• Defense Department,  Psychological Struggle

    Revising Information Operations Policy at the Department of Defense

    By Michael Clauser On January 25, 2011, Secretary Gates signed a memorandum (hereafter 1/25/11 memo) entitled “Strategic Communication and Information Operations in the DoD.”  The memo signals that the Pentagon’s “E Ring” is finally emphasizing the need for reform of interagency strategic communication (SC) and military information operations (IO). It’s frustrating that after eight years of irregular warfare in southwest Asia, it took an Act of Congress (literally) to sharpen the minds and pencils of the Pentagon to take the problems.  And now, Secretary Gates’ memo claims credit when it shouldn’t, takes for granted one of its most controversial statements, plays-up one minor bureaucratic re-organization while glossing over the disestablishment…

  • Counterinsurgency,  Development,  Psychological Struggle,  State Building

    Counterinsurgency Today: A Review of Eric T. Olson’s “Some of the Best Weapons for Counterinsurgents Do Not Shoot”

    By Efe Sevin The long-lasting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has led to increased inquiry into the concepts and practices of counterinsurgency (COIN). Eric T. Olson, in his work, focuses on the importance of reconstruction attempts in COIN operations and discusses the role of military. The author served in the U.S. Army for over three decades and retired as a Major General. Currently, Mr. Olson is an independent defense contractor and works with Army brigades and provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) who are preparing for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. As the title suggests, his monograph considers such reconstruction attempts to have uttermost importance in successful military operations.

  • 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…

  • Cultural Diplomacy,  Public Diplomacy,  State Department

    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…

  • Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    American Public Diplomacy Wears Combat Boots: the Pentagon’s $300 million to “engage and inspire”

    Our national security, which includes our economic security, depends on the ability to effectively counter misinformation, create understanding of our policies, and develop partnerships. We are nearly a decade into the Second Great War of Ideas and the Pentagon remains the America's unwitting public diplomat engaging the world's audiences. American public diplomacy will continue to wear combat boots until the top leadership at the Department of State realizes that it must fully and aggressively commit to engaging and challenging non-state actors from individuals to armed groups.

  • Africa,  Public Affairs,  Public Diplomacy,  State Building

    Event: AFRICOM and Beyond: The Future of U.S.-African Security and Defense Relations

    From the American Enterprise Institute: The October 1 operational launch of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), on the eve of a new American presidential administration, provides an unprecedented opportunity to reshape U.S. strategy toward Africa. Significant attention has been devoted to the structure and functions of AFRICOM–and to its strategic communications challenges. Less thought, however, has been given to identifying the core security interests that should guide U.S. strategy on the continent or to defining the new kinds of partnership with a more self-assured Africa that are most likely to advance those interests. With its capacity for political as well as military engagement and for conflict prevention as well as traditional…

  • Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy

    The Brownback Bill: S.3546 to Establish the National Center for Strategic Communication

    Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) this week introduced S.3546 titled “The Strategic Communications Act of 2008.” The Senator knows the bill will not be passed in this Congress and feels more discussion on the subject matter is required. His bill is, in part, intended to provoke that discourse. The National Center for Strategic Communication is largely based on the National Counter Terrorism Center model. The bill recognizes that the current system is flawed and needs to be fixed. Driving this bill are concerns over the present-day quality of broadcasting, concerns over the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and a general failure of the public diplomacy apparatus to function effectively since 9/11. To…

  • Private Military Companies

    PMC Fraud: Tip of the Iceberg?

    Briefly, the Custer Battles lawsuit will likely be an eye opener for many. The Iraq war has been a watershed in the outsourcing of not just tangible assets and roles the military used to provide for itself (meals, logistics) but intangibles also. The role of private military companies in the war, from pre-deployment training to site security to force and VIP/"nation building contractors" protection, are part of the soft power of the United States.