The new building going up at Camp Murray -- no! at JBLM! -- no! at Camp Murray! -- has to do with the Army's new appreciation of "words as a major war element," to quote Lt. Gen. Robert L. Cashen Jr. -- You'd never figure that out from recent reporting in the Tacoma (WA) News Tribune, though. -- On Tues., Oct. 22, the News Tribune reported that the Washington National Guard planned to break ground at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) on Thursday for a new headquarters for the Army National Guard's 56th Information Operations Group. -- Reporter Adam Ashton apologized for a "previous version of this story" that "incorrectly said the headquarters would be built at Camp Murray in Lakewood." -- But curiouser and curiouser, Friday's paper reported that the groundbreaking took place "at Camp Murray in Lakewood"! -- If they're trying to confuse us, they're doing a good job. -- But one thing is clear (or not). -- The purpose of the 56th Information Operations Group, both articles stated, is to "help commanders execute goals by shaping the opinions of their opponents and of foreign populations." -- Just how neo-Orwellian can you get? -- BACKGROUND: If you google "56th Information Operations Group," you learn nothing about the group, but all about the unit's heraldic emblem. -- It is very attractive, we admit. -- But a better notion of what's we're talking about here can be gleaned from a piece by an anonymous author involved in the Army's Military Information Support Operation that appeared in 2011 on the Small Wars Journal website: what "Information Operations" is really about is PSYOPS. -- Writing about the military's decision to improve in this area, the *Washington Post* noted earlier this year that "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.'" -- We thought that things got melted in crucibles, not validated, but let that pass. -- Walter Pincus concluded that "there needs to be more public explanation of what all this involves, who is doing it, and the results so far." -- COMMENT: Dream on! -- Pincus forgets that, as George Orwell famously put it in 1984, "ignorance is strength"! -- FOOTNOTE: -- The third article posted below was inspired by a Feb. 23, 2011, Rolling Stone article by the late great investigative reporter Michael Hastings reporting that "The U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in 'psychological operations' to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war . . . and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators." -- For more on how Information Operations figure in today's military, see this 2010 article in CounterPunch by David Price, a St. Martin's University anthropologist who research deals with how the military is exploiting and corrupting anthropology for its own purposes....
NATIONAL GUARD BREAKING GROUND ON $27 MILLION HEADQUARTERS AT JBLM
By Adam Ashton
News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
October 22, 2013
The Washington National Guard on Thursday plans to break ground on a $27 million headquarters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord* for a unit that seeks to tilt the battlefield in its favor by influencing the decisions of enemy leaders.
The new building will house the Army National Guard’s 56th Information Operations Group, which is composed of citizen soldiers trained to help commanders execute goals by shaping the opinions of their opponents and of foreign populations.
Elements of the National Guard’s 96th Troop Command also will have offices in the new building.
"This new readiness center will provide our guardsmen with top of the line facilities, work space and areas to excel in their jobs,” Washington National Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty said in a news release.
The National Guard expects the 124,000 square foot structure to open by late 2015. It will contain administrative areas, an assembly hall, arms vault as well as resources for the information operations group.
The Defense Department initially set aside $35 million for the project. It came in under budget and the savings will go back to Pentagon funds.
* A previous version of this story incorrectly said the headquarters would be built at Camp Murray in Lakewood.
GUARD BEGINS WORK ON CAMP MURRAY FACILITY
By Adam Ashton
** $27 million headquarters **
News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
October 25, 2013
Page A6 (not posted online)
The Washington National Guard broke ground Thursday on a $27 million headquarters at Camp Murray in Lakewood for a unit that seeks to tilt the battlefield in its favor by influencing the decisions of enemy leaders.
The new building will house the Army National Guard's 56th Information Operations Group, which is composed of citizen soldiers trained to help commanders execute goals by shaping the opinions of their opponents and of foreign populations.
Elements of the National Guard's 96th Troop Command also will have offices in the building.
"This new readiness center will provide our guardsmen with top of the line facilities, work space and areas to excel in their jobs," Washington National Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty said.
The National Guard expects the 124,000-square-foot structure to open by late 2015. It will contain administrative areas, an assembly hall, arms vault as well as resources for the information operations group.
The Defense Department initially set aside $35 million for the project. It came in under budget and the savings will go back into Pentagon funds.
INFORMATION OPERATIONS DOESN'T DO I.O.
Small Wars Journal
March 1, 2011
Mr. Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone Magazine, coupled with information provided by LTC Michael Holmes (an Information Operations Officer assigned to the 71st Theater Information Operations Group) created a maelstrom of confusion and misinformed discussion regarding two related -- and yet distinct functions within the United States Army.
Information Operations and Psychological Operations are not the same. They are often incorrectly labeled as synonymous, but this due to a fatal flaw in the Army Staff Structure -- not because of doctrinal misrepresentation. This article will serve to demonstrate the misunderstanding and attempt to clarify some roles and responsibilities.
It is necessary to highlight that currently within the "Information Realm," the United States Department of Defense is undergoing a period of transformation, restructuring, and redefining its doctrine. As such, much is open to interpretation until doctrine is updated and disseminated throughout the Army and the Joint Force.
While this article is not an attempt to attack LTC Holmes, or diminish the credibility of Mr. Hastings, it will address the arguments and evidence presented by two misinformed individuals and shed some light on the necessity of Military Information Support Operations (formerly known as Psychological Operations).
Joint Publication 3-13, Information Operations provides the following description: "Information operations (IO) are described as the integrated employment of electronic warfare (EW), Computer network operations (CNO), psychological operations (PSYOP), military deception (MILDEC), and operations security (OPSEC), in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own." (U.S. Department of Defense, 2006)
Information Operations (IO) is, at the core, a synchronizing staff function that does not actually create deliverables -- aside from analysis and assessment. As a synchronizing staff section, IO Cells are supposed to assess the capabilities and employment of the core functions, ensure that information fratricide is not occurring, and synchronize efforts throughout the entire battlespace.
While the definition of each core capability could be addressed, this article will provide explanation of Psychological Operations, now referred to as Military Information Support Operations (MISO) as defined, and offer an explanation as to why this may be misconstrued as Information Operations.
Psychological Operations are planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of psychological operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator's objectives.
PSYOP is the most visible producer of products, actions, and themes for the Information Operations Cell. Due to the word "influence," there is always a concern associated with PSYOP that something sinister is afoot. PSYOP programs, themes, products, and actions must all undergo a specific development process in order to anticipate the outcome, achieve the desired behavior change, and reach the objectives listed by the Commander.
In order to conduct PSYOP, you have to have a PSYOP Planner present on a staff, period. Information Operations Officers gain an understanding of the capabilities of PSYOP units through courses such as the Psychological Operations Integration Course, but this does not qualify them to plan PSYOP. Additionally, attendance at this course should not be used as a shroud of protection that prohibits an IO Officer
The unfortunate association between PSYOP and IO lies on the fact that Headquarters Staff Sections for Information Operations (G7) has a permanent staff Officer, who is an Information Operations Officer (Functional Area 30). By training and by specialty, he is not an expert in the core capabilities -- he is a generalist. This allows him to effectively understand and employ the experts of the capabilities in order to achieve effects.
Information Operations have related tasks as well, including Civil Military Operations (CMO), Defense Support to Public Diplomacy (DSPD), and Public Affairs (PA). As a related task, Information Operations can lend support when needed and should be closely de-conflicted. By doing so, an Information Operations Officer ensures consistency in message efforts and prevents information fratricide.
Civil Military Operations efforts are essential to Information Operations related capabilities. CMO sets the stage for interaction with a host nation population, are often exploited by Public Affairs, and require operational support. IO assists in coordination and synchronization by ensuring the correct level of asset is appropriated to support CMO.
Public Affairs is related to IO by sharing a common linkage to the information environment. While PA activities are not exclusively designed to influence an identified target set; rather their intent is to inform and allow an audience to draw their own conclusion. However, Public Affairs cannot be discounted as a viable influence in the battlespace and is a dominant force in the electromagnetic spectrum. IO and PA coordinate to ensure consistency of message efforts, reduce redundancy, and capitalize on resources.
Defense Support to Public Diplomacy are those activities and measures taken by the Department of Defense components to support and facilitate public diplomacy efforts of the United States Government. JP 3-13 states much of the operational level IO activity conducted in any theater will be directly linked to Public Diplomacy objectives. DSPD requires coordination with both the interagency and among DOD components. Department of Defense Directive (DODD) 3600.1, Information Operations outlines responsibilities of combatant commanders to plan Information Operations, ensuring that the larger communications objectives are met.
The headquarters of NATO Training Mission -- Afghanistan (NTM-A) would be definitively interested in guaranteeing that their objectives were nested with Public Diplomacy goals. Charged with the responsibility of building capacity within the Afghanistan Security Forces, they would receive interest and questions from Congressional Delegations.
LTC Holmes has posited that he received an order that in effect "targeted" visiting American dignitaries. While the content of the order is unknown, and wildly disputed, suggestions that his actions and participation were non-doctrinal and illegal are without merit. Based on Annex B of Joint Publication 3-13 -- what he was asked to do, and further told to do, can be discerned as a capability of Information Operations. Figure B-3. Support Roles of Information Operations highlights the linkage between the capabilities and functions.
Michael Hastings, accompanied by the information provided by LTC Holmes, suggests that there was a deliberately planned effort to change the behavior of visiting dignitaries. I beg to differ, that without a certified Psychological Operations Planner available, LTC Holmes was straying into a lane that he does not fully understand and overestimated his capabilities and training.
In order to accomplish what LTC Holmes suggests, it would require more than his "IO Skillset"; it would require assets, time, and an objective specified in the Operations Order. Aside from coordinating training, LTC Holmes did not have the assets available to conduct what Mr. Hastings alleges occurred. To suggest that this activity occurred is a stretch and completely irrelevant to the true nature of LTC Holmes desired outcome by providing information to a sensational reporter.
Information Operations are all about consistency of messages, clarity of truth, and management of expectations inside and outside of a headquarters. Unfortunately, this includes the political landscape -- which requires monitoring and the development of assessments are a required output.
Had this Information Operations Field Support Team had a greater clarity of their roles, requirements, and responsibilities (and true masters of doctrine); they would have been able to make recommendations that would have enabled the entry of IO capabilities to the training mission. Instead, it appears that they were naysayers and cynics, which amplified tensions and caused undue stress in already charged and intense environment.
In conclusion -- Information Operations elements do not "do" information operations. Information Operation does not do Military Information Support Operations, either. They coordinate and synchronize efforts to meet a Commander's intent and meet his information effects requirements. This implies that they conduct analysis, make recommendations, and provide the commander with the best information available based on their expertise and clear understanding of the core capabilities.
--MisoMan is a trained Soldier in the Art of Influence, known as Military Information Support Operation (MISO). He has experience at the Tactical, Operational, and Strategic levels of influence, including support to Joint and Interagency elements. MisoMan is not a representative of the Department of Defense or the United States Army; rather -- he is voice of clarity, interpretation, and truth. The opinions located within this paper are solely his.
PENTAGON GEARING UP TO FIGHT THE P.R. WAR
By Walter Pincus
February 6, 2013
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.”
The Army, like the other military services, has had PR operations for decades, but mostly they have been aimed at U.S. audiences. As the manual states, “Some people think of the information environment as a new phenomenon. In fact, it has been present throughout history and has always been an important military consideration.”
When radio and then television arrived, the services used their own personnel for interviews for the public. During the Vietnam War, they offered stories that often contrasted with what reporters were providing commercial news outlets. As the war expanded, reporters who went to the front lines traveled primarily with military support.
In Desert Storm, the 1991 operation that forced Iraq out of Kuwait, reporters in the beginning had to cover the fighting far behind the lines by attending televised briefings by the U.S. commander, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf. Near the end of the conflict, a few selected reporters rode with U.S. units.
As part of planning for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon under Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld decided to place reporters with military units. With “embedding,” many reporters who had never been in the military service shared time with troops and essentially became part of the outfit they covered. It mostly worked to the Pentagon’s benefit.
That lesson is key to the new manual’s approach. The best way to keep Americans informed, it says, is “through the actions and words of individual soldiers.” And the best way to do that is through army units that “embed media personnel into the lowest tactical levels, ensuring their safety and security.”
There is to be “a culture of engagement in which soldiers and leaders confidently and comfortably engage the media as well as other audiences,” the manual says.
Strategic communications came to the forefront over the past decade along with “information operations,” propelled by the belief that the U.S. military has been losing the propaganda war in Afghanistan, thanks in good part to the Taliban’s use of messaging. “Adversaries and enemies have proven adept at using information to gain a marked advantage over U.S. forces,” the manual says.
“With the advent of the Internet and widespread availability of wireless communications and information technology, this environment has become an even more important consideration to military planning and operations than in years past,” says the manual.
The Army has developed Military Information Support Operations units. These are troops trained as regional experts with language capabilities that are familiar with the religious, political, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds of an area and so are prepared to shape messages to influence local perceptions and behavior.
“Victory depends on a commander’s ability to shape, sway, and alter foreign audience perceptions, and ultimately behavior, especially in the area of operations,” the manual says.
Perhaps it’s a step forward if we are using PR to win wars rather than more guns, bombs or missiles. But there needs to be more public explanation of what all this involves, who is doing it and the results so far.
The last step I remember Congress taking was to reduce Defense Department spending on strategic communications and ask for a more detailed explanation of such programs.