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Thread: Influence Operations

  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Largo, Florida

    Default Influence Operations

    26 March Washington Post - The Word at War.

    ... Bombs are blasting in Baghdad. War fills the air there and fills the airwaves here. But a more quiet war -- the information war -- is waged by stealth, in the words and images deployed by pundits, partisans, policymakers, propagandists, psychological operators and influence specialists, both civilian and military.

    Call it influence. Or call it propaganda, info-ops, psyops or strat comm (that's short for "strategic communications"). It's all information, and information can be a weapon as lethal, at times, as bullets and bombs.

    But wait! Not only are we in an information war, we are also in a war over the info war -- over techniques such as Lincoln's and the extent to which the U.S. government should or does disseminate propaganda, even pay to publish favorable "news" stories.

    Outrage was so great when word leaked last December of Lincoln Group's Iraq activities -- one writer described it as bribery -- that the Pentagon launched an investigation. Army Gen. George W. Casey announced earlier this month that the probe had found the Lincoln Group's work violated no law or policy. But the final report, while completed, is under internal review. No additional details have been released...

    Words can change what people think. Add some emotional punch and piercing imagery, and words can change how people behave. Repeat these words and images over and over, and they can define a culture.

    That's the info war -- far more intense than mere "spin" -- and it's been raging in the United States since the words "war on terror" were uttered in public and the national zeitgeist became one of fear. With the body politic and the vox populi deeply polarized before and after the war started, "we look at everything in terms of propaganda," says Nancy Snow, a former State Department official and author of "Information War."...
    Last edited by SWJED; 03-26-2006 at 07:40 AM.

  2. #2
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Stafford, VA

    Default IO practice/training

    What would the training value of an IO exercise at a US middle or high school be? Imagine a 30-90 day exercise in which the exercise participants were tasked with influencing the target population, keeping them properly informed, uncovering potential "threat" networks, while protecting/defending friendly information sources/vehicles? How much influence could be extended to the target audience? If the answer is very little, what does this say about our abilities to influence Iraqis, Syrians, Iranians, Sudanese, etc.?

  3. #3
    Council Member MountainRunner's Avatar
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    Feb 2006
    Los Angeles, CA


    as we consider the poorly disguised and designed attempts of Rendon Group, Lincoln Group and other cut-outs, consider the source of the dialogue. Increasingly, the perception of the US is formed by the Defense Department. DoD is, through Rendon & Lincoln, speaking directly with foreign publics, something State has repeatedly stated they do not want to do (they like the traditional diplomacy of state-to-state communication telling their people do not talk to the media...).

    Also, the foreign policy of the US is increasingly executed by DoD. Where is Condi in all of this?

    The point is our conversations about the legality and applicability of the Lincoln Group et al is, I believe, downstream of where it should be. Shouldn't we be discussing the impact of the message and who generates the message? Are we (re)defining our culture to the world through the lens of our (finest in the world) military? Is this how we want to conduct our public diplomacy?


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