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Thread: How do you change the perception?

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Default How do you change the perception?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarajevo071 View Post
    I base my words on stuff I read and saw in many, many testimonies, articles, and movies by veterans themselves. You are asking for proofs... If we have "proof" there wouldn't be cover-ups. What I can tell you is to remind you how Military tried to cover other cases (you heard same stories like all of us) and you know how they tried or they did cover that up.

    From damaging Babylon, theft of Iraqi gold and museum artifacts, to the Tillman case, British soldier and American pilots case, Haditha case, Abu Gharib case, Samara case... There is more and I think you heard about all those killings and rapes of civilians by "mistakes" or by orders of free fire. Contractors are without any control or blame, Military is free of responsibility to the International or Iraqi courts...

    Regarding "we would simply flatten this country and be done with it" I firmly believe that decade long sanctions that killed 500,000 kids, OIF I and "Highway of Death", and now this coming in frame of "flattening country" but not so obvious so more people will not fight back and with preserving territorial integrity to preserve sucking the oil out.

    I am finding very noble of you that you are not one of those soldiers (and I know there are minority) since U.S. Military have long and pretty much good history of noble causes, but this war is not one of them. I agree with you that you stand up for what you believe and I didnít want to insult you or ANY other real and decent soldier. I was trying to point out some wrong steps that can (and they did) backfire on whole idea of bringing peace and democracy in that parts of Word.

    My sensitivity on civilian deaths, rapes and maimed kids toke better of me. My bad. I will try to control my words.

    This post, taken from another thread, is a perfect example of a snapshot look from the point of view of the world. How do you combat that? How do you break the impression that the US Military is a secretive organization that is hellbent on covering its tracks on everything bad that happens? How do you make people understand that The US is not in Iraq for oil?

    In short, what's your proposed IO campaign?

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    Default The High Price of Service

    You don't and can't make people understand the points you have set forth. The hand that carries the sword will always be regarded with some degree of trepidation, even in free, advanced societies. The judicious and controled use of force is simply alien to many people and frightening to them, arousing irrational suspicions and fears. High recruiting standards, high expectations and high standards of training combined with hard but consistent discipline is the only way to maintain a steady course that keeps the undeserved suspicion, fear and antagonism at bay. There is no other way. When the criticism gets harsh, then too the discipline must get harsh and the training even harder. That's a fundamental law of physics - for every action, there is an equal, opposite reaction.

    In the Post by SWJED on General MaCaffrey's report, Gen. M. makes the following statement in his report: "The American people hold that the US armed forces are the most trusted institution in our society". That translates to one and one thing only: the sole duty of career Officers and NCOs is to make their men the best they can be. When the military is needed, they are loved, when not, they viewed with distrust and even anger. We are on the backside of a war in which politicians yet again made some serious tactical blunders and the military is paying the price. Your only consolation is knowing that you and your brethren stand between We The People and some very real, lethal forces that want us, our children and our way of life dead.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    In other words: OORAH! KILL!

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    I guess I'll expand upon the initial question on a broader front. If you were an IO officer/NCO in Iraq/Afghanistan right now, how would you go forth with your mission and how would you focus your efforts?

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Strategic IO

    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    This post, taken from another thread, is a perfect example of a snapshot look from the point of view of the world. How do you combat that? How do you break the impression that the US Military is a secretive organization that is hellbent on covering its tracks on everything bad that happens? How do you make people understand that The US is not in Iraq for oil?

    In short, what's your proposed IO campaign?
    Ryan,

    Great question!

    First of all we have to come to terms with what type war we are fighting and develop a coherent message to the world.

    We have not done that and we have paid a severe price for it. Our national leaders have in the past 6 years offered some of the worst, least thought through, play ground-like statements that may play well with some internal audiences but fell flat on the international stage.

    We are engaged in a multi-tiered strategic counter-insurgency against radical Muslim ideology. Our allies in that COIN fight are those inside the Muslim community who speak out against the zealots. Our goal is to win the Muslim majority to our side. We are dealing with this struggle at multiple levels: OEF began as a tactical fight that has become regional with Pakistan as a critical stage. We added Iraq to that tactical fight and now OIF is very much a regional conflict with strategic implications. We are engaged in COIN support in the Phiiliipines and we are engaged in COIN preemption on the Horn of Africa.

    Our national IO does not connect the campaigns. And we have surrendered much our national credibilty in the process. Rendition and Gitmo may have provided valuable intel; the operative question strategically is at what cost to our overall COIN effort? If the tactical gains in intelligence actually extended the war's duration then we are taking one step forward and falling five feet backwards.

    We seem to have completely walked away from what Dr. Joe Nye calls soft power, the message inherent in US guarantees on personal freedom and sanctity of life. I sent Rwandan officers to the US on training in military justice at time when Rwandan jails were bursting with genocidal killers. Their instructors reported back to me on how they did. On one trip, the group visited a military prison and as they prepared to leave, they asked the tour guide, "You mean we should not beat our prisoners?" In the aftermath of the Abu Gharaib fiasco, that question to me is especially significant. I wonder if given the present circumstances how those Rwandans would have viewed their training. One of those students by the way became the Rwandan Ambassador to the United States.

    We have also struggled to get our act together on the ground. Ryan your regiment became almost an icon for what right looked like. Others did less well. We are doing much better but the struggle is not over and probably never will be. We continue to have difficulty assessing the effects of our actions and often the effects of our reactions to our own actions.

    What do I mean by that? Well consider the issue of the Marine SO unit sent home from OEF; we have discussed it here. Was it a knee jerk reaction or was it justified? Those questions are relevant only to a US audience. As for OEF, the Afghan reaction is what counts and we seem to have complicated the aftermath with efforts to control the media. In another case, one with less coverage, a US commander in delivering compensation for 3 children killed in an air attack, made remarks about how much more caring the US was than the Russians had been. That may be something that could be said internally but it is not a message we need to deliver to the Afghan people.

    Again great question and one that I try to get at in an article on the issue of collateral damage in COIN.

    Best

    Tom

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    Default Challenging IO environment

    First, I don't think any NCO or officer below 3 stars has a full understanding of why we're in Iraq, we just have our opinions. We went there allegedly to find WMD, and it wasn't there. Strike one in the IO battle. We went there to sever the non-existent link between Saddam and the Al Qaeda, strike two. Then we had the normal, none the less serious, crimes and mistakes that were the result of imperfect men (all of us) in combat. Several of them were in the headlines for months (several strikes, but the game goes on).

    It is hard for leaders to speak with a credible voice after they sacrificed their integrity in front of the world. Furthermore, our national leaders used securing our oil interests in speeches previously, though never stated it as the primary reason, yet the association of our VP with Halliburton and the President with the oil industry isn't helpful. It doesn't have to be true, just believable. Anyway whether our people like it or not, oil security is important to the world's economy, not just ours. However, we can't say that publicly to an audience that taught to think within a politically correct box.

    Revisit your points, and then put them in perspective. First they are your opinion, not fact. Second, your opinion is competing against a number of other opinions. Unfortunately if you refer back to the first paragraph your (our) opinion isn't looking good in the best commercial contest. The others have supporting arguments that are in the headlines daily. It sort of puts us in a position where people wonder what the heck we're talking about.

    How to over come it? To be frank I have by doubts that we can under the current administration, and unfortunately with the unreasonable pressure from Congress to pull out soon, our only option may be to get our credibility back under this administration.

    One option we have, and to date have done a terrible job with, is making the bugger stick somewhere else. Our soldiers are not intentionally killing civilians; as a matter of FACT they are risking their lives to save Iraqi civilians. People get this, but they need to hear it more.

    They also need to hear (much more often) that the a--holes we're fighting do not have a plan for Iraq, they are only seeking self power, and they are resorting to terribly vicious means to achieve it. We need to show front and center on the headlines (for weeks at a time) when a suicide bomber intentionally puts children in his car so he can by pass check points to get to a position where he can kill more children. We need the names of the children, conduct interviews with the family members, for change put the enemy on the defensive. And perhaps (just an idea) interview the suicide bomber's family (concurrently with family members of those killed) to gradually kill the social acceptance of this tactic.

    The biggest challenge in the IO war though is convincing the home audience that the sacrifice is worth it. With relatively very little effort we can put the bad guys on the defensive on the moral front (will we do it? I don't know), but equally important is showing we have a "viable" plan and we're making progress. If we can't show that, then it is unrealistic to expect support for continued operations, because you're then asking the American people to invest their blood and dollars into hope, not a plan.

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    Economist wrote in last edition story "How it all went wrong in Iraq." Blair has said sorry. Can US say "I'm sorry" and repair mistakes that have been done? It's terrible effort I suppose.

    http://www.economist.com/world/displ...ory_id=8881663

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post

    One option we have, and to date have done a terrible job with, is making the bugger stick somewhere else. Our soldiers are not intentionally killing civilians; as a matter of FACT they are risking their lives to save Iraqi civilians. People get this, but they need to hear it more.

    They also need to hear (much more often) that the a--holes we're fighting do not have a plan for Iraq, they are only seeking self power, and they are resorting to terribly vicious means to achieve it. We need to show front and center on the headlines (for weeks at a time) when a suicide bomber intentionally puts children in his car so he can by pass check points to get to a position where he can kill more children. We need the names of the children, conduct interviews with the family members, for change put the enemy on the defensive. And perhaps (just an idea) interview the suicide bomber's family (concurrently with family members of those killed) to gradually kill the social acceptance of this tactic.
    This is critical, during the Malayan Campaign the Brits never called it a war they called it an emergency! Every chance we get we should reduce these acts to that of common MURDERS not inflate them to TERRORIST, which to them may be freedom fighters or protecting their religion. They should never be viewed as soldiers in any way just criminals and they should be wanted and hunted for killing people in the manner that Bill suggest!

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    Default Arbeit Macht Frei

    How's that for an ironic twist in the propoganda war, when anti-US forces are accused of acting like nazis? Actions speak louder than words and phamplets and jingoism. In the marginally secure areas of Iraq outside Baghdad, I would put people to work cleaning up rubble and doing other manual labor type work, said projects to be run totally by the US military - recruited, supervised and paid by the CAP unit with operational responsibility in the area. Some historians claim the CCCs (civilian conservation corps) and the WPA (work projects administration) implemented in the 1930s during the great depression were nothing more than stop-gaps for staving off revolution, considering the extremely high unemployment rates in the nation at the time. My father was in the CCCs and the camp he was in was run by an Army Cpt. It can be done again. You've got essentially 3rd world muslim peasants that are hard pressed financially with no decent jobs and they damn sure aren't going to put their faith in any fancy words coming from the Americans or their own government. At the specific, troop level implementation of IO, a number of things can be done and it centers on direct contact, interaction with the people where actions speak louder than words. When shaking hands with Iraqis, quit squeezing their hands in the typical American fashion. A strong grip from a strange infidel essetially is a gesture of control and domination. You give them your hand in a gesture of friendship, the ol' dead fish handshake, you don't take control of their hand. Whenever speaking with them, look at their moving lips and quit staring into their eyes. Locking onto eyes as WE usually do signifies possible doubt and suspicion to most 3rd worlders. When conversing, get on their level always. Don't stand looking down at them. If they are sitting, squat down and remove the helmet if it's safe to do so and remove sunglasses too. Defer to the oldest male if possible and totally ignore all females and any interaction with them unless they are in some official capacity. Lastly, quite fooling around and playing with the kids, quit making pets of them and giving them anything and playing soccer with them, etc. How would you feel if some extremely powerful, totally strange and alien force came into your neighborhood, set up camp then mostly interacted with your children? Spend time with the adults, not the kids. I know troops have a soft spot in their hearts for kids and it gives them some interaction with innocence and purity in a brutal environment but it is doing no good, not in a 3rd world muslim environment. We are compulsive talkers and we think we need to be able to speak in order to be a friend and do some visiting with somebody and that probably inhibits simply being in the presence of people whom we can't communicate with. Simply being with them is giving of yourself to them. Spend time with the adults when possible, even if you can't communicate. It shows you are not afraid of them and want to be with them. I'll never forget the time I was at my friend Alfred's house. He is a traditonal Metis Indian and he was excited because his Uncle Tony was coming for a visit. Then Alfred said the strangest thing, he said, " He (uncle Tony) never says a word."

    In afghan, buy the opium from the farmers directly and burn it, with the troops upwind of course from the burn site. Why would it matter to any dirt farmer who buys his opium at a fair market price? What is the mark-up percentage from the dirt farmer to the street? 20,000%? It's probably more. Talk about doing the world some good and if you want to find out who your real enemies are in Afghan, implement this civil affairs tactic.

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Many of the type of arguments that started this thread are built on a kind of circular logic. There is no evidence of mass war crimes being committed ergo there must be a masive cover-up. There is a massive cover-up ergo there must be mass war crimes being committed. It all starts with someone who wants to believe this stuff and then builds on myths and rumors from there to what we have now. Isolated incidences are treated not as isolated incidences but as evidence of the larger cover-up. The "logic" goes that if it has happened once in in one part up Iraq and been reported on (eg Abu Ghraib) then it must have happened in many times in many parts of Iraq and gone unreported. It is a series of negatives used to prove each other. I agree with Bill Moore about focusing on the victims but I also think that we need to increase the number of embeds. The military has historically been somewhat reluctant to trust the media and has not been overly fond of embeds for a variaty of reasons, both good and bad. The problem is, that the news is going to get out no matter what. It is going to come one of three ways, 1)from and embed who is there has someone there who can show him the larger picture and make him understand what he is looking at so he can make a ballanced, fair report, 2)from a reporter who is there but is not embeded, doesn't see the whole picture doesn't really understand what he is looking at and ends up writing a terribly inaccurate unballenced report or 3)from a reporter who wasn't even there is reporting the myths and rumors as fact. For my money, I will take option 1 every time. Shut down the myths and rumors or at least push them back to the fringe where they belong.

    SFC W

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Question The Biggest Challenge?

    Hi Bill,

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    The biggest challenge in the IO war though is convincing the home audience that the sacrifice is worth it. With relatively very little effort we can put the bad guys on the defensive on the moral front (will we do it? I don't know), but equally important is showing we have a "viable" plan and we're making progress. If we can't show that, then it is unrealistic to expect support for continued operations, because you're then asking the American people to invest their blood and dollars into hope, not a plan.
    Honestly, I have to disagree with you on this. Yes, the "home audience" is a critical target for the reason you state, but it isn't the biggest IO challenge.

    First off, this is a multi-party IO war (I prefer the term "symbolic war" - more on that in a couple of months when I get the time to write it up). And, as with the fight in Iraq, the "sides" are amorphous:
    1. A broadly centrist / left of centre political ideology that operates strongly in Europe and, to a lessor degree, in North America.
    2. A broadly individualist political ideology that operates moderately strongly in North America, Britain, Oz, India, etc.
    3. A highly reactionary revitalization movement within Islam, broadly descended from the Muslim Brotherhood.
    4. A moderate (for Islam) secularizing / reformation movement within Islam.
    5. A sometime capricious, highly self-centered and self-referential, loosely "political" but, actually economic, ideology that infuses many corporate organizations.
    Second, the IO war is not taking place in a geographically limited space but, thanks to inexpensive global communications technologies, is taking place world wide in "information space". It is a perfect example of what Barry Wellman calls "glocalization" - "Think Globally, Act Locally" and its corollary, "The Local is the Global".

    Third, the US can not win the GWOT without large amounts of support from other nations, especially in the form of economic "support" (loosely construed). Without that support, the US could find itself stuck in a situation of an economic warm war with both China and the EU that would, basically, cause a massive recession in the US economy (look at the trade and production figures for China, the US and the EU as well as foreign cash reserve figures).

    What all of this admittedly somewhat round about argument means is that the actual IO war that counts is one that attempts to construct an alliance between actors 1, 2 and 4 that moderates the glocal perceptions of actor 5 against actor 3. The area of operations must be glocal (global and local), not geographically based.

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Default Who is in charge if IO

    Can anyone give me the name of the General in charge of the IO campaign? Our enemy has said that half the war is taking place in the media battle space, but we appear to have no one in charge of waging war in that battle space. Making someone responsible would be a start.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    There is no one in charge of this, not really. The closest thing is probably Karen Hughes.

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    There is no one in charge of this, not really. The closest thing is probably Karen Hughes.
    There is a specified effects coordinator (usually a field artillery officer). I just don't know who it is.

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    The Senate and House aren't buying into COIN. Pratereus is left scrambling for tactical innovation with a logistical melt down looming over his shoulder. The concept of an armed peace corps has the proverbial rug just about pulled out from under its feet, most regretably so. When WMD weren't found and the IEDs started up, any IO we had or could have had was useless. No amount of IO/propoganda can counter IEDs, just like the image of the punji stakes in Viet Nam got burned into civilian minds - on our side it left us asking the question of how do you counter such primitive thinking that works and on their side, the message was the exact opposite: simplicity backed with ideology defeats complexity without an ideology. Gen. MaCaffrey made the statement that the US military is the most trusted of institutions but so too are their feet held closest to the fire. Right today, a trooper could pull 10 babies from a burning orphanage in Iraq and it would not make the headlines. That is not a failure of IO or lack of it, it's a reflection of the reality on the ground. I would suggest no IO we can generate is going to have much impact on the hearts and minds of the Islamic world. The WOT hinges on success in Iraq and if you want to see successful IO, wait until al jazeera flashes pictures and commentary of US forces crossing back into Kuwait. Who could forget the images of the Soviets scooting out of Afghanistan or US forces dumping choppers off carriers and flying off the roof of the Embassy with the remnants of the American presence on board? I think all thought and energy should be directed to innovation and adaptation on the ground in Iraq.

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    Default We are their enemies

    Suppose Osama bin Laden risked his life to save little children from a burning building. Would anyone in the U.S. care? We might give him a little credit, but we're not going to change sides for him. Frankly, I think the man could cure cancer and we'd still try to blow him up.

    The other side views us the same way. The US military is not going to win a lot of converts in the muslim world or in western Europe. It does not matter how much garbage gets picked up, how many schools and hospitals are built or how many babies are delivered. We are their enemies. That is an emotional decision as much (or more) as a rational one. Only by addressing people's feelings can we change that status. Right now we are using logic against emotion - think about which one usually wins out.

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    marct said:
    Third, the US can not win the GWOT without large amounts of support from other nations, especially in the form of economic "support" (loosely construed).
    This is what Rand's "Beginners Guide to Nation-building" says more generally under "Institutional Frameworks and Consultative Forums" page 25 from this link - http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2007/RAND_MG557.pdf

    The framework contains Iran, Saudis, Iran etc. Last "Foreign Policy" talks about winners in Iraqi war - http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/c...?story_id=3704
    Those states-nations are mentioned as winners. Rand's theory plus FP article makes me very pessimistic

    Here is also price tag for war - http://www.foreignpolicy.com/Ning/ar...159/pn-159.pdf

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    Oh, my, what did I start now!? Am I supposed to say something on all this or itís better to stay silent on my end!? I donít want any hate mailsÖ

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Jones_RE View Post
    Suppose Osama bin Laden risked his life to save little children from a burning building. Would anyone in the U.S. care? We might give him a little credit, but we're not going to change sides for him. Frankly, I think the man could cure cancer and we'd still try to blow him up.

    The other side views us the same way. The US military is not going to win a lot of converts in the muslim world or in western Europe. It does not matter how much garbage gets picked up, how many schools and hospitals are built or how many babies are delivered. We are their enemies. That is an emotional decision as much (or more) as a rational one. Only by addressing people's feelings can we change that status. Right now we are using logic against emotion - think about which one usually wins out.
    I concur wholeheartedly.

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarajevo071 View Post
    Oh, my, what did I start now!? Am I supposed to say something on all this or itís better to stay silent on my end!? I donít want any hate mailsÖ
    No worries. It was a good segway into a question I wasn't quite sure of how to present. You just gave me the best introduction.

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