CounterPropaganda · Information operations · Information Warfare

Our Deeply Flawed US National Strategies


Below are the extracts from the latest ‘comprehensive strategy‘ written by the Heritage Foundation from 2015, I have extracted two sub-strategies: the one for Russian Propaganda and the one for Cybersecurity.

First, a few observations.

  • Public Diplomacy, in no way, is manned, resourced, trained, or equipped to counter Russian propaganda, which is only a minor subset of the Russian Information Warfare program, writ large. Even a perfunctory examination of the Russian IW program reveals a system that dwarfs our PD program, even with volunteer augmentees from the ‘community’. The GEC is good, but fraught with bureaucracy and bosses and attornies more concerned with job protection than public service.
  • Responding publicly to Russian falsehoods aka Fake News, disinformation, misinformation, active measures, et al, is fine, but it is slow, tedious, and fraught with inherent, embedded, and deeply entrenched bureaucracy. It must be part of a much larger, more comprehensive program, which will take considerable resources and dedicated government commitment.
  • Prove it. Recognize that nations such as Georgia and U.S. allies in Central and Eastern Europe are particularly vulnerable to Russian propaganda. If this document was written in 2015, it should have recognized that Ukraine is bearing the brunt of Russian misdeeds, using tools and weapons such as information, intelligence, and military.  Perhaps a truer statement is these nations are Russia’s main focus as former Soviet republics.  I am not disagreeing, I just would like to see this based on something besides a gut feeling or experience in the field.  Studies based on polls, surveys, analysis?  If such studies exist, please share. The point being we have been doing a lot of things wrong for decades, now is our chance to do the right thing.

As for cybersecurity, I am almost ashamed to read only three recommendations. Cybersecurity is fundamentally deeply flawed and is, de facto, a monumentally expensive self-licking ice cream cone.

A few recommendations for the next strategy:

  • For the President and the National Security Advisor: please appoint a Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communication so that the Strategic Communications staff, tools, mechanism, and strategies might be integrated, coordinated, and synchronized through messaging, narratives, and other communications.
  • For the President, the National Security Advisor, and the Secretary of State: consider creating a National Information Strategy as a subset to the National Security Strategy.
  • For the President, the National Security Advisor and the Secretary of State: consider creating a National Counter-Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Strategy as part of the National Information Strategy.
  • For the President, the National Security Advisor and the Secretary of State: please consider a National Strategic Communications Strategy as a part of the National Information Strategy.
  • For the Secretary of State: please appoint an Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, so that the Public Diplomacy staff, tools, and mechanism may be integrated, coordinated, and synchronized.
  • For the Secretary of State: please appoint a Special Envoy/Coordinator for the Global Engagement Center. Consider former Special Envoy/Coordinator Michael Lumpkin’s recommendation to elevate the position to an NDI equivalency for funding and authorities.
  • Consider funding the Strategic Communications program of the United States to a level at least commensurate with the Russian Information Warfare effort.  While you are at it, please increase the Public Diplomacy program as well.
  • Consider a global Target Audience Analysis based on behavioral change, not just attitudes and feelings.  Continue these assessments yearly for mid-course corrections.
  • Consider mandating Methods of Effectiveness for all Strategic Communications, Public Diplomacy, and Information Operations programs, accountable to and reporting to Congress, as well as the President.
  • Consider creating a vision, missions, end states, goals, and objectives before any other part of the planning process for all the above processes.
  • Consider creating feedback mechanisms, a quality assurance process, and a process level improvement training and appraisal program.
  • Consider creating a panel of external experts, for both information warfare/strategic communications and cybersecurity and rewrite the strategy.
  • Consider community events for information and cyber security (but don’t mix up the two), to aid crosstalk, fertilize new ideas, and build understanding.

All the above are primarily to assure the best ‘bang for the buck’ for the taxpayer, our boss.

</end editorial>



Issue: Russian Propaganda – Excerpt from 

U.S. Comprehensive Strategy Toward Russia, Heritage Foundation, December 9, 2015

Problem. Audiences within reach of Russia’s growing media empire are increasingly subjected to manipulation and rampant anti-Americanism. This trend has intensified since the Russian annexation of Crimea and its invasion of eastern Ukraine in 2014. Through Russia Today’s global network, the Kremlin broadcasts globally in five major languages, including on cable stations in the United States. Free Western media has no comparable presence in Russia.[18]

Recommendations. The U.S. should:

  • Use public diplomacy to counter anti-American and pro-Russian propaganda by the Russian government. U.S. efforts should include international broadcasting, a new Russian satellite channel, the Internet, social networking, print media, and revamped academic, student, and business exchange programs.
  • Respond publicly and vigorously to high-profile Russian falsehoods, while regularly emphasizing the regime’s suppression of independent media in Russia.
  • Launch a comprehensive audit of Russian information operations in the United States and its allies. U.S. intelligence agencies and the State Department’s International Information Programs office should lead this audit to evaluate the extent and effectiveness of these campaigns and understand their strategic implications.
  • Publicize Russian support for Western media outlets and its involvement in Western civil society. If this support is overt, it should always be emphasized. If it is covert, Russian support should be publicized to the extent that is compatible with the security of intelligence sources. The goal in either case is to deprive these outlets of their credibility.
  • Give the same visa treatment to personnel working for Russian state-controlled media that Russia gives to journalists from the U.S. and allied nations. The U.S. should not give Russian state journalists any better treatment, including visas, than Russia gives to free journalists from the West.
  • Recognize that nations such as Georgia and U.S. allies in Central and Eastern Europe are particularly vulnerable to Russian propaganda. Focus U.S. support for independent media and journalists on these nations, while at the strategic level backing NATO’s Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Latvia.

and

Issue: Cybersecurity

Problem. Russian cyber capabilities and cyber aggression pose a military and economic threat to the U.S. U.S. military, critical infrastructure, and government and private-sector networks are potential and actual targets for Russian aggression, and the U.S. needs to do more to defend itself in cyberspace while pursuing additional deterrents.[16]

Recommendations. The U.S. should:

  • Enable cybersecurity information sharing among the private and public sectors. While not specific to Russia, the U.S. needs to do more to protect its networks. Information sharing helps the government and the private sector to become aware of potential threats or vulnerabilities and to avoid costly breaches or attacks. This means removing ambiguities and restrictions in current law; protecting companies that voluntarily share with liability, regulatory, and Freedom of Information Act protections; and stabling a clearinghouse for shared information.
  • Define the limits of self-defense. U.S. companies are prohibited from engaging in many nonmalicious acts of self-defense. If the U.S. private sector is to become an ally in combatting malicious cyber behavior, it should be given clear guidelines on how it can help track, identify, and stop hackers.
  • Undertake more significant deterrent measures against Russia. The U.S. should start by assertively “naming and shaming” Russian cyber aggression. Such diplomacy must be backed up with legal and economic penalties against the individuals and companies that are connected to such malicious actions. If Russian belligerence persists, the U.S. should expand its support of democracy promotion and Internet freedom efforts in Russia. The U.S. should also build a coalition of partners to make such efforts more effective.

Source: http://www.heritage.org/europe/report/us-comprehensive-strategy-toward-russia

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