WEEK 33: Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG) lends a helping hand to the information fight in Baghdad.
Ay – Dubya – Gee
“When the odds are the longest, when the enemy is toughest, when we simply must win — I know the AWG will get the job done.”
– Vice Chief of Staff of the Army General Cody, AWG web site
Once upon another lifetime, I was assigned to a special operations unit. When assigned to a special operations unit, personnel are considered Special Operations Forces (SOF). Being SOF is too much fun.
I was part of a small, hand picked organization with an ample budget. Most personnel had more than ten years service and were self starters. The lowest common denominator was pretty high. So, the organization did not become distracted by numerous repetitive procedures. Bureaucracy is minimized.
We had access to everything the nation had to offer. The Inter-Agency and military organizations were often more than willing to accommodate SOF. We also had the benefit of instant credibility. Somehow, whatever we said had to be gospel or the closest thing to it.
For the past six years of the War on Terror, I have been educating and training leaders on how to use, not control, information. The talking point of get out your message has been interpreted by some to mean making a new handbill every day. Handbills have a place for use. I am all for cranking out masses of handbills and leaflets at times in order to crank up the volume so to speak. But, I certainly don’t advocate the daily death by a thousand paper cuts.
Prior to my recent vacation, I had briefed the Brigade Commanders on observations of how to improve in the information arena. I was contemplating how to inform more commanders when I almost literally ran into a former SOF acquaintance. I’ll call him Mike.
I hadn’t seen Mike since I was in Iraq three years ago.
I had been the SOF liaison to this Division and Mike was the SOF liaison to the Inter-Agency. He assisted me in linking the Division information personnel with agencies in the International Zone. Now, Mike works for the Asymmetric Warfare Group.
The Asymmetric Warfare Group specializes in capturing successful tactics, techniques and procedures for the Army. The organization is deployed across Iraq and acts as trainers and advisors to maneuver commanders. Their charter is to rapidly disseminate the latest lessons learned. Mike asked if I had any good information operations tactics and techniques.
Opportunity knocked. I asked Mike he had a few minutes. He did. We headed to my office for some information Kool-Aid. During my pitch, Mike was finishing my sentences like he had developed it.
“Go talk to the people.” Yep.
“Don’t waste time making a product for each event.” He must be butter because he is on a roll.
“Deliver a consistent Coalition message.” Give the man his Free Space and yell BINGO!
You may think I have issues and I do. In Army vernacular, I am a leaf eating, computer driving, living on the Forward Operating Base staff officer. Despite the fact I have been an information operations officer for seven years and seventy-five percent of my staff is from the combat arms, we somehow have credibility issues to some who work outside the gate.
The Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG) has what I need: Instant Credibility. I have what the AWG needs: information operations tactics and techniques.
If I have to do it, I’ll update the brief and put the AWG unit crest on it. I’ll identify the Commander and type in his name as the presenter. I’ll tell everybody the AWG invented information operations. I’ll do whatever it takes to spread the word.
Information is asymmetric. This is why I say you use it and not try to control it. You can’t control it. You take your shots and wait to see what happens. I can’t wait to see what AWG does with this.