Talking about talking in Iraq, Nineveh specifically

On the blogger roundtable last week, I’ll be brief and generally punt to Grim at Blackfive to talk about the Blogger Roundtable Call last Friday with Colonel Stephen (“ste-FAHN” to you and me) Twitty. COL Twitty is commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav, stationed in Ninewah province, the largest in Iraq. The full transcript is here for your reading pleasure, but a searchable version is here (I’ve asked the PAO to make the bloggers archive version searchable as well).

I will paste the full answer COL Twitty gave to my question, also clipped below, because his response is a good one. Bilateral communication, hearing and talking, along with facilitating Iraqi communications to Iraqis is probably attacks in the province have dropped substantially.

Question: …we’re not winning if nobody knows. I’m speaking more regionally in Iraq and the Middle East. You don’t really have an issue of foreign fighters coming in, so it doesn’t sound like you have to counter external support. But how are you dealing with — how are you managing information operations to get the word out? And do you have any examples of proactive or preemptive IO?

COL. TWITTY: Okay, now I have you. I understand what you’re saying. I’ve spent a lot of times with — a lot of time with several elements here in the province. The first one I’ve spent a lot of time with are the sheikhs. I spend an awful lot of time with them.

And one of the things that was quickly revealing to me when I got here, that there are a lot of sheikhs in this province because it is the largest province in Iraq. Therefore, we must get the sheikhs involved not only in the security process — and I will — I can talk more about that in a few minutes, but we also got to get them involved in our own IO campaign. And I meet with the sheikhs intensively to ensure they hear the good, the bad and the ugly, and that we get the word out of the things that we’re doing project-wise, that we get the word out of who we’re fighting in terms of whether it’s al Qaeda or Ansar al-Sunna and so forth. So we have a myriad of things that we talk to sheikhs about.

…The second is, I meet with the provincial leaders. All the mayors, all the police chiefs, all the brigade commanders and the division commanders, I meet with. That meeting is conducted once a month with the mayors, weekly with the Iraqi army and police chiefs. We use them as a conduit to get the word out as well.

The third I meet with, I routinely go out throughout this province. In Mosul, any city, you name it, I’ve been in. We have an aggressive IO campaign in these cities that we go to in order to get the word out. And it’s not only against the enemy, it is here are the projects that we’re doing for you. Here are when we think provincial elections will be.

The other thing that we’ve done here is we’re paying for the satellite TVs up here so that the Iraqi government here, the provincial government, the police chiefs, the Iraqi commanders can get their word out, because it’s important that not only we do good information operations, that the government conducts good information operations and the leadership of this province.

There were, of course, other questions and other answers that you should at least glance at raised by the six (seven?) other bloggers… but I am focusing on robots right now and time is slipping away as the deadline approaches…

I’m looking forward to the next roundtable I’ll attend (I’m skipping two intervening rt’s): Mr. Philip Reeker, Counselor for Public Affairs, Dept. of State, Baghdad, to discuss the role of PRTs. If you have questions you want asked, drop them in the comments below or send them directly via email to me.

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