Friday, November 27, 2015

Quotable: Michael Lumpkin on DOD support for State’s countering “adversary propaganda”

Sunday, November 22nd 2015
“. . . our [Military Information Support Operations] capabilities will be ready to play their vital role . . . as an integral part of our Nation’s comprehensive efforts to counter adversary propaganda,” said Micheal Lumpkin, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, when he testified before the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities on October 22, 2015.  The “Department of Defense plays a critical role as a contributor and partner to the whole-of-government effort led by the State Department,” he continued.  Here are some key points from his testimony:

  • The [Defense] Department fully recognizes the overarching need for a strategic, whole-of-government effort in communications efforts.

  • The Department of State generally leads U.S. Government communications and engagement efforts focused on foreign audiences.

  • . . . the Department of State is home to the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), which has the mission to “coordinate, orient, and inform government-wide strategic communications focused on violent extremists and terrorist organizations.”

  • The Department of Defense’s efforts alone will not solve the challenge of this contested information environment and adversary propaganda.  Instead the Department of Defense plays a critical role as a contributor and partner to the whole-of-government effort led by the State Department.

  • . . . Additionally, the [Defense] Department can offer unique military capabilities that can play a critical role in achieving overall communications objectives.

  • These types of actions are not done, or conceived, in competition with other U.S. departments and agencies but in coordination with them.

  • As we employ our MISO forces in environments outside areas of military hostilities, we will always maintain military command and control of our forces and operate in a manner that achieves mutual support between U.S. departments and agencies.

  • At the national level, we will partner with the lead agency, usually the Department of State, and provide unique Defense capabilities to support the coordination and synchronization of a whole-of-government effort that combines public diplomacy, public affairs, U.S. international media, information operations, and other capabilities.

  • At the request of the State Department, the Department has provided five military IO and MISO planners to the cell within CSCC that coordinates our national efforts against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and we currently maintain an additional MISO planner within the State Department to support planning in other geographic areas.

  • Overseas, we fully acknowledge the role of Chiefs of Mission and ensure that our military operations are fully coordinated. We always ensure we provide a complementary capability, and a capability that is not duplicative with those of other departments and agencies.

  • The [Defense] Department also builds partnerships with other U.S. Government organizations. A key initiative that has emerged over the last year has been the Department’s partnership with various entities of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). Spearheaded by a pilot project at U.S. Pacific Command, our relationship with BBG exemplifies the necessary whole-of-government approach to key challenges such as countering violent extremist ideology and exposing hostile propaganda.

  • The requirements for MISO capabilities are increasingly pressing, as our adversaries and competitors, both State and non-State actors, rely heavily on propaganda to achieve their aims. This is most evident with the sophisticated and well-resourced propaganda campaigns being waged by ISIL and by the Russian Federation becoming more and more aggressive in Eastern Europe.

  • Simply trying to match our adversaries “tweet” for “tweet” or matching website for website would be both fiscally irresponsible and operationally ineffective. Instead, the Department must rely on the skills of its human capital to develop thoughtful, well-constructed plans and partnerships with other U.S. Government departments and agencies and with foreign partners, and to leverage a variety of means to disrupt the adversary’s narrative, expose its contradictions and falsehoods, and ultimately bring credible, persuasive, and truthful information to audiences who often have significantly differing perceptions and cultural norms than our own.

  • Information activities broadly directed at large global or regional audiences are more appropriately conducted by Public Diplomacy, Public Affairs, and the BBG’s media activities.

  • . . . our MISO capabilities will be ready to play their vital role in support of commanders and their operations and as an integral part of our Nation’s comprehensive efforts to counter adversary propaganda.

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