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Thread: Improving PSYOP (and CA as a tangent)

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by reed11b View Post
    Something about this and the SOF support thread has bugged me for a few days now. When the subject of CA and PSYOP soldiers was first raised by Voodoun, the immediate response was "those dirty undisciplined SF wannabe's". Yet when we learned that they are trained to use the equipment and methods that were listed as the reasons for them being "dirty undisciplined SF wannabe's" not one senior member of this council went "ah-ha, perhaps my perceptions were flawed and I need to make an effort to understand these assets better". Not a single one. I'll admit my initial perceptions of CA and PSYOPS mirrored yours, but hearing that some of what we thought was rather silly was trained, and done by the individual, makes me think "why do the soldiers trust the training even if it gets them negative attention from us ground pounder types?" Combined with some of the black and white tactical advice "Never ever ever cuff your sleeves because there is a slight chance of getting a really bad burn from hot brass" this shows a real narrow view on operational concepts (operational is the wrong word, just can't think of the right one at the moment), and we, as the front line on both thinking and discussion of fighting concepts and as professional soldiers can do better. We need to do better. This is were fallacious arguments like HIC vs COIN come from. The world is not black and white, it is grey. Voodoun, the members are very knowledgeable and always give there advice serious consideration, but you don't need to take it as gospel, trust your training and your own gut too.
    Reed
    I'll now go take my meds and find some good cover and concealment.
    Reed, thanks, its good to see that sort of thoughtful response.

    I actually brought up the cuffed sleeve thing with rather experienced NCO who has mutiple deployments since the mid 1990's with both other SOF and conventional forces. He laughed and said he could see the argument either way, but to consider that PSYOP soldiers are asked to make cerebral judgements that cannot be reflexive in nature the way that an infantryman can rely on his training to carry him through a dynamic firefight. Our brains don't work as well when we're over heated. He'd rather take a brass burn to the wrist than not be at 100% cognitively.

    But I'd like to think we can move past the cuffed sleeve/uniform thing and talk about more mission-oriented ideas.

  2. #42
    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Voodoun View Post
    <I have never referenced any Soldier as "just" and E4 or any other demeaning descriptor such as "just" or "only." My track record with the Soldiers I have worked with and lead indicate the same. Do NOT infer that I did it here.>

    RTK, sorry, didn't mean to imply that you were doing that - *I* am calling myself just an E4 - I don't make any pretension to soldiering expertise. hell, E4 implies a level of competence I can certainly display, but is far beyond my comfort zone. I know that when I deploy I'm going to be growing INTO my rank, not out of it.

    No need to pull any punches or anything, we're all grown ups. I know where my weaknesses are.

    But RTK, I'd still like to know how I came across as contrarian, when I was just defending a point I made. I felt you were being contrarian, actually. Either way, I'm still interested in your opinion that is contrary to Bill Donovan's ;-)
    You appeared to argue for the sake of argument, regardless of what was presented to you. Judging from the tone and appearance, take a look at Surferbeetle and JKM. It appears they agreed.

    I question reviving a system and agency that was brought down due to media backlash. If the coordinating agency for PSYOPs can be brought down by a media frenzy, and their purpose is to identify themes and messages to further strategic interests, doesn't it negate the purpose?
    Example is better than precept.

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    Thanks for taking the time to express that - argumentative and contrarian have different connotations, but to each his own. I was critiquing the validity of the material presented because it did not logically provide a contra-indication to my point, not arguing for the sake of arguing.

    To address your point, that's a valid concern, but if the DoD shut down simply because its was being denigrated in the media, where would be? CIA, School of the Americas, NSA, all sorts of government agencies get bad press.

    The media hasnt picked up on the Joint PSYOP SE in Fl.

    It was the Public Affairs office at the Pentagon that launched a turf war against the OSI

    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/ar...25roots.b1.htm

    that resulted in its media-driven closure.

    I'm not resistant or closed to new ideas or attacks on my paradigm, I know I have new things to learn.

    The assumption that a centralized organization would hinder adaptability on the ground doesn't hold water for me. Diplomats are expected to adapt to their unique situations, yet our diplomatic operations are centrally regulated. Same thing with kinetic and intelligence operations.

    These examples all benefit from the sort of organization that we saw fit to employ throughout the 20th c. for Strategic Influence ops.

    I don't see how we can ideologically confront Salafi jihadis through their media, social services, and educational networks simply by utlizing Army PSYOP (because essentially thats really the only place is resides in the military), the strategic corporal, and a rather small CIA office.

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    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Voodoun View Post
    The assumption that a centralized organization would hinder adaptability on the ground doesn't hold water for me. Diplomats are expected to adapt to their unique situations, yet our diplomatic operations are centrally regulated. Same thing with kinetic and intelligence operations.

    These examples all benefit from the sort of organization that we saw fit to employ throughout the 20th c. for Strategic Influence ops.

    I don't see how we can ideologically confront Salafi jihadis through their media, social services, and educational networks simply by utlizing Army PSYOP (because essentially thats really the only place is resides in the military), the strategic corporal, and a rather small CIA office.
    I think the key argument against the centralized organization is twofold, at least in my mind.
    1) Familiar with the term, too many chiefs, not enough Indians? What exactly is the centralized PSYOP office going to control? They are not going to countermand the BCT's, PA is already separate, and what about parallel but non-DOD efforts like the CIA?
    2) I think that "ideologically confront Salafi jihadis through their media, social services, and educational networks " is not a primary DOD mission, it is a State and DNI mission. DOD provides support.

    There is another thread here that you should probably check out, would like to see your opinion on it. LINK
    For the record, I am a big believer that the "strategic corporal" and that proper training and unit structure in this arena would pay bigger dividends over any PSYOP restructure.
    Reed
    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post
    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

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    Reed, I think we're discussing two different things. I am not suggesting that *Army* PSYOP be tasked to some centralized national level organization - Army PSYOP is focused primarily on short term compliance operations, and should continue on that.

    The spectrum of PSYOP continues far beyond that though.

    http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/...op-jp-3-53.pdf

    I'm not in a position to have an opinion on who should control this organization, DoD, NSC, State, because that's organizational policy, a realm in which I avoid completely.

    When I talk about a coordinating national level office I mean one that guides Strategic Influence for the nation, bringing coherence and focus to our Public Diplomacy, Aid, Information, Public Affairs, and Psychological Operations.

    US Army PSYOP would remain mostly untouched, at most be given specific tasking and doctrinal guidance.

    If I somehow communicated that I was advocating that the Army get involved in all of this, I was most certainly not.

  6. #46
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default If an ORF can intrude...

    Quote Originally Posted by Voodoun View Post
    ...consider that PSYOP soldiers are asked to make cerebral judgements that cannot be reflexive in nature the way that an infantryman can rely on his training to carry him through a dynamic firefight. Our brains don't work as well when we're over heated. He'd rather take a brass burn to the wrist than not be at 100% cognitively.
    That's essentially correct but it's also not really helpful because it tries to put a cerebral slant on a practical problem. In addition to the hot brass problem (which many of us in an earlier war had while wearing T-shirts as an outer garment... ) there is the senior Officer seeing someone 'out of unigram' problem. That's practical...

    What's also practical is that the SOF and in particular the PsyOps communities are filled with smart and educated folks. What many in those communities often seem to forget is that there are some equally if not more smart and just as well or better educated guys wandering about in Rifle companies. That brings up two issues. There are more of them (smart 11Bs, not just all 11Bs) than there are of you and they really, really hate condescension form other communities. So I'd suggest that your experienced SOF NCO made a mildly condescending statement and you repeated it which brings totally cognitively approaching an issue into question. Is that really a good PsyOp-like effort...
    But I'd like to think we can move past the cuffed sleeve/uniform thing and talk about more mission-oriented ideas.
    Shouldn't be a problem. If I could make a suggestion, don't let your previous (and possibly future) academic persona get too intermingled with your current about to deploy persona. By all means keep your values and your knowledge, state your opinions and question everything but usually, there's little to be gained by arguing the number of angels on that pin (even if it is fun on occasion ).

    Which gets to your valid point that we need a national approach to IO. I agree. I also think that will not happen for many reasons. We are a big diverse country with many points of view. Our politics reflect this and our political system mitigates against any coherent long range plan. The US Information Agency essentially did a good job while it was in existence. It was brought down by two things; the desire of the State Department to have total control over our 'message' and the fact that the left leaning among hated anything that tried to put the US in a good light. That same combination of bureaucratic turf battles (which you alluded to much earlier...) and ideology will short circuit the goal in the future (never say never but it is unlikely).

    You also said:
    "I don't see how we can ideologically confront Salafi jihadis through their media, social services, and educational networks simply by utlizing Army PSYOP (because essentially thats really the only place is resides in the military), the strategic corporal, and a rather small CIA office."
    Question. Do we really want to confront Salafi jihadis (or more properly in the PsyOps mode; persons engaged in hiraba) on an ideological basis? I'm not at all sure we want to confront them on that basis and my perception is that if we did we'd lose, big time.

    The simple solution to the IO problem is to bring back and empower USIA. Not going to happen, I'm afraid. We'll muddle along -- it's the American way...

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    That's probably a very accurate appraisal of base rates - given that there are around 1500 Tactical PSYOP and probably 10% of our enlisted ranks have post-graduate educations, the odds are high that there's more enlisted 11b's with MA's, MBAs, and PhDs, than PSYOP. But take for intance the E4 I know in PSYOP with an MBA - I don't think he'd argue that his job is going to require him utilize that education in his job. I don't jack squat about being an infantryman - but Reed does - Reed, would you argue that when the #### hits the fan in *your* tactical arena (bullets flying all around) your frontal cortex is fully engaged? I know mine shuts off when dealing with novel fight or flight stimuli.

    I think the dynamic situation that was being described to me was not one in which people were being shot at, but one in which the PSYOPer was caught in a delicate social situation that required him to use cognitive function in a manner that the average infantryman (we all assume, and maybe wrongfully so) doesnt generally.

    <the fact that the left leaning among hated anything that tried to put the US in a good light. That same combination of bureaucratic turf battles (which you alluded to much earlier...) and ideology will short circuit the goal in the future (never say never but it is unlikely).>

    Bingo. Is this acceptable? We have the power to ratchet past the turf wars, but we seem to lack the political will to confront this 'everything America does is bad' mentality.

    an updated USIA would be a good start, that's for sure.

    As far as do we want to confront the Salafi ideology? Well, that has certainly been the goal of policymakers at this point. Making judgements about whether thats the right or wrong thing to do is beyond my comfort zone.
    Last edited by Voodoun; 01-23-2009 at 08:44 PM.

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    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Voodoun View Post
    But take for intance the E4 I know in PSYOP with an MBA - I don't think he'd argue that his job is going to require him utilize that education in his job. I don't jack squat about being an infantryman - but Reed does - Reed, would you argue that when the #### hits the fan in *your* tactical arena (bullets flying all around) your frontal cortex is fully engaged? I know mine shuts off when dealing with novel fight or flight stimuli.
    One, I am far far from the most experienced war fighter in this counsel. You should make that an open question. My experience is that no, when heavily engaged, I was not 100% cerebral. However heavily engaged was a rarity and most engagements allowed, in fact demanded, a thinking approach.
    Two, on top of this, our day to day interactions with non-combatants had secondary and on-going effects, so we constantly had to consider our actions. The hostility towards PSYOPS and occasionally CA is the attitude that PSYOPS is a PSYOPS thing, you grunts wouldn't understand. Try us, we do it day to day.
    It is also OK, even encouraged at times to just state that you agree to disagree and drop a topic if no new information is being brought forth.
    Reed
    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post
    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

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    <The hostility towards PSYOPS and occasionally CA is the attitude that PSYOPS is a PSYOPS thing, you grunts wouldn't understand. Try us, we do it day to day.>

    All this from the relatively amused suggestion that maybe the reason we were trained to cuff our sleeves if it was scorching hot was because our jobs were more cerebral and we were less likely to be dealing with hot brass than an 11b.

    Its *amazing* how deep some of this animosity runs!

    Reed, absolutely - every PSYOPer out there should utilize his supported unit to be a force multiplier for his PSYOP mission.

    Now let me turn this around a bit though. A good number of the tankers, MPs, 11b's, etc, that I've come across, are so far from culturally aware its embrassing. On FTX's when I've got the N word being flung around, and rag head this, and camel jockey that, and let me tell you the story about the time I shot a haji in his leg and he fell down 2 stories cracking his head open like a watermelon, and that bitch started wailing 'lulululululululu!" and don't touch 'em cause they've all got #### on their left hands, I find myself sitting off to the side with a couple other guys shaking our heads. I've made it a point to address this with my Unit twice so far, but when we're training with other units, no one is going to listen to one word we have to say - I've seen what happens when an E7 enters a hooch and tries to explain why maybe these sort of antics aren't the wisest move. As soon as he leaves everyone just starts making fun of him. And there's two of us off to the side just looking at eachother, with no idea what to do.

    So while PSYOP and CA may come across as arrogant sometime, there's a reason.

    When I was in Basic Training I was 30 years old. I had some 18 year old kid decide I must be an al Qaeda spy because I had a funny name, I was brown, and I told him to ease up when he was regaling us all with stories about how he was going to kill dirty hajis. (there was a 40 year old Iraqi 09L in our Company, btw, and I spoke up because this kid was way out of hand). Mind you, this AQ spy thing didnt stop with the one guy, it went on all cycle long.



    That sort of thing colors our perceptions. Sure, PSYOP needs to rise above it, but let's be clear, there's some call for what you're seeing on your end.
    Last edited by Voodoun; 01-23-2009 at 09:38 PM.

  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Voodoun View Post
    Reed, would you argue that when the #### hits the fan in *your* tactical arena (bullets flying all around) your frontal cortex is fully engaged? I know mine shuts off when dealing with novel fight or flight stimuli.
    Depends on how you deal with stress and process information. Can you integrate the 5 aspects of weather, the 5 aspects of terrain, the 7 forms of contact, safe distance zones, backdrops, weapons effects, mitigation of collateral damage, then look at both the pros and cons of each in a split second while, at the same time, weighing the combat multipliers, organic and inorganic to your unit, and bring them all to bear properly in a reasonable amount of time in order to maximize your element's opportunities for success in closing with and destroying your enemy?

    Some see that as cerebral. Others see it as instinct after being well trained. Stress innoculation training, that is, to place Soldiers and Marines in those situations in a training environment that best replicate combat conditions. Others call it OODA. Whatever your thoughts are, warfare is cerebral whether you're yelling "gunner, sabot, tank" or dealing with how best to build a school in an impoverished area.

    Quote Originally Posted by reed11b View Post
    our day to day interactions with non-combatants had secondary and on-going effects, so we constantly had to consider our actions. The hostility towards PSYOPS and occasionally CA is the attitude that PSYOPS is a PSYOPS thing, you grunts wouldn't understand. Try us, we do it day to day.
    I worked with 3 TPTs and 2 CA teams over two years. I can speak to the condescension firsthand. I'm fairly competent and well-read in a number of different areas. It astonished the TPT team that I knew their sole purpose wasn't to dump leaflets all over my 54 villages in my AO. They were speechless when I explained I knew their mission was to demoralize the enemy by causing dissension and unrest among his ranks, while at the same time convincing the local population to support American troops and providing me with atmospherics and the attitudes and behaviors of those I was trying to help and those who I was trying to capture or kill.

    I think too many CA and PSYOP teams go into a OPCON/TACON relationship expecting to get the shaft. Many more enter into the relationship believing wholeheartedly they're going to get used and abused. Abused children abuse their own children. I think it's become so expected (and I think wrongly so) that it clouds candid and open discussion from the get go.

    If anything, that might be the first thing that needs to get ironed out before all else in the CF/PSYOP/CA relationships.
    Example is better than precept.

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    <Depends on how you deal with stress and process information. Can you integrate the 5 aspects of weather, the 5 aspects of terrain, the 7 forms of contact, safe distance zones, backdrops, weapons effects, mitigation of collateral damage, then look at both the pros and cons of each in a split second while, at the same time, weighing the combat multipliers, organic and inorganic to your unit, and bring them all to bear properly in a reasonable amount of time in order to maximize your element's opportunities for success in closing with and destroying your enemy?>

    Nope, sure can't. Wouldnt have a clue how to start.

  12. #52
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Indications versus assumptions...

    Quote Originally Posted by Voodoun View Post
    ...would you argue that when the #### hits the fan in *your* tactical arena (bullets flying all around) your frontal cortex is fully engaged? I know mine shuts off when dealing with novel fight or flight stimuli.
    As RTK said, if you can't fight and think -- fast -- you're dead. Two wars, several other soirees and I never had a problem doing both. To imply otherwise is patronizing and will not win you allies.
    ...the PSYOPer was caught in a delicate social situation that required him to use cognitive function in a manner that the average infantryman (we all assume, and maybe wrongfully so) doesnt generally.
    Yes, you do assume -- and as they say that make an ass out of you and not me. Snark breeds snark, a PsyOps and internet truth...

    That is a bad assumption for both current theaters and a really bad one for a more intense war. Indications are there folks aren't turning off their thinking for visceral / instinctive / drilled reactions. They rarely do, rumors to the contrary not withstanding.
    Bingo. Is this acceptable? We have the power to ratchet past the turf wars,
    True but only if there is a really pressing need, an existential threat. We do not face such a threat now so the turf battles will continue.
    ...but we seem to lack the political will to confront this 'everything America does is bad' mentality.
    Not bad enough at this point to develop a consensus in opposition. If it gets worse (and it may not once everyone gets over their BDS), pressure from all us moderates and the as goofy as the 'America's wrong' crowd far right fringe will kill it -- or make it hide.
    As far as do we want to confront the Salafi ideology? Well, that has certainly been the goal of policymakers at this point. Making judgements about whether thats the right or wrong thing to do is beyond my comfort zone.
    If you know that, you're ahead of me -- I have yet to see any goal other than to confront the actors and attack their funding and (to an extent and not too well done) their credibility. IMO, that's not the same thing as attacking the ideology -- which would be futile in any event.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I missed this, Voodoun...

    So while PSYOP and CA may come across as arrogant sometime, there's a reason.
    Nah, not really. Far from it, in fact. Some forget what it's like to be an 18 year old right out of high school, perhaps...

    I'd also suggest that the stuff you cite doesn't happen in good unit -- well, it does happen, but it gets immediately squashed -- as you'll learn.

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    Default Ken beat me to it

    Dang, must learn to type faster... Training is not the unit. Most of it is also hot air from insecure young males, they may laugh at the NCO, but I doubt they will cross him in the field. Also when units get deployed, a lot of that bravado disappears because most soldiers I know are VERY serious about doing a professional job. There are bad units where that behavior persists into a deployment but they are the exception, not the rule. It is also the reason that Ken and Wilf and I , along w/ many others, scream that initial training should be far more involved and that the current truism that real training does not start until a soldier gets to his unit must be placed on it's ear.
    Reed
    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post
    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

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    First off, I presented a case that was not MINE, I was RELAYING an explanation, I was not saying one thing was true and one wasnt, I was asking questions to explore a notion, and I was bending over backwards to qualify that discussion with words like 'assume' and 'perhaps wrongfully' but you're still jumping down my throat? Sure thing!


    So what have we learned? Don't ask questions, don't be informed or have an informed opinion, because the only thing that matters here is military experience, accept everything presented at face value, never drill deeper for substantiation, absolutely never reject straw men and defend your contention, and most importantly we have just discovered that PSYOP is a job anyone can do, because there's no cognitive difference between being an infantry soldier and a PSYOP soldier, despite what former infantry guys turned PSYOP say about it - and even having the audacity to be curious about this, to simply want to discuss it, is condescending and insulting.

    Got it. I'm on board now. How's that for snarkiness?

    <If you know that, you're ahead of me -- I have yet to see any goal other than to confront the actors and attack their funding and (to an extent and not too well done) their credibility. IMO, that's not the same thing as attacking the ideology -- which would be futile in any event.>


    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/ar...25/25roots.htm

    http://www.nctc.gov/press_room/speeches/20070910.pdf

    "We must better coordinate departmental efforts to counter radicalization both at home and abroad"

    "Strategic Offense: Analysis to guide national policy and policymakers in countering violent extremism and radical ideology as a threat to our way of life"

    And in a scathing critique that cites numerous policy makers, thinktanks, and the president:

    http://ics.leeds.ac.uk/papers/vp01.c...339&paper=1803

    So yes, when the president calls the GWOT a long lasting struggle with ideology, and launches a campaign directed to "transform Islam", I think its pretty safe to say we were confronting more than just the actors, but attempting to bring transformative change.

    But my sleeves were cuffed while I pulled those up, so there's no validity to substantive points made.

    I guess I'm just a raging dillhole that has clearly offended many of you with my unforgivable questions and constant reminders that I know very little about soldiering, and am just trying to learn and understand.

    SWEET. Got it. <----------- tongue in cheek sarcasm, just to ensure no one misunderestimates my tone and intention
    Last edited by Voodoun; 01-23-2009 at 10:56 PM.

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    Hey, I hope you guys are right about that, but whether they cross him in the field is irrelevant, if their mind set includes 'its ok to use words like Haji that I don't understand in a perjorative manner, and to openly derogate their culture' then it seems natural that a PSYOPer wouldnt necessarily want to spend the time trying to re-educate them.

    Again, *I don't know*, I really dont, I'm just thinking out loud.

    But sorry, the examples above were not all while in institutional training - I've heard that sort of speech in my unit, and in other units we were training with on FTX
    Last edited by Voodoun; 01-23-2009 at 11:15 PM.

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    Just a gentle reminder to everyone to lighten up and take a deep breath. We were all new here once. The internet can't capture things like tone and facial expressions, so it can be very hard at times to tell what someone intends to 'say' (or doesn't intend to 'say') through the typed word. That goes for both new folks and those who've been here for a time.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Quote Originally Posted by Voodoun View Post
    Hey, I hope you guys are right about that, but whether they cross him in the field is irrelevant, if their mind set includes 'its ok to use words like Haji that I don't understand in a perjorative manner, and to openly derogate their culture' then it seems natural that a PSYOPer wouldnt necessarily want to spend the time trying to re-educate them.
    No worries. BTW, there is always a lot of cross-cultural miscommunication that happens; even with the PSYOPS crowd .
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
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    hell, cross cultural nothing, there's miscommunication going on rampantly right here!

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    wow, I guess I have to start checking this board every day now... so much has gone on in this thread for me to even cover any informative response in less than two pages.

    ok, where do I start.

    I've noticed that a major point of contention is the value of a centralized governmental organization to manage PsyOp/Influence Ops? and corodinate between the State, Intelligence, and Defense departments, correct?

    OSI, I really don't know much about the OSI... but my political leanings kinda kick in here, the concept reeked of OWI Orwellian propaganda. But I'm just a paranoid Libertarian, and that might be the cause of me perceiving it like that.

    From what I've read most of the OSI's responsibilities have been transferred to the IO Task Force. But of course this is all run by the DOD. OK, I'm getting side tracked....

    To put my PERSONAL opinion on the subject in very plain words.. is that a national level agency coordinating IO worldwide, broken down into regional operating areas might help in some aspects, but it would instantaneously be shut down just like the OSI by political turf wars and public dissension to such programs.

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