Soldiers & New Media

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by Rumpelstiltskin, Feb 1, 2008.

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  1. Sensible article from a US general regarding soldiers and new media here:

    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/01/changing-the-organizational-cu-1/

    which seems almost precisely the opposite of the MOD's attitude.

     
  2. Now, that bit hits the nail right on the head. Our current MO shows we really haven't got out of the habit of thinking about the kinetic side of war-fighting in isolation from its context. We haven't 'got it' institutionally yet that it isn't just the effects produced at a specific point in time that count, it's what people think about them well beyond the immediate theatre. At its crudest, we emphasise winning the war but we don't give much thought to telling anyone it's been won. Information is now part of 'war' and you can no more guarantee success in this part than you can in the physical part.

    One surprising realisation that crossed my mind reading this was that I'd always been trained to think of the media and civpop as entirely separate entities. Looking back on it, this seems a touch bizarre.
     
  3. Go back to 1994/5, in HQ ARRC, at JHQ, I led exactly this debate for over a year, prior to the IFOR deployment, against significant opposition from various quarters, principally the US PSYOP community. The background, of course, was that UNPROFOR had consistently been outperformed in the information arena, principally by the Bosniacs, whose soel aim was'Get America involved on our side'.

    We managed to get something in place that tried to ensure that all the 'soft' info ops were on the same hymn sheet, and it seems to have worked pretty well until the op was handed over to a Boxhead a year so down the pipe (when it no longer really mattered much). He dismantled it in favour of something more conventional: rather your point about kinetics, I think.

    As to audiences, even back then, stuff published for Bosnian audiences was finding its way into other nation's media outlets: nowadays I can dip into 'newpaper' and 'TV' reports from hundreds of other countries, and thousands of individuals: that makes it all the more important to understand the avenues by which information impacts the consciousness of the international public and their governments, and to think intelligently and imaginatively about what goes out, how it goes out, and who puts it out.

    One of the underpinning principles was that you must not say things that were patently out of step with what journos were seeing on the ground. Another (which stemmed from this) was that journos had to learn to trust what the military told them: plain facts beat spin hands down. That in turn meant the military had to be prepared to call a spade a spade, and not attempt to bluff their way.

    I am disappointed that folk think this is somehow 'new': it is so fundamental that it should have been locked into UK doctrine ever since then.

    I can find you a link to an independent academic review of NATO/Bosnia info ops, if you are interested.