Small Wars Journal

Civil Military Operations & Military Information Support Operations Coordination

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Counterinsurgency (COIN) operations start with discipline – the discipline to understand and execute a balance between kinetic and non-kinetic operations in shaping the battlespace  and specific Target Audiences (TAs).  Kinetic operations are actions in the battlespace that involve direct fires, indirect fires and other resources specifically intended to violently kill the enemy.  Non-kinetic operations are actions in the battlespace that shape the environment without directly engaging the TA with violent weaponry.  Further in non-kinetic operations, the TA is either the enemy or the local populace, not simply the enemy as is the case with kinetic operations.  Kinetic and non-kinetic operations are not mutually exclusive; commanders require discipline and deliberate focus in order to balance and coordinate the two in shaping the battlespace in support of the higher commander’s intent and U.S. foreign policy objectives.  “COIN differs from other civil-military operations both in the methods employed and in the purpose of the undertaking.  The purpose of COIN is to build popular support for a government while suppressing or co-opting insurgent movements.”

The purpose of this article is to provide recommendations for the tactical coordination of Civil Military Operations (CMO) and Military Information Support Operations (MISO) (formerly known as Psychological Operations – PSYOP) through the lens of analyzing current COIN operations in Afghanistan where the clear-hold-build (CHB)  model is currently applied.  This article reviews the purpose of CMO and MISO in support of the commander’s intent and how the coordination of the two activities in planning and execution can achieve unity of purpose to significantly enhance the development, governance, and security lines of operation (LOOs) far out of proportion to their individual application.  This article concludes by providing a recommendation for future operations and support to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) in anticipation of the Coalition Forces’ (CF) surge recovery and the 2014 International Security Assistance Force  reduction and transition from combat operations to advising, training, and mentoring.

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About the Author(s)

Capt Jordan C. S. Stern is currently assigned to Task Force Leatherneck as the PSYOP/MISO Planning Officer and as the Expeditionary MISO Detachment 3 (EMD3) Officer-in-Charge.  He has served multiple deployments to Afghanistan in various command and staff positions.