Sep 30, 2007

The "Genocide Games" PSYOP and the Burma Crisis

The "Genocide Games" PSYOP -- which for months has concentrated on exploiting China's desire not to allow international political considerations (their support for the Sudanese government, the repression in Tibet, etc.) adversely effect their own propaganda showcase of the decade -- has received a boost of inestimable value from the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Burma.

China's role as the key economic and political facilitator of the Burmese junta is being heavily advertised for all to see. Protests outside Chinese embassies worldwide are "spontaneously" erupting.

By holding China responsible for their friends' actions in Burma, the information campaign aims to, at a minimum, compel action from Beijing to restrain the Burmese generals from continuing the violence against the protesters.

Toward the high end of the scale of desired behaviors from China is for them to coerce the Burmese junta into a power-sharing agreement with Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

China's own interests are in play here. Their inexpensive access to Burmese gas and oil under the current regime is being weighed against the prospect of a spoiled 2008 Olympics. And how to handle this mess while preventing a revival of their own democracy movement has to be a big consideration as well.

At this point, the crisis can be resolved only by an effort on the part of China. Hence the ratcheting up of the "Genocide Games" pressure op.

If the Burmese junta fails to pay proper attention to the messages sure to be forthcoming from their Chinese friends and massacres more protesters (the true number to date is much higher than publicly reported), the generals may be invited to relocate permanently to another country.

China would be a likely destination.

Sep 28, 2007

Byting Back — Regaining Information Superiority Against 21st-Century Insurgents

A new RAND paper proposes the creation of an Integrated Counterinsurgency Operating Network (ICON) to better handle information requirements for battlespace awareness in an amorphous environment.

Byting Back — Regaining Information Superiority Against 21st-Century Insurgents. (195-page pdf)

U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed to exploit information power, which could be a U.S. advantage but instead is being used advantageously by insurgents. Because insurgency and counterinsurgency involve a battle for the allegiance of a population between a government and an armed opposition movement, the key to exploiting information power is to connect with and learn from the population itself, increasing the effectiveness of both the local government and the U.S. military and civilian services engaged in supporting it.

Utilizing mostly available networking technology, the United States could achieve early, affordable, and substantial gains in the effectiveness of counterinsurgency by more open, integrated, and inclusive information networking with the population, local authorities, and coalition partners.

The most basic information link with the population would be an information technology (IT)-enhanced, fraud-resistant registry-census. The most promising link would come from utilizing local cell phone networks, which are proliferating even among poor countries. Access to data routinely collected by such networks can form the basis for security services such as enhanced-911 and forensics. The cell phones of a well-wired citizenry can be made tantamount to sensor fields in settled areas. They can link indigenous forces with each other and with U.S. forces without interoperability problems; they can also track the responses of such forces to emergencies.

Going further, outfitting weaponry with video cameras would bolster surveillance, provide lessons learned, and guard against operator misconduct.

Establishing a national Wiki can help citizens describe their neighborhoods to familiarize U.S. forces with them and can promote accountable service delivery.

All such information can improve counterinsurgency operations by making U.S. forces and agencies far better informed than they are at present. The authors argue that today’s military and intelligence networks — being closed, compartmentalized, controlled by information providers instead of users, and limited to U.S. war fighters — hamper counterinsurgency and deprive the United States of what ought to be a strategic advantage.

In contrast, based on a review of 160 requirements for counterinsurgency, the authors call for current networks to be replaced by an integrated counterinsurgency operating network (ICON) linking U.S. and indigenous operators, based on principles of inclusiveness, integration, and user preeminence.

Utilizing the proposed ways of gathering information from the population, ICON would improve the timeliness, reliability, and relevance of information, while focusing security restrictions on truly sensitive information. The complexity and sensitivity of counterinsurgency call for vastly better use of IT than has been seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sep 27, 2007

Democratic Voice of Burma - Truth as Propaganda Enough

Sometimes the truth is destabilizing propaganda enough. Sometimes.

The Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) was launched in 1992 by a group of Burmese students in Europe after an election in which the opposition win was nullified by the country's ruling military junta. Initially only supported and funded by the Norwegian government, DVB now receives funding from Worldview Rights in Norway, National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, and the Soros Foundation's Open Society Institute (as part of The Burma Project).

Station manager Khin Maung Win estimates that some 75 % of international news reports about Burma originate from stories and sources developed by the station and its clandestine network of reporters inside of Burma.

Of course there are weightier matters at play than mere freedom agendas, especially when both Soros and the NED are found teaming up - but let's just keep this narrative tight and clean and instead let a jacked and hacked BBC weigh in where I just wavered off:

While the editorial team sits in safety in Oslo, television journalists on the ground risk arrest by secretly filming footage inside Burma, and smuggling the tapes to a neighbouring country.

News editor Moe Aye talks regularly on the telephone to his secret contacts in Burma.

Having established the line, he spends some minutes making sure it is safe, and that the contact cannot be overheard.

The contacts "really want to inform and let us know what is happening inside Burma," explained Mr Moe. "On the other hand they're really concerned about their lives and their security."

The Democratic Voice of Burma says its television programmes are an important part of the non-violent fight in support of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

She was banned by the military from travelling to Oslo to receive her Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

The Paris-based media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders ranks Burma third worst for media freedom, after North Korea and Cuba.

Its Burma expert, Vincent Brossel, welcomes the new TV station, and hopes people will risk watching it.

"There is a law against satellite transmission, and you can go to jail if you have a parabole [satellite dish] without a licence," he told the BBC News website.

"But we know now so many people have paraboles and can watch this TV programme. People inside can understand that outside the Burmese are also fighting for democracy.

"A friend told me that recently in Bassein, outside Rangoon, the electricity was cut off when the DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] programme started. So it means the authorities are afraid of the DVB TV influence."

But back at the television station, editor Khin Maung Win is not worried that the military will stop the programme. He thinks the generals themselves will tune in.

"At the beginning they jammed our radio, but later on they became our regular audience, because they wanted to get real information, even about their own country," he said.

"They cannot rely on reports from their subordinates. So they have to listen to our radio to get real information, or to measure the feeling of the grassroot people. We believe that will happen with television also."

For now Democratic Voice of Burma TV broadcasts two hours of news and educational programmes weekly. [That's been recently ramped up to 9 hours/day due to the crisis at hand -M1]

It wants to expand to become a daily source of television news for viewers inside Burma.

And as long as the media situation remains unchanged, the station will continue to broadcast from far-away Norway.

Don't Tase Me at IDGA's NCW-Con, Bro ;)

Donald Rumsfeld, hyper-zealous disciple of Chicago Boy Milton Friedman, who introduced the radical down-sizing and out-sourcing Shock & Awe CEO management style to the Pentagon, will be giving a key note presentation and hold an extended Q&A session during IDGA's (Institute for Defense & Government Advancement) 7th annual Network Centric Warfare (NCW) 2008 Conference January 22 - 25, 2008 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC.

Strangely poetic, Colonel T.X. Hammes (USMC(Ret), author of "The Sling and the Stone"), will also be delivering a key note presentation on fifth generation and network enabled warfare at the conference.

I gotta phone Ray and see if he'll be attending. If so, it might be a stunner.
More info here.

Sep 26, 2007

IO The Children Unto Me

...and I thought the West had retired subtleties like this to some Stalinoid or Goebellsonian past or final outpost of Pyonyangian persistence. Apparently not.

History is written by the winners -- but who writes the English lessons? A teaching pack about the Iraq war for British schools commissioned by the Ministry of Defence is stirring up controversy. It comes from a company called Defence Dynamics, and is being promoted by marketing agency Kids Connections.

As reported in New Statesman magazine, the lesson plan titled ‘Promoting peace and security in Iraq’ is intended for English teachers and gives an upbeat view of the war and the occupation.
A student fact sheet states that the occupation has resulted in “Over 150 healthcare facilities completed and many more are in progress. 20 hospitals rehabilitated. Immunisation programme re-started in 2003. 70 million new text books distributed to schools. Sewage and wastewater treatment plants operating again.”

Yet this rosy picture seems woefully at odds with a report by the NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq, backed by Oxfam, which states that Iraq is facing a humanitarian crisis "of alarming scale and severity". It finds that four million Iraqis are ‘food-insecure’ and that four million have fled, creating "the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world".

The pack also anticipates some resistance (often a good move) and suggests countermeasures:
It instructs classes to hold a vote on the war, and to produce a piece writing arguing for or against the withdrawal of soldiers from the Gulf.

The teachers’ notes state: "Most students will vote against the ongoing maintenance of troops. Ask students to justify their opinions."

It continues: "Throughout the lesson, students should come to understand that this activity is representative of democracy on a micro scale and by voting, they have exercised their democratic right, a right that is newly available to Iraqis."

One teacher is not impressed:
“As a lesson plan it’s insanely complicated,” says Victoria Elliott, a secondary English teacher. “The focus is not really on the skills supposedly being taught, but is instead about getting information across, which is completely irrelevant to English teaching.”

And the Guardian newspaper reports there may be a legal challenge:
... if Nick Grant, National Union of Teachers branch secretary in Ealing, London, has his way, it faces a boycott by teachers and legal action by the NUT. Grant thinks the lesson plan breaks the 1996 Education Act, which bans "the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school".
-A jacked David Hambling von Danger Room

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Although our emphasis here is Information Operations as a military and government enterprise, occasionally we like to direct readers' attention to particularly effective or noteworthy influence activities slightly further afield.

Public health propaganda has a long history of campaigns of varying effectiveness -- from often risible VD films and pamphlets to the decades of anti-smoking and anti-drug abuse crusades.

Private industry -- with the exception of occupational safety initiatives -- has generally played second fiddle to government efforts in the health information field. But when private companies see fit to get involved, the result can be quite innovative.

An Italian fashion chain has stoked controversy with an advertisement featuring a naked anorexic woman. The ad, which is intended to raise awareness about eating disorders, is timed to coincide with Milan fashion week.

Back in 1992, photographer Oliviero Toscani caused controversy around the world with his pictures of a man dying of AIDS which formed part of a Benetton advertising campaign. Now he is back in the headlines with an equally shocking image of a naked anorexic woman, which a fashion chain is using to raise awareness about eating disorders.

The Nolita advertisement, timed to coincide with Milan fashion week, appeared Monday in Italian newspapers, including a two-page center spread in La Repubblica, and on billboards in Italy. A slogan above the naked photograph reads "No Anorexia."

Flash&Partners, the fashion group that owns the Nolita brand, said in a statement that Toscani's aim was "to use that naked body to show everyone the reality of this illness, caused in most cases by the stereotypes imposed by the world of fashion."

The woman in the photo is Isabelle Caro from France, who is 27 years old and has been anorexic for 15 years. She weighs a mere 31 kg (68 lb) and suffers from the skin disease psoriasis. "I hid myself and covered myself up for too long," she told the magazine Vanity Fair in an interview to be published Wednesday. "Now I want to show myself without fear, even though I know my body is repugnant."

Sep 24, 2007

Little Rock as Counterpropaganda Move

Fifty years ago today, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in elements of the 101st Airborne Division to integrate Little Rock High School over the objections and active opposition of Arkansas' Governor Orval Faubus.

A little appreciated aspect of President Eisenhower's move was his desire to counter the major Soviet propaganda campaign that emphasized racism in the U.S.

Secretary of State John Foster Dulles warned the president about the exploitable danger to our international reputation of letting the Arkansas governor get away with putting an official government sanction on segregation contrary to the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling of 1954.

Eisenhower, the longtime proponent of Psychological Warfare, immediately rose to the occasion.

In his speech to the nation fifty years ago tonight -- which was transmitted to USIA facilities worldwide for dissemination -- the counterpropaganda motive is there for all to see:

At a time when we face grave situations abroad because of the hatred that Communism bears toward a system of government based on human rights, it would be difficult to exaggerate the harm that is being done to the prestige and influence, and indeed to the safety, of our nation and the world.

Our enemies are gloating over this incident and using it everywhere to misrepresent our whole nation. We are portrayed as a violator of those standards of conduct which the peoples of the world united to proclaim in the Charter of the United Nations. There they affirmed "faith in fundamental human rights" and "in the dignity and worth of the human person" and they did so "without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion."

Sep 23, 2007

A Farewell to Smith-Mundt - A Matter of Will

An era of psychological warfare conducted not so much upon the enemy but upon our own troops by self, so as to manufacture sufficient deadly contempt for the enemy, has been systematically with us since WW2.

Might an abolition of Smith-Mundt open the door to aggressive, intelligent, and creative methods for manufacturing a reformed and resilient
Will among the homeland's citizenry for the long and grinding wars we are told to expect and accept?

Certainly IO against self to shape Long War-resilient domestic Will would be vastly more effective in winning the most critical (and accessible) of hearts and minds when engaged in multi-vectored litanies of culturally diverse conflict milieus rather than attempting our usual culturally illiterate re-tailoring of IO stratagems for each efficacy-challenged deployment against who - or whatever - the next babbling, disenfranchised, and asymmetrically armed foe happens to be. (The good will of anthropologists can't be counted on forever to level playing fields).

If IO against other cannot efficaciously woo targeted populations to embrace our drives for evanescent principle or covetous agendas that are perceived to encroach on their jealously guarded domains, then perhaps we need to shape an endurant domestic Will to kill such resisting other, however long that low intensity killing might demand in an era, now and nigh upon us, of grinding COIN everywhere - at least until such day the Will of the State is no longer held hostage by the fickle fidelity of a bloggified citizenry. And if that Will could be shaped to tolerate radical transparency of policy and action then who would need expend limited energies on mass lying/information lock-down to groom and buttress an outdated Will from threatening the free expression of our State's desires?

If we are to take the idea and actions of the Long War seriously then we must immediately come to terms with the full spectrum of consequences of our nation engaged in COIN everywhere and always. For this, only IO against self can provide us the slightest of chances for persevering without being sundered from within by the trauma of old school losses coming back to gnaw at a Will reared on the decisive and temporally compartmentalized wins of the history books that have reared us. Otherwise we would do best in working for outlooks and solutions beyond the framework of the Long War. However, such choices are perhaps best left for consideration by more driven and invested minds.

So what do you say, Bernays - any hidden costs? Is this where democracy ends or perhaps where democracy only truly can begin?

Hope on the Battlefield, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, Greater Good: During World War II, U.S. Army Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall asked average soldiers how they conducted themselves in battle. Before that, it had always been assumed that the average soldier would kill in combat simply because his country and his leaders had told him to do so, and because it might be essential to defend his own life and the lives of his friends. Marshall’s singularly unexpected discovery was that, of every hundred men along the line of fire during the combat period, an average of only 15 to 20 “would take any part with their weapons.”...

Marshall was a U.S. Army historian in the Pacific theater during World War II and later became the official U.S. historian of the European theater of operations. He had a team of historians working for him, and they based their findings on individual and mass interviews with thousands of soldiers in more than 400 infantry companies immediately after they had been in close combat with German or Japanese troops. The results were consistently the same: Only 15 to 20 percent of the American riflemen in combat during World War II would fire at the enemy. Those who would not fire did not run or hide—in many cases they were willing to risk greater danger to rescue comrades, get ammunition, or run messages. They simply would not fire their weapons at the enemy, even when faced with repeated waves of banzai charges.

Why did these men fail to fire?

As a historian, psychologist, and soldier, I examined this question and studied the process of killing in combat. I have realized that there was one major factor missing from the common understanding of this process, a factor that answers this question and more: the simple and demonstrable fact that there is, within most men and women, an intense resistance to killing other people. A resistance so strong that, in many circumstances, soldiers on the battlefield will die before they can overcome it.

Indeed, the study of killing by military scientists, historians, and psychologists gives us good reason to feel optimistic about human nature, for it reveals that almost all of us are overwhelmingly reluctant to kill a member of our own species, under just about any circumstance. Yet this understanding has also propelled armies to develop sophisticated methods for overcoming our innate aversion to killing, and, as a result, we have seen a sharp increase in the magnitude and frequency of post-traumatic response among combat veterans. ...

Resistance to killing

S.L.A. Marshall’s methodology has been criticized, but his findings have been corroborated by many other studies. Indeed, data indicate that soldiers throughout military history have demonstrated a strong resistance to killing other people.

When 19th-century French officer and military theorist Ardant du Picq distributed a questionnaire to French officers in the 1860s, he became one of the first people to document the common tendency of soldiers to fire harmlessly into the air simply for the sake of firing. One officer’s response stated quite frankly that “a good many soldiers fired into the air at long distances,”...

A 1986 study by the British Defense Operational Analysis Establishment’s field studies division examined the killing effectiveness of military units in more than 100 19th- and 20th-century battles. ... The analysis was designed (among other things) to determine if Marshall’s non-firer figures were consistent with other, earlier wars. ... The researchers’ conclusions openly supported Marshall’s findings, pointing to “unwillingness to take part [in combat] as the main factor” that kept the actual historical killing rates significantly below the laser trial levels.

Thus the evidence shows that the vast majority of combatants throughout history, at the moment of truth when they could and should kill the enemy, have found themselves to be “conscientious objectors”—yet there seems to be a conspiracy of silence on this subject. In his book War on the Mind, Peter Watson observes that Marshall’s findings have been largely ignored by academia and the fields of psychiatry and psychology.

But they were very much taken to heart by the U.S. Army, and a number of training measures were instituted as a result of Marshall’s suggestions. According to studies by the U.S. military, these changes resulted in a firing rate of 55 percent in Korea and 90 to 95 percent in Vietnam. Some modern soldiers use the disparity between the firing rates of World War II and Vietnam to claim that S.L.A. Marshall had to be wrong, for the average military leader has a hard time believing that any significant body of his soldiers will not do its job in combat. But these doubters don’t give sufficient credit to the revolutionary corrective measures and training methods introduced over the past half century.

Manufactured contempt

Since World War II, a new era has quietly dawned in modern warfare: an era of psychological warfare, conducted not upon the enemy, but upon one’s own troops. The triad of methods used to enable men to overcome their innate resistance to killing includes desensitization, classical and operant conditioning, and denial defense mechanisms.

Authors such as Gwynne Dyer and Richard Holmes have traced the development of boot-camp glorification of killing. They’ve found it was almost unheard of in World War I, rare in World War II, increasingly present in Korea, and thoroughly institutionalized in Vietnam. ...

But desensitization by itself is probably not sufficient to overcome the average individual’s deep-seated resistance to killing. Indeed, this desensitization process is almost a smoke screen for conditioning, which is the most important aspect of modern training. Instead of lying prone on a grassy field calmly shooting at a bull’s-eye target, for example, the modern soldier spends many hours standing in a foxhole, with full combat equipment draped about his body. At periodic intervals one or two man-shaped targets will pop up in front of him, and the soldier must shoot the target.

In addition to traditional marksmanship, soldiers are learning to shoot reflexively and instantly... In behavioral terms, the man shape popping up in the soldier’s field of fire is the “conditioned stimulus.” On special occasions, even more realistic and complex targets are used, many of them filled with red paint or catsup... In this and other training exercises, every aspect of killing on the battlefield is rehearsed, visualized, and conditioned.

By the time a soldier does kill in combat, he has rehearsed the process so many times that he is able to, at one level, deny to himself that he is actually killing another human being. One British veteran of the Falklands, trained in the modern method, told Holmes that he “thought of the enemy as nothing more or less than Figure II [man-shaped] targets.”

There is “a natural disinclination to pull the trigger… when your weapon is pointed at a human,” says Bill Jordan, a career U.S. Border Patrol officer and veteran of many gunfights. “To aid in overcoming this resistance it is helpful if you can will yourself to think of your opponent as a mere target and not as a human being. In this connection you should go further and pick a spot on your target. This will allow better concentration and further remove the human element from your thinking.”

Jordan calls this process “manufactured contempt.”

The hidden cost of killing

The success of this conditioning and desensitization is obvious and undeniable. In many circumstances highly trained modern soldiers have fought poorly trained guerilla forces, and the tendency of poorly prepared forces to instinctively engage in posturing mechanisms (such as firing high) has given significant advantage to the more highly trained force. We can see the discrepancy in dozens of modern conflicts, including in Somalia, where 18 trapped U.S. troops killed an estimated 364 Somali fighters, and in Iraq, where small numbers of U.S. troops have inflicted terrible losses on insurgents. Though we might be quick to credit technology for American deadliness, keep in mind that the lopsided casualty rates apply even in situations of close, small arms combat, where the technological gap between opposing forces is not a decisive factor.

The ability to increase the firing rate, though, comes with a hidden cost. Severe psychological trauma becomes a distinct possibility when military training overrides safeguards against killing: In a war when 95 percent of soldiers fired their weapons at the enemy, it should come as no surprise that between 18 and 54 percent of the 2.8 million military personnel who served in Vietnam suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder—far higher than in previous wars.

It’s important to note that, contrary to stereotype, numerous studies have demonstrated that there is not any distinguishable threat of violence to society from returning veterans. Statistically there is no greater a population of violent criminals among veterans than there is among non-veterans. What the epidemic of PTSD among Vietnam vets has caused is a significant increase in suicides, drug use, alcoholism, and divorce.

In 1988, a major study by Jeanne and Steven Stellman at Columbia University examined the relationship between PTSD manifestations and a soldier’s involvement in the killing process. ... Stellman and Stellman found that the victims of PTSD are almost solely veterans who participated in high-intensity combat situations. These veterans suffer far higher incidence of divorce, marital problems, tranquilizer use, alcoholism, joblessness, heart disease, and ulcers. As far as PTSD symptoms are concerned, soldiers who were in noncombat situations in Vietnam were found to be statistically indistinguishable from those who spent their entire enlistment in the U.S. ...

If ... society prepares a soldier to overcome his resistance to killing and places him in an environment in which he will kill, then that society has an obligation to deal forthrightly, intelligently, and morally with the psychological repercussions upon the soldier and the society. Largely through an ignorance of the processes and implications involved, this did not happen for Vietnam veterans—a mistake we risk making again as the war in Iraq becomes increasingly deadly and unpopular.

The resensitization of America

...[There are] two dangers... One danger is the “Macho Man” mentality that can cause a soldier to refuse to accept vital mental health services. But the other danger is what I call the “Pity Party.” There is a powerful tendency for human beings to respond to stress in the way that they think they should. If soldiers and their spouses, parents and others, are all convinced that the returning veteran will have PTSD, then it can create a powerful self-fulfilling prophecy.

Thus there is a careful balancing act, in which our society is morally obligated to provide state-of-the-art mental health services to returning veterans, and for the returning soldier to partake of such care if needed. But we also must remember (and even create an expectation) that most combat veterans will be okay. For those who do have a problem, we must make it clear to them that PTSD is treatable and can be curable, and when finished with it they can potentially be stronger individuals for the experience.

Most importantly, if we do want to build a world in which killing is increasingly rare, more scientists, soldiers, and others must speak up and challenge the popular myth that human beings are “natural born killers.” ...

We may never understand the nature of the force in humankind that causes us to strongly resist killing fellow human beings, but we can be thankful for it. And although military leaders responsible for winning a war may be distressed by this force, as a species we can view it with pride. It is there, it is strong, and it gives us cause to believe that there may just be hope for human-kind after all.

A former Army Ranger and paratrooper, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, M.Ed., taught psychology at West Point and is formerly a professor and chair of the department of military science at Arkansas State University. He is the author of On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction.

Sep 22, 2007

A Can of Worms We Might Not Want Opened

The haste involved in forwarding the anti-Iran Info Op is showing.

Deconflicting information release anyone?

Juan Cole on the implication of the capture a few days ago of an Iranian in Iraqi Kurdistan:

[The U.S. is publicly] alleging that he is an officer in the Quds Force section of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and an arms smuggler. The Kurdistan Regional Authority says that he is Aghai Farhadi, a trade representative of Kirmanshah Province in Iran.

Either the US suspicions about Farhadi are baseless, or the Kurds are the major conduit for Iranian arms into Iraq. Five other Iranians were kidnapped from Irbil by the US military. Farhadi would not be doing what he was doing in Sulaimaniya unless he was the guest of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. If he was smuggling in arms, he was smuggling them to the Peshmerga, the Kurdish paramilitary, which is allied with the United States. Presumably this means that the Peshmerga is either transfering the weapons to the Badr Corps or selling the arms off on the Iraqi black market. If this scenario is correct, then it is pure propaganda for the USG to complain so loudly and bitterly about Iranian meddling in Iraq, when it is being facilitated by some Kurds, who are in turn putative US allies.

Sep 21, 2007

Fine Narrative Emerging

Israel -- whose role per omission or commission -- in the pre-war Iraq WMD "intelligence failure" has never been publicly revealed, is playing a helpful part in the PSYOP du jour.

Israel's decision to attack Syria on Sept. 6, bombing a suspected nuclear site set up in apparent collaboration with North Korea, came after Israel shared intelligence with President Bush this summer indicating that North Korean nuclear personnel were in Syria, U.S. government sources said.

This narrative is nearly ideal, working well on several different levels and against the choicest targets.

Aficionados of the genre will also appreciate the significance of the Post's byline.

Sep 20, 2007

Steven Aftergood - Psychological Operations Test Military Aptitude

Psychological operations (PSYOP) -- military programs that seek to influence the attitudes and shape the behavior of a target audience -- have the potential to increase the effectiveness of the armed forces they support while minimizing violent conflict. But the U.S. military is not notably good at conducting such programs.

To achieve their objective, PSYOP practitioners should ideally have a clear understanding of the values and thought processes of their audience (as well as their own), and they should have a credible and compelling message to deliver. These have often been lacking.

According to a 2004 Army evaluation of PSYOP activities during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, "it is clear that on the whole, PSYOP produced much less than expected and perhaps less than claimed."

Two newly disclosed Army publications provide insight into Army PSYOP planning and procedures.

"Psychological Operations Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures,"
U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-05.301, December 2003 (a revision was issued in August 2007) (439 pages, 6.2 MB).

"Tactical Psychological Operations: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures,"
U.S. Army Field Manual 3-05.302, October 2005 (255 pages, 11.2 MB).

These documents have not been approved for public release, but copies were obtained by Secrecy News.

A related document that was previously disclosed by Secrecy News is "Psychological Operations," U.S. Army Field Manual 3-05.30, April 2005.

In the worst cases, poorly executed PSYOP activities are not merely futile but may actually be counterproductive.

In 2003, a U.S. information operations officer produced posters picturing Saddam Hussein as Homer Simpson and other figures of ridicule. "The posters enraged Iraqis and led to conflict that resulted in casualties for U.S. forces," according to a 2005 study of PSYOP lessons learned.

See "Review of Psychological Operations: Lessons Learned from Recent Operational Experience" by Christopher J. Lamb, National Defense University Press, September 2005.

-A Wholesale and Unabashed SMC Rip-Off From Steven Aftergood's most excellent blog Secrecy News over at FAS. I hope the utility of the post grants absolution for my most covetous of ways. (It's been a busy couple o' days lately) And the usual H/T to EFFWIT for his untiring efforts to keep me in the loop by feeding me great substrate for posts and discussion. It always makes me wonder what the heck kind of fall he's setting me up for.

Sep 19, 2007

No Post-Petraeus Bounce

Assessing the effectiveness of an information operation is an important part of the IO process.

Polling -- when conditions permit -- is considered to be a very good Measure of Effectiveness (MOE) in the Info Op biz.

The IO Working Group that managed the domestic influence campaign that centered around the Petraeus/Crocker testimony cannot be pleased with the results of the polling data now starting to come in. The American people -- their characteristic common sense on display -- failed to be swayed to change their opinion of the war and their estimate of the chances of U.S. success going forward.

The American public long ago reached a verdict regarding Iraq, and, for the Bush administration, it isn't a reassuring one. Most US voters have little confidence in the administration's Iraq strategy – though the White House does retain a core of committed support.

So far there is little evidence that President Bush's speech to the nation Sept. 13, or last week's testimony by the top US commander and the top US diplomat in Iraq explaining the outcome of the surge , changed matters. A CBS News poll released Monday found 63 percent of respondents judged that things are going badly in Iraq, while only 34 percent said they are going well – about the same percentage split as before Mr. Bush's address.

More than half of respondents to the CBS survey said the surge of additional US troops, which began in January, has had no impact. ...

The conflict in Iraq has now gone on so long that most Americans have had time to make up their minds about it, say opinion experts. While speeches and other events have caused upward blips in the polls in the past, in general public attitudes have shown a long, slow slide.

A new Gallup poll also finds little evidence of a post-Petraeus bounce:

According to a Sept. 14-16, 2007, USA Today/Gallup poll, only one-third of Americans are optimistic the United States will win the war in Iraq; nearly two-thirds generally think the U.S. will not win. These figures are virtually unchanged from the previous poll, conducted Sept. 7-8. ...

Americans are sending ambiguous messages about what to do in Iraq. On the one hand, they think going to Iraq was a mistake, are dubious the troop surge has been effective or that the war will be won, and would like to start withdrawing U.S. troops on a timetable. Most of these positions run contrary to the message delivered by Petraeus to Congress last week. At the same time, Petraeus is increasingly well-regarded by the public, and his plan for a long-term incremental pullout of Iraq is generally supported.

On the other hand, if the objective of the IO plan was to buy time politically for President Bush to hand off the mess to the next occupant of the White House, the effort probably cannot be judged to have been a complete failure.

Sep 18, 2007

Pushing Iran's Buttons

A fascinating take on a couple of key aspects of the anti-Iran Info Op, specifically the loudly trumpeted claims that Iran, per se, is engaged in the production of EFPs in Iraq and that the Quds Force is training Iraqi Shi'ite militias:

US and British officials have acknowledged in the past that the EFP technology being used in Iraq might have entered Iraq from Hezbollah in Lebanon rather than from Iran.

The premise that the Quds Force agents in Iraq were involved in training Shi'ites to carry out operations against US troops was shattered when (Major General Rick) Lynch told reporters on August 19 that the Iranians were "facilitating the training of Shi'ite extremist" militiamen in Iraq. That clearly implied that the training was being done by Hezbollah.

The Washington Post and other news outlets quoted Lynch's statement but nevertheless reported that Lynch had charged that Iranians were doing the training. A spokesperson for Lynch confirmed to Inter Press Service that Lynch had not made any allegation about Iranians training Shi'ites in Iraq.

Petraeus dealt the final blow to the notion of a Quds Force training role when he noted that the Hezbollah trainers had also been withdrawn from the country.

The briefing by US military spokesman Brigadier General Kevin Bergner on July 2 was aimed primarily at advancing the theme that Hezbollah acts in Iraq as a "proxy" for Iran. But the real significance of the briefing - unreported in the US news media - was the first suggestion by a US official that the Quds Force personnel in Iraq might have avoided direct contacts with Shi'ite militias altogether.

Asked by a journalist why the Quds Force would "subcontract" the training of Shi'ite militias to Hezbollah, Bergner answered that Hezbollah could "do things that perhaps they didn't want to have to do themselves in terms of interacting directly with special groups".

Without mentioning any pullout of Quds Force personnel, Conway said on August 19 that Lynch estimated there were 50 Quds Force agents in his entire area of responsibility in southern Iraq. Four days later, Lynch clarified that estimate, telling reporters that 30 of those estimated 50 agents were "surrogates" - presumably referring to Hezbollah operatives engaged in training Shi'ites in southern Iraq.

Although it was buried in the August 19 story inaccurately reporting Lynch's statement about training in Iraq, Megan Greenwell of the Washington Post reported the much more significant fact that "some military intelligence analysts have concluded there is no concrete evidence" linking the Quds Force in Iraq with the Shi'ite militias.

The charge that Iran is using the Quds Force to fight a proxy war is an effort to raise tensions with Iran by suggesting a potential reason for a US attack against that country. Similarly, the pressure for targeting the Quds Force in Iraq late last year came from senior officials in the Bush administration who wished to demonstrate US resolve to confront Iran, according to an in-depth account of the origins of the plan by the Washington Post's Dafna Linzer published on February 26.

That policy was regarded with "skepticism" by the intelligence community, the State Department and the Defense Department when it was proposed, Linzer wrote, because of the fear it would contribute to an escalation of conflict with Iran.

"This has little to do with Iraq," a senior intelligence officer told Linzer. "It's all about pushing Iran's buttons. It's purely political."

Sep 17, 2007

Zero Degree Turn

Iran has unveiled a new domestic influence operation -- utilizing the reliable (and ubiquitous) "we are the good guys" theme:

It is Iran's version of "Schindler's List," a miniseries about an Iranian diplomat in Paris who helps Jews escape the Holocaust -- and viewers across the country are riveted.

That's surprising enough in a country whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has questioned whether the Holocaust even took place. What's more surprising is that government media produced the series, and it is airing on state-run television.

The Holocaust is rarely mentioned in state media in Iran, school textbooks do not discuss it and Iranians have little information about it.

Yet the series, titled "Zero Degree Turn," offers a sympathetic view of the Jews' plight during World War II.

"Where are they taking them?" the horrified hero, a young diplomat who works at the Iranian Embassy in Paris, asks someone in a crowd of onlookers as men, women and children with yellow stars on their clothes are forced into trucks by Nazi soldiers.

"The Fascists are taking the Jews to the concentration camps," the man says.

The hero, Habib Parsa, then begins giving Iranian passports to Jews to allow them to flee occupied France to what was then Palestine.

Though the Habib character is fictional, it is based on a true story of diplomats in the Iranian Embassy in Paris in the 1940s who gave out about 500 Iranian passports for Jews to use to escape.

The show may reflect an attempt by Iran's leadership to moderate its image as anti-Semitic and to underline a distinction that Iranian officials often make -- that their conflict is with Israel, not with the Jewish people. ...

The series could not have aired without being condoned by Iran's clerical leadership. The state broadcaster is under the control of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say in all matters in Iran.

Moderate conservatives have been gaining ground in Iran, where there is growing discontent with the ruling hard-liners over tensions with the West and a worsening economy.

The government allowed the series to break another taboo: Many actresses appear without conforming to the state-mandated Islamic dress code. The producers wanted to realistically portray 1940s Paris, and thus avoided the head scarves and head-to-foot robes that all women usually must wear on Iranian TV.

Sep 16, 2007

Cold War Gals Hughes & Rice - So Very...Pre-911

[T]his failure of public diplomacy is the product of an inappropriately designed approach, based almost exclusively as it was on the concept that governed Washington's media and propaganda campaign targeting the socialist bloc during the Cold War.

Whether out of naiveté or pure ignorance, the architects of this project ignored the fundamental difference between the people of Eastern Europe, the majority of whom were fascinated by the Western way of life and who would tune into Radio Free Europe and seize whatever opportunities they could to read American and Western European publications, in spite of the considerable risks they faced in their police states, and the people of the Arab world who, when thinking about America, are concerned above all about American policies towards the Middle East and who regard these policies as hostile to Arab rights and causes and relentlessly biased in favour of Israel. Any media directed towards Arab audiences that could not address this concern, simply because it could not alter the facts, was doomed to lack credibility.

But the architects of policies that gave rise to Al-Hurra TV and Sawa Radio overlooked a more glaring difference between socialist Eastern Europe and the Arab world. In Poland and East Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, people had only the choice between their own state-run media and the more enticing state-run media from the West. Arab audiences at the beginning of the 21st century are inundated with choices, not only from land-based broadcasting stations in Cairo, Riyadh and Amman, but also from satellite networks. Al-Hurra and Sawa could not even begin to compete on the open airwaves with such much more attractive and sophisticated stations as Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya.

But there is also a technical reason for this failure. As though it was not a difficult enough task to improve the image of the US in the Arab world at a time when this superpower has forces occupying an Arab country that is undergoing horrifying tensions and upheavals, and at a time when it encouraged its Israeli ally to go on the offensive against another Arab country in the hope of altering the map of regional alliances, the American media targeting the Arab world was consistently poorly managed. Programming and the substance of programmes never went beyond the blatantly propagandistic campaign to vindicate American policies. How could it possibly succeed?

The Bush administration lost the battle to win Arab hearts and minds. It is difficult to foresee any reversal of US fortunes any time in the near future.
- jacked & hacked Amr Hamzawi at Al-Ahram.

H/T to Mountain Runner for appending some keen contextualizing commentary over at his shack. Slick.

We know that Rice is stuck in a Cold War mind set not based on Kennan's original concept of containment. We also know that Karen Hughes lacks the skill, leadership, and general acumen in her public diplomacy post.

The combination of lack of insight and political strength to direct the BBG smartly or even strategically lead interagency processes is behind what Amr Hamzawi, writing in an Egyptian weekly, latches onto in his article below. The failure of Rice and Hughes to know when the current struggle is and is not like the all hands struggle of the pre-detente Cold War created a failed media outreach strategy, a lame national strategy on public diplomacy, and not surprisingly fostered conferences sponsored by groups in the Defense community filling the void left by State's lack of leadership. This isn't to say State doesn't have qualified individuals. It's filled with them, they just can't do their job.

Sep 15, 2007

People's Information War

As a follow-up to yesterday's China Info War post, we bring you the gist of a pretty decent piece by a Hong Kong-based defense analyst.

A careful look at articles and seminars on the topic of "information warfare" from within the People's Liberation Army reveals that the PLA is now placing high priority on this type of computer warfare. A top-level information warfare command has been established under the Fourth Department of the PLA General Staff Headquarters.

At previous conferences and seminars on this subject, Chinese military experts have put forward the concept that information warfare should include a peacetime "information struggle" in the political, diplomatic, financial, cultural and economic areas. At one such conference, the Fourth Department of the PLA raised the idea of establishing the information warfare leadership group at the top level of the Chinese military.

The PLA is also carefully researching U.S. military strategies in this field. Most textbooks on computer warfare used by the U.S. military have been translated into the Chinese language, including "FM 100-6 Information Operations" and "JP 3-13 Joint Doctrine for Information Operations" compiled by the Pentagon. Meanwhile, the PLA has also published two textbooks on information operations. At the level of research institutes, the PLA has established two centers for information operations.

Experts from the 81178 Unit of the PLA believe that a future information war will require combined offensive and defensive tactics. Their offensive tactics include electronic attacks, network attacks and military deception; defensive tactics include information counterattacks, information protection and recovery. This yields insight into how the Chinese military views the relationship between military deception and network attacks.

As for information warfare in joint landing operations, experts from the Command Headquarters of the Jinan Military Region said in an article that an enemy's C3I system should be a prominent target of attack, and emphasis should be placed on disabling the whole network of the adversary, training and employing "cyber warriors" (hackers) and establishing a "Special Cyber Force."

Experts from the Chinese National Defense University also stressed in a report that cyber attacks would become the greatest threat in future warfare. As a consequence, "cyber warriors, cyber spies, cyber propaganda teams and cyber hacker teams" should be employed to crack the enemy's military intelligence and disrupt its computer network and intelligence systems, the report said.

It also put forward the concept of a "people's information war" for the first time, describing this as a form of national non-symmetric warfare, with the people at the core, computers as the weapons, knowledge as the ammunition and the enemy's information network as the battlefield. These experts believe that ordinary people can be mobilized to provide global information support, spread global propaganda and conduct global psychological warfare. Such attacks could be launched from anywhere in the world at the enemy's military, political and economic information systems. If necessary, the experts suggested, computers currently under the control of Chinese enterprises could be dispersed among the people and connected to volunteer Web portals around the world, which would become a combined strategic cyber attack force. The article concluded by emphasizing that training "hacker warriors" should be a priority within the Chinese military.

The Chinese military has also started applying so-called "human wave" tactics to establish its cyber war network, which is internally referred to as the information network squad. The first such cyber operation unit to be set up was the Shandong Zaozhuang Municipal Militia Information Network Squad, with members comprising staff from the Zaozhuang Municipal Telecommunications Bureau. The 48 members of the squad all hold professional titles in computer technology.

The hacker attacks upon overseas Web sites were quite likely launched by similar military cyber operation squads. The establishment of this "information militia" warfare network means that the concept of a "people's war" has been officially introduced in the realm of information warfare.

The Chinese military has paid high attention to computer warfare over the years, and its capability to engage in information operations is now taken as an important benchmark in the improvement of the overall "soft combat power" of the Chinese armed forces. As a result, the PLA has introduced such slogans as "control information" and "information is combat strength."

After the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was mistakenly bombarded by NATO aircraft in 1999 during the Kosovo conflict, Chinese hackers launched waves of attacks upon U.S. networks. Most of these attacks were from the "information militia" -- who claim to have set a record of successfully invading 10 U.S. government Web sites each hour.

In a strategy aimed at attacking the enemy from the rear, China is already launching an information World War, a new type of People's Information War.

Sep 14, 2007

China's Cyber Probes -- Test of Disruption Tactic?

China's current military doctrine stresses "information dominance", achieved not necessarily through advances in technology, but instead by tactical innovations in the operational sphere.

We have likely been seeing one of these tactical gambits in practice lately.

When suspected Chinese hackers penetrated the Pentagon this summer, reports downplayed the cyberattack. The hackers hit a secure Pentagon system known as NIPRNet – but it only carries unclassified information and general e-mail, Department of Defense officials said.

Yet a central aim of the Chinese hackers may not have been top secrets, but a probe of the Pentagon network structure itself, some analysts argue. The NIPRNet (Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network) is crucial in the quick deployment of US forces should China attack Taiwan. By crippling a Pentagon Net used to call US forces, China gains crucial hours and minutes in a lightning attack designed to force a Taiwan surrender, experts say.

China's presumed infiltration underscores an ever bolder and more advanced capability by its cybershock troops. Today, of an estimated 120 countries working on cyberwarfare, China, seeking great power status, has emerged as a leader.

"The Chinese are the first to use cyberattacks for political and military goals," says James Mulvenon, an expert on China's military and director of the Center for Intelligence and Research in Washington. "Whether it is battlefield preparation or hacking networks connected to the German chancellor, they are the first state actor to jump feet first into 21st-century cyberwarfare technology. This is clearly becoming a more serious and open problem."

China is hardly the only state conducting cyberespionage. "Everybody is hacking everybody," says Johannes Ullrich, an expert with the SANS Technology Institute, pointing to Israeli hacks against the US, and French hacks against European Union partners. But aspects of the Chinese approach worry him. "The part I am most afraid of is … staging probes inside key industries. It's almost like sleeper cells, having ways to [disrupt] systems when you need to if it ever came to war." ...

Probes of the Pentagon system that would bring US intervention should China attack Taiwan are part of a program dating to the 1990s that links cyberwarfare to real-world military action by China's People's Liberation Army. The very probe shows success in China's long-term program, experts say.

"The Chinese want to disrupt that unofficial network in a crucial time-frame inside a Taiwan scenario," says Mr. Mulvenon. "It is something they've written about. When you read what Chinese strategists say, it is the unclassified network they will go after … to delay deployment. China is developing tremendous capability." ...

Of particular alarm for Washington and other world capitals are so-called "zero-day attacks" – cyberpenetrations that look for software flaws to exploit. This is not an uncommon pastime for hackers. But in China's case, suspicion falls on professional hackers, says Sami Saydjari, a Defense Department computer-security veteran who now heads a firm called Cyber Defense Agency in Wisconsin. ...

For several years, China has focused most of its military research and production on a high-tech air and missile-attack force – to overwhelm Taiwan. Hence, China's probe of the Pentagon NIPRNet. "They want to be able to attack the Net. They don't need a supersexy penetration program," Mulvenon argues. "They just bomb the Net itself. They disrupt the deployment of our military, simultaneously saturate Taiwan, delay the US arrival, and Taiwan capitulates. It's what they talk about."

Sep 13, 2007

"If U.S. forces cannot make a difference, improved Iraqi forces certainly cannot."

The hard-core denialists who still think that the U.S. can ever achieve anything a reasonable person would consider "success" in Iraq are ignoring the elephant in the room:

If the Iraq war was winnable, we would have won by now.

A new article from the Carnegie Endowment points to some of the reasons this is true:

[S]upporters of the war and opponents both know that the multiple conflicts in Iraq have no military solution. Soon to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Michael Mullen, is unequivocal on this: "Security is critical to providing the government of Iraq the breathing space it needs to work toward political national reconciliation and economic growth.… Barring that, no amount of troops in no amount of time will make much of a difference" (emphasis added). If U.S. forces cannot make a difference, improved Iraqi forces certainly cannot.

What, then, is the political and economic situation? Moderate Sunnis have left the government, Shia unity has crumbled, and Kurds and Shia are less, not more, willing to share power with the Sunnis. Seventeen of 38 cabinet ministers have walked out. Former Sunni insurgents have turned against Al Qaeda in Iraq in Anbar province, but this does not mean support for the Iraqi government or for U.S. goals. More and more of the Iraqi people look to a source other than the government (a sectarian party or militia, Islamist terrorists, a tribe, a criminal gang) for the security and services the Baghdad government cannot provide. By the Pentagon’s reckoning, unemployment stands at about 60 percent, draining the economic base any government needs to stand on.

Basra, Iraq's second largest city and not long ago relatively peaceful, is the place where the "clear, hold, and build" strategy the United States is now following was first applied by the British and judged to be the model to follow. Today it is lawless and bloody, in the grip of warring Shia militia and fundamentalist clerics. The International Crisis Group (ICG), whose reporting from Iraq over five years has been among the best, fears that Basra’s fate will be the country's. The Iraq ICG sees is "a failed state—a country whose institutions and, with them, any semblance of national cohesion, have been obliterated."

As convenient as it would be to have a scapegoat, Iraq's political disintegration cannot be blamed on its prime minister, nor fixed by replacing him. It sources are deeper. Minority Sunnis, who ruled the country for a long time, are still unwilling, as the recent National Intelligence Estimate found, "to accept a diminished political status." That hasn't changed in four years and probably will not until they have fought to exhaustion for what they see as their rightful place.

The political disintegration also comes from the momentum of violence. More than 4 million Iraqis are refugees, internally displaced, or dead from violence. In per capita U.S. terms, that would be nearly 50 million people. Could we, under such conditions, come together as a nation, bury past wrongs, and under foreign military dictate reallocate wealth and make frightening political accommodations? The question answers itself—yet we continue to insist that Iraqis can, perhaps if we threaten a bit more.

Sep 12, 2007

Financial Warfare 101

The Foreign Policy Research Institute has published a new article by Yale professor Paul Bracken on the subject of Financial Warfare (as distinguished from the more traditional Economic Warfare).

There are all sorts of details that in a government document would likely be portion marked in such a way that the operational toolkit would remain inviolate.

An excerpt:

It is important to distinguish between financial and economic systems. This distinction is central to understanding the growing opportunities for financial warfare, as distinct from classic economic warfare. The economic system deals with the hard and soft outputs of the economy—that is, goods and services. The financial system deals with money and credit. In the modern financial system these can be very complicated. Bank credit, money transfers, stocks, bonds, and derivatives are the “stuff” of the financial system. It is a system built on confidence. There is trust that loans will be paid, that money transferred to an account will actually get there, and that money once placed in an account will not suddenly "disappear." ...

Financial warfare complements military operations as well as information operations. When combined with advances in social network mapping, it can give a highly detailed picture of an elite's communication and financial structure that can be used for targeting. Communication and software tools now exist to analyze connections in vast networks of heterogeneous information, such as financial transactions, mobile telephone calls, e-mail, and air travel. This gigantic information pool can be a source of knowledge about a nation's elite, where they stash their money, who they talk to, and their position in a social hierarchy. The key to doing this lies in constructing overlays of these datasets to visualize the various connections.

Watching how money flows out of a country in a crisis can be an important tip-off to who is in the know and who is at least partially responsible for national decisions. Carried to the next step, this can be combined with precise military attacks to go after a nation's elite. For example, tracking mobile telephone calls can reveal things like where the elite live, their vacation homes, and their travel patterns. Financial tracking of their bank accounts can reveal where they keep their money and who has access to their accounts. This creates the conditions for potentially ruinous attacks with far-reaching social implications on the national leadership. Were a national elite's overseas bank accounts frozen and their homes targeted with cruise missiles, simultaneously, a hyper-decapitation attack could destroy a nation's leadership. Clearly, this represents a large escalation. But there are many possibilities which fall short of this, and these constitute an important type of strategy: counter-elite targeting. Counter elite targeting has been considered in the past, both in the Cold War, with nuclear weapons, and more recently in conflicts in Kosovo and Iraq. But the 21st century is likely to see considerably more applications of it.

Spoofing—sending false signals of increased military and financial pressure—could be used to map out the crisis response patterns of a national elite, who they call, and where they send their money. This could be an intelligence treasure-trove of information. It could also be an input to information operations designed to make certain individuals, groups, or companies "suspect" in the eyes of a leader. This could undermine confidence in the regime. Seen as an escalation process, this focuses attention on actions which fall short of all-out attacks. These lower-level or intermediate actions are likely to provide U.S. decision-makers with a range of options between doing nothing and all-out attacks.

Sep 10, 2007

Nation Shaping Then, Now, and Maybe Iran - COIN's Pointy IOs

I remembered this:

No one knows whether or not an Operation Iranian Freedom is in the cards. A good deal of focus is already being placed on military planning. But it is also worth asking what America is doing to prepare for the trove of documents and other media that a newly liberated Iran could produce.

... when I chanced upon this:

Their methods had echoes of the Gestapo: kidnapping at night by state officials who offered no evidence of identity. Recently declassified secret documents reveal how at the end of the second world war an elite British unit abducted hundreds of German scientists and technicians and put them to work at government ministries and private firms in the UK.

The programme was designed to loot the defeated country's intellectual assets, impeding its ability to compete while giving a boost to British business.

In a related programme, German businessmen are alleged to have been forced to travel to post-war Britain to be questioned by their commercial rivals, and were interned if they refused to reveal trade secrets.

The economic warfare programmes are detailed in batches of Foreign Office files, marked "Top Secret", many of which lay unseen at the National Archives at Kew until discovered by the Guardian.

While it has long been known that German scientists and technicians worked in the US and Britain after the war, it has generally been assumed they were all volunteers, lured by the promise of good pay and accommodation. However, the declassified papers make clear that for more than two years after the cessation of hostilities the British authorities were subjecting them to a programme of "enforced evacuation".

The records show that abductions in the British-controlled zone of post-war Germany were carried out on the orders of an organisation called the British Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee, or Bios. This committee was answerable to the cabinet and made up of representatives of the armed forces and Whitehall departments, including the Board of Trade and Ministry of Supply, as well as MI16 - the War Office's department of scientific intelligence.

The other organisation was the Field Information Agency (Technical), or Fiat, which had been established during the war as a joint Anglo-American military intelligence unit, and which earmarked scientists for "enforced evacuation" from the US and French zones, and Berlin.

Responsibility for seizing the scientists fell to a unique British army unit known as T-Force. Formed shortly after D Day, this lightly armed and highly-mobile force had raced ahead of allied troops at the end of the war, seizing objects which had a scientific or intelligence value before they could be sabotaged by retreating Germans, or captured by the Soviet Union.

After the war some officers and men from T-Force were formed into the Enemy Personnel Exploitation Section, which would escort the Bios and Fiat investigators and then take away the scientists and technicians wanted for interrogation.

Scientists were not the sole targets. The papers disclose brief details about Operation Bottleneck, which aimed to extract business information. In January 1947 Erich Klabunde, head of the German journalists' union, complained about how this was being achieved. A British official in Hamburg reported to headquarters that Klabunde told a public meeting: "An English manufacturer would name his German counterpart and competitor and 'invite' him to England (whether the man comes voluntarily or not is questionable). They then discuss business and the German is gently persuaded to reveal secrets of his trade. When he refuses, he is kept in polite internment until he gets so tired of not being allowed to return to his family that he tells the Englishman what he wants to know. Thus for about £6 a day the English businessman gains the deepest secrets of Germany's economic life."

The rationale for this had been set out by Herbert Morrison, lord president of the council, who told the prime minister, Clement Attlee: "It is most important at this formative stage to start shaping the German economy in the way which will best assist our own economic plans and will run the least risk of it developing into an unnecessarily awkward competitor."

...and went completely off topic revisiting thoughts, trends and topics the scattered likes of this:

The Iraq war came in two phases. The first phase is complete: the destruction of the existing state. The second phase consists of building a new state tied to our interests and smashing dissenting sectors of society. Openly, this involves applying the same sort of economic shock therapy applied to Eastern Europe. Covertly, it entails degrees of intimidating, kidnapping and killing a plethora of opposition voices. (*Covert operations can rarely achieve an important objective alone. At best, a covert operation can win time, forestall a coup, or otherwise create favorable conditions which will make it possible to use overt means to finally achieve an important objective. - From the Report of the Covert Operations Study Group. Dec 1, 1968. (Secret) *h/t Effwit)

The long unfolding pattern of academics assassinated in Iraq appears to lend some credence to claims that a campaign exists and is being conducted to erase a key section of the secular middle class in Iraq — a group that has largely resisted the US occupation of Iraq and refused to be co-opted by the so-called “political process”. Academics are not the only ones being killed: 311 teachers killed the past 4 months, 182 pilots, 416 senior military officers killed in the first 3 months of 2006. 20.000 people kidnapped since the beginning of 2006.

Some commentators claim that the assassination campaign of academics is part of a so-called civil war between Sunni and Shia. That’s it’s the ignorant Islamist Shia who receives direct orders from Iran to kill intellectual Sunni’s, and that it is unfortunately beyond the control of the US now. And thus the occupying forces should remain in Iraq to restore law and order. Another smokescreen is the claim that most of the assassinations are carried out by criminal gangs, who first kidnap their victims, and then a ransom is paid. And after that either they are assassinated, and if not, they flee the country.

Perhaps some context is in order:

What we might very well be witnessing is the result of a carefully planned campaign to liquidate key Iraqis who oppose the occupation, the so-called “Salvador option”. In fact, since 1945, we have developed counterinsurgency policies based much upon the model of the Third Reich's suppression of partisan insurgents that emphasized placing the civilian population under strict control and using terror to make the population afraid to support or collaborate with insurgents.

Patrick Lang, former chief of Middle East analysis for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency said: “What those of us in El Salvador learned was that American policy might call for surgical action, but once the local troops are involved, they’re as likely to use a chain-saw as a scalpel. And that, too, can serve American ends."

In almost any counter-insurgency, the basic message the government or the occupiers tries to get across to the population is brutally simple: We can protect you from the guerrillas, but the guerrillas can’t protect you from us, and you’ve got to choose sides. Sometimes you can win the population’s hearts and minds; sometimes you just have to make them more frightened of you than they are of the insurgents. And for this aim we use the likes of the Wolf Brigade, the Scorpions Brigade, the Lions Brigade, the Peshmerga’s and the “security forces” of the Ministry of Interior.

On January 1 2004, Robert Dreyfuss stated that: “part of a secret $3 billion in new funds—tucked away in the $87 billion Iraq appropriation that Congress approved in early November 2003 — will go toward the creation of a paramilitary unit manned by militiamen associated with former Iraqi exile groups. Experts say it could lead to a wave of extra-judicial killings, not only of armed rebels but of nationalists, other opponents of the U.S. occupation and thousands of civilian Baathists—up to 120,000 of the estimated 2.5 million former Baath Party members in Iraq. “They’re clearly cooking up joint teams to do Phoenix-like things, like they did in Vietnam,” said Vincent Cannistraro, former CIA chief of counter terrorism.

“The big money would be for standing up an Iraqi secret police to liquidate the resistance,” said John Pike, an expert of sorts on classified military budgets at “And it has to be politically loyal to the United States. It’s also channeling money into the creation of an Iraqi secret police staffed mainly by gunmen associated with members of the puppet Iraqi Governing Council. Those militiamen are linked to Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress, the Kurdish peshmerga forces and Shiite paramilitary units, especially those of the Iran-backed Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Technically illegal, these armed forces have been tolerated, even encouraged, by the Pentagon.”

Soon after this money entered Iraq, the consequences of this secret operation became clear. According to an article published in New York Times Magazine, in September 2004, Counselor to the US Ambassador for Iraqi Security Forces James Steele was assigned to work with a new elite Iraqi counter-insurgency unit known as the Special Police Commandos, formed under the operational control of Iraq’s Interior Ministry.

Not few of the same men in charge of training El Salvador's counter-insurgency forces during its civil war are advisors to Iraqi security forces.

Max Fuller
, a journalist specializing in Latin-America, has investigated this matter. He writes: “From 1984 to 1986 then Col. Steele had led the US Military Advisory Group in El Salvador, where he was responsible for developing special operating forces at brigade level during the height of the conflict. These forces, composed of the most brutal soldiers available, replicated the kind of small-unit operations with which Steele was familiar from his service in Vietnam. Rather than focusing on seizing terrain, their role was to attack ‘insurgent’ leadership, their supporters, sources of supply and base camps. In military circles it was the use of such tactics that made the difference in ultimately defeating the guerrillas; for others, such as the Catholic priest Daniel Santiago, the presence of people like Steele contributed to another sort of difference:”

“People are not just killed by death squads in El Salvador – they are decapitated and then their heads are placed on pikes and used to dot the landscape. Men are not just disemboweled by the Salvadoran Treasury Police; their severed genitalia are stuffed into their mouths. Salvadoran women are not just raped by the National Guard; their wombs are cut from their bodies and used to cover their faces. It is not enough to kill children; they are dragged over barbed wire until the flesh falls from their bones, while parents are forced to watch.”

In the context of Iraq where good information is extremely scarce, disinformation and black propaganda are endemic and independent journalists and monitors are deliberately eliminated, it is vital to be able to model the situation in order to understand it and, hopefully, be effective. There are two principle dimensions to such modeling. In the first, Iraq has frequently been compared to Vietnam. The similarity is that the US has well over 100,000 soldiers on the ground. However, the analogy is misleading in that in Iraq conflict with a populous enemy state, as North Vietnam was, ended quickly.

As a model, El Salvador is not wholly accurate either. In El Salvador US advisors were few in number and prohibited from taking part in combat. Nevertheless, it is towards this model that the US is attempting to move, hoping to farm out the business of occupation to Iraqi auxiliaries. But, in many ways it is contemporary Colombia that offers the closest analogy: not for the disposition of US forces, but because here the same process of asset-stripping is both deeply entrenched and ongoing.

It is here that is to be found that clearest pattern for the assaults on academics, independent trade unionists and peasant organizations that will increasingly characterize Iraq for those prepared to look beyond the fireworks. This is the second dimension that any model must address, but in essence the pattern is repeated time after time in most every counter-insurgency war.

In Iraq, the Salvador Option may mean returning home to find your entire family seated at the table with their own severed heads served to them and a bowl of blood for relish. IO's too can have their fair share of pointy glory. In fact, maybe it's when they're pointy that they prove most effective in dealing with alien cultured folks. Some say music is the universal language that best bridges cultural divides. I beg to differ. I'll go with pure horror any ol' day, even in the land of Babel.

I recently saw a new face of COIN on The Daily Show. COIN was now main stream laughing matter.

Wow. "You've come a long way baby"

DOD Global Information Grid Architectural Vision

As a follow-up to our July piece on the IPv6 (and beyond)-based U.S. military Global Information Grid (see A New GIG in Town), we draw your attention to a newly released paper, the DOD's GIG Architectural Vision statement.

Department of Defense Global Information Grid Architectural Vision (39-page PDF)

Information is the key commodity in the target GIG, and vast amounts of data are available in near-real time to information consumers. This includes intelligence, business process, logistics, status, Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID), sensor, raw, processed, structured, unstructured, and multi-media data. Recognition of information as a strategic, enterprise asset, coupled with significant improvements in IA and IT capabilities, underlie the willingness of information producers and providers to share information. Data capture, retention, and sharing are key requirements for all new GIG capabilities. Using automated tools, information providers ‘post’ information to the GIG (so that it is visible, accessible, and understandable to others) as soon as it becomes available. For example, streaming video from an unmanned sensor is ‘posted’ to the net as it is produced. It is then available to multiple users such as the local tactical Commander and CONUS-based intelligence analysts.

Sharing information is enhanced through a set of automated activities and capabilities including the tagging of information with discovery, semantic, syntax, access control, and other metadata. Metadata is cataloged and discoverable allowing even unanticipated information consumers to find and access the information they need. It is also enhanced by the formation of ad hoc Communities of Interest (COIs) focused on sharing information for specific joint missions/tasks. At a minimum, these COIs agree on a common language and structure for data, and identify relevant information sources. Users can find and access the information they require by advanced search and retrieval methods (pull) or by identifying, in advance, their information requirements (smart pull). Rapidly developed and fielded applications and services (discussed in more detail in Section 4) support advanced, automated methods to fuse, process, visualize, and exploit information in ways tailored to the user needs.

Finally, users explicitly trust the availability, authenticity, confidentiality, non-repudiation, integrity, and survivability of the information, assets, and services of the assured target GIG. They also trust the resources that users need to access, share, and use, are not static but can be adjusted to support changing priorities and requirements. GIG NetOps is an enterprise-wide construct that includes procedural and technological elements including doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF). It is used to operate and defend the GIG in support of timely and secure operations and information sharing throughout the DoD and with mission partners. The target GIG is operated and defended as a unified, agile, end-to-end information enterprise that is protected, optimized, and responsive to user needs. Operational GIG capabilities are continually analyzed and provisioned; configurations are controlled; performance is monitored and anticipated; vulnerabilities are mitigated; and resource allocations (including spectrum) are dynamically adjusted to optimize the performance and security of the GIG and meet specific mission demands and priorities. (...)

All services and information in the target GIG are published to the enterprise (i.e., visible) and are accessible and understandable to the user independent of geography or organization. In addition, all GIG services are assured, which means that the design and implementation of the functionality provided by services provide confidence that security features, practices, procedures, and architecture mediates and enforces the security policy. Assured also means that the provider of the service is validated and that the consumer of the service: can trust the use of services from many different providers, can obtain validated information on the identity of providers, and may be able to negotiate specific performance guarantees in service level agreements. All service providers use a common set of service description information to enable consistent discovery and use of the services.

Services are monitored and managed as part of NetOps. Service consumers will have access to real-time reliability, maintainability, and availability metrics in order to make informed decisions on the reliability of the service for use in mission capabilities. Service providers provide real-time operational status and long-term service-level performance.
h/t Bob Brewin