Dec 7, 2007

Counterinsurgency for U.S. Government Policy Makers: A Work in Progress

The first iteration of the interagency COIN manual is now available.

Counterinsurgency for U.S. Government Policy Makers: A Work in Progress [42-page pdf]:

Information is the foundation for all other activities. The collection, formulation, and dissemination of information are crucial in shaping perceptions of the conflict by all stakeholders. Substantive security, political and economic measures are critical; however, to be effective in the strategic sense, they must be integrated into a broader information strategy.

• Every action in COIN sends a message; the purpose of the information campaign is to characterize the message to the target population in the area of the insurgency and often to international observers as well. Messages and themes should be aimed at enhancing the legitimacy of the affected government. Messages are delivered through media operations, including public affairs and public diplomacy as well as military information operations, with the intent to counter insurgents’ ideology, undermine their motivation and popular support, and deny them sanctuary, both physical and virtual.

• An information strategy must address ideological, social, cultural, political, and religious motivations that influence or engender a sense of common interest and identity among the target population. It should be based upon efforts to understand the environment through census data, public opinion polling, and the collection of cultural and “human terrain” information in denied areas. A comprehensive information strategy involves understanding the effects of operations on the population, adversaries, and the environment.

• The information campaign must be conducted at global, regional, and local levels in order to influence every level of support to the insurgency.

• An information campaign creates a narrative that enhances the legitimacy of the affected government. It must resonate with the population and be based upon verifiable facts and measurable progress rather than promises. Deeds speak for themselves, and in COIN, actions must validate rhetoric.

• Information includes intelligence, which allows units to distinguish between insurgent and civilian. With this knowledge, security forces may penetrate insurgent cells, and apprehend the members, leading to further intelligence gains.

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