There is a new RAND Corporation paper -- prepared for the United States Joint Forces Command -- on Strategic Influence strategies for use in Iraq and Afghanistan:
Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation (241 page pdf):
Shaping, in traditional U.S. military parlance, refers to battlefield activities designed to constrain adversary force options or increase friendly force options. It is exemplified in the U.S. landing at the Port of Inch’on, which caused the redeployment of North Korean forces threatening the city of Pusan and dramatically altered the course of the Korean War. Recent analysis of field requirements and joint urban doctrine has expanded the concept of shaping to include influencing resident populations in military operational theaters. These populations constitute a significant component of stability operations, particularly through their decision to support friendly force objectives or those of the adversary.
Virtually every action, message, and decision of a force shapes the opinions of an indigenous population: how coalition personnel treat civilians during cordon-and-search operations, the accuracy or inaccuracy of aerial bombardment, and the treatment of detainees. Unity of message is key in this regard. The panoply of U.S. force actions must be synchronized across the operational battlespace to the greatest extent possible so as not to conflict with statements made in communications at every level, from the President to the soldier, sailor, marine, or airman in the theater of operations. Given the inherent difficulty in unifying coalition messages across disparate organizations, within and across governments, and over time, shaping efforts must be designed, war-gamed, and conducted as a campaign. The goal of such a shaping campaign is to foster positive attitudes among the populace toward U.S. and allied forces. These attitudes, while not the goal in and of themselves, help decrease anticoalition behaviors and motivate the population to act in ways that facilitate friendly force operational objectives and the attainment of desired end states.
This study considered how the United States and its coalition partners can shape indigenous attitudes and behavior during stability operations via the character of those operations and the behavior of coalition armed forces and those responsible for communication. While successes have been achieved in this regard, U.S. forces stand to benefit from the application of select, proven commercial marketing techniques. As such, we consider successes and missteps from the marketing and advertising industries and how lessons from those events might assist U.S. military men and women. We also present recommendations based on observations and insights from previous operational endeavors, including ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. All recommendations are predicated on a discussion of the challenges posed in developing effective shaping efforts. ...
Information fratricide, or the failure to synchronize and deconflict messages, puts a great burden on U.S. shaping initiatives. Synchronization is a particular problem for public affairs (PA), civil affairs (CA), and information operations (IO) and its psychological operations (PSYOP) component. Contributing factors include overlapping PSYOP and IO portfolios, limited PSYOP access to commanders, and negative PA and CA perceptions of PSYOP. PA, PSYOP, and IO also suffer from limitations in funding and personnel. Training underemphasizes the impact these functions can have on operations and their potentially vital role. Prohibitions against even inadvertent PSYOP targeting of U.S. civilians further confound U.S. shaping efforts. Other challenges beset PSYOP efforts in the theater: It is exceedingly difficult to identify target audiences in complex and dangerous operating environments, and there is often a lack of access to segments of a population critical to conducting message pretesting.