China · Information operations · Iran

GEC Receives $40 Million

I have a call in to the GEC to confirm they received the money.

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Trump Admin. Declares War on Russian, Chinese, Iranian Propaganda

The State Department has launched a new effort to counter propaganda and disinformation campaigns launched across the globe by a host of rogue nations, including Russia, China, and Iran, according to senior U.S. officials who briefed the Washington Free Beacon on the new undertaking, which they say will put the United States “on the offense” against these countries.

The State Department’s Global Engagement Center, or GEC, which just received a $40 million cash influx, is refocusing its priorities on what senior Trump administration officials described as a global battle against propaganda that undermines the U.S. role in the world and its national security priorities.

As the Trump administration undertakes efforts domestically to address Russian election meddling as well as efforts by Iran and China to disrupt the American political landscape, the GEC will focus outside the U.S. borders to disrupt a range of disinformation operations by rogue nations seeking to increase their influence in regional hotspots.

While the GEC’s operations largely focus on counterterrorism missions, such as the fight against ISIS, the recent cash allocation to the organization will enable it to expand its reach and put a renewed focus on global propaganda operations, U.S. officials say.

“We’re going on offense” against primarily Russia, but also China and Iran to a large extent, according to Daniel Kimmage, the GEC’s acting coordinator, who briefed a small group of reporters Tuesday afternoon at the State Department.

“The priorities have shifted” in recent years and months as “Russia looms large in our priorities,” Kimmage said.

The GEC is working to identify and expose threats posed by these nations, officials said, noting that efforts are already underway to map online disinformation networks and help media outlets across the globe avoid falling into the propaganda trap.

While U.S. officials would not publicly discuss specific details of their operations amid security concerns, the GEC is working on at least four continents with plans to expand further. Specifically on the Russia threat, there are 25 initiatives in 21 countries currently operating with a focus on boosting the technical skills necessary to identify and crush Russian propaganda chains.

Similar operations are under way in the Asia-Pacific region, officials said, explaining they are “actively mapping the information environment so we can understand how Chinese influence manifests itself.”

This includes working with journalists and opinion leaders to help them cut through the haze of propaganda in their public writings.

As for Iran, the administration is tapping into regional audiences in a bid to identify false narratives put out by the Islamic Republic and stop them in their tracks.

Officials are “looking to expose the hypocrisy and misinformation that comes from the regime,” Kimmage said.

The ultimate goal, according to Kimmage and other officials familiar with the effort, is to build a global network capable of disrupting propaganda at its source. Much of this work, officials say, will take place behind closed doors with few public victories.

“A lot of this will be dogs that don’t bark,” Kimmage said.

The administration also will not get caught up in what it views as a “race to the bottom” between rogue regimes angling to fill the airwaves and internet with their propaganda.

“We don’t want to play that game. We are not going to play that game,” Kimmage said, responding to questions about how far the United States will go to counter state-backed disinformation campaigns.

With the program still in its infancy, officials expect it to take about a year until the rejiggered GEC is running at full bandwidth. From that point, it will take another two to three years to see a tangible impact of these operations.

International allies are said to have expressed “great receptivity” to the GEC’s work, particularly efforts to combat Russia.

The State Department has received over 150 applications from international players seeking to receive funding to help disrupt disinformation networks. More than $10 million is set aside for this effort, with just about $1 million in grant money having already been awarded.


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