Event: Influence and Fighting Propaganda!

The IO Institute, in partnership with the MountainRunner Institute, presents a conference on Influence & Fighting Propaganda on October 13-14 at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona, NY.

The Information Operations Institute of the Association of Old Crows cordially invites you to attend a conference focusing on influence and propaganda.  Influence – what are influence factors, who can be influenced, how and why can people or groups be influenced, what are different approaches to influence and how is influence accomplished and how is it different at the personal level all the way to the national level?   Propaganda – what it is, enjoy a presentation of real examples of famous propaganda by infamous propagandists, discuss how we counter it, is it still going on today, how do we fight misinformation and how do we disseminate a meaningful message avoiding the label of propaganda?

On October 13 and 14, at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona, NY. Check below for the agenda. Online registration will be available soon.

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The 2009 Smith-Mundt Symposium: a Discourse on America’s Discourse

2009 Smith-Mundt Symposium 2009 Smith-Mundt Symposium

The 2009 Smith-Mundt Symposium brought together public diplomacy and strategic communication practitioners from the State Department, the Defense Department, the Agency for International Development, and other governmental and non-governmental groups, including academia, media, and Congress for a first of its kind discussion. The goal to have a frank and open discussion on the foundation and structure America’s global engagement was achieved. Held on January 13, 2009, just one week before the Obama Administration came into office and just short of the Smith-Mundt Act’s sixty‐first anniversary, this one‐day event fueled an emerging discourse inside and outside of Government on the purpose and structure of public diplomacy. The symposium was convened and chaired by Matt Armstrong. Continue reading “The 2009 Smith-Mundt Symposium: a Discourse on America’s Discourse

Best Thing for State Department Since General Marshall

By Amb. Brian Carlson

Click photo for screen-resolution image"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 the week-long, intensive leadership grooming for two- and three-star officers who are thought most likely to rise to the very top in the near future. Indeed, General Stan McChrystal was a participant in one of the Pinnacle courses where I was the State Department representative. The free-flowing and candid discussions between these senior, achievement-oriented military officers and a select group of current and former senior Administration national security officials is designed to get the participants thinking about all the levers of national power that may one day be in their hands. Pinnacle is the kind of rigorous intellectual preparation that you can only dream of State giving to its senior officers and future ambassadors, be they career or political appointees.

Continue reading “Best Thing for State Department Since General Marshall

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 Department posts described, in part, as public information support to diplomacy (see this previous post on a State Department Inspector General report that mentions MIST). The name change will, the memo concludes, help advance the mission of “Persuade-Change-Influence” in “operations of every type, anywhere, anytime.”

While the new name invites the obvious jokes – most of which were already tiresome the week of the announcement – this is a positive shift that creates distance from the “five dollar, five syllable” word that General Dwight Eisenhower, as a candidate for President, told us to stop fearing. We, as Americans, never did drop that fear and as a result believe that any activity from the big, bad scary PSYOP is an exercise in mind control. The reality PSYOP, and now MISO, brings analytics and methodologies necessary to engage today’s global dynamic and fluid environments.

The substance of this change is yet to be seen. Hopefully, this shift will help update the tactics, techniques, and procedures of the public affairs officer to be more proactive and engaging across mediums. This shift must also address PSYOP/MISO’s relationship to military deception, which PSYOP is too often and incorrectly synonymous with.

Real change will come only if the PSYOP/MISO force is properly trained, equipped, supported, and integrated. Unfortunately, it is not and hopefully this change will facilitate both the internal (within the Defense Department) and external (across the agencies and the Congress) awareness of the importance of information to influence relevant audiences and participants, increasingly regardless of geography or language. This name change is potentially a significant first step at rebranding through substance and not simply a squandered opportunity.

See also:

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 (or possibly Military Information Support… but not Military Information Support Operations as I tweeted on Monday). Perhaps now we can have the necessary shift in Public Affairs to take on some of the proactive and preactive tactics, techniques, and procedures of Military Information Support (MIS) / PSYOP that are required in today’s environment.  
  • And Ann Stock is confirmed as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs while the nominees for the Broadcasting Board of Governors are not.

Posting will remain sporadic as I am still in Hawaii. Next week I’ll be at the European IO Conference presenting on Now Media with attention on Wikileaks. The following week I’ll be in DC to conduct a seminar on Now Media with presentations from Duncan MacInnes, acting Coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs (just announced: 2010 Democracy Video Challenge winners), Adam Pearson, and others.

Now Media: Engagement based on Information not Platforms

mri_sm_300

On July 6, 2010, the MountainRunner Institute, a not-for-profit non-partisan think tank, with the support of InterMedia, presents a one-day training event to prepare you and your organization for today’s cyber and non-cyber challenges. Now Media: Engagement Based on Information not Platforms will help you gain a better understanding of the capabilities, capacities, and authorities necessary to be effective in today’s global informational and physical environment. Registration and more information may be found here.

Topics include:

  • The Convergence of “old media” and “new media” into Now Media;
  • Mobilizing and even creating “diasporas” that facilitate engagement pathways and challenge traditional views of nationalism;
  • Moving from “target audiences” to “relevant participants”;
  • Adversarial use of online media;
  • Frank discussions on the organizational, doctrinal, and legal challenges (real and imagined) facing the US today.

Date: July 6, 2010 
Time: 8:30a – 5p (light breakfast at 8a, lunch and refreshments will be provided) 
Location: National Press Club in the McClendon Room 
Cost: $300 before June 27, $400 June 28 and after; group discounts are available for 3 or more; credit cards are accepted.

Speakers:

  • Matt Armstrong, President, MountainRunner Institute; publisher of the blog MountainRunner.us
  • Adam Pearson, White Canvas Group
  • Duncan MacInnes, Acting Coordinator, Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State
  • A representative from InterMedia;

Attending the second half of the event are four Indonesian bloggers, including the "father of Indonesian blogging", that are in the United States under the auspices of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

Questions should be directed to Matt Armstrong at blog@mountainrunner.us.

Register today.

9th Annual Information Operations Europe Conference

imageThe 9th Annual Information Operations Europe takes place 29-30 June 2010 at The Bloomsbury Hotel in London. The conference will provide information operations case studies from Afghanistan, future plans from the UK and an examination of New and Social Media from the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, the US Defense Department, NATO, and Canadian Forces, and others.

Day One – 29 June – starts with three keynotes from the UK MoD followed by 40 minute presentations by Sarah Nagelmann and Matt Armstrong. The UK MoD presentations look at the purposes, capabilities, and challenges of strategic-level information and influence operations. Sarah will discuss the new media strategy for NATO SHAPE and EUCOM. Matt will discuss the modern Now Media environment, with attention to Wikileaks, an interesting non-state global influencer.

Other presenters on Day One include Matt Bigge (“Technology Based. Human Enabled: The Future Of Cultural Information Engagement”), George Stein (“The Influence And Intelligence Opportunities Of Virtual Worlds”), Ed O’Connell (“Informal Network Analysis And Engagement In Conflict Zones”), and David Campbell (“Innovative Use Of The Media For Outreach In East Africa”).

Day Two – 30 June – is heavily focused on Afghanistan, with case studies and lessons learned.

See also:

Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy Caucus briefing

The Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy Caucus is holding a briefing this Thursday, June 17th at 9:00am in Room 121 of the Cannon House Office Building to discuss the National Framework for Strategic Communication, the Secretary of State’s Strategic Framework for Public Diplomacy, and the Secretary of Defense’s “1055 Report” on Strategic Communication.

Briefers include Mr. Pradeep Ramamurthy from the White House National Security Staff, Ms. Kitty DiMartino from the State Department, and Ms. Rosa Brooks from the Department of Defense. The one-hour briefing will include time for questions and answers.

RSVP with Katy Quinn in Rep. Adam Smith’s office at Katy.Quinn@mail.house.gov or with Michael Clauser in Rep. Mac Thornberry’s office at Michael.Clauser@mail.house.gov.

See also:

Attack or Defend? Leveraging Information and Balancing Risk in Cyberspace

In his article, “Attack or Defend? Leveraging Information and Balancing Risk in Cyberspace,” Dennis Murphy discusses the Department of Defense’s policy toward the Internet, which enables opportunities to counter misinformation online and tell the story of the U.S. military. He questions, however, if organizational culture will embrace this approach.Murphy, a professor of Information Operations and Information in Warfare at the U.S. Army War College and retired U.S. Army colonel, notes the government must consider the use of the Internet by a potential adversary in future warfighting challenges. Although military leaders openly regard the importance of using new media and Internet tools, recent Defense Department policy directs commanders to continue to carefully monitor online behaviors.
Murphy recommends that leaders manage risk online while exploiting emerging cyber capabilities. Specifically, managing risk while providing the opportunity to engage effectively and exploit online opportunities requires a rebalancing of command philosophy, Murphy says. This can happen when commanders become more open to opportunities as they remain aware of threats – and let leaders at all levels do their job.
Click here to read the full article.

Public Diplomacy: Books, Articles, Websites #51 (Courtesy of Bruce Gregory)

Courtesy of Bruce Gregory, Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University.

Intended for teachers of public diplomacy and related courses, here is an update on resources that may be of general interest. Suggestions for future updates are welcome.
Bruce Gregory
Adjunct Professor
George Washington University/Georgetown University

Continue reading “Public Diplomacy: Books, Articles, Websites #51 (Courtesy of Bruce Gregory)

National Security Strategy punts on strategic communication and public diplomacy

Last month, President Obama released his first National Security Strategy. It is a substantial departure from President George W. Bush’s narrowly focused 2002 strategy that imagined “every tool in our arsenal” as only “military power, better homeland defenses, law enforcement, intelligence, and vigorous efforts to cut off terrorist financing.” In contrast, President Obama’s new National Security Strategy acknowledges that countering violent extremism is “only one element of our strategic environment and cannot define America’s engagement with the world.”

Continue reading “National Security Strategy punts on strategic communication and public diplomacy

The need for a national strategy for Communication and Engagement

It is clear from the general discourse surrounding the terms public diplomacy, strategic communication (and a recommended alternative “Signaling Integration” to be announced), and global engagement that each of these terms face their own inadequacies. None of them can be used to capture the essential elements required to convey the value, importance, and imperative of addressing the failings at the strategic down to the tactical levels, overcoming the institutional friction to adapt to modern requirements that may be simultaneously local, regional, and global. As each of the aforementioned terms are tainted in some way or another, I recommend a new label that is comprehensive, simple, and flexible.

Continue reading “The need for a national strategy for Communication and Engagement

Now Media: engagement based on information not platforms

On July 6, 2010, the MountainRunner Institute will, with support from InterMedia, present a one-day training event titled Now Media: engagement based on information not platforms. Whether you call it strategic communication, public diplomacy, public affairs, signals integration, or global engagement, this event is designed to help you gain a better understanding of the capabilities, capacities, and authorities you need to be effective in today’s global environment. While the emphasis is on actors and audiences relevant to national security, knowledge from the course will be readily applied in other areas. More information can be found here.

Topics include:

  • Convergence of “old media” and “new media” into Now Media;
  • Mobilization and even creation of “diasporas” through increasing access to information, ease of travel, fragmentation of social groups and decreasing demands on assimilation;
  • Adversarial use of online media to engage and influence audiences and media;
  • Identifying and understanding relevant audiences and measuring communication impacts;
  • Frank discussions on the organizational, doctrinal, and legal challenges (real and imagined) facing the US today.

Date: July 6, 2010

Time: 8:30a – 5p (light breakfast at 8a, lunch and refreshments will be provided)

Location: National Press Club in the McClendon Room
529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC 20045 (map)

Cost: $300 before June 27, $400 June 28 and after
Group discounts are available for 3 or more; credit cards accepted.

Speakers: Matt Armstrong, President, MountainRunner Institute
 
Adam Pearson, White Canvas Group
 
+ representative from InterMedia
 
+ former leader of State Department’s public diplomacy operations

To register, send an email to Matt Armstrong at blog@mountainrunner.us.

Additional sponsorship opportunities are available.

A Tale from the Field about Religion, Culture, and Perception

By Gregory L. Garland

Matt’s blog has become a force to behold in the discussion about strategic communication, public diplomacy, and State/DOD relations. It has shined a light on what largely was a rarified, inside-the-beltway debate symptomatic of the old USIA’s domestic blank spot. What has been lacking are stories from the field outside the U.S. – examples of PD as it actually is conducted by PD professionals. Here’s one from my own experience that in many ways is typical.

I’ve run effective PD programs that didn’t cost Uncle Sam anything except my own time. I’ve run next to useless PD programs so flush that I couldn’t spend all the money Washington showered upon me. And I’ve run just about everything in between those extremes. As every experienced PAO knows, basic human grit, skill, and talent will go far in assembling a program, but a little bit of cash always helps. And it doesn’t have to be much, especially when compared to what other agencies spend.

Continue reading “A Tale from the Field about Religion, Culture, and Perception

Why the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs tweets

Last week, Federal News Radio interviewed Capt. John Kirby, Special Assistant for Public Affairs for Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on why the Chairman actively engages in social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The chairman, who began Tweeting and Facebooking in 2009, understood that social media was quickly becoming a part of mainstream media and it was just as important to listen to online conversations.

Prior to engaging in social media, the Admiral learned from his troops that his internal military audience, which includes younger men and women in uniform, frequently use social media to communicate with each other. 

Other federal organizations can learn from Adm. Mullen’s online efforts, who does personally “tweet,” as he continues to more effectively utilize Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0.

Click here to read the full article by Federal News Radio.

See also:

Renee Lee is a new contributor to MountainRunner.us and will be providing links and overviews of material – online and offline – deemed important for the individual or organization interested in public diplomacy, strategic communication or “signaling integration”, or global engagement.

Renee Lee is a graduate student in the Master of Public Diplomacy program at the University of Southern California. Renee spent six years in the U.S. Air Force as a public affairs officer in the Asia-Pacific region. Renee graduated cum laude from the University of Washington in 2003, earning a B.A. in Communications.

Understanding State’s Budget Woes

Andrew Exum at CNAS blames – only somewhat tongue in cheek – the absence of federal money creating jobs in Congressional districts for the State Department’s budget woes. His point, of course, is that Congress sees little direct benefit from State’s activities. My friend draws additional insight from Gordon Adams and Cindy Williams and their highlight of an operational difference between State and the Defense Department:

The State Department’s dominant culture — the Foreign Service — takes pride in [the department’s] traditional role as the home of US diplomacy. Diplomats represent the United States overseas, negotiate with foreign countries, and report on events and developments. Diplomats, from this perspective, are not foreign assistance providers, program developers, or managers. As a result, State did not organize itself internally to plan, budget, manage, or implement the broader range of US global engagement … State department culture focuses on diplomacy, not planning, program development and implementation.

This is evident across the board at State, including, but not limited to, inadequate budgeting processes and systems, rigid hierarchies, and cultural bias against outside advice.

Below is a quick list of some of the other substantive issues I’ve talked in various public and private forums:

Continue reading “Understanding State’s Budget Woes

The Social Media Strategy for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

The Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military officer in the United States, published its social media strategy. The document provides an insight into the current intended purposes and audience size of the various social media platforms in use now by the CJCS. The document describes four goals in the strategy: Engage, Align, Drive, and Expand. Each goal includes objectives for each goal. This is a good step in the right direction for the Chairman and the Pentagon to increase its transparency and relevancy in the discourse over military and foreign policy. As the strategy notes,

With the internet being the primary source of information for individuals born after 1987, social media is quickly becoming mainstream media.

I recommend reading this strategy. True to the purpose and value of social media, I am sure the author would appreciate feedback.

New blog on the block: The Campaign War Room

There’s a new blog focused on “analysis of communication and strategy”: The Campaign War Room by James Frayne. James has a background in political communication and, as he told me last year, is frustrated that “all the standard rules of communications that are accepted in politics and commercial communications seem to be rejected by IO practitioners.” After reading his post about the recent meeting of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, his frustrations appear at least intact.

One of the issues this blog will be focusing on is Western public diplomacy efforts. It’s always been an area of interest for me because it’s about the battle of ideas, which the West has rarely engaged in effectively. Over at MountainRunner – the best blog on this area – Matt Armstrong links to the minutes from the March meeting of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

As ever with public diplomacy, the minutes are a depressing read. There are endless stories about Government agencies cutting across each other, or antiquated rules preventing effective action, or a general lack of shared ideas on what the Government should be doing. It’s extremely difficult not to become weary with the process very quickly.

I will be writing some longer pieces about public diplomacy in the next few months, trying to answer some of these questions…

I recommend going to The Campaign War Room to read the rest of this post, including his questions.

Minutes of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy March 2010 Official Meeting

Minutes for the March 2010 meeting of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy are now available. At the meeting were Commissioners Bill Hybl (Chairman), Lyndon Olson (Vice Chairman), John Osborn, Penne Korth Peacock, Jay Snyder, and Lezlee Westine. In reverse order of appearance, presenting were Walter Douglas representing the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Rosa Brooks representing the Defense Department, and myself representing, well, another perspective.

The meeting was well attended, perhaps one of the best attended events in recent memory. If you weren’t there, then I suggest you at least skim the transcript with particular attention to Rosa’s remarks and the question & answer period after the presentations.

Continue reading “Minutes of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy March 2010 Official Meeting

The true fiasco exposed by Wikileaks

You are probably already familiar with the Wikileaks-edited video released April 5 of the 2007 airstrike in which a number of people were killed, including armed and unarmed men as well as two employees of the news agency Reuters. As of this writing, the initial instance of the edited version of the video titled "Collateral Murder" on YouTube is over 5 million views, not including reposts of the video by others using different YouTube accounts, and, according to The New York Times, "hundreds of times in television news reports." An unedited and not subtitled version upload by Wikileaks to YouTube, in contrast, has less 630,000, reflecting the lack of promotion of this version.

This video represents the advantages and disadvantages of social media in that highly influential content is easily propagated for global consumption. The persistency provided by the Internet means it will always be available and easily repurposed. Further, this situation highlights the ability to suppress unwanted information, both by the propagandist (omission of information) and by the supporter (removing an adversarial perspective). Lastly, the official response to this video shows the Defense Department still has a long way to go in understanding and operating in this new global information environment.

This video is, on its face and in depth, inflammatory and goes well beyond investigative journalism and creating transparency. It has launched debates about the legality of the attacks and questions of whether war crimes were committed. The video, as edited, titled, and subtitled is disturbing. It will continue to get substantial use in debates over Iraq, the US military, and US foreign policy in general.

Russia Today, the English language Russian government news agency, interviewed Julian Assange, Wikileaks editor and co-founder, on April 6, the day after the release. In a segment titled "Caught on Tape", the interviewer starts by describing the video as "gruesome, to say the least." Assange portrays Wikileaks as a Fourth Estate and says the military was "scared of the information coming out," which Reuters had been requesting through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for over two years, "for fear of the reform effect." Originally broadcast, the RT interview is also on YouTube has, as of this writing, with nearly 40,000 views. In the first day of release it had over 10k views and was on YouTube’s front page.

One of the few, if perhaps the only, serious attempt to respond to "Collateral Murder" is another YouTube video titled "Wiki Deception: Iraq ‘Collateral Murder’ Rebuttal":

This video, shown above, adds scenes left out of Collateral Murder but in the longer, and less promoted and thus less viewed, complete video. This "rebuttal" annotates and highlights pertinent details left out of or ignored in Collateral Murder that could have been done April 5 (or even before).

image UPDATE: The "rebuttal" video was removed from YouTube for "violation of the YouTube Community Guidelines." The cause of action: "graphic or gratuitous violence is not allowed in YouTube videos." The "rejection notice" at right was sent by someone close to the "rebuttal". Neither Collateral Murder nor the unedited video have been removed from YouTube. It appears the "rebuttal" video is a clear victim of manipulation by supporters of Collateral Murder or its cause. The method was social media’s "democratic" ability to suppress or silence opposing viewpoints by flagging content as inappropriate, a feature in YouTube that is often used by insurgent and terrorist propagandists. Conversely, content can be promoted and rise to the top of search results with a "thumbs up." Jillian York has documented the same silencing technique on Facebook.

UPDATE 2 (10 APR 10): The “rebuttal” video is now available at LiveLeak and again at YouTube. As of 11 April 2010, the LiveLeak video has nearly 8000 views and the YouTube video has under 600. At YouTube, the first in the suggested list of similar videos is this news report from Russia Today titled “With No Accountability for Atrocities Iraqi Civilians Killed With Joy As If In A Video Game” from April 6.

Continue reading “The true fiasco exposed by Wikileaks