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National Defense > Blog > Posts > Adm. McRaven Defends U.S. Information Operations Overseas
Adm. McRaven Defends U.S. Information Operations Overseas
By Eric Beidel

TAMPA, Fla.
— The leader of U.S. Special Operations Command is defending military information campaigns that have come under attack on Capitol Hill.

The House Defense Appropriations Committee last week voted to cut $81.5 million from the Pentagon's $251.6 million request for military information support operations (MISO) aimed at generating support overseas for U.S. activities. Critics say that the Defense Department has done a poor job of quantifying results of such efforts.

But SOCOM Commander Adm. William McRaven said that MISO programs, now being audited by the Government Accountability Office, are essential tools that in many ways can help prevent serious conflicts. The commander said he is one of many officials working with lawmakers to explain to them exactly what these operations can do for the military.

But it has been difficult to break through the misconceptions, he said.

“There is some baggage that comes with information operations. There is this belief that it is psychological operations, that we are somehow conducting . . . nefarious operations to influence people and frankly that's not the case,” McRaven said. “Military information operations are about the truth. It's about putting the truth out there.”

Army special operators describe MISO as the use of persuasion to influence perceptions and encourage desired behavior. Soldiers assigned to these tasks communicate information to large audiences through radio, television, leaflets and loudspeakers. During Desert Storm, these operations led to the surrender of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, officials said. MISO relies “on logic, fear, desire or other psychological factors to promote specific behaviors,” according to an Army special operations recruiting website. “The ultimate objective of [MISO] is to convince enemy, neutral and friendly governments, forces and populations to take actions favorable to the United States and its allies.”

SOCOM works hand-in-hand with the State Department and local populations in particular countries to make sure “we are putting out the right message,” he said. The message may be about stopping corruption or AIDS prevention, but it always is based on truth, he said.

“I just think we have to get that message to Capitol Hill and make sure they understand the true nature of MISO operations,” McRaven said. “I think they'll come around.”

Comments

Re: Adm. McRaven Defends U.S. Information Operations Overseas

Perhaps they should use some MISO on Congress.
mark at 5/24/2012 7:51 AM

Re: Adm. McRaven Defends U.S. Information Operations Overseas

McRaven said. “Military information operations are about the truth. It's about putting the truth out there.”

McRaven conflates MISO here with Public Affairs - which are required to present only truthful information.

There is no such requirement in MISO.
EW at 5/24/2012 12:58 PM

Re: Adm. McRaven Defends U.S. Information Operations Overseas

There is some baggage that comes with information operations. There is this belief that it is psychological operations, that we are somehow conducting . . . nefarious operations to influence people and frankly that's not the case,” McRaven said. “Military information operations are about the truth. It's about putting the truth out there.”

BS people will stand by any stupid choice made and instead of just saying = MISO was a stupid idea, sorry pulling my head out now. , but no , instead the comments and the promotion and head pat suck ups would stand by ANY stupid choice made.  people are not stupid, a name change wont change anything. this pc crap is a joke
yaright at 5/24/2012 11:03 PM

Re: Adm. McRaven Defends U.S. Information Operations Overseas

re comment "McRaven conflates MISO here with Public Affairs - which are required to present only truthful information."

First, many confuse Information Operations (IO) with Military Information Support Operations (MISO)- formerly known as Psychological Operations.  IO is an integrative process designed to synchronize and coordinate all information-related capabilities (of which MISO is one of many) with our messaging and our actions- lethal and nonlethal to achieve effects designed to support our national and military objectives.  Joint IO focuses on affecting the enemy's decision making and his C2 systems.  IO officers are generalists not specialists like MISO or PA.  We assist in coordinating the actions of MISO and PA with all other capabilities to ensure our words, actions, and images are synchronized and resonate with the target audience...if there is  mismatch between words and deeds, then we lose credibility.  All messaging is based in truth.

It takes a US whole of government approach utilizing DIME- Diplomatic, Information, Military and Economic means to support our Strategic Communication efforts.

MISO like Public affairs must be credible and based in truth.  To suggest that MISO "lies" is a misunderstanding of this capability.  This confusion stems from what we are protecting- the source of information (we usually label this as White, Grey and Black, PSYOP- this does not mean the message is not credible- what it means is the degree of attribution of the source....the information is truthful but the source is either attributed...Mr. X said  (White), unattributed- someone within the X department or within x government said....(Grey), or (Black)- no source- to confuse the enemy decision maker about what is being said within the enemy network etc

When we conduct Military Deception, another capability of IO we are trying to reinforce in the enemy decision maker's mind his beliefs by feeding into his biases etc to make him to make a false move to our advantage.  MISO and operations security can enable MILDEC; however, this is only one aspect.

For this to work, our messaging must be credible, if not it will not work and we lose legitimacy.  ie) If I tell you crime is improving in your area and your Mayor is working to root out criminal networks but everyday someone is getting killed, or the Mayor is corrupt- the message is not credible and will not resonate with the populace....therefore it does not behoove us to ignore the ground reality.

There is often debate in the PA community about terms such as inform and influence.  Some PA believe they only inform and do not influence.  Just think about our own news media, some have an agenda and shoot out stories presenting information to shape public opinion.  Is this "propaganda" ? Is this nebulous?  ....I believe just because you inform someone about something doesn't mean you necessarily will influence them to do something...ie) Coke is the greatest soda ever! Doesn't mean I will by a Coke....what is the intent? 

Food for thought....but some believe you cannot separate inform from influence and when we have interpretations of  strict boundaries or misinterpretations of Smith-Mundt Act as an anti-propaganda mechanism fuels lack of synchronization and feeds into the misunderstanding of which audiences domestic or foreign we can inform and influence ...see this link to understandings of Smith Mundt http://mountainrunner.us/smith-mundt/#.T7-XWMWwUo4

Oh by the way Congress has submitted a proposal to update the Smith Mundt act for the 21st Century....

IO seeks to inform US friendly and Host nation friendly and worldwide  audiences through PA about what our military and government  is doing- tell the Army story for example, or our efforts to create stability in a country.  IO seeks to influence behavior directed at foreign friendly, enemy, adversarial, and neutral audiences much like marketing to advance our national objectives.

Bottom line is our words, actions, and images must be credible.  To have legitimacy and to be able to promote our National Objectives we must be open and truthful in our messaging...at the same time when we seek to influence the enemy or those who seek violence, we must have the full range of options to do so without comprising US audiences and to deny enemy recruitment....we must be able to counter enemy propaganda which is not bound by legal authorities...and we must have the legal authorities to do so in the information age recognizing that we will be held to a higher standard- if not we lose legitimacy and credibility in the eyes of the world and most importantly with the American people who are our accountability checkers.
Therese at 5/25/2012 10:37 AM

Re: Adm. McRaven Defends U.S. Information Operations Overseas

The chain of command at the USASOC MISOC group which focuses on the Mideast requires very close scrutiny for many reasons I cannot mention here.

An analyst was there who was just BRILLIANT with prescient knowledge of subleties such as sub-group social norms & the motivating factors of particular tribes which subscribed to Wahabbism.

This analyst was abominably mistreated by her chain of command and this person was the most qualifed & effective analyst.  The work this analyst produced could have served to ensure mission success and the well-being of the MISOC Soldiers in Iraq & Afghanistan.

The work of this analyst was not appreciated by the chain of command - yet this analyst had spent 10 yrs in Saudi Arabia, was incredibly knowledgeable of the Koran from having spent years in an Islamic school.  This analyst also spoke, read, and wrote fluent Arabic.

From a Caring Army Special Forces Gold Star Wife
Connie Piper at 5/31/2012 12:49 PM

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