Monthly Archives: November 2007

What the SecDef Didn’t Call For, But Should Have

MountainRunner, writing under his meatspace name in SWJ, explains what SECDEF was trying to do last Monday, and what my .mil buddy was seeking our input on a week ago.  Hmmmm.  You don’t think that Regular sought out the opinions of Irregular Auxiliaries to gain insight into how it might play in Peoria, do you?  Anyway, I want to thank my commenters on that thread.  I don’t know and I may never know if we made any difference, but I suspect that we did, and that suspicion is enough for now.

Go on over to SWJ and read.  Much as I sincerely appreciate your comments here, many more eyes will see what you have to say over there.   



Filed under PSYOP Auxiliaries

The Taliban Have a Plan

From Strategy Page:

But the Taliban have a plan for getting rid of the smart bombs, and it depends a lot on foreign journalists. These folks are always looking for an “exciting” story, and nothing is more exciting than “atrocities” committed by NATO or American troops. Defeats by NATO or American troops also plays well with the foreign reporters. So the Taliban endeavor to feed the foreign journalists as many suitable stories as possible. The Taliban understand that the story doesn’t have to be true, just plausible. The news cycle is short, and the media proceeds on the assumption that news consumers have no sense of history. If the Taliban can get a story out there, they have succeeded, no matter how much the story is later discredited. Recently, for example, Taliban propagandists got some journalists to run with the story that the Taliban actually controlled most of the country, and were ready to take over. This was absurd, but too good to pass up for headline starved reporters. Atrocity stories move well, as do rumors of NATO troops misbehaving with the locals. The Taliban may be medieval in their social thinking and economics, but they are out in front when it comes to spinning the media

The Taliban believe that most Western nations can be convinced to withdraw their troops if enough negative media and dead troops can be generated.

This is the kind of propaganda that is not being properly countered, because NATO and ISAF and DoD and the Administration do not want to recognize the Western media as conduits for enemy information operations and deal with “journalists” and news organizations appropriately.  There is no stomach for such a confrontation.  The counterinsurgents fear the media’s vengence.  The negative publicity the media can dish out against the counterinsurgents deters them from taking actions which would break Western media personalities of their bad habit of carrying the Taliban’s water.

Regulars have a tough time dealing with situations such as this, so rather than call attention to their impotence they stay quiet and hope no one notices.  The counterpropaganda technique of silence is always the default position for them.  Irregular proxies, should they choose to accept the mission, are free to conduct Relentless, destructive critique of MSM persons and publications until the aid they give to the Taliban is widely recognized and the credibility of their accounts is significantly degraded.  American, British, Canadian, Australian, Dutch and Romanian Irregulars should collaborate in raising the awareness of their respective domestic target audiences of the symbiotic relationship between the media and the enemy, and encourage skepticism.

Are there enough Irregulars who care about the soldiers in Afghanistan to make a dent in all the Taliban propaganda?

UPDATE:  Posted the above before I read The Jawa Report .  Go check out the YOUTUBE SMACKDOWN.  You, too, can play a role in countering propaganda through restrictive measures.


Filed under Old Media, The Forgotten War

SECDEF Strategically Communicates His Embarrassment

Civilian Irregular Information Operators in Kansas alerted me to this speech by Secretary Gates yesterday:

The way you institutionalize these capabilities is probably not to recreate or repopulate instutions of the past such as USAID or USIA.  On the other hand just adding more people to existing government departments such as Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce, Justice and so on is not a sufficient answer either.  Even if they were to be more deplyable overseas.  New institutions are needed for the 21st Century.  New organizations with a 21st Century mindset.

For example, Public Relations was invented in the United States, yet we are miserable at communicating to the rest of the world what we are about as a society and a culture, about freedom and democracy, about our policies and our goals.  It is just plain embarrassing that al Qaeda is better at communicating its message on the internet than America.  As one foreign diplomat asked a couple of years ago, how has one man in a cave managed to out-communicate the world’s greatest communications society?

Speed, agility and cultural relevance are not terms that come readily to mind when discussing U.S. Strategic Communications. 

That part starts at 36:26 on your RealPlayer feed.  The War Lord of Argghhh! was in the audience and thinking about me while SECDEF said that.

I’ve lived through some history myself, but my memory holds no recollection of a Secretary of Defense seeking funding for OGA’s.  He has seen how low-speed, high-drag, lackadaisical route-step  InterAgency  non-hackers are gumming up the wheels of progress and it sounds like he seriously wants to do something about it.  But I’m afraid he’s out of his lane, and the same heroes who think a tour in the IZ is a death sentence will fight the program, unless echelons above SECDEF burn a few pour encourager les autres, which I don’t see happening.

UPDATE:  After I record the above and transcribe it myself the Warlord of Arggghhh!!! finds the DoD transcript.


Filed under Idea War

The nature of IW requires the US Government to achieve the level of unified action necessary to integrate all available instruments of national power to address irregular threats

Well, we’re screwed then.

Ran across that in Irregular Warfare (IW) Joint Operation Concept (JOC) Version 1.0, which I found at the USMC Center for Irregular Warfare that SWJED found for me.

What they’re talking about requires buy-in from the “Loyal Opposition.”  Politicians would have to set aside their own advantage to work together for the good of the nation.

Ain’t gonna happen.


1 Comment

Filed under IW

The Regulars’ RFI On USIA

Regulars, by God!
Our readership here is small, but high quality. We don’t get many hits, but the hits we do get come from some interesting places. We are being read by elements in the .mil, and their feed back is gratifying.

One of our .mil readers wants to know what y’all have to say about the U.S. Information Agency and whether or not it should be reconstituted.  The USIA disappeared along with  all those Army divisions and  air wings.  Peace Dividend, you know.  Now it is being missed, and what it used to do doesn’t seem to be getting done. DoD, being one of few islands of competence in the .gov, is all about work-arounds to get ‘er done without or without InterAgency participation.

So, does anybody have any ideas?  Donald Rumsfeld had some, but they threw him under the bus.  Or did he jump?  Anyway, what do YOU think?

I’ll tell you what I think.  I think we’re too afraid of lawfare from the domestic opposition.  I think careerist bureaucratic homesteaders use Smith-Mundt as an excuse to sit on their thumbs and discourage anybody with more gumption from showing them up.  I think Smith-Mundt needs to go away.  I think the idea that politics stops at the water’s edge is dead along with the idea of a “Loyal Opposition.”  Strategy and strategic communications are going to have be left to the political operatives of the party in power.  I think a reconstituted USIA couldn’t do much for a divided nation.

What do YOU think? 

UPDATE:  Some useful links pertaining to this discussion:

USIA Fact sheet


Public Diplomacy



USIA’S INTEGRATION INTO THE STATE DEPARTMENT: ADVOCATING POLICY TRUMPS PROMOTING MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING  You might want to read this one.  When I started this post I didn’t know a helluva lot about USIA, but I’m learning.  I’m thinking now that USIA was valuable in the dissemination of conditioning propaganda to foster in external audiences generally positive views on America and Americans even in the face of specific American policy controversies.  They could still consider America a force for good in the world even while disagreeing with actions of the US Government.  I think the “promoters of mutal understanding” gained for us the benefit of the doubt that we rarely enjoy any more. 



Thanks to John and Consul-At-Arms for the help.


Filed under PSYOP Auxiliaries

Civilian Irregular Cyber Scout Helps ID Bilal Hussein

I love it when a plan comes together.  Distributed, non-hierachical, unconventional pajamahadeen strike again.

UPDATE: Holy crap, The Jawa Report credited with Bilal Hussein prosecution?!?!

A reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, informs me that The Jawa Report had something to do with Bilal Hussein’s prosecution. Apparently Bilal Hussein had been picked up in a raid in which he wasn’t the target. That target was a known al Qaeda operative, Hamid Hamad Motib, and bomb making materials were found in the house.

Hussein was arrested and taken to Abu Ghraib, but no one knew who he was. Just another low-level insurgent, I’m guessing.

He had been sitting in Abu Ghraib for a month, and nobody realized that he was the AP photog who had snapped dozens of staged photos with al Qaeda fighters. The reader was in Abu Ghraib as an investigator working on an unrelated case when he saw Bilal Hussein and recognized him from the extensive coverage we had on The Jawa Report.

He reported it up the chain of command and within days Bilal Hussein was transferred to a different facility, NCIS got involved, and eventually a criminal investigation opened on him.

He ends the e-mail with:

THANKS to you guys…you REALLY ARE making an impact on the [the war on terror] … you can claim credit

Hell, I hope so! I’ve communicated with the source before, and he seems legit to me.

The Jawa Report, sticking it to al Qaeda propagandists from the comfort of our living rooms. Any one wish to complain about the “chickenhawk” bloggers now?

It’s stories like these that make it all worth it!



Filed under Morale Operations, Old Media, PSYOP Auxiliaries

Today’s conflicts are not only won on the battlefield, but through the use of websites and blogs, over the airwaves and on the front pages of our newspapers.

I didn’t hate Donald Rumsfeld. 

This is a time in which warfare is being waged in the realms of space and cyberspace. In China, the recent test of an anti-satellite missile has shown that our network of satellites could be vulnerable to an attack that could cripple both U.S. military and civilian communications. Small bands of organized hackers earlier this year demonstrated by their attacks on Estonia, that the governments and financial institutions of advanced nations can be paralyzed through cyber attacks.

These enemies have learned a crucial lesson about warfare in the 21st century — a lesson others seem slow in understanding. Today’s conflicts are not only won on the battlefield, but through the use of websites and blogs, over the airwaves and on the front pages of our newspapers. Through skillful propaganda operations, the enemy successfully leverages their asymmetric attacks to encourage potential recruits to join their violent cause and to try to convince those of us in free nations to give in to hopelessness, self-doubt and despair.

Their decentralized networks have been able to effectively employ the tools of the Information Age, while the U.S. government remains ponderous, muscle-bound and unable to respond in real time to the deceits of these enemies. To succeed in this first struggle of the 21st century, we will need fresh thinking and capabilities well beyond the Defense Department. If free people are to meet the challenges posed by what will be a long struggle against violent extremists, we will need all elements of national power, private as well as public — diplomatic, economic, as well as intelligence and military to work in concert. We will need to rethink and rearrange our domestic and global institutions designed for the Industrial Age to better suit the Information Age.

Emphasis mine.  He makes sense to me.


Filed under CND, IA, Idea War, Info Warriors