Information operations

Baghdad Ten Years Ago – 20 May 07


WEEK 27:  I truly appreciate the perspective of those who say “I read billboards and watch Budweiser commercials; therefore, I know the information biz-ness.” Really?

I’m not bitter. I’m not being sarcastic. Really.

Okay, I had a chip on my shoulder. Mea culpa. Es tut mir Leid.

Little League

 “Put me in, coach – I’m ready to play today;
Look at me, I can be centerfield.”

John Fogerty

I used to be one of those parents who were always coaching from the bleachers.  I’d cheer hard for my son’s soccer team.  When he approached the ball or it neared him, I would turn from the cheering section to the coaching section.  Go get the ball!  Take a shot!  Head for the goal!

This was kind of a waste of time.  He really couldn’t hear me over any other voice.  Besides, he needed to listen to his coach and not me.  I found a solution for being heard.  I became an assistance coach.  The kids listen for my voice and could make adjustments on their position before the ball arrived.  I cheered them on, kept it positive and had fun.  Sometimes, though, I wanted to walk over to a parent and ask them to not counter the coaches instruction.  I let it go to keep it fun.

About a decade ago, I was looking for a professional change.  I saw opportunities and intrigue in Information Operations.  From the technical side to the yada-yada-yada soft approach, I imagined the possibilities.  I could have never imagined the policy hurdles.  A Military Intelligence major commented to me a few months ago.  “We are the most powerful and technologically advanced country on the planet and we can’t use our capabilities.  Laws is stupid.”

I’ve been working hard to tackle these policy issues and grow capabilities for the past seven years.  I’ve spent the past six years involved in providing information support from a variety of headquarters.  I know the PSYOP approval policy can be frustrating.  Perhaps it will soon change.  I’ll say this much for the PSYOP doctrine.  It was developed while conducting Counter Insurgency operations all over the globe.  The PSYOP soldiers know best when to use loudspeakers or handbills.

We need more personnel within the information fields.  The Brigades and Battalions need more dedicated assigned information personnel working public affairs, psychological operations and information operations.

100_4869
Pro-Iraq pins from late 2006. Part of what PSYOP Soldiers call lickies, stickies and chewies

I have been impressed with my Brigade counterparts as they have rapidly grasped how to use information in their first assignment. As the proverbial Army of One, each of them is slightly overwhelmed.  The division has a decent-sized information staff.  Plus, we have a robust and active auxiliary staff.

 

 

 

Here, the Public Affairs Officer and I have nearly an entire auxiliary staff to provide us good ideas and requests for information campaigns.  Thank goodness for their assistance.  Scott Bleichwehl and I have only been involved in our fields for a combined fourteen years of experience.  For the almost six year old Global War on Terror, we have as much time deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom as we do at our home base. Fortunately, the auxiliary support doesn’t just stop at the good ideas.  It coaches too.

It is reassuring to know we have this assistance as we attempt to coordinate the one and only Communications Line of Operation “Campaign”. (This is also oft referred to as an “IO Campaign” – the most abused term in the Department of Defense lexicon.  We have an “IO Campaign”’ for every sub task in the Operations Order). Lucky me.  I have a host of assorted friends and colleagues to look over my shoulder and tell me how do my job.  I haven’t had so much assistance since last soccer season.

I am even more grateful for the ongoing After Action Reviews I receive on why information almost always can do better. My peers, the other soccer parents, never gave me feedback as coach. I’m sure the kids heard an earful.  I receive so much guidance and feedback from my auxiliary staff who has yet to train, plan, and execute coordinated information plans.  Their interest in this makes me so proud.

It makes me want to return the favor.  At the next convoy pre-brief, I’m going to recommend a different procedure for recovering the lead vehicle when it is hit by a roadside bomb.  Staff call is a great opportunity for me to propose realigning the troop to task requirements for each of the maneuver units.  Why stop there?  I’ll attend the next meeting at the Baghdad Operations Command.  I’ll tell the assembled Iraqi leaders how the security plans could be better.  I know.  I’ll tell them I can do it better.

This is not fair to the Baghdad Operations Command.  The Iraqi leaders and my leaders aren’t recommending changing our approach.  I guess I’ll have to use a good clearing technique.  When the auxiliary team starts chiming, I’ll toss them a soccer ball from the PSYOP detachment to chase. Run along and play.  We have work to do.

lsand chew
A montage of lickies, stickies and chewies, from late 2006 early 2007
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