IISS on complex irregular warfare: the West is Failing

Appropriately, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) released their 2007 Military Balance:

The IISS in the 2007 Military Balance again analyses the challenges of complex irregular warfare, this time assessing the psychological component. Our judgement is that military planning procedures need to incorporate so called ‘influence activities’ as an integral part of pre-deployment preparation for complex warfare missions. Without this deeper perception of the mission environment, operations will lack the necessary ingredient for long-term success.

From Reuters:

“Insurgents and jihadists have proved adept at conducting successful information campaigns that reach a global audience and foment violence elsewhere,” the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said.

“But Western militaries have shown insufficient capability in their own attempts to carry out information and psychological operations, its annual report, “The Military Balance,” said.

The IISS said it was not enough for Western armies to distribute leaflets telling the local population “we are here to help” or to put out the message that “life is getting better.”

“In reality, life may not be getting better and in the eyes of the target audience the military presence could be contributing to the problem,” it said….

“The psychological effect at home is one of military success and may generate political support. In the theater of operations the opposite may be true, with every publicly announced kill delivering more willing recruits to the cause.”…

The IISS said more attention needed to be paid to finding out what really mattered to the local population, and using cultural and psychological understanding to undermine support for insurgent movements.

“Units being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are not being provided with the training to enable them to have a real, positive psychological impact on the population in their area of operations,” it said.

The IISS particularly criticized a “lack of coherence” among the NATO countries operating in Afghanistan on how to wage information and psychological (PSYOPS) operations.

Moving away from milspeak, what’s missing are the civilian elements of public diplomacy.