• Book Reviews,  Psychological Struggle

    Life from inside the storytelling machine: an author offers caveats on influence tools

    By Dr. Amy Zalman The inside cover promise to "unveil the workings of a ‘storytelling machine’ more effective and insidious as a means of oppression than anything dreamed up by Orwell," was incentive enough for me to pick up and start reading the recent English translation of French writer Christian Salmon’s Storytelling: Bewitching the Modern Mind.  Even more compelling for this reader: the ‘storytelling machine’ in question is one that I have been working in for the last  five years, as a proponent of the use of narrative as a tool of influence in U.S. strategic communication. 

  • Events,  Media,  Now Media,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Affairs,  Public Diplomacy,  Social Media

    Event: Influence and Propaganda Conference

    The Information Operations Institute, in partnership with the MountainRunner Institute, invites you to attend the Influence and Fighting Propaganda Conference. Identifying and countering propaganda and misinformation through dissemination that avoids the label of propaganda will be the key themes of the event. Discussions will explore who, how and why can people or groups be influenced, and difference between engagement from the lowest to the highest levels of leadership. Russ Rochte, retired US Army Colonel and now faculty member at the National Defense Intelligence College, and I will co-moderate a panel on the media exploring the tension between “Media as an instrument of War” and the journalist’s traditional obligations to the…

  • BBG,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    The BBG’s Honeymoon: All Work and No Play

    The BBG’s Honeymoon: All Work and No Play by Matt Armstrong, 9 September 2010, in Layalina’s Perspectives column. MountainRunner bog post on the article is here. There is a new governor in town, eight of them in fact. For the first time in six years, all of the top jobs at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) are filled. Half of the seats sat empty for up to four years, including the chairmanship for the past two years. This fresh beginning provides some breathing room for the BBG, which manages all U.S. government, non-military international broadcasting. The Board is taking this honeymoon seriously: it has already held two meetings and…

  • Defense Department,  Psychological Struggle

    Getting a handle on Strategic Communication

    I have been in many discussions over the past few weeks concerning DoD’s efforts at “Strategic Communication.” In one discussion I was asked, “just what is ‘strategic communication’ and why can’t DoD get a handle on it?” A fair question and one I’ve heard often. I thought it time to put this down in print. “Strategic Communication” is the deliberate application of information and boils down to: Who do I need to know What, Why do I need them to know it, When do I need them to know it, Where are they, and How do I reach them. A relatively simple task that scales with the complexity of the…

  • Cultural Diplomacy,  Psychological Struggle

    Conflict Resolution and Prevention: The Role for Culture Relations

    Earlier this year, the British Council co-hosted an event in Brussels with Security Defence Agenda and NATO to discuss how “cultural” projects facilitate dialogue between groups, play a part in preventing conflict, healing post-conflict wounds, and potentially avoid conflicts based on misunderstand or mistrust. The video below are the highlights from this conference that I attended. It includes a post-event interview with British Council Chief Executive Martin Davidson. I strongly recommend it to those interested in creating and supporting culture-based engagement pathways that to some may be “alternative” but are ultimately fundamental. One cannot hope to successfully engage in a struggle of minds and wills if one does not understand…

  • Psychological Struggle

    Strategic Communication & Influence Operations: Do We Really Get It?

    Strategic Communication & Influence Operations: Do We Really Get It? by Dr Lee Rowland  & Cdr Steve Tatham, RN. published at Small Wars Journal. The last 2-3 years have seen an explosion in interest in the application of influence as a tool for achieving military objectives. This is not new, the military have always sought to exert influence – albeit at times unwittingly. However, two significant events have brought the issue to further prominence – the publication of JDP3-40 and the deployment of 52 Brigade to Helmand Province in 2007/8. This article does not intend to debate either in any detail – a quick search of inter and intra nets…

  • China,  Psychological Struggle

    Treble Spyglass, Treble Spear?: China’s Three Warfares

    “For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” -Sun Tzu Timothy Walton has an interesting paper entitled “Treble Spyglass, Treble Spear?: China’s Three Warfares” (385kb PDF) in the Winter issue of Defense Concepts, a journal put out by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies.  The paper essentially describes the Chinese as adjusting military strategy to incorporate all of the elements of power. In the U.S., this is called DIME, for Diplomacy, Information, Military, and Economic (or the expanded version that never gained the same traction: DIMELIF, DIME + Finance, Intelligence, Law…

  • Africa,  Now Media,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt,  Social Media

    Al-Shabaab receiving support from U.S. citizens and others in the U.S.

    In a press conference today, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Justice Department unsealed four separate indictments charging 14 individuals in Minnesota, California, and Alabama with terrorism violations, including providing money, personnel, and services to the terrorist group Al-Shabaab. An indictment in Minnesota charged 10 men for leaving the U.S. to join al-Shabaab, an organization with ties to al-Qaeda, as foreign fighters. In Minnesota alone, 19 have been charged with material support of al-Shabaab. Two women, naturalized U.S. citizens and residents of Minnesota, were charged with raising money to support al-Shabaab through door-to-door solicitations and teleconferences in the Somali communities in Minneapolis, Rochester, and elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada.…

  • Defense Department,  Psychological Struggle

    Psychological Operations by another name are sweeter

    By Christopher Paul Originally posted at Small War Journal. Reposted here by permission of SWJ and Chris Paul. The Department of Defense has decided to change the name of military psychological operations (PSYOP) and this is a good thing.  I make this assertion despite concerns about the name change raised by others in this space (See The Branch Formerly Known as PSYOP and PSYOP: On a Complete Change in Organization, Practice, and Doctrine).  Although most psychological operations are no more than messages and broadcasts aimed at changing the opinions, attitudes, or behavior of foreign citizens, officials or troops, they have come to have a sinister connotation in the minds of…

  • Defense Department,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy,  State Department

    Best Thing for State Department Since General Marshall

    By Amb. Brian Carlson "The Administration’s intention to put General James Mattis in charge of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is the best thing to happen to the State Department since General George C. Marshall showed up in Foggy Bottom to become Secretary of State. Mattis is one of the "outliers" — one of the few top commanders who understand that America’s enemies will not be defeated in a pitched battle on a field, but rather through the slow change of hearts and minds around dinner tables and tribal councils in countries in conflict. General Mattis used to lead the "Pinnacle" seminars at Joint Forces Command in Norfolk. Pinnacle is…