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Thread: What is our Message

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maximus
    ...My simple point is this: My Marines and I conducted some 500 patrols in Iraq. No one ever explained to me exactly what message we were trying to transmit. In fact, my mission statements were normally something to the effect of: "you have to conduct 4 patrols tomorrow." Rarely was I given specifics on where, why, who I was trying to influence, what I was supposed to say ("beyond don't promise anything"), etc. The best I got was normally just to show a "presence."...
    Presence Patrols aren’t so much delivering a serious ideological “message”, as they are primarily intended as a low-level tactical show of force with our physical presence a psychological reinforcement of existing security. Of course, if the security situation is in the crapper, and the members of the patrol are in full turtle gear and continually on armed alert while palavering with the locals, the only message being reinforced is the total lack of security.

    On the other hand, the patrol should not be in the business of "selling" anything - or pushing any sort of ideological "message". Actions speak louder than words.

    Anyway, getting to my point sideways, a critical and truly valuable aspect of such patrols is collection - both passive and active. If the patrols are not being pre-briefed and debriefed every time they go out, something ain’t right. Max's summary of his mission brief indicates piss-poor leadership (Not on your part Maximus, on the part of those giving you your orders).

    In an ideal world, such collection would be linked to the full spectrum of military-interagency cooperation, which, if effectively implemented, would do far more good than trying to have a bunch of Joes spread an ideological “message”.

    Leveraging collection to roll up and kill bad guys is something everyone understands - or at least is cognizant of the possibility. Using patrol reporting to target infrastructure projects, humanitarian aid, veterinary assistance, ol’fashioned MEDCAPs, etc. - even relatively minor (but more personal) assistance like returning with needed repair parts, school supplies, or bringing along a specifically requested tech/specialist the next time provides clear evidence that the troops were listening when the indig were talking – if the follow-up is timely. Listening – and responding – when they need something is the best way to set it up so that you will be able to listen to info needed to roll up and kill bad guys. But in order to listen to needs, you gotta get there. We're the big guys, we control the conversation - ignore the political and ideological (unless you have an IR that points that way) and go direct to their problems.

    In sum, Joe shouldn’t be worrying about what “message” to send. He should have a crystal clear mission each time he goes out, covering both aspects: Be fully briefed on what he’s supposed to be looking for and reporting back on, as per indicators pointing to bad guys. And be fully briefed on what non-kinetic capabilities can be brought to bear so he understands what to look for to help put a boot in USAID, NGOs and the other sunshine-and-butterflies folks to render needed assistance. As regards “relatively minor” assistance, our guys have shown themselves on innumerable occasions to be empathetic to the plight of ordinary Iraqis and have lent of their own belongings and resources to help them out. This needs to be more formalized, so it can be properly exploited.

    The hard part, as always, is not with Joe – but with the leadership and getting all the players to cooperate, and to do so in a seamless and timely fashion. But when it works, it works. Really.

  2. #22
    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    A quick aside on presence patrols: If you assign a task and purpose, they're more than just "providing presence." They're gaining intelligence, providing reconnaissance, or adding to security operations. Presence patrol, as I've said before, translates in my mind to "trolling for RPG."


    Let's look at this on the larger scale and widdle it down.

    If you look in terms of Lines of Operations (LOOs), which should all inter-relate;

    and ...

    If you take the big 5 LOOs...
    a. Combat Operations
    b. Information Operations
    c. Civil-military Operations
    d. ISF Operations
    e. Economic Development


    A smart unit is going to have a plan of action for each of the LOOs and how they are going to improve in their specific AO. Now understanding what I do tactically in the "Combat Operations" LOO is going to have some potential blowback in the "Civil-Military" realm, potentially all the way up to the operational and possible even the strategic level, then it so follows that if I don't go into the fight taking all 5 of the LOOs into consideration and factor in the second and third order effects of each then I'm probably in for a rather unproductive year. Let's take a quick look at a skeleton hypothetical endstate for each for a BN's year tour (long range goals from the day after RIP/TOA):

    a. Combat Operations: Cut IEDs in half on specific lines of communication in my AO; Cut mortar attacks by 1/3; Capture or kill 10 high value targets (HVTs) on my unit's "black list;" Incorporate IA/IP into all operations, making all operations combined coalition force patrols.

    Summary: I have to make my goals attainable and quantifiable. Quantitative and tangible goals are easier to assess, so it's easier to mark progress.

    b. Information Operations: Issue 2 good products (leaflets, posters) a month denouncing attacks on civilians; reinforcement of civil-military projects through education of what improvements are made; televised city council meetings once a month; televised sheik/tribal leader meetings once a quarter; An "Iraq's Most Wanted" type show, much like 1/25IN maintained in Mosul; Unit talking points each month talking about where the AO has been and where it's going; IA/IP recruiting posters; Traffic Control Point (TCP) awareness handouts (what do I do if I come upon a CF checkpoint, what is expected of me, etc); Tiplines

    Summary: The big one here, obviously, is the bold point. I know for a fact that they're out there. I remember each month getting the Regimental talking points in a FRAGO. They were based upon whatever MNF-I Effects was putting out that month. It's like Ragu; It's in there. Sometimes we need to put our nuggets together and put it into something usable at our level.

    c. Civil-Military Operations: School improvements in 80% of AO's gradeschools (chalkboards, new books, writing utencils, etc); 18 hours electricity a day; Trash removal services twice a week; Unemployment cut by 25%; No breaks in potable water service (whether bottled or piped); medical supply enhancement at rural clinics; new x-ray machine for local hospital; road/bridge improvements

    Summary: Some fairly ambitious endstates here. Improving quality of life is the overarching goal. In some cases, restoring things to "the way things used to be" is success and will be seen as success by the locals. Improving anything in the SWEAT-MS realms will go a long way. It's like we talked about with Dr. Kilcullen's 28 Articles - proliferation of small projects is beautiful, quantifiable, and cheap. But it's still improvement nontheless.

    d. ISF Operations: Turn over no less than 50% of the AO to ISF at the end of the year; fully equip and man the IA BDE my unit partners with; fully man and equip the IPs in the towns I work; All IPs are graduates of IP Academy; IP vehicles have ballistic glass; All American patrols are combined with IA/IP, though IA/IPs will patrol independently with an American QRF; Integreate MiTT and IA leadership into MDMP; Conduct combined targeting and effects meetings with IA leadership

    Summary: The goal here has to be getting the IA/IPs into the independent operating mode - otherwise, what's the point? If when you enter your AO your unit conducts 25% of your patrols with IA, by the end of the year, you should be operating without the IA or IPs 0%. Certain covert exceptions are made - chances are you're not in that kind of a unit. Equipping is a huge part of this LOO. How can they fight if they have nothing to fight with or protect themselves with? It's your job to figure out how to breakdown the bureaucracy and get them what they need.

    e. Economic Development: Reopening of town's glass plant which employed 30% of the town before the war; Cut unemployment by 25% through project employment (trash removal, construction, etc); force protection measures around market areas;

    Summary: A good area to put the resident economist in a staff position looking for a way to contribute. For all intents and purposes, we need to find a way to pour money back into the community to jumpstart economic development. Buy some chi, have a goat for dinner, haggle for a new rug.


    What does all this mean? Success must be exploited and the successful story should be told. Telling the story of success must be an intricate part of your IO campaign. Let the people see the good being done and then leave it up to them to decide which direction they're going to support. The Overarching aspect of all of this is your ability to provide security to the people. The quicker you are at determining the enemy course of action, the better you will be in keeping him from even getting to the start point (again, it goes back to Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, which works fundamentally in COIN like it does in the tank on tank battle - it's just a different accplication).
    Example is better than precept.

  3. #23
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Ryan,

    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    What does all this mean? Success must be exploited and the successful story should be told. Telling the story of success must be an intricate part of your IO campaign. Let the people see the good being done and then leave it up to them to decide which direction they're going to support. The Overarching aspect of all of this is your ability to provide security to the people. The quicker you are at determining the enemy course of action, the better you will be in keeping him from even getting to the start point (again, it goes back to Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, which works fundamentally in COIN like it does in the tank on tank battle - it's just a different accplication).
    Really good examples! The only thing that I would comment on is that the AO is also the international perception of the geographic AO. By way of example, this could be accomplished by having an AO website or youtube channel, along with dedicated accounts for accepting donations to help in the reconstruction. Such a site could be set up by a central group sing open source software and the updating could be done easily.

    Marc
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  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTK
    A quick aside on presence patrols: If you assign a task and purpose, they're more than just "providing presence." They're gaining intelligence, providing reconnaissance, or adding to security operations. Presence patrol, as I've said before, translates in my mind to "trolling for RPG."...
    Excellent post, RTK - only I'd replace "or" with "and". Intel collection, recon and adding to security are inextricably linked on any patrol in this environment. The critical factor in determining patrol effectiveness is always the leadership. On that point, your last sentence seems to aptly describe how Max states he was sent out on his patrols.
    Quote Originally Posted by RTK
    ...if I don't go into the fight taking all 5 of the LOOs into consideration and factor in the second and third order effects of each then I'm probably in for a rather unproductive year...
    Extremely important observation. Now put that at the patrol level and leverage it every time they go out.
    Quote Originally Posted by RTK
    ...I have to make my goals attainable and quantifiable. Quantitative and tangible goals are easier to assess, so it's easier to mark progress....
    Understandable, and good to a degree (works for the OERs, eh) - but in its clarity it is also dangerously restrictive. I've always hated stats.

    Cut IEDs in half on specific lines of communication in my AO - If the number of IED attacks are halved, but the remainder are better targeted and more destructive, is the OER still good? To me the realistic goal is to disrupt or destroy the network; kill or capture the bad guys. Roll up the cells that plan, build and emplace the damn things. The same goes for mortar attacks. But that's not so easy to say in a brief quantitative bullet statement that can be referred to when it comes time to put pen to paper at end-of-tour.

    Capture or kill 10 high value targets (HVTs) on my unit's "black list" - Bodycount BS. Hell, when we get really lucky, the prime SOB we roll up isn't on anybody's damn list. Does that mean he doesn't count when it comes OER time? Or, more often, it is not a single "HVT" that really makes a difference, its one or two lower-level cell members that are effectively exploited and lead us to rolling up a local network. That often has a far greater operational impact than picking up someone who is listed as an HVT.

    My feelings about stats in IO are only slightly less strong than for leaning on them in combat ops. However, civil-military, ISF and economic arenas are a bit different - I think that stats are better tools in those areas, although you still have to be careful with them.

    RTK - I really think you're squared away in your thinking. This is just my personal vent against the larger Army's overheavy focus on stats. Y'know - my quantitative vs qualitative pet peeve.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 04-03-2007 at 02:47 AM.

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    Default Quantifiable?

    ...I have to make my goals attainable and quantifiable. Quantitative and tangible goals are easier to assess, so it's easier to mark progress....
    I agree with Jed on this one, we don't need to make anything quantifiable, and this is where our measures of effectiveness approach is failing us. I remember a former Stryker commander who was wounded (I think the during the first Styker rotation) and he had a popular DVD where he was ranting about presence patrols, he didn't understand the task/purpose, so why were they doing them? It was a perfect indicator of where the conventional army mindset was at that time.

    Providing a "perception" of security and peace of mind is not quantifiable, but absolutely essential in winning over the population. Presence patrols do that and much more. They should follow basic rules, such as not following any patterns of route and timings, be task organized differently occassionally, and patrol members should conduct frequent interactions with the population to get a sense for what is happening on the street. It is hard to provide presence when you're sitting in a tank, though it does make a statement.

    You can quantify combat patrols with meaningless numbers such as number of patrols, number of EKIAs, etc. and make that look like progress on a briefing slide, but we all know that doesn't mean squat. Some leaders need to be retrained to trust their inutition and not stats on a power point slide. You can sense effectiveness once you know your operational area, but you can't always (if ever) quantify it.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 04-03-2007 at 03:28 AM.

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    As always, great discussion. Lots of great information/ideas in these posts. Couldn’t agree more with Marc’s point about collating this info and having units apply concepts in training and in-country.

    A few comments on a few of the posts… RTK thanks for comments on the Big 5. Will use much of what you said when instructing. A few questions though based on each LOO:

    Combat Ops: Nothing specific on disrupting enemy IO campaign. I’m assuming this is implied, but might help to spell out for your patrols. For example, task patrols to find info on all potential media/internet capable shops, houses, mosques in AO. Purpose: to eliminate the En’s ability to influence the masses through broadcasting his tactical successes or overall message via leaflets, radio, news, or over the internet. Accomplishing this task could prove more useful than capturing/killing 10 suspected HVTs (concur with Jedburgh here). Plus, it might help figure out insurgent network from town-to-town or even from “your” town into Syria, Sudan, Morocco, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.

    Info Ops: Again great points. I might add explaining in a way that can be understood at the local level how the national government and/or politics benefit the average Iraqi. This ties into the importance of us understanding our enemy’s “cause” so that we can devise a legitimate counter “cause” locally and nationally (and globally?).

    One more point on this… I think it’s just as important for us to broadcast our message locally as it is to transmit our actions back to the American people. Unfortunately, 4-5 years into this fight, I still have a very difficult time finding our “good” deeds on the internet. It’s rare to find a squad, platoon or company posting its efforts to re-build a school(s), sharing a friendly meal with an Iraqi tribe, executing a MEDCAP, etc. If all the American people can find at youtube.com, liveleak.com, etc. is X unit in a firefight, surviving an IED attack, putting an AT-4 through a door to make entry, well then how can we fault the American people for doubting that much good is being done in Iraq (I know there’s a ton of good (humanitarian/CA type stuff) being done by our Marines/Soldiers; however, I’m still frustrated with myself for not videotaping and posting on the internet).

    Civil-Mil Ops: Please share ideas for cutting unemployment by 25%. This would be huge on the ground.

    Related topic from Jedburgh’s comments on the patrol leader’s job should be on locating potential places for NGOs, USAID and others to act on. Concur 100%. Problem though is that I saw 1 NGO in Iraq (WFP) and as best I know, it’s not around anymore. Civilians aren’t volunteering in large numbers for this fight; after all, we’re (military folks) having to fill many of the PRT billets. I think the reality is sometimes the patrol leader needs to locate sites and distribute funds and help supervise project completion (I often did). Not optimal considering I wasn’t trained to do this.

    ISF Ops: Great points again, but nothing on ensuring ISF establish relationship with the populace. This might be a moot point if operating with a police force comprised of Iraqis from the same town, but if not, I think this should be a top priority. After all, the best intel normally comes from the people. No relationship generally means limited to no legit intel. My mind comes back to The Village when thinking about this subject. Maybe a goal for your ISF unit should be to have each patrol share a cup of Chai with at least 4 familes throughout the patrol. Over the course of your tour, this would guarantee direct contact on a continual basis with every Iraqi in your AO.

    Economic Development: Interested to hear everyone’s thoughts on giving Marines/Soldiers the option to live off the people. I know of a battalion in the formerly “Wild West” of Anbar that had great success with this approach. Buying food locally helped stimulate the economy, build relations, gained info/intel, cut down on coalition convoys, made Marines appreciate the AO more, etc. Does anyone have any experiences either in Iraq or elsewhere with this strategy? I know my unit was strictly forbidden from doing so.

    Great collective comments on presence patrols. I think “presence” patrols can be effective if, as many of you identified, they’re given a clear task and purpose. I think a lot of this should tie right back into your IO campaign though. Any time a squad goes on patrol it’s sending a message. Leaders have to make sure it’s an effective one--Marines/Soldiers walking or driving around with nothing to “sell” or no “cause” to promote in conversations with the locals are in many ways just a moving target. IO and intel focus must be clearly understood at the “strategic corporal” level b/c this is the level where the most info will come from.

    Cops in the US do “presence” patrols all the time. In fact, in Washington D.C. cops are forced to drive around with sirens on always b/c of the proven deterrent effect. That said I think cops in the US have many advantages on their side: deterrence comes from people knowing there’s a legit justice system in place; general “buy-in” from people, cops understand local culture, common language, etc.

    Last point overall and one of the biggest takeaways for me on this thread… Marc, great idea on the AO website. In my ideal world, we’d have AO websites in English and Arabic showing our and the Iraqis’ “good” deeds, with a button right beside it for donations. This is an IO campaign on an international level.

    Locally, nothing beats personal example and what the Iraqis see with their own eyes. On the global level though, perception is reality. I think we need to plan for both.
    Last edited by Maximus; 04-03-2007 at 04:07 AM.

  7. #27
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Maximus,

    Quote Originally Posted by Maximus View Post
    As always, great discussion. Lots of great information/ideas in these posts. Couldn’t agree more with Marc’s point about collating this info and having units apply concepts in training and in-country.
    That was definitely one purpose for creating such a net presence, but I think you actually noted the other point for it a touch later...

    Quote Originally Posted by Maximus View Post
    This ties into the importance of us understanding our enemy’s “cause” so that we can devise a legitimate counter “cause” locally and nationally (and globally?).

    One more point on this… I think it’s just as important for us to broadcast our message locally as it is to transmit our actions back to the American people. Unfortunately, 4-5 years into this fight, I still have a very difficult time finding our “good” deeds on the internet.
    Bingo! I suspect that this difference in ways of talking about it comes from our backgrounds. For me, the natural assumption was that "we" (MNF, etc.) build 'net based sites that push our ideological message (actually, it's more of a set of principles than an ideology - 'nother thread...) for multiple reasons. One crucial component of that is showing the world that "we" are doing "good deeds" and "they" (AQ) are just a bunch of irhabi / terrorists who will kill anyone at any time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maximus View Post
    Locally, nothing beats personal example and what the Iraqis see with their own eyes. On the global level though, perception is reality. I think we need to plan for both.
    Yup. And the same goes for globally: nothing beats what people see with their own eyes. I was really glad to come across the MNF channel on YouTube but, as I've mentioned to some people, I would really like to see local sites.

    A lot of that desire (to see local sites) has to do with a natural human desire to personalize a situation. What we see on television is a sound byte world that has no ongoing continuity. What we could see at mosul.ia.iq would be somethin very different. It would make "them" real to "us". It takes advantage of the very real desire of most people to help other people, as long as it doesn't hurt too much (okay, I know I'm sounding like a liberal - so sue me ). The effect it has, however, is to produce a cognitive dissonance between the irhabi rhetoric and the lived reality.

    Marc
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  8. #28
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    Since my daughter woke me up screaming about monsters I'll throw a few things out here. I'll have better answers in the morning when I'm more with it and can take a look at how incoherent this post is about to be. A few things need tending to, however, before they unravel as I'm thinking of them.

    First, I wrote this in about 15 minutes without a lot of thought - or at least not the amount of thought I would throw into it if I was a BN S3 laying out my commander's strategy for the year. Admittedly, I'm spending more time on this post than I did with the first. I was trying to illustrate the point that all 5 LOOs are linked and effect each other. I'm not saying that I'd use all the points, they just sounded pretty decent for the illustration.

    Second, I agree with you on the stat piece. I don't do bodycounts, and I hope it didn't come across that way. I go with quantifiables if they're qualitative not for OER bullets, but because for PFC Joe Smith in A Team, 2nd squad, 3rd PLT, B Troop, it's easier for me to see success and progress by hitting marks on the wall rather than "using the force" in believing what I'm doing is right, good, and just. Cutting IEDs in half in key areas will precipitate another move on the part of the insurgent - the key point needs not be the fact that I'm seeing half the IEDs I once was, the takeaway is making sure I'm conducting the assessment and IPB properly to figure out where the other half are going and neutralizing them before they do damage. Cutting IEDs either means I've taken out cells or they're moving the IED somewhere else. I need the intel network to figure out which is the case.

    Totally agree with you on the 10 HVT piece. Success is measured in cells taken down, not necessarily people. Another example of something I would have caught had I spent more time on this. I see (and I'm kicking myself for it) that I didn't talk about HUMINT sources at all. This is huge.

    Thirdly, counter-IO. I guess I saw this as part of "our" IO program. Showing the populace the good that's happening - how life is better than it was 3 months ago. Taking leaflets with the pictures of children killed in a VBIED bombing and explaining that AQIZ or some other insurgent group is responsible. I think each of these fit into a counter-IO plan, maybe sometimes without even specifically addressing it. I may need help developing this one a little. Marct's idea, while so simple, is so brilliant that I have punched myself in the stomach four times since reading it for not thinking of it myself. It's almost too easy. Like maximus says, on youtube or liveleak I can see soldiers pushing over portalets, firing a TOW at a building, or surviving an IED, but I can't find them (unless I really look) interacting with kids, building a school, or anyone of the other good things we do every day. This is usually the "touchy-feely" type chainletter ppt presentation that you only get in certain circles.

    Fourthly, unemployment. If I hire a bunch of guys to start picking up trash on the sides of the roads I'm taking care of a few things - I'm taking away his time to attack me and I'm putting money in his pocket. I don't have to set him up with a corner office in the town tax office, I just need to get him work. There are many industrial complexes in Iraq that haven't operated for 4 years. We need to get them back on line. The glass factory in Ramadi comes to mind. Hell, it's on a FOB (or, at least, it was at one time). Working with the sheiks and tribal leaders, figure out what it was the town was doing for a living before the war. Then find out why they're not doing it now. Bridge the gap, eliminate the delta, pour a little CERP on top, and see what happens. Chances are, it's not a huge reason, other than some have been conditioned to a mindset of entitlement or handout and are waiting for someone to kick them in the butt. Others have no place to go. Give them one. Get a youth center started.

    Fifth (I think), building relationship with the populace: My thinking is this - if you're not going to interact with the populace, why go out on patrol? Isn't that kind of the whole point behind clear-hold-build? In the clear phase, which is really a shaping operation for hold and build, personal interaction in many cases will build the strategy for how the second two phases will take place. I took this for granted because it was automatic for my guys. I'll have to articulate that if the Army ever sees it fit to allow me to be an S3.

    Sixth, living off the populace: Joe buys stuff. Whether it's allowed or not, Joe buys stuff off the populace. Use the discretionary money in this direction. Pay out of pocket (what's 30 cents among friends?). I bought DVDs from the bazars. I wish I'd bought more rugs (and I'm going to get smart on how to figure out handmade rug quality before I go back next time). Unfortunately, I think a lot of these transactions went away once AAFES came into theater in mass at the middle to end of OIF I. Obviously, if you were outposted in a town or the middle of nowhere without AAFES you did what you could on the economy. I think it helps. It may not seem like it, but in retrospect I'm sure it did.

    I'm beginning to drone and I think my daughter has assessed the monsters as not present. I hope that helps clarify some of what was written. If I missed anything you addressed Marct, Jed, Bill, or Maximus, please let me know.

    I think I actually fell asleep momentarily while writing this last night - I found a sentence that started and never ended. I've cleaned up what needed cleaning - fire away.
    Last edited by RTK; 04-03-2007 at 10:02 AM. Reason: Incoherent, half-asleep cleanup
    Example is better than precept.

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Hi Ryan,



    Really good examples! The only thing that I would comment on is that the AO is also the international perception of the geographic AO. By way of example, this could be accomplished by having an AO website or youtube channel, along with dedicated accounts for accepting donations to help in the reconstruction. Such a site could be set up by a central group sing open source software and the updating could be done easily.

    Marc
    I'm with you on this, except that I would argue that the international perception is part of the AI (Area of Interest). It influences my AO, but isn't necessarily within the boundaries of something I can directly affect on a day to day basis. I'd see the youtube channel as a shaping operation to influence or mitigate the AI's influence or effect upon my AO.
    Example is better than precept.

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    Ryan: I think we're all on the same page. Thanks for clarifying and spending the time to add a few more ideas. I hope the monsters go away. My daugher often has the same occur at 3AM.

    Everyone else-- thanks much. This is amongst the best threads I've seen on the site. Will start pushing this thread through the USMC as best I can. We've got to address these problems and implement ideas ASAP. Semper Fi!

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    Default Point #4. (RTK)

    -perhaps half the unrest/violence could be ended with gainful employment. It is about impossible to stay focused on resentments, anger, suspicion when physically exhausted from a day's hard work. Food and sleep become the priorities. Add to that the satisfaction of having accomplished something and providing for the family. The work bond in a fair environment of decent pay for meaningul work with good supervisors is almost as strong as the bonds of family and kinship. Work projects supervised and administered by CAP units should be on equal footing with training, PR/IO and routine security/interdiction. If a Cpt/Lt and 1st Sgt. can run a unit, they sure the hell can run some Iraqi work projects too.

  12. #32
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Ryan,

    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    I'm with you on this, except that I would argue that the international perception is part of the AI (Area of Interest). It influences my AO, but isn't necessarily within the boundaries of something I can directly affect on a day to day basis. I'd see the youtube channel as a shaping operation to influence or mitigate the AI's influence or effect upon my AO.
    On the whole, and certainly in the sense of the entire global perception, I would agree. One of the nice pieces of research, like the wheel, that has been popping up over (and over again! in) the past 20 years or so is the concept of a "diasporic community" that is linked together by communications nodes. As the communications technologies change (i.e. changes in bandwidth, transmission speed, source / reception symmetries, etc.), we see a shift in how these diasporic communities interact on a day-to-day basis and how this changes individual member's sense of "consciousness". Very roughly, low bandwidth, low transmission speed and technologies with a broadcast bias e.g. TV, Radio, the printing press, etc.) have a tendency to make it easier to perceive a group as "them" (think "classic" WWII or Soviet propaganda). High bandwidth, high transmission speed and highly interactive technologies make it easier to perceive a group as "us" (SWC ). This latter effect is exactly what is driving the international AQ recruitment strategy.

    So, let's flip it around and go back to an hypothetical mosul.ia.iq site. As long as there is high bandwidth, i.e. a lot of content, high transmission speed, i.e. the content changes rapidly, and high interactivity, i.e. people around the world can "get involved", then we can use these technological effects to our advantage at both the local and global levels (the process is called "glocalization"). In effect, we are creating a "virtual community" that is focused on a geographic community.

    Now, let's follow up on a couple of other facts:
    1. There are a lot of ex-pat Iraqis who either come from or whose ancestors came from Mosul (or any other locale), and who still have family there.
    2. Many Iraqis have a very strong sense of "family", even the ex-pats and their descendants (the "diasporic community), and this would give them a "place" to interact with, find out about, and help their relatives.
    Doing "good works" on the ground is, I think we all agree, a very successful strategy. But does this mean that it must be the MNF that actual does them and pays for them? I think the answer is actually "no", as long as the MNF facilitates them. So, for example, let's suppose that Mosul needs a primary school, plus all of the associated supplies. What is to stop our hypothetical mosul.ia.iq from having a VBulletin forum with a projects section including a project aimed at building such a school, including accepting donations, volunteers, etc.? Nada .

    What would that do? Well, in addition to all the local stuff, it would let a primary school in Boise or Des Moines "adopt" the project; it would let a civil engineer in Montreal "donate" blueprints; and, more importantly, it would let the Mosul diasporic community see that they can help their relatives by doing something other than sending money to so-called "charities" like Hamas and Hizbollah. Ideally, the entire financial side would be totally transparent as well.

    This is the type of symbolic warfare strategy I'm thinking about - one that takes advantage of diasporic communities and current technologies, and one that has a spin off effect of spiking the soi-dissant "liberals" guns by showing the world all the good works that are going on. Most people, I think would agree with the comment that "actions speak louder than words", but if a large part of the target audience can't "hear" that speech, then it has no effect on them.

    Marc
    Last edited by marct; 04-03-2007 at 05:03 PM.
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    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
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    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
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    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default Hometown Baghdad

    Tequila just posted about an interesting site similar to part of what I was talking about here. It's a youtube based "documentary". Thanks Tequila!

    Marc
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    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
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  14. #34
    Council Member Ender's Avatar
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    Default Absolutely

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    And the situation is exacerbated by the global media as well, so it's not only what is said in Baghdad and Ramadi, but also New York, Washington and London.
    Amen, I couldn't agree more and feel that this factor unnecessarily compounds an already difficult situation. The rub is that there is very little that can be done by the squad leader in relation to New York, Washington and or London's spin campaign, but he has absolute control over the product he is delivering in Karmah, Fallujah and Baghdad.

    Maximus posted two links on here that help make my point. In the NY Times link http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html...E/blocker.html reporter C.J. Chivers highlights a reality in which the squad he was with had little or no understanding of the macro level, the big picture or even of their own chain of command. I contend that the Lcpls, Cpls and Sgts in his squad could never be trained to talk intelligently about geo politics or a potential shift in our foreign policy without sounding like and coming off as complete fakes and frauds. You could give them all the lines and provide all of the answers but there will always be a part of him or her that does not see it as relevant to them, so they will never be as effective as if their heart were in what they were asked to talk about while on patrol.

    So what do we do when a very LARGE percentage of our lower enlisted ranks (often some of the loudest and most frequent mouthpieces) are ambivalent about WHY we are doing what we are doing? I think part of the problem can be and is currently being solved by training, (cultural awareness and current events school circles that require participation etc... ) but that the rest of the enlisted level's problems will be solved by shifting the product we are sending our teams and squads out with.

    We are looking for big solutions and I think the discussion here is some of the very best thinking I have heard about the subject but there are steps that can be taken RIGHT NOW to change our message. While few Sgts know the line of succession for our presidency or can recite the Preamble they do have someone or something back home that they love or are proud of. Forget "THE MESSAGE", just get them out there talking about the things they know and love here at home. Safety, security, education, opportunity and economic stability are universal concerns that matter almost everywhere and they can be expressed more clearly and in more human terms than "policy and procedure." We could lay down some baseline rules about what not to talk about (I can not speak for the Army, but the LAST thing we need is a bunch of Marines on open mic in Iraq ) such as sex, drugs and rock and roll or their preference for the Israeli's, and the rest I think could be safely considered fair game. Many Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen do not even attempt to converse with the Iraqis beyond where they can find the nearest insurgent. This is due in large part to the belief that we have nothing in common with them. "They don't even use toilet paper" was what I heard from my guys at the beginning of their first deployment. (Their tune changed) Get your troops out there and just get them talking, not just about missions and policies but as service members who are also human(e) and you MIGHT be surprised to see attacks drop in your area. Once we figured out how to approach a home, deal with a homeowner etc... and became more culturally aware we noticed that our attacks dropped and our usable intel rose. This I believe has a great deal to do with the fact that we were not, out of ignorance or ambivalence, creating new enemies.

    The second link http://www.mca-marines.org/forum/showthread.php?t=34 is where its at. The key to Iraq's future is in its children. Win them and you win the parents easier than you would without the kids. Win them and their future is assured. I made a point (and I was not the only one) to befriend (I mean genuinely BEFRIEND) the young boys and girls over there and I know we made a difference. Let me tell you if you have never seen a 210lb former linebacker, (my ATL) get schooled by a six year old in soccer, then you haven't lived!
    Last edited by Ender; 04-03-2007 at 11:12 PM.

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    Default Security for embed gear

    Michael Yon notes television media is turning down embed assignments because they have no way to protect their equipment from being stolen by some of the "workers" at the FOB's. He has had other posts indicating how difficult our forces make it for embeds. Anyone else have any experience with this?

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    Council Member Ender's Avatar
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    Default I can see it happening...

    I never personally heard of or witnessed any theft of equipment or outright hostility towards the embeds but there was always an underlying resentment and hostility when we had to take an embed along as an attachment. By the end of my last deployment I would have four times as many attachments in one of my patrols (engineers, interpreter, ISF, Civil Affairs etc...) as I would Recon Marines and while it always felt like babysitting to my guys the only time they would get truly pissed is when we would have to take a reporter along.

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Default

    I have tons of empathy for "Joe" though, as he (correctly) has figured out that the media is the enemy. It is counter-intuitive to ask "Joe" to observe a "neutral" as not the enemy. (At the fundamental level in conflict, an individual truly is either "with us or against us.")

    But, embedded media can be useful, so how do you "sell" things which are counterintuitive to "Joe" who does not have the distance to see things in shades, rather than in black or white.

  18. #38
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default

    Hi 120,

    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    But, embedded media can be useful, so how do you "sell" things which are counterintuitive to "Joe" who does not have the distance to see things in shades, rather than in black or white.
    That is the $64k question,isn't it ? Before taking a swot at an answer, let me lay out some observations.
    1. The media are targets for the irhabi.
    2. The very concept of the media as a "check" on government is a Western one that is part of the core Anglo complex values.
    3. The vast majority of the embedded media appear to have followed the ROE restrictions (barring a couple of doofs who got bounced).
    Now, to my mind, this means that embedded media can be perceived as "neutral" in the immediate conflict, but "friendly" in the overall conflict (sort of like Canadians in Iraq at the moment ).

    I suspect that we cold "sell Joe" on that perception, especially if we can get agreements from the embedded media that they will take to Joe and his buddies "off the record" about
    • what the social role of the media is supposed to be, ad
    • how Joe and his buddies play a part in that drama.
    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/

  19. #39
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Ender,

    Quote Originally Posted by Ender View Post
    Amen, I couldn't agree more and feel that this factor unnecessarily compounds an already difficult situation. The rub is that there is very little that can be done by the squad leader in relation to New York, Washington and or London's spin campaign, but he has absolute control over the product he is delivering in Karmah, Fallujah and Baghdad.
    Actually, I have to disagree with you here. I certainly agree that a squad leader in Mosul has pretty much zilch influence on the broadcast media, but that was why I was talking about interactive media. The last round of presidential elections in the US showed how powerful the Net 2.0 technologies can be (remember the Howard Dean blog sphere?).

    Increasingly, people are getting their news and information, and building their communities online. This is where a squad leader can actually have a totally disproportionate effect, globally as well as locally. Could this affect the spin campaigns coming out of New York, Washington and London? Sure it can, if for no other reason than the ability of broadcast journalists to get accurate information without having to travel there.

    Think of what that would mean the next time that "General" Pelosi opens her mouth with some pronouncement that is clearly, and visibly, contradicted by not only the troops on the ground but also the local inhabitants and the diasporic community. If there a series of local,interactive "community" sites available, it would have a very interesting effect on the political spin because the broadcast media don't really care whose blood they go for.

    This spin off effect is one of the basic points behind the electronic democracy movement - interactive,accessible sites act as a check and balance on the spin of politicians. The real problem with this, however, is that the entire idea is so radically different from the "normal" concept of IO that it is very hard for any Industrial Age military organization to accept or implement it.

    Marc

    ps. Just saw this thread that SWJED posted - it makes my point for me.
    Last edited by marct; 04-04-2007 at 01:44 PM. Reason: added cross link
    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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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    An interesting article by Austin Bay that deals with the effects of the technology on politicians is available here.

    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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