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Pentagon gearing up to fight the PSYOP|MISO war

February 12, 2013
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Source: Washington Post

The U.S. Army has embraced what civilians would call public relations as a key part of military operations for the 21st-century battlefield.

“Combat power is the total means of destructive, constructive and information capabilities that a military unit or formation can apply at a given time,” according to a new Army field manual released publicly last month.

Added to the traditional war elements — among them movement and maneuver, intelligence and firing against an enemy — is the new “Inform and Influence Activities” (IIA). As the manual states, IIA “is critical to understanding, visualizing, describing, directing, assessing, and leading operations toward attaining the desired end state.”

I’ve written before about the military moving into PR. But this manual shows just how serious the Army has become about it. There’s now a G-7 on a commander’s staff whose job is for “planning, integration and synchronization of designated information-related capabilities,” the manual says.

Listed on the Web site of the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea is its assistant chief of staff, G-7, who is “responsible for planning, coordinating and synchronizing Information Engagements activities of Public Affairs, Military Information Support Operations, Combat Camera and Defense Support to Public Diplomacy to amplify the strong Korean-American alliance during armistice, combat and stability operations.”The G-7 for the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., “assesses how effectively the information themes and messages are reflected in operations . . . assesses the effectiveness of the media . . . [and] assesses how the information themes and messages impact various audiences of interest and populations in and outside the AO [area of operations].”

Two years ago, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Cashen Jr., commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, wrote in Military Review magazine that Army doctrine would adopt words as a major war element, saying it “was validated in the crucible of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

In bureaucratese, he described IIA activities as employing “cooperative, persuasive and coercive means to assist and support joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational partners to protect and reassure populations and isolate and defeat enemies.”

Translated: Under the “inform” element, commanders will be responsible for keeping not only their own troops aware of what is going on and why, but also U.S. audiences “to the fullest extent possible,” the manual states. Commanders abroad will be required to inform their foreign audiences, balancing disclosure with protecting operations.

The “influence” part is limited to foreign populations, where, according to the manual, the goal is to get them to “support U.S. objectives or to persuade those audiences to stop supporting the adversary or enemy.”

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