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Thread: COIN & The Media (catch all)

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    Default The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation

    New from RAND:

    Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation
    COIN and other stability operations are central to the current operational environment and are likely to remain so in the future. These operations demand a unique focus on shaping indigenous audiences. Virtually every action, message, and decision of a force shapes the opinions of an indigenous population. Creating a unified message is key in this regard, as the words and deeds of coalition forces must be synchronized to the greatest extent possible. U.S. force actions help set conditions for establishing credibility and fostering positive attitudes among the indigenous population, which, in turn, enable effective and persuasive communication. We have identified commercial marketing practices that can assist the U.S. military in its COIN shaping endeavors. We have also drawn on the insights of U.S. military personnel and past operational experiences....

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Being a compulsive index and bibliography scanner, I was somewhat to see absolutely no FMs, Joint Pubs, CALL products, or anything other service or agency listed. That to me indicates this study on marketing is shaped by its own sources.

    That said, I will scan read it further.

    Tom

    PS Somewhat eating my own words I looked again. Found 2 FMs on PSYOP and 1 on IO. 4 Joint Pubs on PAO, IO, Urban Ops, and PSYOPs. 7 other pubs from DoD, UN, DoS, and USMC. Still there are no studies from CALL--and we have done many that are relevant--and other forums like SSI.

    More later
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 07-19-2007 at 03:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom
    ...I was somewhat to see absolutely no FMs, Joint Pubs, CALL products, or anything other service or agency listed. That to me indicates this study on marketing is shaped by its own sources.....
    Same here. I would have expected to at least have seen current PSYOP doctrinal pubs included in the bibliography. The "marketing approach" is not a new concept.

    However, there are quite a number of interviews listed with CA, IO, PAO, PSYOP and other military personnel. In that context, you are 100% correct in that the study is "shaped by its own sources", and it states up-front in the Preface that the contents of this monograph rely heavily on interview comments made by members of the U.S. military and the commercial marketing industry.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Jed,

    Where the shaping concerns me is the selection of the military participants. I don't see a lot of operators or operational HQs here, suggesting that the study like the entire subject of IO has been "desynched" from the operations side.

    Again more later.

    Best

    Tom

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Ok quick read later and I pretty much restate the concerns here. this study makes some great points and totally misses others. It is fine to talk to civilian advertising types and military IO, PSYOPs, and even CA types. They speak a similar language and their ideas are mutually supporting. But to mean anything, you have to engage the operations and the intelligence side. Making suggestions concerning training is easy if you do not engage those doing the training.

    It is not bad--it is just in a bubble.

    Tom

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default The Pentagon Gets a Lesson From Madison Avenue

    20 July Washington Post - The Pentagon Gets a Lesson From Madison Avenue by Karen DeYoung.

    In the advertising world, brand identity is everything. Volvo means safety. Colgate means clean. IPod means cool. But since the U.S. military invaded Iraq in 2003, its "show of force" brand has proved to have limited appeal to Iraqi consumers, according to a recent study commissioned by the U.S. military.

    The key to boosting the image and effectiveness of U.S. military operations around the world involves "shaping" both the product and the marketplace, and then establishing a brand identity that places what you are selling in a positive light, said clinical psychologist Todd C. Helmus, the author of "Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation." The 211-page study, for which the U.S. Joint Forces Command paid the Rand Corp. $400,000, was released this week...

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    Default Info Effects in COIN & Stability Ops

    Shifting Fire: Information Effects in Counterinsurgency and Stability Operations
    The “Information Operations and Winning the Peace” workshop, held at the U.S. Army War College (USAWC), Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, was a collaboration between the War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership (CSL) and the Advanced Network Research Group, University of Cambridge (UK). It brought together, over a three-day period (29 November to 1 December), an audience of some 60 leaders and practitioners representing the military, national security, intelligence and interagency communities, as well as academia. It included representatives from the U.S., UK and Canada. The venue was CSL’s Collins Hall and the workshop structure consisted of introductory expert briefings followed by small group discussions. Three case studies drawn from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict served as the “driver” for small group work. These case studies examined aspects of the second Intifada phase of that conflict (circa 2002) and looked at the realities and challenges of managing “information effects” in a counterinsurgency at the tactical, operational and strategic levels. The case studies provided a jumping off point for discussion of the issues and challenges facing U.S. and coalition militaries in adapting to the complexities of the “long war.” The workshop was an unclassified event, and the Israeli-Palestinian case studies allowed participants to engage issues without prejudice or risk to on-going operations.....

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Interesting choice of scenarios - not one I would have chosen. Israel/Palestine is not really a case of COIN as there is no real struggle for control over population loyalty or security.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Interesting choice of scenarios - not one I would have chosen. Israel/Palestine is not really a case of COIN as there is no real struggle for control over population loyalty or security.
    You're right - the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not an example of pure COIN. But neither is the situation in Iraq, and each of those two is as different from the other as they are from classic counterinsurgency. However, there are certainly applicable lessons to be learned.

    Clive Jones, who wrote an excellent piece on Israeli intelligence failings in Lebanon which also holds lessons for Iraq, wrote this other article related to the scenarios above which also makes for an interesting read:

    One Size Fits All: Israel, Intelligence, and the Al-Aqsa Intifada

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    Default Purpose of Using the Second Intifada Case Study

    The Israeli-Palestinian context was chosen for two reasons. First, as a proxy case for thinking about Iraq and Afghanistan, the case study approach freed up participant discussion and encouraged out of the box reflections and learning. Second, the Israeli experience has certain significant parallels with current operations in Iraq, although it also has significant differences. (See page 13 of the unabridged study). The importance of the report is really in the take-aways regarding current operations.

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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by murphyd View Post
    The Israeli-Palestinian context was chosen for two reasons. First, as a proxy case for thinking about Iraq and Afghanistan, the case study approach freed up participant discussion and encouraged out of the box reflections and learning. Second, the Israeli experience has certain significant parallels with current operations in Iraq, although it also has significant differences. (See page 13 of the unabridged study). The importance of the report is really in the take-aways regarding current operations.
    I absolutely love the paper. Great Work! The observations below are very useful.

    Never assume you are on the moral high ground, and that you therefore don’t need to message. (Perceptions of moral authority/legitimacy)

    An intervening armed state tends to be seen as “Goliath,” while non-state actors that resist are often cast as “David.” (Perceptions of moral authority/legitimacy)

    Targeting insurgent leaders won’t stop the resistance and the resulting informational effects may fuel further radicalization. (Tactics versus strategy)

    Direct action against a threat may create positive informational effects with home audiences, but negative informational effects in the COIN theatre. (Informational effects: challenge of different audiences)

    When a campaign’s strategic narrative contradicts the observed realities of your soldiers on the ground, it can hollow out the army’s morale. (Informational effects: challenge of different audiences)

    Eliminating insurgents won’t stop the resistance or the terror tactics. (Tactics versus strategy)

    When it comes to rumors of war-fighting gone wrong, the first stories onto the wire stick. Even if these stories prove to be exaggerated or false, the damage to your reputation, and moral legitimacy, is hard to erase. (Information sequel: perceptions of moral authority)

    Humanitarian action undertaken to limit civilian casualties should be documented and communicated before, during and after action. (Informational sequel and prequel: perceptions of legitimacy; preempting and dispelling rumors)

    Even if you don’t trust certain media, engage them. Restricting media gives an informational advantage to your adversary. (Information management: perceptions of legitimacy)

    Western democracies have low tolerance for the moral ambiguities of kinetic action. This is especially so when, in the heat of battle, mistakes or civilian casualties occur. Kinetic action that violates the law of war creates informational effects that decrease domestic and Western support. (Informational effects: perceptions of legitimacy)

    Political messages that target domestic audiences can spillover to other audiences, and create detrimental informational effects in the COIN theater. (Informational effects: GIE and challenge of different audiences)

    Cohesive all-of-government coordination can yield synchronization of the message, but not necessarily the effects. (Informational effects: Perceptions of legitimacy/perception management)

    Information Operations need to keep going, even after the physical action is over. (Information sequel: perception management)
    Read the whole thing!
    Last edited by Cavguy; 08-31-2007 at 08:02 PM.
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    For what the RAND team was commissioned to do by JFCOM, Enlisting Madison Ave achieves its goal. Maybe it was shaped by its sources, but those sources are pretty on-target with their criticisms of the larger military strategic communications (SC) apparatus (IO/PSYOP/PA). My biggest criticism of the book is that it's militarily focused. With the talent on the investigative team and for a little more money, RAND could have done a dynamite study incorporating Interagency and international SC elements.

    There were several edits to the book from its original incarnation, Enlisting Geckos, Camels, and Clydesdales, (a title I preferred). Some interesting material fell out, particularly the recommendation for a PSYOP general officer.
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    Default Developing Media in Stabilization & Reconstruction Ops

    USIP, 15 Oct 07: Developing Media in Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations
    Summary and Recommendations

    • In war-torn societies, the development of independent, pluralistic, and sustainable media is critical to fostering long-term peace and stability. Post-conflict civilian populations are particularly vulnerable to manipulation by mass media as tensions run high and the possibility of violent relapse remains strong. Many civilians harbor deep skepticism and mistrust of the media, being accustomed to platforms that are controlled either by the state or by political groups looking to further their political agendas.

    • An effective media strategy can mitigate postwar tensions by elevating moderate voices and dampening extremist ones. It can create peaceful channels through which differences can be resolved without resort to violence. The creation of a robust media culture will also allow citizens to begin holding their government accountable for its actions and ensuring its commitment to democracy.

    • Efforts to develop local media institutions should be undertaken separately from attempts to develop strategic communications. In an increasing number of non-permissive environments (i.e., environments where security is not fully established), the distinction between these two endeavors is blurred because of a mistaken assumption among some players that both activities share the same purpose and goal.

    • A poorly developed media strategy can be detrimental in a war-ravaged country still rife with violence. A hastily conceived plan may reinforce divisions between warring parties or create a weak media sector that is vulnerable to exploitation by warlords, political patrons, and spoilers. Media development efforts also fail when the public does not trust them to establish a credible source of information.

    • Ideally, given the media’s capacity to shape war-torn countries, interveners should apply a coherent strategy in the pursuit of media development. Unfortunately, no such strategy yet exists and thus interveners have little guidance as to what tools and methods work best in the development of media institutions. In fact, media development is still conducted on an ad hoc basis from conflict to conflict.

    • This report seeks to fill this strategic gap. More particularly, it recommends that interveners take the following series of steps as they generate a strategy for media development in post-conflict zones.
    Complete 20 page paper at the link.

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    Default COIN & The Media (catch all)

    I’m a lurker on this board who’s a student of the media. In addition to viewing all the usual COIN topics, I spend much of my time reading comments about the media’s actions. The tone seems to me to be generally critical of the media’s performance.

    While I can think of good arguments both for and against this assessment, I’m intrigued at how the media, especially our own Western media, seems to be treated differently than other players in the COIN fight. Many who are adept at co-opting former enemy fighters into their COIN strategy are quick to malign, insult or disparage media organizations who, like it or not, will be the ones telling the story to the local populace or those back home.

    The media is clearly a part of COIN strategy at higher levels, but for some reason this view does not seem to have trickled down to lower levels to the extent that other COIN strategies have. I’ve heard many soldiers in Iraq tell reporters that they don’t like the media in general or the reporter’s paper in particular. I’ve never heard soldiers tell Iraqis that they just don’t like that person’s neighborhood, party or sect – even if they might feel that way privately. I think you can see this on these very boards: Many complaints about the media, very few complaints about the local populace or their organizations. This seems counterproductive.

    My gut feeling is that many view the media as somehow outside the COIN fight instead of an integral part of it. Ironically, it seems many find it easier to conceptualize Arab and Afghan media as part of COIN than Western media. My guess is that this is because we already view the Arab and Afghan populations as the target of our efforts, while we view Western media as unfaithful allies. I’d argue that COIN efforts must target both local media to undermine the insurgency and domestic media to build support for the counter-insurgency.

    I’m not saying much of the reaction against the media isn’t justified. I just don’t think leaders and soldiers are as pragmatic in their attitude toward the media as they are with other aspects of COIN.

    This is not to say that media shouldn’t be held accountable when they screw up. Yet the top-to-bottom focus should be on relationship-building efforts the same as with any other part of COIN. Even commanders who lose a soldier to an IED don’t stop community development altogether, although they may berate the local council. If they can work with complicit locals in that environment, it should be easy to set aside suspicions and work with media organizations.

    So I’m curious, whether you think I’m completely off base. Is the media, particularly Western media, an accepted part of the COIN at all levels or is it seen as an opponent in an us-versus-them conflict?

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    If I post on pure emotion I will not stay with the good graces of the SWJ. I will sleep on it, then answer with a level head.

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    Cow,

    Read this article by LTG William Caldwell, CG of Fort Leavenworth and former MNF-I spokesman and the discussion on the board here. I'm happy to say my initial reservations have all been well addressed. He's been requiring all officers and organizations at Fort Leavenworth to regularly engage with the media - traditional and non-traditional.. In fact, it's a CGSC graduation requirement.

    My opinion, we have to engage with the media to win, and accept that some of the time we won't get the reporting we want - the benefits of engagement usually outweigh the costs.
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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Also look at this newsletter from CALL--put together by yours truly from JRTC.

    Media is the Battlefield


    And its follow on

    Media relations

    That has an article by LTG Caldwell

    Best

    Tom

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    ODB, those are exactly the emotions I’m interested in exploring.

    I’m a reporter, so I admittedly come at this from a different perspective. But I have a hard time understanding why soldiers get so angry at the media when they deal so calmly with so many other situations that, to my mind, are much worse than even the most unfair news story.

    For example, I’d been with a unit for a few weeks when an IED killed a soldier. The soldiers went door to door asking neighbors near the blast if they’d seen or heard anything. Each said they were inside at the time, even though it was a beautiful day. I was amazed by how calmly and professionally the soldiers handled the situation even though residents clearly knew more than they were saying. A platoon sergeant later confided that he was seething inside, but he never gave any hint of that to the Iraqis. The mindset was, “Mission first.”

    That pragmatism isn’t always there with the news media, though. I’ve had countless soldiers tell me when I show up for an embed that, “I’ve just got to warn you, I don’t like the media. It’s nothing personal, but I had a bad experience one time and I can’t stand journalists.”

    Even if that bad experience was unjustified, this strikes me as a very unpragmatic approach in an organization that prides itself on pragmatism. And chances are, the soldier has had many other bad experiences in other arenas that he or she doesn’t allow to affect the mission. What about the media gets under soldiers’ skin?

    Cavguy, great article and discussion. I see that on the ground. Leaders in many units have a required number of “leader engagements” in which they must talk to the media (although I can also see arguments that that might be swinging the pendulum in the other direction). In general, I think the leaders generally have it down pretty well.

    But where most junior soldiers have a very good understanding of the soft approach that COIN requires (limit damage, build relationships, etc.), I haven’t found that to be the case in regards to the media. Tom Odom expressed this very well in the discussion you reference:

    We have been pushing the idea that the media is much like terrain; it is part of the battlefield and you have to adapt to it. No one I know likes humping a ruck through mountains. But most of us don't waste our time disliking the mountains. Instead we change loads or find another way to go. The same line of reasoning applies to the media.
    And like I said earlier, I think soldiers conceptually view the Arabic and Western media differently. As a westerner myself, I can be just as guilty of this misconception (ie. IO is something the military does to them, while PAO is something the military does for me).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Cookie View Post
    Even if that bad experience was unjustified, this strikes me as a very unpragmatic approach in an organization that prides itself on pragmatism. And chances are, the soldier has had many other bad experiences in other arenas that he or she doesn’t allow to affect the mission. What about the media gets under soldiers’ skin?
    My observation is that you are just as likely to have a Soldier deal in a counterproductive fashion with the media as with the indigenous population. I think the difference is that, as a media member, you are more likely to notice ill will towards the media whereas I, as a former small unit leader, was more likely to notice inappropriate behavior towards the population.

    If there is a more commonplace acting out of resentment towards the media - which I admit is possible - then it is most likely because reporters seem to be drawn towards the dumbest guy in the unit who is most likely to say something stupid. But, that is partly a leadership shortcoming for allowing it to happen, so I don't place all of the blame for that on the reporter. Another possible reason is that we think we have a better chance of influencing the population and it is more directly tied to the mission. Many of us feel that we're never going to get a fair shake from the media in this war, because this war was started by someone whose ideology does not line up with the dominant ideology of the media. For example, when I was in Bosnia, we did not view the media as hostile. It seemed that they wanted to report good news because they liked the guy in the White House. After 2003, hating the President seemed to be the media version of converting to the one true religion. Was it really necessary for the NY Times to put Abu Ghraib photos on the front page 30 times? There is a difference between reporting the news and actively seeking to create a sensationalized propaganda coup for your enemies. The NY Times did not just slightly cross that line - they sprinted across it and then did an end-zone dance.

    I would also add that there is a special type of resentment set aside for the media because they've seemed to take such pride, since 2003, in taking cheap shots at the men and women who risk their lives to defend their rights to disparage us. Even when they are not taking cheap shots, there is an amazing propensity for many journalists to demonstrate almost unfathomable ignorance in their reporting and they have a seeming inability to not view the news through a bizzaro lens that fits their often woefully incorrect preconceived notions. I'm not saying that any of this justifies counterproductive interaction with the media - and I've never let it affect me when dealing with the media. I'm just trying to shed some light on the source of the resentment. The resentment is justified. But, as Soldiers, we are not justified in losing our bearing.

    Just to reiterate, while I recognize that I may be wrong, I think that counterproductive interactions with the indigenous population are more common and more problematic than counterproductive interactions with the media, so I question your assumptions. If it is your anecdotal experience against mine, then I guess we'll just agree that you'll say tomato and I'll say tomato (that never comes across well non-verbally).
    Last edited by Schmedlap; 02-02-2009 at 02:54 AM. Reason: Mine grammer are not good

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default What Scmedlap said basically tracks what I hear from those serving today.

    Tales of misquotes and out of context statements drive the troops to avoid the media. There are exceptions and a few have told me of specific reporters -- also few -- that were always welcome. In fairness to the reporters on the ground, they have frequently complained to people I know that their stateside editors changed the story. My sensing is that AP is held in particularly low regard in this regard...

    There were problems early on with local stringers who would appear before fire fights. Thus the troops inferred, rightly or wrongly, that they had connections with the bad guys. Stuff like that gets passed along and grows as it travels. Most outlets then tried to do a better job with the stringers but the problem persisted in Iraq until recently. Afghanistan seems to attract wandering western journalists who appear to want to show NATO / US atrocities or cluelessness more than they wish to get accurate stories. Not there, haven't been -- but have heard that perception voiced by some who have been there.Each theater is a little different.

    Tom Odom is correct, the Armed forces and the Media have to live with each other. The Officers and senior NCOs will do that -- however, the lower ranked guys are not as constrained by a sense of duty so they let their feelings show. With them, a lot of trust has been abused in their view and they are not a forgiving bunch of people. It's easy for many media types to dismiss them as the great unwashed and Joe Sixpack in ACUs -- but the troops sense that and they resent it strongly. Some will get along with the media, most will not. I doubt they will try to mend the rift -- and there is one. It doesn't serve either side well but in the view of most I know, the media screwed the deal and Joe isn't disposed to try to unscrew it.

    A recurring complaint, minor and even petty to some but serious to those making it, is that the media is pretty ignorant about things military. Improper terminology, wrong names and a host of minor misunderstood things appear in print and foster the perception that many in the media don't know much and do not care that they don't know much. That to some is an indicator of low regard and no one likes to believe they are held in low regard. Some media folks have written books about the current wars; I have not heard one universally praised by anyone in uniform, on the contrary, most have been panned for "making stuff up that the writer couldn't have known."

    FWIW, this is not a new phenomenon, same thing happened in Korea to a lesser extent and in Viet Nam to about the same extent.with the same set of complaints at about the same volume.

    Interestingly, there may be a Texas factor at work here. In SEA in the early days, the Press was enamored of Kennedy and thus, anything we in the area did was fine and was well and pretty accurately reported. After Johnson became President, it all went down hill rapidly. Johnson was not popular with the media and it showed in coverage in Viet Nam post 1965. Some will say it was due to other factors but having been there at the time, that was not my sensing; it was going to be wrong, no matter what.

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