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Old 11-29-2008   #1
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Default NATO to "Merge" Public Affairs, Info Ops, Psy Ops Offices in AFG?

Mods, if this isn't the best spot, feel free to shift it - shared for the purpose of research and discussion.

Press and "Psy Ops" to merge at NATO Afghan HQ: sources
John Hemming, Reuters, 290628EST Nov 08
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KABUL (Reuters) - The U.S. general commanding NATO forces in Afghanistan has ordered a merger of the office that releases news with "Psy Ops," which deals with propaganda, a move that goes against the alliance's policy, three officials said.

The move has worried Washington's European NATO allies -- Germany has already threatened to pull out of media operations in Afghanistan -- and the officials said it could undermine the credibility of information released to the public.

Seven years into the war against the Taliban, insurgent influence is spreading closer to the capital and Afghans are becoming increasingly disenchanted at the presence of some 65,000 foreign troops and the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Taliban militants, through their website, telephone text messages and frequent calls to reporters, are also gaining ground in the information war, analysts say.

U.S. General David McKiernan, the commander of 50,000 troops from more than 40 nations in NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), ordered the combination of the Public Affairs Office (PAO), Information Operations and Psy Ops (Psychological Operations) from December 1, said a NATO official with detailed knowledge of the move.

"This will totally undermine the credibility of the information released to the press and the public," said the official, who declined to be named.

ISAF spokesman Brigadier General Richard Blanchette said McKiernan had issued a staff order to implement a command restructure from December 1 which was being reviewed by NATO headquarters in Brussels, but he declined to go into details of the reorganization.

"This is very much an internal matter," he said. "This is up with higher headquarters right now and we're waiting to get the basic approval. Once we have the approval we will be going into implementation."

But another ISAF official confirmed that the amalgamation of public affairs with Information Operations and Psy Ops was part of the planned command restructure. This official, who also declined to be named, said the merger had caused considerable concern at higher levels within NATO which had challenged the order by the U.S. general.

"DECEPTION ACTIVITIES"

NATO policy recognizes there is an inherent clash of interests between its public affairs offices, whose job it is to issue press releases and answer media questions, and that of Information Operations and Psy Ops.

Information Operations advises on information designed to affect the will of the enemy, while Psy Ops includes so-called "black operations," or outright deception.

While Public Affairs and Information Operations, PA and Info Ops in military jargon, "are separate, but related functions," according to the official NATO policy document on public affairs, "PA is not an Info Ops discipline."

The new combined ISAF department will come under the command of an American one-star general reporting directly to McKiernan, an arrangement that is also against NATO policy, the NATO official said.

"While coordination is essential, the lines of authority will remain separate, the PA reporting directly to the commander. This is to maintain credibility of PA and to avoid creating a media or public perception that PA activities are coordinated by, or are directed by, Info Ops," the NATO policy document says.

"PA will have no role in planning or executing Info Ops, Psy Ops, or deception activities," it states.

The United States has 35,000 of the 65,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, operating both under ISAF and a separate U.S.-led coalition operation, but both come under McKiernan's command.

Washington is already scheduled to send another 3,000 troops to arrive in the country in January and is now considering sending 20,000 more troops in the next 12 to 18 months, further tipping the numerical balance among ISAF forces.

"What we are seeing is a gradual increase of American influence in all areas of the war," the NATO official said. "Seeking to gain total control of the information flow from the campaign is just part of that."
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Old 11-29-2008   #2
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Originally Posted by milnews.ca View Post
"This will totally undermine the credibility of the information released to the press and the public," said the official, who declined to be named.
Completely disagree. When I was the IO guy for my unit, I had the PA guy sit right next to me. He only had a secret clearance and I tried to get him a TS so that he could understand the rationale for why I restricted him in the manner that I did. We didn't get the clearance or even an interim initiated, but he at least appreciated that I was not attempting to hide information from him or manipulate him. Interaction between PSYOP, PA, and the OPSEC manager are essential to controlling information. I was frequently telling my PA guy not to put certain information in press releases. That was non-negotiable because it was an OPSEC measure. However, I would also request that he put other information in, and that was his call. Just as a fire request may be denied because some other unit has a higher priority of fires, the PA guy had the discretion to deny my requests if it threatened the credibility of PA. I relied upon his judgment in that regard.

So long as the commander makes it clear that the PA guy is answerable directly to him, but that the IO folks coordinate directly with the PA guy, then there is no issue. There was significant risk of the PA guy assuming a subordinate role to me because he was not an officer or senior NCO and he administratively was "mine." But I treated him as a peer and reminded him often that he belonged to the commnader, not to me or the S-3. Putting PA subordinate to IO or PSYOP folks would be dangerous and would likely undermine their credibility. So long as PA is treated as a primary staff officer, then putting PA and PSYOP in the same cell, next to each other, can work very well. They need to coordinate directly and often. I'm surprised that it didn't happen sooner.

Last edited by Schmedlap; 11-29-2008 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 11-29-2008   #3
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Default Black Terminology

Others may agree with the Reuters terminology used here - I'd use the same terms differently.

Quote:
Information Operations advises on information designed to affect the will of the enemy, while Psy Ops includes so-called "black operations," or outright deception.
Reuters equates "black operations" = outright deception. Possibly my antique usage, but the spectrum of white, light gray, medium gray, dark gray and black information hinges on the covertness of the ultimate source of the information. As applied to us, revealing or concealing a USG agency as the source.

As to white information (e.g., VOA, BBC), enlightened self-interest over the long haul requires truth-telling so that the white outputs retain absolute credibility to their audiences - a chartacteristic lacking in Radio Moscow if you kept up with the twists and turns of the SovCom party line.

As to black information (the ultimate dream being a planted piece in Pravda, Izvestia, Tass or RM), that also has to be true - or, if false, at least close enough to the black output's usual agitprop line to be credible. The best black story, e.g., a true story that the SovComs wanted to keep secret, would have been one published in one of their party organs (usually local third world).

The gray part of the spectrum leaves more room for deception and falsity of the story. The rest of the Reuters story involves intra-agency and inter-agency issues, which have always been a problem - as to which, I am dumb.
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Old 11-29-2008   #4
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Default Gray progressive propaganda

more like.

That's a bad article and IMO it constitutes gray propaganda for the opponents. May not have been the intent but it is the practical effect. Schmedlap has the separation of church and state correctly ascribed and the Reuters lad merely shows his ignorance probably with an assist by his Editor.

The article does wrongly equate "black operations" with outright deception. Deception may or may not be the aim. The spectrum of white, gray and black propaganda -- not information -- does not hinge on the covertness of the ultimate source of the information but rather to the intent of the effort. White is effectively a totally honest effort to persuade; gray appears to support one view while actually subtly supporting another and black is aimed at total confusion and may be an honest or a totally dishonest statement that puts the opponent in a bad light. There are some technical errors in that but it's an effective simplification. The agency or origin has little to do with the shading, the intent is the determinant.

The NATO ally quibbling comes from euro social democratic governments who (a) aren't terribly bright when it comes to affaires militaire and (b) object to most anything the US does as a matter of course -- even if they want the US to do it so they don't have to. To believe that one can be totally honest in reporting the all the 'news' while the opponent is doing the exact opposite is the height of naiveté. More correctly, to think that the 'news' is not part and parcel of the Information Operation effort and that total separation is possible is just stupid.

Colombia is an example of how to do it. The Colombian Armed forces have a couple of hot teams that immediately go to the site of any incident involving the Armed Forces that may cause adverse publicity, document it thoroughly and honestly then rapidly get it to the media -- with evidence. That's a PA effort, not an information shaping effort -- yet it undeniably shapes the news. Such intertwining is absolutely unavoidable and to act like it can be avoided is dishonest in itself. Excessively sanctimonious, also...

As for this:
Quote:
"What we are seeing is a gradual increase of American influence in all areas of the war," the NATO official said. "Seeking to gain total control of the information flow from the campaign is just part of that."
Very astute lad -- he figured it out. What is now happening does not work so the US, per usual gets to be the bad guys and fix it. No news there -- and none of note in that Reuter's article.
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Old 11-30-2008   #5
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Default US Psyop doctrine

(at least when I was in the business - and I don't believe it has changed) defined the colors of propaganda in terms of source. White acknowledged the source; gray simply did not acknowledge it; black attributed it to a source other than the true one. US military Psyop doctrine never knowingly produced false information. Deception ops were not Psyop but were intel ops. That is not to say that Psyop resources could not be used but they were not run by Psyop organizations.

My favorite example of a black propaganda op is one I was told about that took Soviet anti-Islam propaganda designed for use in Soviet Central Asia and reproduced it verbatim for use in independent Muslim countries attributing it to the Soviet Embassy or local communist parties or both.

Cheers

JohnT
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Old 11-30-2008   #6
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Default There is something Churchillian

about the last three posts - something about being separated by a common language - or, in this case, a common color scheme.

You all realize that everyone is right here.

Hat tip to JTF for his black example.
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Old 11-30-2008   #7
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Cool Is that news

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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
You all realize that everyone is right here.
propaganda, information or an intelligence operation ?

However, as always, you are correct; not only in your declaration but also in the proper use of 'you all'
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Old 12-01-2008   #8
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Quote:
NATO to "Merge" Public Affairs, Info Ops, Psy Ops Offices in AFG?
Hallafu@#ingluyah ... The only time MNF-I actually got on the front foot in the info game was when BG Lessell smashed the IO, PA, and PD guys into one room and forced them to talk, and work together as MNF-I Stratcom. The info sucesses in Al FAJR are directly attributable to the synchronisation and coordiantion that occurred as a result. Unfortunatley as sooon as the BG rotated out it was white-anted ... mostly by the PA guys (and led by a nameless reservist pusser with rank that far outstripped his ability).

If everyone got over their stupid bloody capbadge issues and focused on the actual mission it is plain to see the there is no argument against having them work together. Doesn't mean they do each other's job ... just means they know what the hell is going on in the domain in which they are meant to be the SME.

I manage to be an IO guy/PA guy/PSYOPer and general ops planner all in one (and a pretty good looking one a that). Why the hell is it always so difficult for everyone else?
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Old 12-01-2008   #9
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I wasn't on MNF-I staff, but I had high visibility of - for lack of a better term - our "IO" in Iraq. I reject even the most guarded suggestion that we are "losing the information war" or any similar claim. The fact that many people hold that pessimistic view is a tribute either to
a) our good OPSEC
b) the crappy intelligence gathering and propaganda development of our adversaries
c) both

Mullah Atari sure was a nice guy to reign in his militia in 2007. Lucky us! Good thing that AQI pushed their luck with the Sunnis - we were getting antsy waiting around and doing nothing, waiting for something to change the situation. And, of course, praise Allah that the pan-Arab media's negative coverage of US operations in Iraq significantly moderated (even before Obama burst onto the scene) - that was probably their "turn the other cheek" reaction to our unilateral, overbearing ways.

When the history of this war is written, after current operations are declassified, the skill and cunning of our leaders in navigating the media, culture, and political realm of Iraq since early 2007 will be as impressive to behold as the the mismanagement of the first three years was mind-boggling.
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Old 12-01-2008   #10
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Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
II reject even the most guarded suggestion that we are "losing the information war" or any similar claim.
Schmedlap I think you're reading between the lines too much mate ... the last thing that an IO guy is ever going to say is "we're losing the info war." That line is solely reserved for operators who screw up royally and then lay blame on the info team for not fixing it when they cop a caning in the press .

What I was trying to say is getting everyone back in the one room and working together is a fantastic success (but I doubt that it will last long now that it has negative media coverage). I've seen it work and I've also seen it not work when FA assignments and sheep stations get in the way of commonsense.

As for 2007 ... my experience in that year is the other side of the NAG. Having said that I did sit through a pretty good brief from the MNC-I IO chief at that period a couple of months ago who reconfirmed all the lessons we learned in 04/05. I still find it amazing that we can continue kinetic ops, log, int etc every time we have a headquarters changeover but we always manage to start the IO game from scratch again ... there has not (to date anyway) been any continuity in the ID&I BOS in either theatre. That unfortunately leaves me very
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Old 12-01-2008   #11
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... the last thing that an IO guy is ever going to say is "we're losing the info war." That line is solely reserved for operators who screw up royally and then lay blame on the info team for not fixing it when they cop a caning in the press
I heard it from the operators even when things were going well because they were convinced that we weren't exploiting success adequately, when in fact we were doing more than they ever thought to ask and it was entirely transparent to them.
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Old 12-06-2008   #12
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Default Reforming Military IO

FOr What it's worth, I wrote a little bit about this same sore subject the other day here. Cheers.
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Old 12-06-2008   #13
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FOr What it's worth, I wrote a little bit about this same sore subject the other day here. Cheers.
twenty five cents a word.

Got any comment to add here about your elsewhere expressed thoughts? That would be nice. Then ads are free.

You could also go to this (LINK)and tack on to the end of the Thread to tell us a little about yourself and your background.
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Old 12-06-2008   #14
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Default Thank You Kenneth

Kenneth,

I am logged in and filled out my profile, can you access it now?

Bob
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Old 12-06-2008   #15
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Originally Posted by Bob W. View Post
Kenneth,

I am logged in and filled out my profile, can you access it now?

Bob
otherwise I'm flaborghasted that you called him Kenneth
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Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur
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Old 12-06-2008   #16
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otherwise I'm flaborghasted that you called him Kenneth
Hey, at least it wasn't "Kenny!"
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Old 12-06-2008   #17
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Default Yes, Roberta, I have viewed your profile. Thank you

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Kenneth,

I am logged in and filled out my profile, can you access it now?

Bob
for taking the time to provide that lengthy and very illuminating biographical sketch. Fascinating reading.

However, as you may have noticed, I suggested not that you fill out your Profile but that you might visit our "Tell us about you" thread and provide a brief outline. Also and more to the point, I said that adding some of your commentary rather than posting a link to your blog would be polite. Do as you will on the background info but don't expect much chatter if you merely try to post free ads.

As Ever,
Kenneth
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Old 12-06-2008   #18
Bob W.
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Default Sorry for the Sarcasm

All right, I think I filled out my info correctly, and please forgive my sarcasm; when I wrote that Kenneth crap last night I was half in the bag, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the end prohibition, so don't hold it against me.

Ken (not Kenneth), I posted some bio stuff where you requested, I think there are enough bonafides there now, no?

The point I tried to make over at my site the other day was what I saw a couple of people echoing in this thread: the various info disciplines need to synchronize their activities, at least when they are operating in a theater within a joint task force. Having an information cell (which I believe is what Nato Isaf was proposing and what the article was referring to) enables the PA to be synched with operations to maximize their effects and in a timely manner, rather than being a disparate action not linked into the rest of the info fight.

One other point I will make, this is more anecdotal from where I sit (especially now in five-sided happy land): Whenever people, even military types in the building, see the word PSYOP on some type of order, they freak out. If something has to get staffed with other agencies, it's even worse. PSYOP at this point has a terrible connotation, I think people would be more disposed to approving stuff that had "psychic warfare" written on it than PSYOP! I think it's a worthwhile idea at this point to scrap the term PSYOP than to rehabilitate the word. I also know that there are PSYOP guys out there that will kill to keep the term alive for some reason, too.

For my part, I would rather see an EXORD that attaches a MIST to a Task Force conducting humanitarian relief somewhere sail through the system, rather than have it stuck in limbo due to the handwringing, or worse yet, watch the MIST get pulled from the task force because the word "PSYOP" was there. It happens, I kid you not.

Thanks for giving me a second chance, I promise you my rehabilitation is complete, I am sober and on my 6th step, and I will remain humble throughout the rest of my tour on the council.
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Old 12-07-2008   #19
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Default I think that's against the rules...

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...I promise you my rehabilitation is complete, I am sober and on my 6th step, and I will remain humble throughout the rest of my tour on the council.
Both the sober and the humble...

At least I sure hope it is or I'm in truh-bulll.

In any event and seriously -- welcome aboard.

Read your article and agree. Good to have you and be careful on 395. Do not be careful in the building, rattle cages...
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Old 01-23-2009   #20
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Interesting thread. Reed, I think most of the criticisms of the article were accurate - Black PSYOP is not deceptive information, but deception of source. Military Deception is part of our toolkit, but from what I understand that's a battlefield thing (my insurgent brothers, I've heard those helicopters have been flying all night, we better keep our heads down).

I am personally a bit skeptical with the merging of IO and PSYOP, and its closer relationship with PA. But I've been biased by my instructors as SWCS. the PSYOP community, from what I've been told, rejected an offer to put IO under PSYOP, so PSYOP wound up being put under IO. I've heard rumor that this is going to change soon.

We're taught that the only limit PSYOP has is our creativity, so I can sympathize when PSYOPers feel like there's so much more that can be done.
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