Showing posts with label social-media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label social-media. Show all posts

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Resolute Support Advisors at Work in Afghanistan

RS HQs and Social Media. Read the story on how one Public Affairs Officer (PAO) assigned to Resolute Support HQs in Kabul spent her time on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube in "Resolute Support Social Media and the Afghan Conflict", SOF News, August 1, 2017.

TAAC Air Advisors work with AAF. The USAF advisors are working with all types of personnel from the Afghan Air Force - from line pilots to the Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD). Two of the workhorses of the Afghan Air Force are the A-29 Super Tucano and the Cessna 208 Caravan. The air advisors work in Kabul at the main airport as well as at forward locations across Afghanistan. Read more in "Building Momentum in Afghanistan", Air Force Magazine, September 2017.

TAAC Air Advisors Hope to Work Themselves Out of a Job. A USAF maintenance operations officer working with the Train, Advise, and Assist Command - Air would like to think that he is working himself out of a job. Currently 80% of the maintenance work done on aircraft belonging to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) is done by contract maintenance workers. His hope is that number will slowly decline. But . . .  with plans to buy refurbished UH-60 Blackhawks for the AAF that seems unlikely. The UH-60 won't show for a couple of years and it will likely be one of the most complex aircraft in the AAF. Read more on this topic in "Afghan Air force Takes Over A-29 Maintenance Ops", DVIDS, July 26, 2017.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

ISIS, CTF, CT, and IO News

Video - ISIS and Money. Watch a four-minute long video explaining how the Islamic State funds itself and how government and private-sector efforts can cut off its funding. Defeating the Islamic State: The Economic CampaignThe Washington Institute, February 24, 2016.

ISIS Banking Network. "Money-exchange offices in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Jordan funnel millions of dollars daily in and out of militant-held territory." Read "How Islamic State's Secret Banking Network Prospers"The Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2016. (Paywall subscription).

Money - Not Ideology. Two former Islamic State (IS) commanders who defected recently to Afghan authorities say that they joined the extremist organization not because of ideology but largely for money. (Voice of America, Feb 26, 2016).

State Dept & CVE Podcasts. The United States Department of State has been actively trying to counter violent extremism (CVE). Part of the effort is to educate communities about terrorism and violent groups through social media to include the use of podcasts. Read more in "New Podcast Series Examines Global Efforts to Counter Violent Extremism", DIPNOTE, U.S. Department of State Official Blog, February 22, 2016.

Social Media & Online Extremism. "The U.S. government, acknowledging its limited success in combating Islamic extremist messaging, is recruiting tech companies, community organizations and educational groups to take the lead in disrupting online radicalization". Read more in "U.S. looks to Facebook, private groups to battle online extremism", Reuters, February 24, 2016.

ISIS Propaganda. The international coalition is far from winning the information war against the Islamic State. Although airstrikes and proxy armies are taking its toll on the organization its social media campaign and its ideological momentum has not been blunted significantly. Read more in "Why ISIS Propaganda Works", The Atlantic, February 13, 2016.

'Khorasan Province' Video. The Islamic State in Afghanistan has released a series of videos about training that takes place along the Afghan-Pakistan border. Read "Islamic State 'Khorasan province' advertises training camp", The Long War Journal, February 23, 2016.

ISIS Info Flawed. An unusually high number of intelligence analysts (40% of the 1,000 analysts assigned to CENTCOM) said there were problems with the integrity of their reports and many have accused their bosses for slewing reports on ISIS. Read more in "400 Intel Pros Warn: ISIS Info Flawed", The Daily Beast, February 25, 2016. See also "Top House Lawmaker Accuses Pentagon of Obstructing Intel Probe", The Cable - Foreign Policy, February 25, 2016.

Obama and Global Campaign against ISIS. The State Department has released a press statement with info on the plan to destroy the Islamic State. Read "President Obama Discusses The Global Campaign to Degrade and Destroy ISIL", Dipnote Blog, February 25, 2016.

Guantanamo and Jihadist Propaganda. President Obama has vowed to close the prison on U.S. property in Cuba because it is a recruiting tool for ISIS and al Qaeda but ". . . some of those who study jihadist propaganda say Guantanamo actually isn't all that important as a recruitment tool, and it doesn't feature especially prominently in jihadist materials". Many of the prison occupants were captured and jailed soon after the invasion of Afghanistan by U.S. forces. Read more in a news report by Defense One, February 24, 2016.

Journal - Perspectives on Terrorism. Volume X, Issue 1, February 2016 is now available online. Several articles about terrorism.

Afghan Captive at Guantanamo to be Released. A man held for over a decade in America's prison in Cuba is set to be released as he is deemed to no longer be a threat. (Miami Herald, Feb 26, 2016.)

ISIS Damaged in Eastern Afghanistan. The combination of Taliban attacks, Afghan security forces offensives, and U.S. airstrikes has damaged ISIS significantly in Nangarhar province. In part, this setback for the Islamic State was also aided by public uprisings against the organization - especially in Achin district. Some members of the group may move back into Pakistan or adjacent Afghan provinces (Logar and Ghazni).

Video - Terrorism and CT. The International Institute for Strategic Studes (IISS) has posted a video entitled The Changing Nature of Terrorism and Counterterrorism, February 24, 2016. Dr. Daniel Byman and Dr. Bruce Hoffman explain the increasingly global presence of terrorist networks, the evolution of the terrorism landscape since 9/11, and the role of technology in terrorism and counterterrorism. The video is about one hour long and can be viewed online here.

ISIS and Bomb Making. Thomas Gibbons-Neff provides us with the "how" of bomb making in "Where Islamic State gets its bomb-making materials", Stars and Stripes, February 25, 2016.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

IO, CT, and Intel News

Bureau of Counterterrorism Renamed. The new name is the "Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism". This name (and mission) change reflects the emphasis placed on the new buzzword (or at least fairly new to me) of "Countering Violent Extremism" - sometimes called CVE. The new organization will look at combating terrorism, in part, by countering online extremism. Read more in "State changes counterterrorism unit to include online focus", FCW, February 16, 2016.

Worldwide Threat Assessment. The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 9, 2016 providing an assessment of threats against the United States. You can read his 33-page prepared statement for the record in Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community. The information on Afghanistan is on page 26 and comprises about 3/4 of a page in this report.

More on Clapper. It appears that the DNI was aware that high intelligence officials at Central Command (CENTCOM) were cooking the books when it came to intelligence estimates of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Read more in "America's top spy reportedly was aware that analysts were cooking ISIS intelligence reports", Business Insider, February 16, 2016.

Assessing CT Actions. A 60-page report provides us with how to assess CT operations in Asking the Right Questions: A Framework for Assessing Counterterrorism Actions, CNA Analysis & Solutions, February 2016.

Resource on Global Islamist Insurgency. Robert Bunker and Dave Dilegge have provided us with a valuable resource about Al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Global Radical Islamist Insurgency: Al Qaeda and Islamic State Networks - A Small Wars Journal Anthology, iUnivers (February 11, 2016), 852 pages.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Information Operations

State Dept, IO, and ISIS. West Point students are now part of the information operations campaign against ISIS. Cadets are now ". . . trying to lure would-be-jihadists into conversations about radical Islam on the Internet." This is all part of an attempt by the Department of State and West Point's Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) to fight terror. Read more in "Marketing Against ISIS: US State Department Enlists Students to Fight Terror", Vice News, February 8, 2016.

Taliban's Msg on ISIS. The Taliban have been good at the social media game - quickly hitting social media with its messaging and smoking the U.S. and NATO's ability to manage the media fight (other than using TV and print in the urban areas). Now the Taliban wants you (U.S. citizens) to know that the U.S. government is using the "ISIS in Afghanistan" scare to keep troops in the country. Read more in "Here's What the Taliban Wants America to Think about ISIS in Afghanistan", The World Post, February 10, 2016.

Twitter Counters ISIS. The social media giant says it is increasing efforts to combat extremism on its site. Read "Twitter Steps Up Efforts to Combat ISIS"Defense One, February 5, 2016.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Information Operations

Taliban Attacks on Media. The Taliban attack on the employees of the Tolo TV network in Afghanistan is a shocker to Afghan journalists that now find themselves on the frontlines of the Afghan conflict. Tolo News is the largest media organization in Afghanistan and is not shy about criticizing Taliban activities in their TV, print, and online news outlets. In 2015 the Taliban put Tolo News on notice saying they were legitimate targets. After those threats the news agency requested security assistance from the Afghan government . . .  but despite promises to help it was never provided. Read more in "Afghan Taliban Open New Front in War With Attacks on Media", by Lynne O'Donnell, Associated Press, February 2, 2016.

Threatening News in Afghanistan. The recent attack on Tolo News by the Taliban in Kabul where several employees were killed and many more injured highlight just how bad the security situation is in Afghanistan. Ahmed Rashid, noted author and commentator on the Afghan conflict, provides us with his perspective in "Afghanistan: Threatening News"The New York Review of Books, February 2, 2016.

"Voice of the Caliphate" - Destroyed. Air strikes have put the Islamic State-operated radio station in Nangarhar province off the air. The radio station had been broadcasting the militant group's extremist messages since last year. Read more in "Air Strikes Destroy Islamic State Radio Station in Afghanistan, Officials Say", Radio Free Europe, February 2, 2016.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Information Operations (IO) & Social Media

"Once again the Obama administration is revising its programs to counter and defeat the self-styled Islamic State, particularly on the battlefield of ideas. With no apparent decline in supporters flocking to the movement nor any shortage of unhinged murderers inspired by it, State Department officials announced that they were creating a new "Global Engagement Center" to combat the Islamic State online. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama me with social media-savvy representatives from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to convince them to join the effort".  - - - -

This is yet one more attempt by the United States to attempt to win the social media battle against the Islamic State. Read more in "Why the U.S. Is Losing the War of Ideas Against Transnational Extremism", by Steven Metz, World Politics Review, January 15, 2016.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

IO News

MISO Training. The 1st Special Warfare Training Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina is responsible for training up the personnel who staff the U.S. Army's Military Information Support Operations (MISO) Teams. Read more about the training of the psychological operations Soldiers in "Good Luck, Charlie",, November 30, 2015.

Documentary - "Frame by Frame". Read this news article about a documentary on four photojournalists who work in Afghanistan. "The Beauty and the Peril of Being a Photojournalist in Afghanistan", Mother Jones, November 29, 2015.

DoS Counter-Messaging in Disarray. The State Department's efforts at producing content and posting items on Twitter, Facebook and other social media is lacking - so says an independent review of the DoS program by a panel of 'marketing experts'. The DoS has had the lead in this area of 'public diplomacy' but seems to be coming up short. Read "Panel casts doubt on U.S. propaganda efforts against ISIS", The Washington Post, by Greg Miller, December 2, 2015.

DoD Takes up the Slack! The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has been given more latitude in the conduct of 'messaging' in language contained in the FY2016 defense authorization bill signed into law by President Obama in November 2015. Section 1056, (a), (3) states that

". . . the Secretary of Defense should develop creative and agile concepts, technologies, and strategies across all available media to most effectively reach target audiences, to counter and degrade the ability of adversaries and potential adversaries to persuade, inspire, and recruit inside areas of hostilities or in other areas in direct support of the objectives of commander . . "

Social Media and Counterterrorism. A recent news report provides insight as to how counterterrorists can use social media to track down terrorists. Read "Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes", Voice of America, December 1, 2015.

Social Media Toolkit and Cubic. A new tool called the Social Media Replication Toolkit System is assisting Soldiers monitoring (and using?) social media in training during exercises. It is hoped that the toolkit will assist in getting forces to understand at the small unit level how social media can be a war fighting tool. Read more in "Cubic Looks to Train Soldiers to Use Social Media as Battlefield Tool", Defense News, December 3, 2015.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Information Operations

War on the Web. There is growing concern about the radicalization of the world's youth via social media. The Islamic State is proven very adept at the use of social media sites such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and others. The West will ignore the growth of social media as a weapon by terrorist and insurgent groups at its peril. Read more in "War on the Web", U.S. News & World Report, July 23, 2015.

Policing Terror Talk. A bill in Congress would have Facebook, Twitter, and others report terrorist content. Read more in "Social-Media Firms Resist Role of Policing Terror Talk", The Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2015.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Social Media and Afghanistan

"Social media is another component of unconventional strategies, and the security environment in general, that is playing a central role in recruiting individuals to causes. We must therefore develop our ability to interact with key influencers through this medium, or else risk blinding ourselves to this important conduit of information and influence in unfolding crises. We all must view this space as routine operational area; it is redefining how humans interact. Our success in leveraging these tools will be determined by how well we cultivate the networks in which we participate; it is important to note that these are not 'our' networks - the very nature of these relationship tools is decentralized and participatory, rather than centrally controlled. We require new thinking on this subject". Statement of General Joseph Votel, USSOCOM Commander, before the House Armed Services Committee, March 18, 2015.
By now everyone who studies or works within the conflict area in today's world should be aware of the growth of importance of social media. Some of our opponents have proved very adept at the use of social media to recruit fighters and supporters for their cause and to influence the conversation about their movement. One obvious example is the Islamic State.

Unknown to many Americans is the fact that there are a few U.S. organizations that are actively engaged in a 'Twitter' fight with the Islamic State. The effectiveness of this fight is still to be determined. It is ". . . like most governmental campaigns, long on bureaucracy and short on details". Adam Weinstein has several recommendations for the U.S. government social media organizations. You can read them in "Here's How the US Should Fight ISIS with Social Media" (, March 12, 2015). Some of these recommendations could be of use in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Department of State's Center Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) is America's combatant in the social media area. The website for the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications is Read a news report on the CSCC by Hayes Brown (Think Progress, September 18, 2014) - "Meet the State Department Team Trying to Troll ISIS into Oblivion".

Social media is also important in a counterinsurgency fight - like the one taking place in Afghanistan. Many observers see the Afghan counterinsurgency effort focused on three areas; security, governance, and development. Some COIN adherents would add a fourth - information operations, inform and influence activities, or social media - pick your favorite phrase.

In the past ISAF has had a dismal record in the information operations field and ISAF was clearly outclassed by the Taliban. The Taliban could post a video of a roadside IED attack against a Coalition convoy on social media within an hour of the incident. ISAF would comment on it one or two days later. For the most part the Taliban smoked ISAF in the IO fight; although ISAF did have some bright moments and effective practices (use of the RIAB for instance). ISAF would tell you there are an abundance of TVs, radio stations, and print media where the Afghan government's message is being carried. But the reach of those media outlets is limited mostly to urban areas; where households have radios, TVs, and are sometimes literate. In the rural areas, the contested areas where the COIN fight takes place, a 'night letter' tacked on a villagers front door by insurgents has much greater effect.

Resolute Support HQs (replacing ISAF) is continuing the IO effort; with some success stories. They are doing a much better job at informing the public through its use of Facebook, Twitter and their website. At the same time RS HQs has reduced the frequency of 'cheerleader' news releases that discredited their message - something which plagued ISAF in the past with reduced credibility.

While the Coalition continues its efforts in this area of the conflict (IO and the use of social media) it is also working to improve the Afghan capability to conduct Strategic Communications through its advisors working in Essential Function 8 - STRATCOM. One good example of the Afghans conducting work in this field is the Afghan RMIC located in Mazar-e-Sharif (TAAC North's AO - the Europeans can take some credit for this). The RMIC has their own website (Bayanshamal) up and running supporting the Afghan governments message. The RMIC is something the other TAACs should check out. It is worth the visit to Camp Marmal to see what right looks like when it comes to Afghan IO. And you can always sneak into one of the many discreet pubs for a beer or two! The Rose Garden (all allowed except U.S.) or GPPT pub (invitation only) comes to mind.

Monday, November 24, 2014

President Ghani's Twitter Account

Do you ever wonder about what the President of Afghanistan is thinking about? Well, one way to know is to follow Ashraf Ghani's Twitter account.  Some of his latest tweets are about corruption, his visit to China, importance of an improving Pakistan/Afghan relationship, congrats to the Afghan cricket team, the economy, the Istanbul Process, and the importance of women in Afghanistan. He also has a website (but it isn't in English). You can sign up for updates on Twitter to get his tweets!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Afghans Find Love Online

Afghan culture is sometimes confusing to westerners. In our open western societies interaction with the opposite sex is very easy; but in Afghanistan . . . not so much. The world of telecommunications and technology is eroding the restrictions a little bit. Read more in "Young Afghans go online to find friendship and love", Reuters, November 12, 2014.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Social Media in Afghanistan

The use of technology and telecommunications in Afghanistan is one of the bright shining stars that holds great potential for the country. Social media is a big part of this; especially in an age where most of the Afghan population is under 30 years old. Read more in "A Look at Digital Afghanistan", The Huffington Post, November 4, 2014.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Afghan Social Media

In a counterinsurgency environment information operations (IO) is key. IO can sway public perception to support the government or it can generate support for the insurgents. Proper messaging (defined themes that resonate) along with the means of getting a message out (TV, print, radio, etc.) are important. With the rapid technological advances in communications social media has been taking a bigger and bigger role. This is true of Afghanistan as well. Almost three million Afghans have Internet access and almost two million use social media. Over 70% of the population has access to cell phones. Read more in "Afghan Social Media Summit 2014 becomes talk of town", Central Asia Online, October 27, 2014.

Monday, October 20, 2014

COMISAF's Facebook Page

Don't you wish you could sit in the ISAF commander's office for a day to find out what is really going on? Well, you can . . . sort of. General John Campbell, COMISAF, wants you to know what is going on in the ISAF world. While he can't meet with you personally each and every day he will take some time out of his busy schedule to let you know what's up. You can like his facebook account and check out his daily activities. There are at least two posts a day and it is very informative. If you are stationed in Mazar-e-Sharif, BAF, KAF, Herat, Jalalabad, or Gamberi this is one way to stay informed on the activities taking place in Kabul on the ISAF compound. Photo to the left was a post by General Campbell on October 18, 2014 where he was meeting with a delegation from . . . hmmmm, doesn't say. Check out COMISAF's Facebook account at

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Afghan Election and Social Media

Sam Schneider, who at one time was the online editor for Tolo News, has posted an article on the South Asian Channel (Foreign Policy) on how Afghan social media has affected the elections and how it can sometimes be disruptive and inflame the tenuous political situation in Afghanistan. Facebook and Twitter are mediums that are very closely monitored and which provide instantaneous news alerts - although not always factual and sometimes inflammatory. In an attempt to add to the dialogue and shape the narrative the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) also has a twitter account at and a Facebook account at .Read more in "A Double-Edged Sword: Social Media and the Afghan Election", The South Asia Channel (Foreign Policy), October 16, 2014.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

ISAF To Pat Itself on the Back

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will be running a social media campaign they are calling "Nations, Impacts, and Contributions" or NIC. It is a social media campaign highlighting NATO and non-NATO partners' unique contributions to the ISAF mission. The program runs from October 12th through December 31st, 2014 (the end of the ISAF mission). The campaign will use photo, video and print products and each of the more than 50 countries will get their "own day". This "feel good" campaign is dedicating one day to each of the nations that contributed troops. Read more in an ISAF news release entitled "ISAF recognizes nations through social media campaign (NIC)", ISAF News, October 13, 2014. ISAF has posted a video introducing the campaign and provided a calendar of events as well; so if you are from Estonia your day is November 3, Georgia your day is November 5, and Italy then your day is November 14. Looks like it is in alphabetical order; putting the U.S. last.

The NIC campaign can be viewed on the following ISAF websites: