Information operations

Baghdad Ten Years Ago – 12 Aug 07

WEEK 39: Gasp!  Shock!  Awe?  Say it isn’t so Joe!  We must be winning the information war against Al Qaeda.


“Its kind of like where you guys are in this war… you’ve been here a long time, you’ve been fighting… but you’ve got to look at what you are doing to your opponent… keep the fight on.” 

– Justin McCully, Ultimate Fighter during a recent USO visit


I have to admit I found Mr. McCully’s pep talk to the troops mighty inspiring.  His comparison to him wanting to give the proverbial “No Mas” in a recent fight to the debate over the United States leaving Iraq is pretty accurate.  We, the Army especially, are a bit tired.  Some of us are frustrated more times than not.  We realize our transition with our successors occurs in only four months.  By the Iraq timeline, four months is right around the corner.  We can soon go home to our families.

However, I am in no professional rush to leave.  While I am often frustrated by our own information related policies and the confusion created by them, I am living the Information Warrior’s dream right now.  This division is doing as much as it can with regards to using information and affecting our enemies’ decision cycles.

We are conducting PSYOP in every shape and form.

Shop owners in the Baghdad District of Hurriya read our newspaper the Baghdad Now.  We would often receive comments that the locals would use the Baghdad Now to wrap their fish or fire logs yet we would always see them reading it after we gave it to them.  As long as they read the Baghdad Now, the Iraqis could use it for just about anything when they finished reading.

Of course, we are using all possible means to disrupt the enemy’s decision cycle.  Our Operations Security can always improve but, an assessment team recently stated we had one of the best deployed OPSEC programs they have seen.

We are also engaging the Iraqi leaders.  When we engage the key people, like the tribal leaders, our jobs become easier.  I’ll even go as far to say that peace starts breaking out all over after successful engagements.  I exaggerate, but you should get the point.

Force Protection mostly improves once we have established ourselves with the right people.  We are continually reviewing and improving our beloved Themes and Messages.  The Public Affairs bubbas are really starting to gang up on the Arab media.  I wonder where they got the idea.

We have been approached by several Iraqi media representatives wanting to carry Coalition stories.

US PSYOP Soldier takes a knee while on patrol in the Ghaziliyah neighborhood. The soccer calendar behind the Soldier commemorating Iraq’s win in the Asia Cup was a PSYOP success for promoting Iraqi unity. 

Suddenly, Coalition Forces are En Fuego.  We are so ‘Now’.  Everybody wants to talk to us:  Tribes, Media, Sunni insurgents, Badr Corps, and even former Jaysh al Mahdi.  Something good must be happening when everyone suddenly wants to deal with the biggest and baddest militia in town.  If only Al Qaeda would come to the table of plenty.

They won’t come to the table and this is why we show them to the door.  I shouldn’t make any claims to Al Qaeda’s capacity to conduct sensational events, but I can’t resist claiming the following.  Al Qaeda is losing the information war. If Al Qaeda is losing the information war then Gasp!  Shock!  Awe?  Say it isn’t so Joe!  We must be winning the information war against Al Qaeda.

Yeah that’s right Chief.  You heard me!  I’m talking smack.  Al Qaeda is losing the information war in Iraq.  The people have rapidly turned on them.  The Sunni insurgents have turned on them.  Al Qaeda propaganda is bickering with former allies and recycling old footage to try and claim victory.  The Iraqi populace hasn’t bit on Al Qaeda’s sectarian apple.  Instead, we have our foot on Al Qaeda’s Adam’s apple.

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling a bit winded.  I sense, at times, we are informing the hell out of the Iraqi, but they aren’t listening.  They have battle fatigue and information numbness.  We are spinning on continual side shows like displaced persons and failing dams.  Those are important but not as important as Al Qaeda.

Mr McCully’s pep talk was not unlike the one Frito, our Electronic Warfare Officer, gave me a few months ago.  We were on our way to a meeting Corps and I was lamenting over how much time I seem to waste on trivial efforts.  Frito reminded me that if half of the things we do come to fruition and have an effect, we are doing okay.  Five hundred, the Mets fan noted, is a good batting average.

Grudgingly, I conceded to Frito he may have a point.  While at our meeting, we saw one of our initiatives gain momentum.  Joe Guzman, one of the Corps staff officers, told me it all started with our Division defining the problem.  Frito was right!

Still, Mr. McCully and Frito have inspired me to drive the nails in the Al Qaeda coffin.

Tito ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ Ortiz, me, Justin McCully, and Sergeant Major Joseph. Back home my oldest daughter said, ‘Daddy looks small’.

I am an old school Information Operations guy cleaning out the tool box right now looking for every capability I can to throw at the enemy.  If I find a tool that can create an adverse effect on them, I’m going to use it.  If I can’t find the tool I know is out there somewhere, I’m going to make somebody give it to me.  I’ll let somebody else hand out the soccer ball.

I encourage you to do the same.  Keep looking for new ways to get in the bad guys’ heads. If you have an idea, give me a call. I’ll entertain it right now. If all else fails, I’ll tape a handbill to the kitchen sink and throw the sink at Al Qaeda.  The Fire and Effects Cell can claim it as a successful indirect counter-fire mission.


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