I’ve been involved with Army IO/IIA since the beginning, long before IO positions were created, long before there was an IO branch and even before there was a 1st IO Command, when it was called LIWA. I began working IO about the same time LIWA was created. I worked IO on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon and was one of the plankholders of the Joint Staff IO Response Cell. I helped work IO for Special Operations during the initial stages of OEF and continued doing IO work at INSCOM, when I returned.
I’ve been watching Army IO since the beginning. LIWA, 1st IO Command, DAMO-ODI, USAIOP, FA-30 branch and various painful iterations of FM 3-13. I’ve watched leaders, both in command positions and advisory, make decisions and recommendations which effected Army IO, for bad and good. I’ve talked with FA-30 leaders and practitioners at all levels, heard the complaints, passed on their comments (complaints turned down a notch or two) and watch the results, or lack thereof. I’ve watched the triumvirate of IO leadership, at 1st IO Command, DAMO-ODI and USAIOP, really try take control of IO and urge it into the right direction, all the while knowing this disunity of command was in direct contravention of Army leadership principles.
I watched as one IO professional was promoted to General, hoping he would become the “leader” of Army IO, only to see him fill a clear need for a cyber position, but making Army IO suffer. I watched the first Commander of the Army’s Cyber Component attempt to subordinate 1st IO Command under him, INSCOM too, and turn IO upside down. Common sense does not always prevail at the two and three star level when attempting new things. Now, as we take a strategic pause at the military’s attempts to properly address cyber, clearer minds might prevail. I can only hope.
I recently wrote a piece about the ‘State of IO’. I received quite a few private responses, most of which really warmed my heart. I responded to one comment about Army IO and I want to expand on that comment. I wrote the reply on my iPad and want to expand.
First, let’s look at the doctrine makers for Army IO. USAIOP has got to get its act together for the US Army. Too many successive TRADOC Commanders and Army CoSs have tried to manipulate and control the system. The Army needs a comprehensive approach to IO based on reality and facts, not gut feelings. Back in 2007 the Army tried to implement a new form of IO which many said disassembled IO and weakened IO to the point of uselessness. All the experts in the various “components” of IO were returned to their operational origins in the headquarters and were supposed to push IO within that office. This attempt failed. This has resulted in today’s dysfunctional IO community, especially within the Army. The roadshow that briefed this concept had a slick presentation, which superficially made sense, but upon later contemplation, revealed a basic inherent flaw. For IO to have the impact the “new” IO was intended, IO had to be a core competency in the US Army. Fast forward to 2014 and we can see IO is not a core competency, as a matter of fact it’s a bill payer for other parts of the Army.
IO should and must become a core competency, the first thing any soldier, officer, general or warrant thinks of, before contemplating we launch a round downrange. What effect do we hope to achieve? Can we achieve that using information, on a long-term basis? Can we cause a population to support us, well in advance of any combat operations, which certainly make people hate us for generations (or can we mitigate)? To put it in terms of Dr. Lee Rowland, how can we have the effect on people’s behavior in the desired manner? Under what conditions will this behavior change?
The Army’s “new” IO was PowerPoint deep. I constantly asked for studies, papers, books, anything to justify the “new” IO. I got a series of PowerPoint slides and no substance. I saw one PowerPoint presentation by a unit which will not be named, but it damned the “new” IO so badly that it appeared ludicrous. But tougher minds prevailed, not necessarily smarter minds. So I ask, before the Army makes any new doctrine for IO (and the same goes for OSD, please), show us the studies. Show us the papers. Show us the premise upon which you think the US Army should invest millions of dollars and countless lives, so that we can save young soldiers and prevail upon the battlefield while simultaneously preserving and hopefully building popular support.
The Army needs to create a healthy FA-30 career field (I haven’t blogged how broken I feel it is – yet). When the O-5 selection board promotes only 40% of the eligible candidates, motivation across the board comes close to zero. This sends a clear message to their potential leaders that the likelihood of promotion for your young staff officer is not too good, so don’t invest a lot of time and energy in their professional development. Let them prepare for a career in marketing. Next, stop sending mixed signals to the FA-30s. I’ve seen them misdirected at least three times. Stop it.
This is blasphemy and I apologize in advance. IO integrates stuff. MISO/PSYOP is another tool, not the king. PSYOP, stick to what you do best and do not try to say you can do IO’s job. Perhaps you can, perhaps you’re trained, but when your job is PSYOP, that is your job. When you are working an IO position, IO is your job. I used to be an Infantry Officer before I became an intelligence officer doing IO work and I never, not once, told an inexperienced Infantry Officer how to do his job when I was an intel or IO guy.
Cross fertilization. The Army has a basic problem when it comes to IO. For officers, their branch continually hammers the mantra: “stay tactical” into your head. I have seen far too many O-5/6s on the Joint Staff, OSD, LNOs at State or at the White House trying to drink from the proverbial firehose. They were lost, they don’t know the acronyms, who to call, what they do and what else is available. IO folks need to do a tour in the NSC Staff, cross-fertilize at State and at the BBG, early in their career. IO guys and gals need to educate and learn. O-5s and O-6s are too set in their ways, young-uns are malleable. There are too many things at the national level than can be taught in school and our doctrine sucks at integrating at that level. Break free from the old “tactical” mantra, spread your wings and fly, Army IO.
Army IO, this is for you to use. Don’t fall into the “not invented here” syndrome. I am available for hire.