Color in the Pan

Prospecting for signs of .gov credibility is a lot like squatting in a cold North Georgia creek sloshing sand out of your pan and trying to convince yourself that you’re having fun.

Behold the black sand in the bottom of our pan.

Slosh, slosh.

xivindependent, non-profit, non-partisan Center for Global Engagement

Hmmm.  Fool’s gold?

xx psychological operations relabeled according to whether they are in support of military operations or other activities, such as security cooperation and DOD support to public diplomacy. 

Do what?

5 With significant assistance from the DOD and the Open Source Center, the Department of State has set up an interagency Counter Terrorism Communications Center to develop culturally sensitive messages to undermine ideological support for terror.

Well, there’s a thumbnail worth of gold dust.  Culturally sensitive.  Don’t drop the soap.

8U. S. Central Command plans and operates in the information environment through a Strategic Effects cell in Baghdad and an analogous function within NATO force in Kabul.

Wonder if MAJ Robbins is still there?

9 — Strategic Command’s Joint Information Operations Warfare Command is partnering with U. S. Special Operations Command to examine better ways to use psychological operations messaging and products to influence key target audiences in the war on terror.

Special Operations Command, as both a supported and supporting command, has developed a trans-regional website initiative and has expanded its trans-regional psychological  operational (PSYOP) program under the auspices of its Joint PSYOP Support Element.  More than a dozen special Operations Command Military Information Support Teams are deployed worldwide in support of Embassy Country Teams.  

Finally.  A nugget for the medicine bottle.

16 — Rapid response is challenging because of the many media organizations that are operating 24/7 and responsing to the same situations.  Citizen reporters who can transmit via a multiplicity of channels– websites, blogs, listserves, and virtual platforms such as YouTube– add to the challenge.

Citizens who can’t let the professionals practice their trade without kibbitzing are real pains in the ass, aren’t they?

24New Paradigm of War

Armed conflict within civilian populations by state and non-state contestants in frequent long-term conflicts is now the norm.  Wars between states are rare.  Today, adversaries with global reach and no fixed location successfully challenge sovereign states with fixed borders and known vulnerabilities.  Virtual conflict and “perceptual damage” are as important as real conflict and real damage.

Clink.  Another nugget in the bottle.

27 — The Internet is used as an asymmetric weapon by terrorists ( for secure commjnications, planning, publicity, recruitment) and represents a vulnerable critical infrastructure subject to cyber attack.  Also, global communications can make strategic problems out of tactical events (such as Abu Graib).

Uncoordinated and uncontrolled Civilian Irregular CNA may be taking down sites better left up.  But if the Regulars won’t strategically communicate anything other than “Go Back To The Mall and Let Us Handle It,” they will have to learn to like fratricide.

50 — There an an estimated 80 million blogs currently on the Internet.  While the great majority of all these blogs are voices in the dark, there are others that can be quite influential.  Once again there is an instance of the long tail.  Which few are the most popular, and/or the most influential?  Taken in its totality, the “blogosphere” constitutes a treasure trove that can be mined for sociological and cultural information and opinion.  For example, blogs can give insight into questions such as:  What are Islamic bloggers saying about a recent Al Qaeda action?

The United States has limited resources to counter this multitude of individual blogs.  Those resources should be reserved for only the most influential blogs as determined by quantitative measurements.  Even in those case it is not clear what the rules of engagement should be.  When should responses be identified as from the U. S. Government, as opposed to from responsible individuals?  What forms of response are most effective?  In this evolving medium the United States has little experience or wisdom in means of influence.   

Eureka!   Just in time, too.  This water is cold.

Grab a pan.  Try your luck.

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6 Comments

Filed under G-2

6 responses to “Color in the Pan

  1. Crabbygoat

    I was on a MIST down south in the late 90s. Sure, some things have changed, but the goons at State haven’t. When a PSYCLOP team strolls into the Embassy, they are regarded as a bunch of fly by night yahoos at best. And with good reason. At more than one point our team consisted entirely of one 0-4 and two E-4s with the officers more interested in chasing tail than effecting their mission. No JPSE or contractor at MacDill is going to fix this problem, but you all already know that…

  2. Hey Crabbygoat. Welcome to the Group. Colombia?

  3. andrewdb

    But if the Regulars won’t strategically communicate anything other than “Go Back To The Mall and Let Us Handle It,” they will have to learn to like fratricide.

    The Regulars (coughMikeTanjicough) want things in the open where they can see them – apparently because it has worked so well in Londonistan.

  4. I think Mike represents the view that jihadi websites should be exploited by the intelligence community and that their intelligence value is worth enduring the damage they inflict. Civilian Irregular Computer Network Attackers flat out disagree.

  5. QuickIO

    One thing I have learned in working in the IO career field is that you take the help you can get from any and all avenues. Not all the help is good, but it still is more of an effort that you may not have had in the first place. Typically the target audience is not effected by items from home front unless they are in a sophisticated area (urban) with net access. And then it is not unless they get it pointed out to them and shoved in front of them in the local mainstream media time and time again. The idea is to be a step ahead of the bad guys and if means that someone who is not in the military giving you that step ahead I am for one in favor of it.

  6. The American domestic target audience IS affected, QuickIO, but you guys can’t do much about that.