• 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…

  • 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…

  • Events

    Influence and Propaganda Conference

    The Influence and Propaganda Conference continues tomorrow. Today’s discussion was fantastic with valuable insights from Todd Helmus, Ted Tzavellas, Steve Shaker, Adam Pechter, Bryan Rich, Michael Dominque, Steve Luckert, Lee Rowland, Glenn Ayers, Glenn Connor, Tim Hill, Cliff Gilmore, and Al Bynum. Tomorrow is another day beginning with a presentation by Brad Gorham. This is followed by arguably the best panel of the conference: the media panel co-chaired by Russ Rochte and myself. The panel will include Jamie McIntyre, Bill Gertz, and Wally Dean. Following this panel is Mahan Tavakoli, Nancy Snow, Mike Waller, Amy Zalman, Cori Dauber, Carol Winkler, and Jim Farwell. Friday, the last day, has Brian Carlson,…

  • Events,  Media,  Now Media

    Influence and Propaganda Conference this week

    This week is the Influence and Propaganda Conference in Verona, New York, outside of Syracuse. Put on by the IO Institute in partnership with the MountainRunner Institute, the conference will be a frank and open discussion on the nature, purpose and format of propaganda and activities intended to influence. This conference comes at a critical time as the volume and quality of disinformation and misinformation increases in an environment that empowers virtually anyone. The gatekeepers of yesterday, governments and major media, are increasingly bypassed, ignored, reactionary or co-opted as today’s information flows across geographic, linguistic, political and technological borders with increasing ease and speed.

  • 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,  Teaching / Training

    Event: Information Operations, the New Frontier in Full-Spectrum Warfare

    Information Operations: The New Frontier in Full-Spectrum Warfare is a continuing education course taught by Chris Paul through the Organizational Effectiveness Institute. It will be held September 20-21 in Washington, DC. From the course description: Information Operations (IO), as currently practiced by the U.S. Military, encompass a broad range of capabilities designed to inform, influence, persuade, or deceive target audiences, and a collection of technical capabilities focused on impacting systems for storing or transmitting information. Formally, IO capabilities include Psychological Operations, Electronic Warfare,Computer Network Operations, Operations Security, and Military Deception. The relationships between the IO capabilities and other activities including conventional military operations, related and supporting capabilities, and strategic communication…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Events

    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…