On October 22, 2015, I had the privilege to testify before the Emerging Threats and Capabilities (ETC) subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. The hearin, Countering Adversarial Propaganda: Charting an Effective Course in the Contested Information Environment, was chaired by Rep. Joe Wilson.
Testimony was given by Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Lumpkin, Major General Christopher Haas, Brigadier General Charles Moore, and me as a BBG Governor. My role was largely informational to share another ‘tool in the toolbox’ as HASC is not an oversight committee for the BBG. Biographies and submitted written testimony may be found here and the video of the event may be found below.
My testimony was the first time in over four years, since April 2011, that a sitting Governor appeared before any Congressional committee. The interest from HASC in BBG is not sudden. The committee, it should be noted, is a friend of public diplomacy and international communication. Several years ago, it introduced and championed the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act to remove the taint of “propaganda” from U.S. public diplomacy and the BBG’s journalism.
Below is an excerpt from my oral testimony that emphasized the unique, and often unappreciated, role the BBG’s networks play in U.S. foreign policy and national security.
What was not said
During the hearing, during an exchange with Congressman Franks, Assistant Secretary Lumpkin presented a series of profiles as a taxonomy. My intervention should have clearly stated that some of BBG’s target audiences that exist outside that taxonomy. Members of these audiences may enter that taxonomy but they will certainly have an impact around the profiles classified, from shaping inoculation, influencing social acceptance & shunning of concepts and recruiters, to potentially affecting financial and logistical support structures.
There is a systemic problem in the U.S., and in other countries, that we look to the military solve our problems. The reasons for this are numerous — from budgets to quantity of personnel to bureaucratic posture and culture — but it does not change the fact that we continue to look at tactical tools to solve strategic issues.
Watch the hearing below.
This post has been updated.