Talking about Strategic Influence and Stuff

Come for the panel, stay for the carpet bombing of Smurfs

Since mid-2022, my primary outlet has been The site will continue to exist, and I will occasionally repost articles from my substack here. However, these reposts, like the one you are about to read, will be neither timely nor include all of my substack work. In other words, if you want to follow my writing, I suggest you subscribe to my substack where this post first appeared on 24 April 2023. The substack version of this article includes substantial footnotes that were not copied to the version below.  

Back on 6 December 2022, Dr. Isaiah “Ike” Wilson III, President of the Joint Special Operations University, moderated a panel with Tom Evans, Joint Staff J39 of the Joint Information Warfare Center, and me for an hour-long discussion starting with the question what is “strategic influence” and some of the problems we have in understanding, supporting, and conducting this stuff

This was the first panel of an event called “Strategic Influence and Communication Paradigms in a Compound Security Environment,” which was part of a series called JSOU Future of SOF (Special Operating Forces) Forum. 

Ike delivered a scene-setting keynote before our panel, which I recommend watching (see it here). Though this was a two-day conference, I only watched Ike’s opening and participated in my panel before returning to my stuff, so don’t ask me about anything else about the conference. 

While I intended to not speak about, let alone mention, the Smith-Mundt Act, it is almost natural in this forum that a question from the audience asked me to comment on it. On that note, see my declaration from a month ago: No, the Smith-Mundt Act doesn’t apply to the Defense Department. I also spoke on how the DIME construct is defective while a 106-year-old similar and forgotten model based on actual elements of national power of Combat, Economics, Political, and Psychologic elements (CEPP) is superior. We delved into issues of risk aversion, ceding the initiative, and being reactive, and watched Smurfs get carpet bombed for fun and a lesson in communications and influence. 

I think the conversation was interesting. Hopefully, you will as well. Share your comments, provocations, disagreements, etc. by replying to this email, posting a comment, emailing me, etc.