - are under control of the Department of Defense. If, for example, the economic aspects of national security (Treasury freezing the assets of terror sponsors, for example) aren't under DoD, why should IO be under DoD just for the reason that it's national security?

Good point! The difference is that the military does not have any core competencies that deal with economic aspects of national security, at least not that I am aware of. On the other hand, the military already has a lot of core competencies actively engaged in IO: PAO, Psychological Operations, OPSEC, etc. Now, the official party line is that the military does not do STRATCOM, but the lines between tactical and strategic IO is so blurry that I think it is time to relook the issue. Also, I am not suggesting that the DOD should be the only agency doing IO. DOS will always have a significant role to play, and they would necessarily need to work with any DOD organization. If the USIA were established, I could see an IO triumvirate composed of the USIA, DOS, and my proposed DOD organization. Using your example, it would be like the FBI, CIA, and NSA working together on intelligence.

invictus0972
11-16-2007, 06:51 PM
15 Nov 07 testimony before the HASC Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee on Strategic Communications and Countering Ideological Support for Terrorism:

Duncan MacInnes (http://armedservices.house.gov/pdfs/TUTC111507/MacInnes_Testimony111507.pdf), Principal Dpty Coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs, DoS

Capt Hal Pittman USN (http://armedservices.house.gov/pdfs/TUTC111507/Pittman_Testimony111507.pdf), Acting Dpty Asst SecDef (Joint Communication), DoD

Michael Doran (http://armedservices.house.gov/pdfs/TUTC111507/Doran_Testimony111507.pdf), Dpty Asst SecDef (Support for Public Diplomacy), DoD

Jedburgh,

Thanks for the articles! They were very exciting reads; I am glad to know the DOD is making such great strides through the SPD in the IO arena, very important steps in national security!

Tom Odom
11-16-2007, 07:34 PM
Hi Adrian,

As I understand things, the military is, in fact, involved in a lot of covert intelligence operations. The NSA actually coordinates these operations. I suppose I am thinking ther should be an NSA-type organization for IO. Thanks for your thoughts, and I look forward to your response.

Wrong agency when talking covert and again not to be confused with clandestine.

Best

Tom

invictus0972
11-16-2007, 09:54 PM
Wrong agency when talking covert and again not to be confused with clandestine.

Best

Tom


So, NSA is clandestine, not covert? I never really thought of the semantic difference between the two. Is the overall point that the military is involved in strategic level intelligence, covert or clandestine, still valid?

Rex Brynen
11-16-2007, 10:47 PM
So, NSA is clandestine, not covert? I never really thought of the semantic difference between the two. Is the overall point that the military is involved in strategic level intelligence, covert or clandestine, still valid?

Yes, the military widely collects strategic level intelligence. NSA's niche in this, of course, is SIGINT (and the cryptography necessary to exploit what it collects, plus the mandate to maintain the security of USG communications).

In popular culture, however, I'm struck at how NSA is so often (mis)portrayed as a super-secret version of the CIA, a sort of men-in-black stereotype.

The real men in black, of course, protect us from alien invasion... ;)

Tom Odom
11-16-2007, 11:25 PM
So, NSA is clandestine, not covert? I never really thought of the semantic difference between the two. Is the overall point that the military is involved in strategic level intelligence, covert or clandestine, still valid?

Neither, "clan" is HUMINT is and the services and the CIA do that. Covert is black paramilitary as in ops in OEF I. As Rex states NSA is SIGINT all forms, Hollywood loves to play the N Such Agency game and assign it roles and functions it does not do. Certainly the services are involved in strat intel but NSA does not have a management function beyong SIGINT.

Best

Tom

wm
11-17-2007, 03:06 AM
So, NSA is clandestine, not covert? I never really thought of the semantic difference between the two. Is the overall point that the military is involved in strategic level intelligence, covert or clandestine, still valid?
Invictus,
I'd love to tell you the truth about all this stuff, but then I'd have to kill you. :D (old intel joke)

All of the services have uniformed folks doing work for the various three letter national intel agencies. They all also have their own internal strategic intel shops. However, that said, I'm not sure that you and I have the same understanding of what strategic intelligence is.

Norfolk
11-17-2007, 04:44 AM
Plenty of things that are critical to national security aren't within DoD - intelligence/covert ops (granted 80% is DoD but still much is outside), state, the economy, etc. Just because something is national security doesn't mean DoD has to do it.

I'd favor bringing back the independent USIA instead, having a direct line to the White House rather than having to go through SecDef, who's priority won't be information operations or ideological warfare.

I tend to very much agree with you here Adrian, and I particularly like your proposal of reactivating the USIA - with its chain of command going straight to the President and bypassing everyone else. But as I have been thinking about this, I am reminded of Rob Thornton's proposal on one of the other threads for a new SOE-type agency (that part may or may not be necessary for the role you propose in bring back the USIA) that is low on hierarchy and high on individual initiative and the creation of netowrks of contacts. SOE, of course, was highly involved in IO, but as Selil observed, much of the process of SC is similar to that of IO, just sort of in reverse. That sort of model may have some real potential for SC.

The real men in black, of course, protect us from alien invasion...;)

Rex, I am rather dubious about both the effectiveness and even the true loyalties of the Men In Black (and the fact that they seem to work hand-in-glove with the Men in (Little) White (Coats) - with butterfly nets:

Cannoneer No. 4
11-17-2007, 06:23 AM
15 Nov 07 testimony before the HASC Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee on Strategic Communications and Countering Ideological Support for Terrorism:

Duncan MacInnes (http://armedservices.house.gov/pdfs/TUTC111507/MacInnes_Testimony111507.pdf), Principal Dpty Coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs, DoS

The CTCC is intended to be a small, collaborative, interagency resource with a daily mission of providing the intellectual leadership necessary for countering terrorist ideology and extremist propaganda through coordinated messages.

We need a Domestic Digital Outreach Team.

Norfolk
11-17-2007, 09:45 PM
Domestic[/B] Digital Outreach Team.

Indeed. Consider the USMC Strategic Communications Plan, released in July of this year:

http://www.usmc.mil/directiv.nsf/56ec379292979da685256bd0006c696e/3352bfa74c2225258525735d0067a6f9?OpenDocument


The USMC, for its part, makes a distinction between:

1. "Key Audiences" - both present and potential members of the Marine Corps and their kith and kin; Congress, and Officer of SECDEF.

2. "Targeted Areas of Influence" - Mass Media; "New" Media; Third-Party Spokepersons; and finally Academia.

All of the objects of SC, curiously, are identified as domestic - there appears to be not one word about foreign audiences or targets.

According to the document, "Strategic Communications activities are planned and conducted at the Service level." Furthermore, "There is only one Strategic Communication Plan for the United States Marine Corps." (Boldface original). The Marines have clearly got the message about SC, and have determined that Service Level is the proper place to conduct SC. Given the problems that would follow from an attempt to combine all the Services' SC in one agency, together with the SC of other USG agencies, perhaps a Cabinet-level director to oversee and attempt to provide at least a minimal level of coordination might be a way to go.

Penta
11-18-2007, 01:58 AM
Yes, the military widely collects strategic level intelligence. NSA's niche in this, of course, is SIGINT (and the cryptography necessary to exploit what it collects, plus the mandate to maintain the security of USG communications).

In popular culture, however, I'm struck at how NSA is so often (mis)portrayed as a super-secret version of the CIA, a sort of men-in-black stereotype.

The real men in black, of course, protect us from alien invasion... ;)

This may, or may not, be related to the fact that the NSA's existence was classified til...1975 or so, no?

Cannoneer No. 4
11-19-2007, 04:52 PM
At State Dept., Blog Team Joins Muslim Debate (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/22/washington/22bloggers.html)

Stan
11-19-2007, 05:03 PM
This may, or may not, be related to the fact that the NSA's existence was classified til...1975 or so, no?

Been to Fort Meade (http://www.nsa.gov/) lately ? If so, which side of the highway did you visit ?

Little has changed since 75 and rightfully so !

kehenry1
11-19-2007, 09:56 PM
While we discuss military or political control of a strategic communications system, I think we should not lose sight of the private, commercial aspect of strategic communications:

MTV in the Middle East (http://michellemalkin.com/2007/11/19/mtv-in-the-middle-east/)

While the writer of the blog perceives the necessary decrease in human flesh and other aspects of MTV programming as hypocritical, what I see is the underground communication of a message through a commercial entity.

While I wrote this piece: The Hidden War - Send them Levis (http://themiddleground.blogspot.com/2006/06/hidden-war-send-them-levis.html) as a mixed discussion on economic warfare and "the message", I believe it reflects an idea that we should always keep in mind: our private, commercial entities represent one of our strongest and most capable sources of "the message". Privately funded.

The media does not talk about it as part of the war because they don't understand it either. They think of war like most people think of war: explosions, soldiers, bullets, wounded and dead. In this case, in the war you don't know exists, the wounded and dying are idealogues and ideologies. The weapons are wallets, credit cards and cash. The Bullets are western products through which western ideas are infiltrated into states, societies and cultures. The Atomic Bomb is the interglobal communications networks represented by cell phones, internet and satellite dishes.

I posited the theory that, along with some basic economic pressures and military, the USSR collapsed with the final weight of the black market. Not just because it took money out of the state run economy and placed it in the hands of individuals, but because the products themselves were the message. Levis, pepsi and Michael Jackson (at the time). Music. Red, white and blue cans, and quintessentially American culture in a pair of jeans.

It's the message of freedom, democracy and capitalism. The thing that the Al Qaida/Qutb ideologues fear the most. And it arrives via satellite dish on MTV.

MountainRunner
11-19-2007, 10:55 PM
We need a Domestic Digital Outreach Team.

First, we have Domestic Digital Outreach, and you mentioned in a later post State's DipNote (http://blogs.state.gov). This is run under PA and not PD and therefore aimed at you and me. Second, let's now forget the President's Press Secretary and all of her/his resources, DoD's Outreach (passive and active), and all the other public affairs / public relations units in the rest of USG. (Don't forget DoA's, among others, video press releases while you're at it.)

My $0.02 is Adrian's on the ball, as usual. The advantage of USIA was, of course, its independence. Putting such an operation under DoS makes it susciptible to short-term needs and desires that are too often at odds with the long term needs of psychological struggles. DoS is also incredibly dysfunctional and has a proven inability to adapt to the world that's more like the 1940's and 1950's than the 1980's and 1990's for which it is configured for (albeit poorly). Nevermind the requirements of the 21st Century, which is in part the heart of this thread.

Putting it under DoD a) emphasizes our miltiary and b) prevents a persistent presence and encourages a short-term focus. In the first, do we want to represent the U.S. through our military? Today, American public diplomacy wears combat boots, want to dispute that? Is this the best or appropriate image for the United States? The military, absent a significant shift, is not focused on the long haul through rotations and focus on warfighting.

The enemy can lie, we cannot not. We must have the trust of the audience, they do not. To establish trust, we need a long focus. To build relations, "we" need independence of shifting agendas.

Kehenry: "It's the message of freedom, democracy and capitalism. The thing that the Al Qaida/Qutb ideologues fear the most"

I disagree. The thing they fear most is literate Muslims who actually read the Koran, the Hadith, and even Qutb, as well as Muslims who actually have options. General Doug Stone is demonstrating this in his detainee operations in Iraq and Iraqis are showing this around Iraq. Afghanis are also demonstrating the same.

marct
11-20-2007, 02:14 PM
Kehenry: "It's the message of freedom, democracy and capitalism. The thing that the Al Qaida/Qutb ideologues fear the most"

I disagree. The thing they fear most is literate Muslims who actually read the Koran, the Hadith, and even Qutb, as well as Muslims who actually have options. General Doug Stone is demonstrating this in his detainee operations in Iraq and Iraqis are showing this around Iraq. Afghanis are also demonstrating the same.

I'd agree with MR on this one, at least in the short term (say, 2 generations). In the long term (3+ generations), it will be a combination of the two in the form of a literate middle class that is theologically sophisticated, although I doubt that it will look much like the US republican system.

kehenry1
11-20-2007, 04:20 PM
Well, I got the idea based on the writings of Qutb. which is interesting considering his rather revolutionary ideas that men don't need leaders or mullahs to know Allah. You could almost feel sympathetic revolutionary tendencies towards the idea since it reflects our own reformation. Except for the part where he then talks about having to destroy the west because it's ideas transmitted through our capitalist relationships with Islamic nations was causing the ideas of materialism, freedom and democracy (the three demonic minions of Great Satan) to infiltrate the Ummah, splitting good Muslims from the worship of Allah and the right path.

Then there was that whole thing about people of all faiths and nations naturally finding the right way to worship Allah if they were only told. With the conflicting concept that there was only one way to read the Qu'ran and anyone who didn't know the right way or followed the other sixteen schools of jurisprudence were actually takfiri and apostates.

Of course, it does reflect the idea that, if young Muslims read the Qu'ran without "proper direction" they might have their own ideas about religion. But isn't that the problem now? You know that Qutb was listed as a heretic at the Cairo University for doing just that.

The irony is interesting.

I don't think, though, that it precludes the ideas that, yes, indeed, democracy, freedom and capitalism aren't an effective message against radicalism.

invictus0972
11-20-2007, 05:08 PM
Well, I got the idea based on the writings of Qutb. which is interesting considering his rather revolutionary ideas that men don't need leaders or mullahs to know Allah.

I have also noticed a similarity between Sunni/Salafist and Reformation ecclesiology. Perhaps this is another example of the dangers of too much individual religious interpretation!

Concerning some of the comments on SC, I still believe there needs to be a DOD level organization for organizing the SC of all of the core competencies of each branch of the military services. As I understand things, this was one of the reasons the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) was established in 2001. There is so much involved in IO across all the various branches that higher level coordination is necessary. I know this is occurring already, but it seems to me it should occur through a formal department.

tequila
11-20-2007, 08:24 PM
I don't think, though, that it precludes the ideas that, yes, indeed, democracy, freedom and capitalism aren't an effective message against radicalism.

We are here to help the Vietnamese, because inside every gook there is an American trying to get out. It's a hardball world, son. We've gotta keep our heads until this peace craze blows over.

:D

I do think that democracy, capitalism, and freedom are good things. But the world is not flat, blue jeans did not win the Cold War, materialism will not save us, and all three of those very fine things mean very different things to different people, even in America.

Cannoneer No. 4
11-21-2007, 04:40 AM
First, we have Domestic Digital Outreach, and you mentioned in a later post State's DipNote (http://blogs.state.gov). This is run under PA and not PD and therefore aimed at you and me. Second, let's now forget the President's Press Secretary and all of her/his resources, DoD's Outreach (passive and active), and all the other public affairs / public relations units in the rest of USG. (Don't forget DoA's, among others, video press releases while you're at it.)

Back when we declared wars we had Office of Strategic Services Morale Operations providing products to make the enemy despair and an Office of War Information providing products to make the Americans persevere. Many people think we could really use products like the OWI produced, and since .gov/.mil can't/won't, volunteer counterpropagandists/cheerleaders attempt it.

All the other public affairs / public relations units do not address national will, nor, realistically, can they.

MountainRunner
11-21-2007, 04:11 PM
All the other public affairs / public relations units do not address national will, nor, realistically, can they.
Are you seriously suggesting the President's Press Secretary is not about influencing the national will? Rumsfeld's press briefings were not about influencing will?

Unless I'm misunderstanding your statement, what you're really talking about is the failure to put together and follow a coherent and flexible and adaptable communications plan. What we've seen from USG is a brittle plan of "let us worry about the big bad guy" without a serious attempt to recruit the people? Reliance on the monolithic enemy has forced the Administration to adjust its message as the enemy transformed.

Hmmm.... could there be a cycling analogy in here? Lots of little peddle strokes -- i.e. high cadence -- means you can quickly and adroitly adapt to changing terrain. A big slow mashing style means slow adjustment. The enemy is Lance Armstrong and the U.S. is Jan Ulrich (w/ the baggage)?

Cannoneer No. 4
11-21-2007, 11:19 PM
Are you seriously suggesting the President's Press Secretary is not about influencing the national will? Rumsfeld's press briefings were not about influencing will?

Obviously the President and his political operatives will attempt to make the best use of the bully pulpit they can. Rumsfeld's press briefings were definitely about influencing will. The InterAgency and service PA/PR units are less about bolstering the will of the American people to support the war and more about bolstering the will of Congress to fund the organizations they represent. They really can't get too boisterous in their cheer-leading for fear of offending powerful purse-string holders who seek to undermine support for the war.

Civil servants and career military officers usually attempt to maintain at least a facade of non-partisan professionalism and can't be the people overtly cheer-leading for a war half their political masters oppose. The struggle over bolstering or undermining national will is an internal political one. Approval ratings = freedom of action.

Rex Brynen
11-22-2007, 12:00 AM
The discussion on strategic communications here has shifted between discussing two target audiences, one internal and the other external. In following it, a few thoughts have percolated to the top of my mind (when its not otherwise drowning in reference-writing for graduate and law school applicants).

First, with regard to internal audiences. While I can see the political advantage of framing it in these terms to those who favour current policies, I'm not sure I would portray this issue as one of bolstering or undermining the national will. The more thoughtful of critics of current US policy in Iraq argue that it is counterproductive, undermining the GWoT and damaging US prestige and influence in the region. That doesn't make them surrender monkeys.

What we are really talking about, therefore, is influencing a political and policy debate. This is, as others have suggested, a task for politicians and politically-appointed spokespersons. Public servants (uniformed or otherwise), in my view, should largely be confined to trying to provide the most honest account--recognizing that this process can never really be a fully apolitical one.

Second, with regard to external audiences, I think it is important to recognize that US policies have profound effects on the way the US is viewed in the Muslim world, and that "strategic communications" can never more than slightly offset that. In many ways, the US is viewed in the Middle East much as the Soviet Union was viewed in Eastern Europe during the Cold War: as a supporter of authoritarian repression and occupation (via Israel in the WBG, Syria, and Lebanon, and now the US directly in Iraq). Discussing how to best spin policies that are profoundly disliked by the locals is, at a certain point, rather like convincing Estonians in the 1970s that Moscow had been misunderstood. I doubt even a Soviet MTV could have done that.

It may well be that buttressing Middle Eastern repressive dictatorships, for example, serves US security interests (although, for a fleeting post 9/11 moment, Washington appeared to vacillate on this). However when these particular chickens (among others) come home to roost it shouldn't just be treated as a failure of "strategic communications."

(I will add, as an aside, that the US has not received, nor adequately marketed, those cases where it has acted to uphold the interests of Muslim communities, whether in humanitarian intervention in Somalia, its role in ending the war in Bosnia, or reversing Serbian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. That is much more a failure of strategic communications--although it also highlights the extent to which suspicion of Washington is so deep that even "good deeds" are perceived through dark, conspiratorial lenses.)

St. Christopher
11-26-2007, 06:47 PM
St. Christopher,

Why do you feel this way? I know there is some criticism about the fact that the DOD might lose some credibility if it were viewed as engaging it propaganda type operations. However, it is already doing these types of operations Joint Psychological Operations Support Element. Also, it is going on unofficially everyday in press releases and other types of media engagements. The problem is that there so many core competencies within the DOD that contribute, explicitly or implicitly, to IO, and they have all their own agendas. Would it not be better to acknowledge this situation and create a strategic level DOD office to coordinate the activities? If the so called GWOT is a true ideological confrontation that is critical to national security, shouldn't IO fall under the auspices of the DOD? Look forward to your comments!

Military IO and PSYOP should fall under the auspices of DOD, but I'd argue that the constrictions placed upon DOD IO/PSYOP planning and execution make it too difficult to perform all the needed SC functions in a target audience/region. IO and PSYOP are separate parts of strategic communication. DOD can't oversee all the other parts on its own. It doesn't have the interagency authorities to do so and probably shouldn't. Plus, there's also the case of what happened to OSI, which I take as evidence that the DOD bureaucracy is just not ready to go on the Ideological combat offensive.

If you really want to do true, strategic communication, integrate every potential tool for Ideological combat, I'd argue that your execution mechanism (if it is indeed an organization) needs to sit at the NSC level and have appropriate authorities and mandates to reach into the rest of the interagency to execute infowar policy. However, such a mechanism needs a vastly decentralized private component to work, and I don't think we're quite there yet in leasing whole parts of policy execution to the private sector.

invictus0972
11-26-2007, 07:52 PM
St Christopher,

I agree that the DOD is not equipped to handle the entire SC mission. This is why I said in my other post that there is definitely a role for other organizations such as the DoS and suggested USIA. I am only suggesting that the DoD has a very specialized role to play in SC. As we have discussed previously, the DoD has a specialized role in strategic SIGINT organized through the NSA. Similarly, the DoD has a specialized role in SC. I think it is a mistake to limit the military's SC capabilities to just what the PSYOP guys can do.

V/r

Invictus

Jedburgh
12-03-2008, 05:33 PM
ARAG, 2 Dec 08: Strategic Communication: A Primer (http://www.da.mod.uk/colleges/arag/document-listings/special/08%2828%29ST.pdf)
This paper attempts to address a perceived gap in UK defence thinking which currently has little documentation, on the emerging and cross governmental art of Strategic Communication. After defining the term this paper attempts to locate its utility within the defence community, considering its relationship with Media and Information Operations. The paper notes that at its core, Strategic Communication can only be successful when three processes are clearly understood: the role of strategic communication in campaigning, the actual cognitive process of communication and the empirical analysis of target audiences. The dangers of over-reliance upon polling are considered concurrently. The paper concludes with the place of Strategic Communication within UK military operations, the need for robust measurements of effectiveness and a short assessment of the challenges of emerging and new media.