Sunday, July 26, 2015

U.S. and Information Operations

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and VOA. The United States has done a less than stellar job in the Information Operations (IO) arena. This is true at the strategic level and at the tactical level as well. A close examination of the IO efforts of the U.S. around the world from countering Russia's information machine, to the Middle East (can you say ISIS?), and on to Afghanistan will find that the adversaries IO machines have ate our lunch in print, the airwaves and on social media. Some critics believe that the U.S. IO organizations lack an over-arching plan at the strategic level and would like to see a consolidation of efforts.

Currently Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has an Afghan service that complements the Voice of America's (VOA) Afghan services. RFE/RL reaches (according to its website) more than 60 percent of the Afghan population across the country with its radio, SMS, and Internet programs. RFE/RL's Radio Azadi is broadcast in Dari and Pashto. It's website for Afghanistan and Pakistan - Gandhara - is published in English.

How VOA and RFE/RL ties in its reporting with the Resolute Support (RS) STRATCOM folks is important. Read more in "From VOA to Radio Free Europe, the US Needs a Single News Voice Abroad", Defense One, July 16, 2015.

IO and Training to Fight. There are very few armies in the world that can fight a conventional fight on the battlefield against the United States. The Persian Gulf War and early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) demonstrated that beyond a doubt. The conflicts of the future may be a hybrid war where insurgent organizations, terrorist groups, and non-state actors (some state-sponsored) will confront the U.S. assymetrically. The U.S. military needs to be able to respond appropriately and this includes activities within the information operations arena (such as social media). Unfortunately, our U.S. Army battalion and brigade commanders have trouble thinking outside of the box while 'in the box' at our national training centers (JRTC, NTC, etc.). Read more in "How the Pentagon Places SOF Soldier's Minds in Boxes"SOFREP, July 2015.

Revising the Narrative. John DeRosa, a member of the U.S. Department of Defense and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, has penned and essay on the importance of the narrative in resolving conflict. Read "Revising the Battle of the Narrative", Small Wars Journal, July 16, 2015.

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