Small Wars Journal

Pentagon Reviewing Strategic Information Operations

Pentagon Reviewing Strategic Information Operations - Walter Pincus, Washington Post.

Trying to counter information-savvy enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has rapidly spent nearly $1 billion in the past three years on strategic communications. Paid-for news articles, billboards, radio and television programs, and even polls and focus groups have been sponsored by the U.S. Central Command, which has raised its spending for information operations programs from $40 million in 2008 to $110 million in 2009 to a requested $244 million in 2010.

But when Congress asked this year what the Defense Department across the services and commands proposed spending for strategic communications -- or information operations as it is often called -- in the fiscal 2010 budget, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates found that no one could say because there was no central coordination. The first answer came back at $1 billion, but that was later changed to $626 million. As a result, Gates has multiple studies underway to get a firmer grip over the individual military services' plans for strategic communications next year, according to Pentagon officials...

More at The Washington Post.


Lorraine (not verified)

Sun, 12/27/2009 - 11:22pm

During my tour in Iraq, I witnessed both extremes of spending on IO & Stratcom. Millions were spent on wisely targeted and effective IO efforts on the ground; conversely, millions were also spent on undefined stratcom missions and gratuitous media analysis. In both instances, intentions were good, but the execution was only as effective as prior analysis, planning and coordination.

It's worrisome that such a huge figure ($1 billion!) has been requested without a cohesive plan, coherent criteria for usage, and inter-service/agency coordination. "Messaging" is a serious business with long-lasting implications. Centralization is not needed but a clear mission, parameters and expectations are...otherwise, we're burning the tax payers dollars, at best...or worse, worsening the situation on the ground.

It is good to hear that we are going to coordinate our DOD Stratcom effort. It is unfortunate that our Stratcom effort appears to be a government-only effort.

Anyone that has been overseas, particularly in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, etc...knows that most of the people there get their info about the US from "The Media"......movies, TV shows, internet, etc. Given that our current war is, in many ways, a clash of cultures (that's my Huntington plug), our government leaders ought to do more to involve our media industry giants (movies, TV, magazines, etc) in our Stratcom effort. They help to shape our culture and through them, the rest of the world gets their ideas about US culture....what we stand for, believe, & support. They can play a crucial role in shaping the views of potential partners overseas in a way that is favorable to US efforts.

Not sure if our government leaders haven't already engaged our commercial media leaders, but if they haven't, they need to.

As for Mr Larson, thanks for your two tours in Vietnam. I suspect your time there was a bit more harrowing than what many of us have seen in A'stan.

That said, I'm not sure what your comments have to do with the WAPO article. I don't recall reading anything about occupation forces. But those areas of the world where we have our forces are, for the most part, relatively secure thanks to our involvement and are there by invitation. Occupation forces conquer a place then take charge of it. We did this successfully in WW2 in Germany and Japan before turning those countries back over to legitimate governments. In case you hadn't noticed, they are both our allies and have very vibrant economies thanks to the long US presence (by invitation) and the protection afforded by such presence.

Most countries would love to have the relationship with the US that our former enemies now have, and if they are lucky (and sensible), they will.

Perhaps this is the Stratcom message we need to send out to the nice in your neighborhood and the US (and the rest of the world) will let you play in our neighborhood. Don't play nice and you remain mired in your own tashnob.

I am a two tour Vietnam Veteran who spent 36 misguided years thereafter working in the military industrial complex on many of the weapons and communications systems our troops are using as we speak.

Government policies of intervention and occupation have created the vast majority of extremist enemies today. The only just endeavor undertaken in the last 30 years was the liberation of Kuwait. It was accomplished using the best weapons in the world and a policy of occupation was abandoned once the country was returned to its rightful owner.

Occupation forces remain in the Middle East and "Stationed" around the world in numbers the average citizen does not even know about.

This policy must cease. It does not work. It did not work in Vietnam (I saw that first hand during two tours), nor has it worked in the Middle East or anywhere else it has been tried by the US or other countries (Russia for example)

Our leaders should have learned the facts by now through hard experience, but they are driven by money, politics and the military industrial complex to continue the same mistakes over and over.

When the policy goes totally broke, bankrupt and unsupportable it will cease by default. Until then, the evolving security threats will increase exponentially because of our denial of the root causes for them.……