This is messed up:
It occured to me today that I never mentioned our role here in Al Anbar province. We are attached to our maneuver counterparts, a team for each company. We provide lethal and non-lethal targeting for the Company commanders. As artillerymen, we are trained to bring fires (artillery, mortars, close air support) to kill the enemy. I can count the times we have been able to do that on one hand. Our other job is Information Operations. We have no formal training in this skill and pretty much make it up as we go. Guidance from Higher HQ is minimal so we are often frustrated. The best analogy I can come up with is we are like cops walking the beat gathering info and handing out the Mayor’s message. We try to find the movers and shakers but usually meet resistance and lies. Sometimes we get good information that leads to catching bad guys. At our level we pretty much speak to the average citizen who has no say in anything. As you go up the chain the commanders speak with the influential leaders.
Usually we are lied to or told what we want to hear. Despite the frustration we drive on and do our best. We find ways to gather information and have gotten quite creative in our methods. In the city itself IO is pretty useless as there are so many insurgents that the “good” people are afraid to say anything out of fear.
I think the unit that replaces us is going to go about it differently. Can you say “Fallujah”? We really didn’t have enough combat power to roll through Ramadi, but thats what needs to happen. Talking nice has gotten us nowhere.
This is about as high tech as kicking leaflets out the back of a Chinook.
The Army is not serious about IO.