Information operations

Baghdad Ten Years Ago – 25 Nov 07

WEEK 54: The end of the deployment is near and I admit to the maneuver Bubbas that  am a bit hard-headed. The Iraqi Hero program was a success – see photos.

Non-Lethal Weapon

“It’s the only thing I’ve ever been good at Roger,”

Officer Riggs to Detective Murtaugh – Lethal Weapon

Multi National Division – Baghdad has come a long way in its use of information over the past thirteen months.  We have Al Qaeda and the militias on the physical and information ropes.  The bad guys are spinning off of our actions and message.  We are informing the hell out of the Baghdadis.  However, we have not come very far as an institution in understanding how to use information.  We still have a long way to go.  I say this from observing our own hang ups and terminology.

We like to package information in with other capabilities and call them non-kinetics because information doesn’t move like bullets.

OPERATION Iraqi Freedom
Iraqi Army personnel from the 3rd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (mechanized) hand out school supplies and Junior Hero badges to Al Taratwar students in Hor al-Bosh, Iraq. The Junior Hero program delivers school supplies and allows children to interact with Iraqi Army personnel to help raise awareness and educate them on current events. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. William Greer)

Or, we call them non-lethal because nobody is killed.  Call me non-kinetic, non-lethal or bust my chops and call me leaf eater.  We’ll all have a good chuckle, but we are still missing the real value of information.

Listening to the Commander’s update lately, I am nauseous from the amount of “Good News” stories of happy kids and backpacks.  Happy children don’t make me nauseous. I like to see us relating to the locals.  I get sick because we think the Good News storyboard is the only way we use information.  While these events make us feel good, they don’t win the war.

I’d rather hear a Commander brief the information actions the unit made during a raid, a strike or in reaction to an Al Qaeda truck bomb.  Information is not the pixie dust sprinkled on after the mission. Rather, information operations pervade all operations.  We deliver information whenever possible.

If you want to see yourself or your Iraqi counterpoint in the news, call the Public Affairs Officer.

OPERATION Iraqi Freedom
Iraqi Hero was very popular with the school age children for them to trust their Iraqi security forces and for the security forces to adhere to a professional standard.

Don’t call me.  I am not the PAO or the Uber-PAO. I am not your good news storyboard maker, but I’ll tell you who needs to see it.  I am not your backpack and soccer ball hander-outer. I just want a say in the message on them. I am not your cheerleader, but I’ll recommend the cheer. I don’t win hearts and minds.  This requires actions and words so you have more than half the part of winning over hearts and minds.

The most abused term in the Department of Defense lexicon is IO Campaign or media campaign.  For politicians, information is the weapon of choice.  Yet, we refer to information as good news, winning hearts and minds and non-kinetics.  Information is a weapon and I am a weapons dealer.

Don’t tell me what weapon you want. Tell me what your target is and what you want the target to do. I’ll give you a weapon to complement your actions.  Don’t expect a ‘Yes, Sir,’ every time because I don’t think like you.

I try to think like the target audience.

OPERATION Iraqi Freedom
Iraqi Hero speaks to school children

Often, you will be scratching your head asking why this guy is so difficult.  You’ll want to bury the bad guy in paper and I’ll be recommending you use a loudspeaker.  You’ll want to do a new handbill and I’ll be telling you meet with him.  You’ll want information to show up afterwards and help contain the mess.   I’ll tell you to deliver the message during the raid.

We need to treat information like we do any other weapon.  We know our left and right limits with the weapon by understanding our preferred messages and the need to be accurate, timely and truthful.  Let’s not be too naïve about this.  We need to use information as a weapon instead of a paint brush trying to make things look all pretty.

I’m guilty too of trying to ‘paint’ my adversary or ‘frame’ the discussion.  Information can be a form of diplomacy. I’ll help you tell the spoiler how to ‘Go to Hell’ in such a manner he’ll look forward to the trip.  I’m a campaigner and a story teller.  I prefer not to be a BS artist, spinner or wag-the-dogger.  Even though I am an arms broker, I still have a conscience.

I expect you to respect the weapon.  Sometimes, we’ll lie to the enemy with smiles on our faces. Still, the commander doesn’t give clearance to lie to everybody especially the civilian populace with whom we want mutual support.   I also don’t advocate name calling your adversary at every turn.

OPERATION Iraqi Freedom
Iraqi school girls hoist Iraqi Hero paraphernalia

I expect you to help your self by applying information.  When you need more firepower, I’ll bring you more firepower.  If you don’t use information, I won’t help you.

We are a military organization. Our best actions are combat operations with synchronized firepower.  You have a weapon called information.  We can improve upon our knowledge of how to use this weapon.

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