• 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…

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • Events,  Now Media

    9th Annual Information Operations Europe Conference

    The 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…

  • Events,  ICT,  Psychological Struggle,  Social Media

    MountainRunner Institute at InfoWarCon 2010

    By Chris Dufour This week kicks off the second year of AOC’s InfoWarCon in Washington, DC. Subtitled “Future Warfare Today: The Battle for Information & Ideas”, the three-day gathering sports luminaries from different information disciplines beyond information operations, or IO. Joel Harding, the director of AOC’s IO Institute, has put together an agenda with panelists from across the spectrum of informational engagement: strategic communication, public diplomacy, public affairs, technology, and emerging media. The stated purpose of InfoWarCon is to advance the discourse about the evolving role of information in warfare of today and tomorrow, especially the kind where explosions, in the case they actually occur, are shaping events in support…

  • Counterinsurgency,  Events,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Affairs,  Public Diplomacy

    Event: 9th Annual Information Operations – Europe

    The UK-based Defence IQ has announced the date and venue for the 9th annual Information Operations Europe conference. The event will take place June 29-30, 2010, at the Bloomsbury Hotel in London. The agenda is available. Topics include: Media in Modern Warfare, by Major General Gordon Messenger, Director of Strategic Communications, UK MoD UK’s Influence Capability, by Air Commodore Robert Judson, Head of Targeting and Information Operations, UK MoD Where Counterinsurgency meets Culture, by Eric Sutphin, Chief Target Audience Analyst, Combined Joint Psychological Operations Task Force, ISAF HQ, NATO Audience Engagement in Afghanistan, by Maryann Maguire, Director of Communications (DCSU), Afghan Specialist Joint Implementation Team, UK MoD Countering Violent Extremism,…

  • Events,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Affairs,  Public Diplomacy

    InfoWarCon – Washington, D.C.

    The 2010 installment of InfoWarCon will be May 12-14 in Washington, D.C., at the Washington Convention Center. According to the organizers, This is not your typical conference. This is edgy, provocative and evocative. The agenda is here. Noteworthy is that Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale is expected to speak on day 2, May 13, at 8:00a-8:30a. Her predecessor, Jim Glassman, spoke at the 2009 event. Also listed on the current agenda are Price Floyd, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, and Dana Priest, The Washington Post. I am moderating the panel “The Power of Cyber and Social Networking” and, rumor…

  • Cultural Diplomacy,  Public Diplomacy

    Culture and conflict: is there a role in conflict prevention, resolution for culture?

    What role does culture have in conflict prevention and resolution? Recently, the British Council organized an interesting and enlightened discussion on this very question. What made this even more interesting was the British Council’s partners in the venture: NATO and Security Defence Agenda, a European security and defense think tank. At a time when public diplomats to psychological operators are coming to terms with their lack specific cultural capacities to understand and properly engage audiences, this was a timely discussion.

  • Psychological Struggle

    Ridicule as Strategic Communication

    Kristin Fleischer at COMOPS comments on friend Mike Waller’s suggestion in Fighting the War of Ideas like Real War that ridicule is a “secret weapon worse than death.” Although the suggestion that ridicule and satire are legitimate tools of strategic communication might receive some – dare I say it – ridicule, Waller’s argument is a good one. Ridicule and satire have a long history in warfare, and they have been deployed both offensively and defensively. In the U.S., ridicule was used in the Revolutionary War, both to mock the British troops and to raise the morale of the American fighters. In WWII, domestic use of ridicule targeted Hitler, Mussolini and…