Information Operation Roadmap Part 4 and 5
Information Operation Roadmap Part 1
"We Must Fight the Net": Information Operation Roadmap Part 2 and 3
Information Operation Roadmap Part 4
Information Warfare Using Aggressive Psychological Operations
The Pentagon's plans for psychological operations or PSYOP in the global information environment of the 21st century are wide ranging and aggressive. These desires are outlined in the 2003 Pentagon document signed by Donald Rumsfeld in his capacity as the Secretary of Defense called the Information Operation Roadmap.
More detail about the origins and purpose of this document can be read in the first part of this series here. Also, a description of the Pentagon's desire to dominate the entire electro-magnetic spectrum and their need to "fight the net" as outline in the Information Operation Roadmap were previously described.
What is a PSYOP?
A PSYOP is not specifically defined in this document but it does provide some insight into the wide ranging activities that are considered PSYOP.
"The customary position was that "public affairs informs, while public diplomacy and PSYOP influence." PSYOP also has been perceived as the most aggressive of the three information activities, using diverse means, including psychological manipulation and personal threats." [emphasis mine] - 26
"One result of public affairs and civil military operations is greater support for military endeavors and thus, conversely these activities can help discourage and dissuade enemies, which PSYOP does more directly with its own tactics, techniques and procedures." [emphasis mine] - 10
"PSYOP messages disseminated to any audience except individual decision-makers (and perhaps even then) will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public." [emphasis mine] - 26
"A PSYOP force ready to conduct sophisticated target-audience analysis and modify behaviour with multi-media PSYOP campaigns featuring commercial-quality products that can be rapidly disseminated
"PSYOP products must be based on in-depth knowledge of the audience's decision-making processes and the factors influencing his decisions, produced rapidly at the highest quality standards, and powerfully disseminated directly to targeted audiences throughout the area of operations." [emphasis mine] - 6
"Better depiction of the attitudes, perceptions and decision-making processes of an adversary. Understanding how and why adversaries make decisions will require improvements in Human Intelligence (HUMINT) and open source exploitation, as well as improved analytic tools and methods." [emphasis mine] - 39
"SOCOM [Special Operations Command] should create a Joint PSYOP Support Element to coordinate Combatant Command programs and products with the Joint Staff and OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] to provide rapidly produced, commercial-quality PSYOP product prototypes consistent with overall U.S. Government themes and messages." [emphasis mine] - 15
"SOCOM's ongoing PSYOP Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration and modernization efforts should permit the timely, long-range dissemination of products with various PSYOP delivery systems. This includes satellite, radio and television, cellular phones and other wireless devices, the Internetleaflets and loudspeakers
"PSYOP equipment capabilities require 21st Century technology. This modernization would permit the long-range dissemination of PSYOP messages via new information venues such as satellites, the Internet, personal digital assistants and cell phones:
- (U) PSYOP ACTD. Commencing in FY04, SOCOM [Special Operations Command] initiates an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) to address dissemination of PSYOP products into denied areas. The ACTD should examine a range of technologies including a network of unmanned aerial vehicles and miniaturized, scatterable public address systems for satellite rebroadcast in denied areas. It should also consider various message delivery systems, to include satellite radio and television, cellular phones and other wireless devices and the Internet." [emphasis mine] - 65
"Rapid, fully integrated nodal and network analysis providing Combatant Commanders with holistic kinetic and non-kinetic solutions for a full range of electromagnetic, physical and human IO [information operations] targets." [emphasis mine] - 39
"Capabilities such as physical security, information assurance, counter intelligence and physical attack make important contributions to effective IO." [emphasis mine] - 23 throughout the Combatant Commanders area of operations." [emphasis mine] - 63 and upgrades to traditional delivery systems such as that are highly responsive to maneuver commanders." [emphasis mine] - 15
Third Party PSYOP
The Pentagon is also willing to use third parties for their PSYOP.
"Identify and disseminate the views of third party advocates that support U.S. positions. These sources may not articulate the U.S. position the way that the USG [US Government] would, but that may nonetheless have a positive influence." [emphasis mine] - 27
Under recommendation number 48 - "Create a Joint PSYOP Support Element" - is the following:
"Contract for commercial sources for enhanced product development." [emphasis mine] - 64
The use of third party advocates or front groups for the dissemination of US government propaganda is well documented. A couple of recent examples include the illegal payment of $1.6 billion for domestic fake news and similar activities in Iraq using the Lincoln Group among others.
Not only is the Pentagon exploiting new and old technology for aggressive behavior modification, they can also practice and refine their techniques in a virtual simulation of the entire world.
From an article by Mark Baard:
"U.S defense, intel and homeland security officials are constructing a parallel world, on a computer, which the agencies will use to test propaganda messages and military strategies."
"Called the Sentient World Simulation, the program uses AI routines based upon the psychological theories of Marty Seligman, among others. (Seligman introduced the theory of "learned helplessness" in the 1960s, after shocking beagles until they cowered, urinating, on the bottom of their cages.)"
"Yank a country's water supply. Stage a military coup. SWS will tell you what happens next."
"The sim will feature an AR avatar for each person in the real world, based upon data collected about us from government records and the internet."
How useful do you think your new MySpace or Facebook account is in helping the Pentagon develop a detailed psychological profile of you? Do you think they would be shy in exploiting such a valuable source of personal data?
PSYOP in the past, however, often was used to support U.S. Government public diplomacy and information objectives with non-adversarial audiences. These actions include counter-drug, demining and AIDS awareness programs in friendly countries." [emphasis mine] - 25
It is a minor point in the context of this document, but it is worth reflecting on why US military PSYOP were used for AIDS awareness.
Are There Any Limits to Information Warfare?
An obvious question arises from the description of PSYOP described by the Information Operation Roadmap, are there any limits? Can PSYOP be conducted on the American public or just foreign audiences? On adversaries or non-adversaries? Can they be performed during peacetime? My next article will attempt to show just how few limits there actually are.
Information Operation Roadmap Part 5
Information Warfare Without LimitsThe 2003 Pentagon document entitled Information Operation Roadmap describes the need to dominate the entire electromagnetic spectrum, 'fight the net', and use psychological operations to aggressively modify behaviour. But one major question remains; are there any limits to information warfare?
If you are unfamiliar with the Information Operation Roadmap please read a previous article I wrote describing the major thrust of this document.
PSYOP, Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
From the Information Operation Roadmap:
"In the past some basic similarities and dissimilarities between PSYOP [psychological operations], support to public diplomacy and public affairs generally have been accepted. Historically all three used truth to bolster credibility, and all three addressed foreign audiences, both adversary and non-adversaries. Only public affairs addressed domestic audiences. In addition, all three activities sought a positive impact for USG [US Government] interests, but with some differences in the methods employed and objectives sought. The customary position was that "public affairs informs, while public diplomacy and PSYOP influence." PSYOP also has been perceived as the most aggressive of the three information activities, using diverse means, including psychological manipulation and personal threats." [emphasis mine] - 26
There is a lot happening in this paragraph, first, there is the almost humorous statement; "truth to bolster credibility". Does anyone remember WMDs, Saddam and 9/11, maybe some uranium from Niger? Do you believe these examples of public affairs were to inform or influence?
Secondly, "USG interests" are by no means the same as the interests of the average American. Thirdly, the concept that only public affairs is being addressed to domestic audiences, is simply absurd given the ability of information to pass across borders. This document even admits as much:
"Impact of the global village. The increasing ability of people in most parts of the globe to access international sources makes targeting particular audiences more difficult. Today the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG [US Government] intent rather than information dissemination practices:
PSYOP is restricted by both DoD [Department of Defense] policy and executive order from targeting American audiences, our military personnel and news agencies or outlets... However, information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa... PSYOP messages disseminated to any audience except individual decision-makers (and perhaps even then) will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public." [emphasis mine] - 26
So there you have it, "the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of US government intent rather than information dissemination practices". Therefore, the American public is fair game for all forms of US government propaganda, be it, public affairs, public diplomacy or PSYOP. Remember, PSYOP use "diverse means, including psychological manipulation and personal threats" among many other things.
It should also be highlighted that PSYOP are only restricted not prohibited from being used on the American public. If that loophole is not large enough, the distinctions between the tactics of public affairs, public diplomacy and PSYOP are elaborated in Appendix C of the Information Operation Roadmap. The very last task listed for PSYOP is: "when called upon, support to local public affairs activities".
Appendix C of this document is well worth the one page read (pg 71). Some other highlight include:
"Rapid Response/Truth Squads and "Briefings Plus" "
"Humanitarian road shows"
"Combat Camera products on events not accessible to news media"
"Content of speeches or OP/ED pieces by senior DoD [Department of Defense] officials to foreign audiences"
"Talking points for private exchanges with foreign leaders"
"Overt dissemination of USG [US Government] policy. e.g. Asia-Pacific Forum"
"Radio/TV/Print/Web media designed to directly modify behaviour and distributed in theatre supporting military endeavors in semi or non-permissive environments"
"When called upon, support to theatre public diplomacy"
"DoD advisors to assist friendly forces in developing PSYOP programs"
Definitions are another great tool if you are trying to deceive. As described above the definitions of and distinction between public affair, public diplomacy and PSYOP are left intentionally vague. Lawyers make a living out of this type of deception and their hands are all over this document.
"PSYOP should focus on support to military endeavors (exercises, deployments and operations) in non-permissive or semi-permissive environments (i.e. when adversaries are part of the equation).
- (U) However, PSYOP forces and capabilities may be employed to support U.S. public diplomacy as part of approved theatre security cooperation guideline. In this case PSYOP personnel and equipment are not conducting a PSYOP mission, but rather are providing military support to public diplomacy." [emphasis mine] - 27
Get that? If PSYOP forces and equipment are used in support of military endeavours, it is a PSYOP mission. If PSYOP forces and equipment are used in support of public diplomacy, it is public diplomacy.
A Quick Recap
A close read of the above quotes reveal that information operations, specifically PSYOP, can be used on both domestic and foreign audiences, in non-permissive or semi-permissive environments, and on adversary and non-adversary. Are there any other limits?
Peace, Crisis and War
"The Department's concept of IO [information operations] should emphasize full spectrum IO that makes a potent contribution to effects based operations across the full range of military operations during peace, crisis and war. [emphasis mine]" - 7
"Peacetime preparation. The Department's IO concept should emphasize that full-spectrum information operations are full-time operations requiring extensive preparations in peacetime... Well before crises develop, the IO battlespace should be prepared through intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and extensive planning activities... Similarly, considerable effort should be made to characterize potential adversary audiences, and particularly senior decision-makers and decision-making processes and priorities. If such human factors analysis is not conducted well in advance of the conflict, it will not be possible to craft PSYOP themes and messages that will be effective in modifying adversary behaviour" [emphasis mine] - 8
"Clear, unambiguous and streamlined DoD [Department of Defense] oversight and policy that empowers Combatant Commanders to execute full spectrum IO before, during and after combat operations." [emphasis mine] - 20
"Improvements in PSYOP capability are required to rapidly generate audience specific, commercial-quality products into denied areas." [emphasis mine] - 26
"Projecting electronic attack into denied areas by means of stealthy platforms." [emphasis mine] - 62
Does the Pentagon define any real limits to information warfare? Information operations can be used on both domestic and foreign audiences, in non-permissive or semi-permissive environments, on adversary and non-adversary, during peace, crisis and war, and in denied areas. Should we really expect anything less? They did tell us that their goal was full spectrum dominance.