Matt Armstrong's blog on public diplomacy, international journalism, and the struggle against propaganda

Understanding Influence Operations: A Gastronomic Approach

By Robert Schoenhaus

Human influence is the linchpin that binds military activities together and relates those activities to the efforts of other governmental and non-governmental agencies. People, not infrastructure or equipment, present problems in any given country and people will inevitably solve them. Recognizing this truism, our challenge is to accept and understand the need for us to influence the lives of others, and to develop some level of expertise and collaboration in doing so.

Human influence is complex, but we need a simple construct to frame a discussion about it. I believe that people may be influenced to change an attitude or behavior through a combination information, persuasion and both general and specific shaping activities. In order to get someone to change an existing attitude or behavior, or to adopt a new one, we have to inform them about what we would like them to do. The clearer the information, and the more familiar the manner in which it is communicated, the more likely it is to be understood. There are some instances, where people are predisposed to believe or act, in which providing missing information alone can have that effect. In most cases, however, additional effort is needed.

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A notional model for evaluating public diplomacy

image The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy met last week to discuss its biennial report to appraise U.S. Government activities intended to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics. In 2008, the Commission come out with a report on the human resource aspect of public diplomacy. This time, the Commission outsourced its commitment to the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin. The project’s purpose was to review current public diplomacy measurement methods, assess gaps in the various measurement methods, and develop a comprehensive measurement framework. The result was the Public Diplomacy Model for the Assessment of Performance (PD-MAP).

Links to the report and presentation are at the end of this article.

The effort by the LBJ School took the form of a two-semester policy research project involving 15 graduate students and one professor. The team reviewed current programs, surveyed public diplomacy professionals and academics, convened a focus group, and interviewed several expert speakers.

The result was a report and a “notional model for measuring public diplomacy efforts.” The LBJ School describes PD-MAP as a “flexible framework that allows an evaluator to quantify the results of public diplomacy programs and evaluate their success in meeting” what the team identified as the “three strategic goals or outcomes of all public diplomacy programs”:

  1. Increasing understanding of US policy and culture
  2. Increasing favorable opinion towards the US
  3. Increasing the US’s influence in the world

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Upcoming meeting of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy

From the Federal Register:

The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy will hold a public meeting on September 28, 2010, in the conference room of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, located at 1850 K Street NW., Fifth Floor, Washington, DC 20006. The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. The Commissioners will discuss the findings of a joint research project of the Commission and the University of Texas at Austin on measurement of public diplomacy efforts. …

The public may attend this meeting as seating capacity allows. To attend this meeting and for further information, please contact Carl Chan at (202) 632-2823; E-mail: acpdpublicmeeting@state.gov. Any member of the public requesting reasonable accommodation at this meeting should contact Mr. Chan prior to September 23. Requests received after that date will be considered, but might not be possible to fulfill.

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Strategic Communication & Influence Operations: Do We Really Get It?

imageStrategic Communication & Influence Operations: Do We Really Get It? by Dr Lee Rowland  & Cdr Steve Tatham, RN. published at Small Wars Journal.

The last 2-3 years have seen an explosion in interest in the application of influence as a tool for achieving military objectives. This is not new, the military have always sought to exert influence – albeit at times unwittingly. However, two significant events have brought the issue to further prominence – the publication of JDP3-40 and the deployment of 52 Brigade to Helmand Province in 2007/8. This article does not intend to debate either in any detail – a quick search of inter and intra nets will provide plenty of information for the curious reader – but there are two issues worthy of slightly more discussion.

The first concerns 52 Brigade’s deployment. When Brigadier Andrew Mackay led 52 Brigade to Helmand Province2 he did so having examined previous kinetic based deployments and concluded that these, for various reasons, had not achieved the effects that he envisaged for his mission. For him the consent of the population was utterly key and would not, nor could it, be achieved by hard power alone or even with hard power primacy; as he developed his operational design he felt frustrated that existing doctrine did not adequately prepare him to operate within the influence arena. The second is that Andrew Mackay subsequently became one of the driving forces behind JDP3-40 and in particular the forceful articulation of the ‘centrality’ of influence. However, the ‘how to do it’ guidance still lags behind the emphasis on and enthusiasm for, its use. …

This paper seeks to provide greater clarity in two key areas – Target Audience Analysis (TAA) and Measurements of Effectiveness (MOE). …

Influence has become the ‘must have’ accessory for the battlefield. Good. But think at how difficult it is to influence, say, your teenage kids, into a particular course of action. You know them. They have grown up in your house. You know the groups they belong to, their interests, their likes and dislikes. Yet as every parent knows influencing a 16 year old into a particular course of action can be difficult. Now apply this thinking to an Afghan whom you do not know, who has grown up in a completely different culture with different values and beliefs anchored in a wholly different world from our own. You want to influence them? Wow! This is hard stuff to do and whilst the UK’s capability and understanding has leapt forward in the last couple of years there is still much work to do – particularly in the reinforcement of TAA and understanding MOE. Above all else doctrine needs to manage expectations.

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