• 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…

  • 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…

  • Counterinsurgency,  Psychological Struggle,  State Building

    Communicating Their Own Story: Progress in the Afghan National Security Force

    By Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell, IV “The printing press is the greatest weapon in the armory of the modern commander.” – T.E. Lawrence Lawrence’s words continue to ring true. In conflicts from the First World War to Korea; from Vietnam to the Gulf War, the nation that wins the information battle tends to win the larger war. Today, America and her partners are engaged in a fight that is every bit as important as its earlier wars: ensuring that Afghanistan is secure, independent, and free of the forces that launched attacks on the people of the world on September 11, 2001. It is a contest that requires painful sacrifices…

  • Cultural Diplomacy,  Defense Department,  Events

    Interested in the culture and history of Afghanistan from 1842 to the present day?

    Too little is known in the US about the history of Afghanistan. History is something Americans tend to ignore, often to our detriment. We forget our history and ignore the history of others. Precedence is, in the American mind, reserved only for the law and not to the shaping perceptions or forming public opinion. This is a defect in our approach to global affairs. Such is the case with Afghanistan, where we failed to grasp (and ignored sage advice on) the impact of history on modern events. Enter The Great Game: Afghanistan, an epic 3-part play (nine hours total) from the UK’s Tricycle Theatre, which explores the “culture and history…

  • Defense Department,  Psychological Struggle

    Military Information Support Operations

    On June 21, 2010, an announcement was made that the military intends to rename Psychological Operations, or PSYOP, to Military Information Support to Operations. The decision, made a few days earlier by Admiral Eric Olson, Commander, Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and Army Chief of Staff General George Casey, was propagated through a memo dated June 23, 2010. The name change is “not a negative or punitive action” but rather the result of the success of the Psychological Operations Regiment, as the memo states. The new name builds on the flexible deployment of Military Information Support Teams, or MIST, in support of a variety of missions, including direct support to State…

  • Cultural Diplomacy,  Other,  Psychological Struggle

    USA Wins! and other news

    USA just won its group in the World Cup! Despite more bad referring! USA advances to the next round to play a team to be determined later this morning. Matt Ygelsias unbelievably jokes this is a result of the “failure of Obama public diplomacy” soon before Twitter’s fail whale appears. Right, and England advances from Group C as well. In other news: General McChrystal and his staff ironically fail to grasp true and full nature of the information war they are in as they roll their stones into new careers (excluding the oft-repeated highlights, the Rolling Stone article isn’t bad). Psychological Operations gets a necessary name change to Military Information…

  • Defense Department,  Psychological Struggle

    #1 Afghan People, #2 Afghan National Security Force

    The tactical guys in the field understand the significance of influence. From Command Sergeant Major Michael T. Hall at NATO ISAF HQ: [The words on this cardboard] encapsulates everything we’re trying to achieve in Afghanistan at the strategic, operational and tactical level on a single piece of cardboard that is understood and practiced at every level in Fox Company. We have all have got to take the mental leap and realize that the best way to protect ourselves and the population is thru the Afghan people and the ANSF. Everywhere we build trust, there are examples of this. The ANSF are, our relief, treat them that way, help develop them…

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

    The Real Psychological Operation for Afghanistan

    This article is cross-posted at the George C. Marshall Foundation. Also at AOC’s IO Blog. On December 1, 2009, President Obama announced his Afghanistan strategy and what immediately followed was an expected and unoriginal cacophony of sound bites based on selective memories of the past and shallow and ignorant visions of the present and future. The decline in the public’s support for the struggle is surely a delight for Al Qaeda and the Taliban who, unlike our pundits and some in Congress, understand this is foremost a psychological struggle for the minds of people in “Af-Pak” and around the world to affect their will to act.