• ICT,  Media,  Now Media,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy

    North Koreans Quietly Open to International Broadcasts

    By Alan Heil (This post originally appeared at The Public Diplomacy Council.) For well more than a decade, Korea experts who specialize in international media have been examining the impact of foreign broadcasts and DVDs on users in North Korea. They have done so through a combination of in-country surveys and debriefings of defectors from North Korea, refugees and travelers abroad. In annual reports, Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders invariably have ranked that country as having the “least free” media in the world. Yet the curtain of near total silence appears to be opening as never before in North Korea.

  • Book Reviews,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy

    Behavioral Economics Go to War: reviewing Behavioural Conflict, Why Understanding People and their Motivations Will Prove Decisive in Future Conflict

    By Amy Zalman Review of Behavioural Conflict, Why Understanding People and their Motivations Will Prove Decisive in Future Conflict, by Andrew Mackey and Steve Tatham I cannot think of any books about warfare’s future that come across as hard-hitting, full of actionable pragmatism, and deeply humane all at the same time.  But Behavioral Conflict: Why Understanding People and their Motivations will Prove Decisive in Future Conflict is all three.  The authors, both career members of the British military, Major General Andres Mackey (Ret) and Royal Navy Commander Steve Tatham (who I count as a friend, having met him in Ankara a few years ago), make their case by drawing on a combination…

  • Defense Department,  Psychological Struggle

    The Second Battle of Hastings

    By Cliff W. Gilmore Michael Hastings’ most recent attempt to unseat a U.S. general alleges members of the military illegally used Information Operations (IO) and Psychological Operations (PSYOP) activities to shape the perceptions of elected U.S. officials and senior military leaders. Many respondents quickly addressed a need to clarify lines between various communication activities including Information Operations, Psychological Operations (recently re-named Military Information Support Operations or MISO), Public Affairs (PA) and Strategic Communication (SC). Amidst the resulting smoke and fury both Hastings and his detractors are overlooking a greater underlying problem: Many in the military continue to cling with parochial vigor to self-imposed labels – and the anachronistic paradigms they…

  • In the News,  Psychological Struggle

    Using Information to Beat Gadhafi

    This morning, I was on the radio show The Takeaway, a co-production of WNYC Radio and Public Radio International, to discuss non-military options for the U.S. in Libya. My comments focused on the empowerment of Libyans by enabling the acquisition and dissemination of information. In other words, freedom to get and give information creates not only knowledge of the environment, it lays the foundation for an open society. The actions of the Libyans must be by and of the Libyans. The only substantial role here, at this early phase of the establishment of a new state, for the United States (or the West in general), is one of facilitator. The…

  • Defense Department,  Psychological Struggle

    Holmes, Caldwell, Psy-Ops and the Smith-Mundt Act

    The recent Rolling Stone article by Michael Hastings has brought to the surface a debate over the difference between “inform,” “influence” and the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948. In his article “”Another Runaway General: Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators,” Hastings relies heavily – if not entirely – on the statements by Lieutenant Colonel Michael Holmes concerned over his orders while at the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan. As I noted in my recent article “Mind Games: Why Rolling Stone’s article on the military’s domestic psy-ops scandal gets it so wrong” (No, I did not come up with either the title or subtitle), what “Another Runaway General” highlights is the deficit…

  • In the News,  Psychological Struggle,  Smith-Mundt

    US Army may have used PSYOP against senators. How is that different from PR?

    “US Army may have used PSYOP against senators. How is that different from PR?” Anna Mulrine, writing at the Christian Science Monitor, quoted Matt Armstrong: While the prospect of an officer trained to manipulate psyches using those skills on elected members of Congress is galling to some within the military, others wonder whether it was an innocent mistake or even all that wrong. Context is key, says Matt Armstrong, a specialist on military strategic communications with the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California. Rolling Stone claims that Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who is in charge of training Afghan troops, asked his team of PSYOP officers to…