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Thread: US General Accused of Using "Psyop" on Americans in AFG

  1. #1
    Council Member Brett Patron's Avatar
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    Lightbulb US General Accused of Using "Psyop" on Americans in AFG

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics...0110223?page=1

    This is going to be a mess. Or an awful lot of fun.

    BJP

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    No, it's not going to be fun at all. If there is any truth to this article, heads will need to roll.
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    Council Member BayonetBrant's Avatar
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    One thing that jumped out at me was the desire of the info on the congressional reps: voting records, campaign stances, etc.

    If some S3 flunky had been tasked for that instead of the psyop team, would we still be wringing our hands over this?
    If the psyop team got the tasker because there wasn't enough psyop work to do to keep them busy, and the general thought they were capable of handling it, does that make it an inherent psyop mission?

    Now, there seem to be enough other concerns elsewhere in the article to be worth investigating more deeply, but some of the 'issues' that Hastings/RS raise are not (to me) worthy of the level of hype they're being given, in part b/c I think the authors/editors lack some context on how those taskers get assigned and how regularly those sorts of things happen in other places with other functional specialties.

    Hell, it happened w/ us in '95 in California during the Apache Longbow trials. We were briefed on the incoming VIPs that were there to see what we were doing, including whether or not they were hostile to the program and its funding.
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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    No, it's not going to be fun at all. If there is any truth to this article, heads will need to roll.
    It should be the Senator's heads that roll. There is a bunch of them that need to have their head gear flushed out by some proper Army thinking. General Caldwell should be promoted!

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    It should be the Senator's heads that roll. There is a bunch of them that need to have their head gear flushed out by some proper Army thinking. General Caldwell should be promoted!

    Slap,

    While the Congress certainly has many warts I don't see how your sentiment is compatible with the necessity of military subordination to elected officials in our democracy.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Slap,

    While the Congress certainly has many warts I don't see how your sentiment is compatible with the necessity of military subordination to elected officials in our democracy.
    Because they (US Military) were sent to fight a war without the proper resources to win it. That is a political failure not a military one. Why should the Military pay the price? I am very biased by the way,I don't see much difference between politicians and crooks these days.

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    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    What was done is "ops normal"; a VIP (of any stripe) is coming, you find out their position on relevant issues, special requirements, their favorite beverage, etc. You'll see this done by competent staffs anywhere, for any visitor who can influence the destiny of an organization. Failure to do so is negligence, possibly incompetence. I've watched the same sort of thing done for O-6s, so a Congressman is a no-brainer.

    The point of a "dog and pony show" is to gain support, both tangible and intangible, for a unit, from people who may not understand the unit's role and requirements.

    To have a MISO (Military Information Support Operations; the new name for Psyops [unless doctrine has been rewritten... again]) unit doing this job, even an otherwise underemployed MISO unit, shows a lack of forethought. You have to procede from assumption that it will hit the front page of the NY Times, and ask yourself, as a leader, "How will this look?"

    One of the things the Army needs to learn from the Air Force is to explain this to junior officers. Honorable young Army LTs are routinely horrified at the basic realities of the budget process and appear to feel that basic courtesy and protocol is "brown-nosing", deceitful, and pretty much beneath them. When they make major, there can be significant trauma from exposure to the basics of getting funding for the LTs fundamental needs. An LT doesn't need to learn the entire five year budget process, but should understand that funding doesn't 'just happen' (no matter how hard and honestly you work), and that the process for getting funding doesn't always meet with their standards of conduct.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Agree with Entropy. This is criminal stupidity and an ego run amok.

    Nothing at all funny about it.

    I'd be willing to bet it's pretty accurate and this item:
    "It’s not illegal if I say it isn’t!" Holmes recalls Breazile shouting.
    rings true to me because I've heard too many Colonels and a random General or two say the same thing or close to it. The 15-6 also rings true because I've seen that kind of stupidity pulled before. We all have.

    Hell hath no fury like a General scorned.

    Caldwell did some flaky stuff while CG of the 82d and got away with it. He IMO did not need to be promoted and certainly does not need to be further promoted even without this incident if true.

    Bayonet Brant:
    If some S3 flunky had been tasked for that instead of the psyop team, would we still be wringing our hands over this?
    I dunno about wringing hands -- I'm not doing that, I'm sharpening my Headsman's Axe -- but I know it would've been wrong and should not happen.
    If the psyop team got the tasker because there wasn't enough psyop work to do to keep them busy, and the general thought they were capable of handling it, does that make it an inherent psyop mission?
    As I told all my sons when they went in the Army, "Once you get promoted above Corporal, you not only can't do much that's wrong, you can't even give the appearance of doing things that are wrong."

    Generals know that -- but their overfed egos make them think that rules do not apply to them and they try devious ways to stack the deck. They can do that in a peacetime environment (as today...) but it won't work in a war -- thus it's a bad habit to get into...
    Hell, it happened w/ us in '95 in California during the Apache Longbow trials. We were briefed on the incoming VIPs that were there to see what we were doing, including whether or not they were hostile to the program and its funding.
    I think you just made my point...

    The Bird could / shoulda made it on its own, trying to stack the deck -- IPB that is not -- could have put a marginal bird in service. It did not, in this case but there've been enough failures in deck stacking buying dumb stuff that we should be wary of it.

    Slapout9:
    I don't see much difference between politicians and crooks these days.
    I agree. However, while a certain amount of political savvy is properly required of GOs, attempting to stack a deck is crooked IMO. Far worse, intimidating ones subordinates that do not agree with one is flat illegal and it should be. It is also bone stupid...

    However, on this point:
    Because they (US Military) were sent to fight a war without the proper resources to win it.
    I kinda disagree, not to defend the Pols who do have problems in that regard but lets not let the military slide on their even bigger failures. Failures to plan, to buy the right gear (that other nations started buying as soon as the Wall went down...) or to spend enough money on good as opposed to barely acceptable training. Yeah, the Pols have problems but the military is too often its own worst enemy...

  9. #9
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Cogent comments. However...

    Quote Originally Posted by Van View Post
    What was done is "ops normal"; a VIP (of any stripe) is coming, you find out their position on relevant issues, special requirements, their favorite beverage, etc. You'll see this done by competent staffs anywhere, for any visitor who can influence the destiny of an organization. Failure to do so is negligence, possibly incompetence. I've watched the same sort of thing done for O-6s, so a Congressman is a no-brainer.
    While I agree that is often done -- too often IMO -- I also have served under a number of good Commanders who flatly refused to do that (including one who relieved a Major for doing that kind of prep work on his own volition). If one has one's act together, that kind of manipulation isn't needed. We complain about the 'politics' then we play the game? Makes no sense.
    To have a MISO (Military Information Support Operations; the new name for Psyops [unless doctrine has been rewritten... again]) unit doing this job, even an otherwise underemployed MISO unit, shows a lack of forethought. You have to procede from assumption that it will hit the front page of the NY Times, and ask yourself, as a leader, "How will this look?"
    Yes...

    One of the things the Army needs to learn from the Air Force is to explain this to junior officers ...and that the process for getting funding doesn't always meet with their standards of conduct.
    Think about what you wrote

    Maybe it would be better, easier and more honest, meeting reasonably decent standards of conduct, to change McNamara's deeply flawed PPBS which arguably is the cause of most the sort of trauma discussed in this thread -- and which certainly is the cause of disillusionment in many a Major (and which Congressional staffers exploit to their advantage...)...

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    Agree with Ken completely.

    To me there’s a huge difference between individuals speaking their minds in the context of their current position (ei. LTG Caldwell giving his opinion on what he thinks is necessary for Afghanistan) and tasking subordinates to create an influence campaign in order to support his opinion. That is no different than a Commanding Officer ordering his/her troops to call their representatives to advocate either for/against DADT, just to give one example. A Commander should not be ordering subordinates to engage in political activity, which is exactly what this is (or at least what it appears to be - I'm not trusting Hastings to provide a fully accurate picture). It’s contrary to long-standing tradition and such orders, if given, are clearly unlawful.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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    Default Paper bags, anyone?

    Before we hyperventilate over this, let's consider the source. This is the same guy that wrote the hatchet job on McChrystal, so the possibility that the facts as related in the article are skewed a bit or slightly out of context is probably high. Also, it's hard to see if any actual laws were broken, at least not to the extent that it would hold up in court. And a general would have to be an idiot to go into a meeting with congress members without getting some background or being prepared to talk about their interests.

    On the other hand, definitely a bad choice to employ your PSYOP guys for the task, but I'll bet the CoS was more responsible for that. And Caldwell has written op-eds for major newspapers, which to me is a more egregious example of militarism than trying to (horrors) influence politicians.

    But this is what happens when you get involved in dirty little wars - generals tend to get their skirts smudged.

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    Default IO is not exclusively PSYOP

    Also - there are enough errors in the article to call into question Mr. Hastings' research methods and fact checking diligence.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eden View Post
    Before we hyperventilate over this...
    However, I'm not hyperventilating (50 years of Pall Malls make that inadvisable in any event...) -- I've seen, even participated in, too many cases similar to the alleged deal to even raise an eyebrow, much less a sweat.
    Also, it's hard to see if any actual laws were broken, at least not to the extent that it would hold up in court.
    Oh, I don't think any laws were broken or even regulations disregarded (an action of which I'm usually in favor in most cases...). However, IF (note large letters) the allegations are close to correct, we simply had a General Officer either doing something you acknowledge as stupid or allowing / encouraging his subordinates to do so. I'm not prepared to jail him if that is true but I do reserve the right to question his fitness for command. Doubly so since I had occasion to do that with respect to him some years ago. That was a suspicion and this, if proven true, is simply confirmation...
    And a general would have to be an idiot to go into a meeting with congress members without getting some background or being prepared to talk about their interests.
    I do not disagree totally with that, though I've seen several good ones who were willing to forego such background -- including the one I mentioned who relieved for cause with a relief OER an Officer for gathering such info.

    If however, he endeavored to find ways to manipulate them or the situation, that, IMO was ethically wrong. GO, leadership, example and all that...
    On the other hand, definitely a bad choice to employ your PSYOP guys for the task, but I'll bet the CoS was more responsible for that.
    I agree and also note that if Caldwell didn't select him, he's tolerating him...
    And Caldwell has written op-eds for major newspapers, which to me is a more egregious example of militarism than trying to (horrors) influence politicians.
    Also agree with that, adding the caveat that a while I believe it is permissable, even desirable, to outthink politicians, attempting to influence them -- while a game played by many in the service -- is ultimately self defeating. That's a bit of a semantic play but I take your 'influence' usage to accept a bit of pandering to them or using their known weak points to achieve an advantage. That may be smart gamesmanship but I've seen it roll back to bite the overly slick all too often...
    But this is what happens when you get involved in dirty little wars - generals tend to get their skirts smudged.
    True dat...


    Dave Doyle:
    Also - there are enough errors in the article to call into question Mr. Hastings' research methods and fact checking diligence.
    True. However, the basic premise is that an unwise effort may have been attempted and that equally unwise efforts to quash disagreement are possibly being employed. Did I miss anything?

    FWIW, I've been around long enough to know that the truth probably lies somewhere in between. I've also been around long enough to have had a number of Generals tell me to do certain things that were shady. A few of them I did generally because they were harmless, on most I demurred -- and only one guy out of about a couple of dozen tried, briefly, to get stupid over a demurral. Most Generals will try stuff on for size but they're usually too smart to push dicey stuff when the diceiness is mentioned. This one may -- just may -- not be all that smart. We'll see....

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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Can you imagine the casualty counts, if any of these geniuses who have floated to the top of the bowl are leading Pax Americana's Legions when we (eventually?) go up against a competent enemy?
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


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    Was LTC Holmes the PSYOP, or a PSYOP officer assigned as the IO officer- there is a distinct difference.

    NTM-A is a JMD manned command, not a TOE unit, so anyone could be the IO, and IO addresses all audiences, not just opposing audiences.

    I wonder what LTC Holmes beef with LTG Caldwell and the command is? IME, a LTC isn't going to just run to Rolling Stone and spill his guts about something. Especially not after what happened to GEN McChrystal.

    My bet- LTC Holmes was a waste of oxygen who got hammered by the command (he was investigated, and it seems like it wasn't just over his raising this issue, but other conduct that is at least questionable) and this is his method to pay back. I could be wrong- its happened before, but that is my guess on what happened.

    As noted by DaveDoyle, the article leaves lots of loose ends for someone who understands how things work.

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    I'm one of those dumb ass naive patriots that simply believed that Ollie North should be shot for treason, then if he wanted to do a talk show---go for it.

    The military's recent practice of crafting stove-piped and impractical short-term missions that exceed possible national resources available, then believing that resources will follow, is just impractical.

    Reality is that even if resources were granted for training a substantially greater Afghan force, the resources to sustain that level of forces does not exist.

    Anyone charged with this mission who thinks their job is simply to stuff funding demands into a pipeline until it clogs up is not doing a service to his country.

    Covering these gaps up by influence peddling doesn't fill the gap.

    Slap is right about the under-resourcing, but, there is another answer beyond just sending unlimited resources.

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    Default IO is not MISO; While often

    used interchangeably, they are in fact two separate disciplines that work "together".

    I would like to highlight that LTC Holmes is not a PSYOP Officer; he is assigned to a Theater Information Operations Group.

    Information Operations is by design a coordinating function - designed to synchronize and link the effects of associated capabilities of IO - MISO being one of them. There are varying degrees of descriptions of what a Theater Information Operations Group does - including one that stated that they conduct "mind warfare" - I have never heard of this type of warfare, ever!

    I have to question that following an IG Complaint (in which LTC Holmes did not receive whistleblower protection), a 15-6 investigation, and legal counsel - this article was crafted by the same reporter who "brought down McCrystal". Sounds a little strange to me - perhaps a little approach and "want a good story?"

    That being said, the opening comments by Brett and Entropy are correct - this is going to be a mess. Heads will roll, efforts will stall, and shakeups will happen.

    I find it hard to believe that a General, (regardless of who he is) would actually consider asking a person even remotely affiliated with Influence efforts to conduct such an action.

    As a MISO professional, who believes in the possibilities of influence (if done correctly and legally), I am cowering a bit in the preparation of of a potential Tsunami of finger pointing and allegations that will in fact weaken the Army.

    I will be watching from the sidelines with caution.

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Does it ever end



    I realize there's a lot those of us in the cheap seats don't know it seems counter to everything I've seen from Caldwell that he wouldn't be aware of all the concerns that have been brought up here. So that makes it pretty hard to buy that it an oop's rather than the more likely mis-representation of the facts by those on the offense. Guess I could be wrong, been there before

    But before Ken's gets a hold of me with that freshly sharpened Axe of his-

    Steve,
    Although your right about the cost in the long term being infeasible
    Isn't that the very point behind insuring that VIP's and purse holders are all made uncomfortably aware of it long before it happens. In order to do that you have to understand what they think and what their concerns are so you can make sure they don't miss the important pieces like the finance bit.
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    Not that anyone asked my opinion, but I'm going to give it anyway...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post

    Dave Doyle:True. However, the basic premise is that an unwise effort may have been attempted and that equally unwise efforts to quash disagreement are possibly being employed. Did I miss anything?
    Agreed, this is the most disturbing aspect of the story to me, especially because it was done in this same command (different commander) to friends of mine. The resolution was very unsatisfying but at least no innocent people had their careers ruined for having legitimate concerns.


    Most Generals will try stuff on for size but they're usually too smart to push dicey stuff when the diceiness is mentioned. This one may -- just may -- not be all that smart. We'll see....
    Agreed with Ken, of course -- Either he knew that there was something potentially questionable about what he was asking them to do and went ahead with it anyway (too aggressive) or he truly didn't see how someone might misinterpret what he wanted and then got mad when his orders weren't followed (too... something else).

    And by the way, I think going to the press was a perfectly legitimate course of action for an officer who was about to (if the story is true) get steamrolled.
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    Ron:

    I am fine with accurately reporting conditions, when asked, during a VIP visit.

    It is hard to believe, however, that in the scope and role of DoD budgeting, it is the job of a field implementer to directly pursue, sell, manipulate the appropriators. The reported conduct is quite a bit beyond showing your efforts in the best light, or even "puffing" them.

    The problem of lack of resources is a matter to be brought by a field implementer to his higher-ups.

    Otherwise, everybody is a Matthew Hoh and/or every program/project manager would be out hunting his own private earmarks from a handful of senators. The system cannot function effectively like that.

    Forget about the military thing for a minute.

    There is a very specific relationship between Legislators and Administration that is being under appreciated here.

    What if the same conduct was undertaken by an FBI Intel Unit? Let's use our wiretap and research tools to see how many senators we can influence to support our program.

    Isn't it supposed to be Hoover's role to manage and apply the "blackmail" files, and not every spook group in the joint?

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