Thursday, December 18, 2014

U.S. is "Horrible in Influence Operations"

The U.S. is horrible in conducting influence operations. This is something that I have posted about for the last couple of years. But don't listen to me. None other than the head of the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), LTG Cleveland, says as much (see the news article linked to below). It is worth noting that the United States had three lines of effort in countering the Taliban insurgency: security, governance and development. USASOC is closely tied in with all three of these lines of effort with its seven Special Forces Groups, schoolhouse for Unconventional Warfare (SWCS), Ranger Regiment, SOF Aviation, and its 95th Civil Affairs Brigade. The CA bubbas being "experts" at governance and development and the SF dudes knowing a whole lot about establishing security; and a little bit about governance and development with their experience in Village Stability Operations (VSO).

To a degree, there was a lot accomplished in all of three areas (security, development and governance) despite the obvious obstacles (Karzai, corruption, drug trade, sanctuaries in Pakistan, etc.). Where there was inadequate effort put forth was in the Information Operations arena - now referred to as "Inform and Influence and Activities".  Of course, USASOC plays a big role in this field as well - since it commands the 4th Military Information Support Group.

An online news article explores this topic (the importance of IO or IAA) in greater detail. Read more in "Killing is Not Enough: Special Operators", by Sydney J. Freedberg, Jr, in Breaking Defense, December 16, 2014.

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