Jul 19, 2006

Psy-Op Contracting Shakeup

The U.S. military has removed two firms from a psychological operations contract aimed at influencing international public opinion, including one District-based company that ran into controversy last year for planting pro-U.S. articles in Iraqi newspapers.

The firms, plus a third company that will retain the contract, spent the past year developing prototypes for radio and television spots intended for use in Iraq and in other nations where the United States is combating terrorism. Unlike the reports that the District-based Lincoln Group distributed to the Iraqi press -- which looked to be written by independent Iraqi journalists -- the commander in charge of the new spots said yesterday that he wants their origins made clear.

"Certainly we would intend to accept attribution for the spots," said Col. Jack Summe, commander of the Tampa-based Joint Psychological Operations Support Element. "We will not place things under someone else's name, trying to fool people into thinking it's a true news item." (...)

The contract for the TV and radio spots is separate from the deal under which the Lincoln Group distributed articles from the U.S. military to Iraqi newspapers. The newspaper contract was unaffected by the change to the TV and radio contract.

The TV and radio contract, originally worth up to $300 million over five years, had been held by three firms since last year: the Lincoln Group; San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp.; and Arlington-based SYColeman, a subsidiary of New York-based L-3 Communications Corp.

But officials with the military's Special Operations Command decided this spring that they would be better off with just one contractor. They exercised their option to continue SYColeman's contract but not the other two. (...)

(Lincoln Group spokesman Bill) Dixon said the company believes the military's Special Operations Command needs more money "and clearer policy guidance in order to fight the 'War of Ideas,' a key component of the global War on Terrorism."

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