Required Reading: two posts on Small Wars Journal

swjblog Quickly becoming the site to find thought leaders in modern conflict, the Small Wars Journal has two new posts that should be required reads for anyone interested in understanding modern conflict, and more importantly, the value of information in a world of blurred lines between civilian and military in friend and foe alike.

From Malcolm Nance, an expert with a very long resume and author, comes a post on aggregating the enemy for US domestic political purposes. Malcolm goes a different direction than Clark Hoyt. Instead, he focuses on details of who is doing what and why and explains why this aggregation will prevent success.

Defeating, disarming or buying out key insurgent groups could yield greater results and a lessening of combat losses through targeted military operations, negotiation, reconstruction, civil affairs projects and cash.  From down here at the deck plates level this seems like common sense but it has yet to filter up to the policy makers.

If General Petraeus and his excellent counterinsurgency advisor David Kilcullen are to succeed then the hard reality of enunciating to the American public requires that the terms we use to label the opposition have to be changed.  If this is part of an aggressive information operation, as some have suggested, to turn the Iraqi people against the Iraqi Insurgents by giving them all a bad name (AQI), then it’s a desperate gambit as most Sunnis know who the real insurgents are in their neighborhood.  This rhetoric has already had a negative operational effect by making our own soldiers believe that all of the Sunni insurgents and community supporters are Al Qaeda.  This may have led to several instances of battlefield murder, torture and abuses of prisoners. 

The other post is from John Sullivan, a lieutenant in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department, a member of the Los Angeles Terror Early Warning Group, and co-editor of Countering Terrorism and WMD: Creating a Global Counter-Terrorism Network. Implicit in his argument is all information is global and one can easily take away from his argument the antiquated “anti-Goebbels” provisions of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 must be removed, as well the need for an active and functional diplomacy with publics, foreign and domestic, against modern subversion.  

Countering the reach of the global jihad within networked diasporas is a global security priority. Police and intelligence services worldwide—especially in “Global Cities” with international political and economic importance and transnational connections—must develop relationships with diaspora communities. These efforts must build upon community policing and develop the cultural understanding and community trust required to recognize the emergence of extremist cells, radicalization, efforts to recruit terrorists, and efforts to exploit criminal enterprises or gangs to further terrorist activities. These efforts need to be linked to develop the intelligence needed to combat a global networked threat. This requires more than “information-sharing” and co-operation, it requires a multi-lateral framework for the “co-production” of intelligence so police and intelligence services can recognize global interactions with local impact and local activity with global reach.

The US still does not holistically approach the struggle for minds and wills, instead conducting isolated campaigns that hopes to “win” support like a model walking on a catwalk. Counterinsurgency and counterterror thought leaders understand the need for functional information networks that both inoculates and informs.

When will the supposed thought leaders in American public diplomacy drink the same punch? More on this in a later post, my editor probably wants me to finish my chapter on the subject, but read my recent comments (and here, here, and here) on the leadership of public diplomacy. (As an aside, I had an excellent conversation with the new DOD Office to Support Public Diplomacy. Two comments. One, I find it slightly ironic that OSPD is led by someone who cuts his teeth on extremist websites when Hughes isn’t sure how many bloggers she has. And two, OSPD gets it. That’s it for now.)

Question: Will there be any representatives from public diplomacy at the New America Foundation’s discussion on the report from RFE/RL, itself a poster organization for public diplomacy, on Iraqi Insurgent media?