see also Storytelling & Use of Narrative, at the AWC Gateway to the Internet
see also terrorist use of the internet (and media) at the Cyberspace & Information Operations Study Center
“In this environment, the old adage that ‘A lie can be halfway around the world before the truth has its boots on’ becomes doubly true with today’s technologies…the longer it takes to put a strategic communication framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by news informers that most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place.”
--- Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, Remarks delivered at Harold Pratt House, New York, N.Y., Feb. 17, 2006
"...with electricity and automation, the technology of fragmented processes suddenly fused with the human dialogue and the need for over-all considerations of human unity. Men are suddenly nomadic gatherers of knowledge, nomadic as never before, informed as never before, free from fragmentary specialization as never before - but also involved in the total social process as never before, since with electricity we extend our central nervous system globally, instantly interrelating every human experience."
--- Marshall McLuhan, in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1964
- Who Watches the Watchmen? The Conflict Between National Security and Freedom of the Press, by Ross, National Intelligence University Press, July 2011
- Who Watches the Watchmen? argues that the tension between maintaining national security secrets and the public’s right to know cannot be “solved,” but can be better
understood and more intelligently managed.
- Communication Strategy: Proper Structure Necessary But Not Sufficient, by Alexander, SAMS paper, AY2010
- Researching whether properly structured organizations, at combatant commands, develop more effective communication strategy is the purpose of this monograph. Proper structure is defined in current doctrine and key communication literature. Proper structure includes access, assessment, and capabilities. Senior military leaders argue doing the right thing is most important in communication strategy. This monograph argues that there is more to communication strategy than just doing the right thing. In order to analyze the complex issue of effective communication strategy, a systems approach is used. Effective is defined as educating, informing, and influencing target audiences to support American interests. The finding of this monograph is proper structure is necessary but not sufficient to develop effective communication strategy.
- From the Chairman - Strategic Communication: Getting Back to Basics, by Mullen, in Joint Force Quarterly, 4th Quarter, 2009
It is time for us to take a harder look at “strategic communication.”
Frankly, I don’t care for the term. We get too hung up on that word, strategic. If we’ve learned nothing else these past 8 years, it should be that the lines between strategic, operational, and tactical are blurred beyond distinction. This is particularly true in the world of communication, where videos and images plastered on the Web—or even the idea of their being so posted—can and often do drive national security decisionmaking.
But beyond the term itself, I believe we have walked away from the original intent. By organizing to it—creating whole structures around it—we have allowed strategic communication to become a thing instead of a process, an abstract thought instead of a way of thinking. It is now sadly something of a cottage industry.
We need to get back to basics, and we can start by not beating ourselves up.
... No, our biggest problem isn’t caves; it’s credibility. Our messages lack credibility because we haven’t invested enough in building trust and relationships, and we haven’t always delivered on promises.
... To put it simply, we need to worry a lot less about how to communicate our actions and much more about what our actions communicate.
- New and old information operations in Afghanistan: What works? by Pincus, The Washington Post, 28 Mar 2011
- After years of spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to get its message out to Afghans, the United States is still experimenting.
- The State Department, for example, is trying a new communications approach in Kandahar by turning to old media — radio and television.
- We are in an information war,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee recently, adding: “The fact is most people still get their news from TV and radio. So while we’re being active in online new media, we have to be active in the old media as well.”
- Gen. James Mattis, the Central Command commander, recently told Congress that CENTCOM’s communications program, “Operation Earnest Voice,” will “reach regional audiences through traditional media, as well as via Web sites and regional public-affairs blogging.”
- Against these new, high-level information efforts, it’s worth looking back at a more local approach introduced almost two years ago by the Center for Army Lessons Learned in its publication, “Small-Unit Ops in Afghanistan Handbook.” One chapter quotes a former commander in Afghanistan as saying, “In this environment, it is difficult to pass down a coherent IO [information operations] plan from the strategic to the tactical level. Each geographic location is unique.”
- Controlling the Beast Within: The Key to Success on 21st-Century Battlefields, by Pryer, in Military Review, Jan-Feb 2011
- "Thus, as surreal as it sometimes seems to those of us who served in the 1990s, battlefield technology, armored vehicles, gunneries, and weapons ranges contribute less to our mission success today than does the ethical behavior of our troops."
- Strategic Communication in the New Media Sphere, by Cunningham, in Joint Force Quarterly, Oct-Dec 2010
- If there is one word to encapsulate today's media environment, it is engagement. Engagement through dialogic communication is now at least as important as informationsending activities in the traditional media sphere utilizing monologic communication practices.
- Storytelling and Terrorism: Towards a Comprehensive 'Counter-Narrative Strategy', by Casebeer and Russell, Center for Contemporary Conflict, Naval Postgraduate School, Mar 2005
- In practice, effective counter-narrative strategy will require understanding the components and content of the story being told so we can predict how they will influence the action of a target audience. In other words, we need a sophisticated understanding of “strategic rhetoric.”
- Mass-Media Theater, by Weimann, in Foreign Policy Agenda: vol.12, nbr.5, May 2007 - a State Department electronic journal
- looks at terrorist productions for mass media consumption
- looks at the rhetoric of terrorist propaganda, including six methods they use for gaining advantage in the media
- Commander’s Handbook for Strategic Communication and Communication Strategy, Version 3.0, US Joint Forces Command, Joint Warfighting Center, 24 June 2010
- "During the past five years, understanding of strategic communication and its impact on joint operations has continued to evolve across the joint community. These experiences and insights are described in this handbook."
- updates included in this version:
- Provides a discussion of the "Battle of the Narrative," including planning and analysis considerations. (Page II-13)
- Provides a more robust explanation and guidance for key leader engagement (KLE), including KLE assessment. (Page III-7)
- Provides a summary of “Information Effects” takeaways from the Israeli- Palestinian case studies. (Page M-3)
- Added Appendix P, Principles, Capabilities, and Trust, which highlights an emerging construct of principles and aligning words and deeds to build credibility and gain public trust.
- DoD Strategic Communication Science and Technology Plan, Apr 2009
- It used to be said that news organizations write the “first draft of history,” but as events are increasingly reported in real time, often without vetting, proper sourcing, editing, or context and replicated into the global “now media” information environment, those who are first out with the news – particularly citizen journalists – intentionally or inadvertently create the “facts.” Those on the other side of the “facts” are immediately on the defensive as first impressions matter more than ever. The wealth of information in the 24/7 global news cycle is matched only by the lack of attention to deliberating and digesting it. The truth may be the greatest ally in any struggle to change minds and affect the will to act, but the truth is useless if it is not known or trusted.
- The February 2009 annual threat assessment issued by the Director of National Intelligence expects adversaries, both state-and non-state, will increasingly attempt to “employ mass media in an attempt to constrain US courses of action in a future crisis or conflict.” The threat assessment concludes that global connectivity is making it much easier for radical elements to recruit and train new members, proliferate their ideologies, elicit sympathy in contested populations, ideologically “franchise” their attacks (physically and virtually), and manipulate public opinion.
- US and NATO forces in Afghanistan are continually engaged in an information battle with the Taliban over the number of actual civilian casualties that result from Allied aircraft and unmanned air vehicle strikes on insurgent strongholds and bases. The Taliban issues grossly inflated tallies, often with accompanying video to sympathetic web sites, often mere minutes after a strike has occurred. The Taliban’s tactics are aimed at undermining Afghan public support for both their own government and the actions of US and Allied forces. When NATO forces issue the results of their investigation, often weeks later, the information is either ignored, or no longer relevant, since the Taliban has already scored its important communications point and has moved on to their next SC battle, along with the public chroniclers of the initial strike, such as the world’s media organizations.
- The ability to conduct timely quantitative assessment of SC activities will:
- Enhance operational and SC planning
- Validate SC activities including message resonance and delivery effectiveness
- Improve the ability to identify and counter adversarial propaganda and misinformation
- Identify the prevalence of misinformation and disinformation
- Enhance the ability to target misleading reporting for counter actions
- Assess penetration and alignment of key messages
- Final Report of the DSB Task Force on Strategic Communication (local copy, 2.29 Mb), Defense Science Board, Jan 2008 - includes suggested next steps to move forward with the necessary transformation in the strategic communication arena
- U.S. National Strategy for Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication (local copy), June 2007
- Toward Strategic Communication (local copy), by Eder, in Military Review, July-August 2007
- Vertical versus Horizontal Media: Using Agenda-setting and Audience Agenda-melding to Create Public Information Strategies in the Emerging Papyrus Society (local copy), by Shaw et al, in Military Review, Nov-Dec 2006
- Both vertical (mass media) and horizontal (niche) media aim to inform, but their missions—their agendas—are somewhat different. The vertical and horizontal media we use influence the way we see events. Vertical media remain strong, but horizontal media perspectives are rising as audiences enjoy the rich and readily available information environment. One consequence of our ability to reach for media that fit our personal interests is that now, as never before, we can fit events to our own expectations. In other words, we can meld the news to fit our own agendas. Such agenda-melding is occurring wherever the horizontal media have spread, with all their potential for enriching citizen knowledge and destabilizing rigid vertical societies and institutions.
- ... other observers have discovered that the press does have, as political scientist Bernard Cohen put it in a study of foreign media, the power to tell us what to think about, although not what to think.
- The power of media reaches down to the edge of our attitudes and values, but our values and attitudes also reach up. For messages to become part of the total social fabric, there must be a marriage, a melding of personal and media agendas.
- Today, communication technology fragments audiences into separate rooms according to their personal interests; in fact, the newest media, iPods and computers for example, seem to divide us from the start. From the point of view of social structure, the new media represent a two-edged sword: while they offer unparalleled access to information, they also have the power to slice the community into segments.
- DoD Principles of Strategic Communication (local copy), Aug 2008
- Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) Reports - 1997, 2001, 2006, 2010
- America vs. The Narrative, op-ed by Friedman, in New York Times, 28 Nov 2009
- Myths of Babylon, by Kaylan, in The Wall Street Journal, 13 Nov 2009 - "Reports that U.S. soldiers damaged Iraqi antiquities turn out to have been media hype."
- USMC Strategic Communications Plan, 2007 (local copy), including Strategic Communication Theme Planning Template
- Engaging Foreign Audiences: Assessment of Public Diplomacy Platforms Could Help Improve State Department Plans to Expand Engagement (local copy, 5 Mb), GAO report, July 2010 [highlights page]
- Are You Ready for the Mobile Web? Public Diplomacy Goes Mobile (local copy), presentation by Williams, State Dept, Apr 2009 - examines why SMS over PCs, and other questions
- Strategic Communication, by Halloran, in Parameters, Autumn 2007
- Mass Media Theory, Leveraging Relationships, and Reliable Strategic Communication Effects, by Robinson, in Information as Power, Volume 3, U.S. Army War College, Jan 2009
- This paper will use known mass media and social theories to review how strategic communication that is based on relationships is more reliable than approaches that assume successful effects from messages alone. Figure 1 gives a list of referenced mass-media theories to be discussed. For the sake of clarity, “messages” or “messaging” in this paper always refers to written or verbal messages, rather than communication via action. The first three theories to be discussed all apply to message-centric communication. These theories will show how messages do in fact achieve effects, but that the effects are unreliable. The next four theories apply to relationships and will show how relationship-centric communication can achieve more reliable effects.
- The implications of the Media Systems Dependency theory for the military are very serious, because it indicates how public information must have long term credibility in order to be strategically effective. Any information accredited to the U.S. military that is somehow proven to be fallacious or biased can ruin the military’s relationship with an audience for as long as it takes to reestablish trust. Given the pervasiveness of public communication in today’s world, the fallout from false information grows exponentially as information is passed from media to media.
- The Battle of the Narrative, by Neate, School of Advanced Military Studies, 6 Apr 2010
- The vision was of a technology-driven ‘network enabled capability’ with the goal of achieving ‘information dominance’. This vision, however, neglected to fully recognise that the information explosion enabled not only the military but the media and potential adversaries. Information dominance may be impossible, but the enduring Clausewitizian premise that conflict is a battle of wills, and the distinct possibility that “battles and campaigns can be lost in the cognitive dimension,” demand the military’s utilisation of the information environment to achieve influence.
- Without an educational grounding that exposes the whole concept of strategic communication, political ‘interference’, media invasiveness, the power of the cognitive domain and the battle of the narrative the ‘centrality of influence’ will remain peripheral.
- Joint Operating Environment (JOE) 2010 (local copy), report from U.S. Joint Forces Command, Feb 2010
- Battle of Narratives (PDF page 60)
- Modern wars are fought in more than simply the physical elements of the battlefield. Among the most important of these are the media in which the “battle of narratives” will occur. Our enemies have already recognized that perception is as important to their successes as the actual events.
- For terrorists, the Internet and mass media have become forums for achieving their political aims. Sophisticated terrorists emphasize the importance of integrating combat activities (terrorist attacks) into a coherent strategic communication program. Radical groups are not the only ones who understand the importance of dominating the media message. Russia synchronized military operations with a media offensive during its invasion of Georgia. Within days of the invasion, a small coterie of Russians, well known in the West, was placing editorials in major newspapers in the United States and Europe.
- The battle of narratives must involve a sophisticated understanding of the enemy and how he will attempt to influence the perceptions not only of his followers, but the global community. His efforts will involve deception, sophisticated attempts to spin events, and outright lies. As Adolf Hitler himself once commented, the bigger the lie, the greater its influence. No matter how outlandish enemy claims may seem to Americans, those charged with the responsibility for information operations must understand how those who will receive the message will understand it. In this regard, they should not forget that the KGB’s efforts at the end of the Cold War to persuade Africans that the CIA was responsible for the spread of AIDS throughout their continent are still reverberating in parts of Africa. Information has been, is, and will continue to be a strategic and political weapon. Its power will only increase as communications technology and the density of global media become more pervasive. At the end of the day, it is the perception of what happened that matters more than what actually happened.
- Dominating the narrative of any operation, whether military or otherwise, pays enormous dividends. Failure to do so undermines support for policies and operations, and can actually damage a country’s reputation and position in the world. In the battle of narratives, the United States must not ignore its ability to bring its considerable soft power to bear in order to reinforce the positive aspects of Joint Force operations. Humanitarian assistance, reconstruction, securing the safety of local populations, military-to-military exercises, health care, and disaster relief are just a few examples of the positive measures that we offer. Just as no nation in the world can respond with global military might on the scale of the United States, so too are we unmatched in our capacity to provide help and relief across thousands of miles. All of these tools should be considered in this battle to build trust and confidence.
- In the future, influencing the narrative by conveying the truth about America’s intent, reinforced with supporting actions and activities, will become even harder. As communication technologies become more widely available, an ever-wider array of media will influence global public opinion. The U.S. Government and its Joint Forces will always be held to a much higher standard in this area than our adversaries. Joint Force commanders already wrestle with how to deal with a pervasive media presence, widespread blogging, almost instantaneous posting of videos from the battlefield, e-mail, and soldiers who can call home whenever they return to base. In the future they will be confronted with a profusion of new media linked to unimaginably fast transmission capabilities. To add even more complexity, in most situations the U.S. and its allies will have to deal with multiple, competing narratives at the same time. Just as we have already begun to think of every Soldier and Marine as an intelligence collector, we will also have to start considering them as global communication producers. Today, commanders talk about the strategic corporal whose acts might have strategic consequences if widely reported.
- U.S. weapons employment in this battle of narratives must be in consonance with the message, even if it means sometimes bypassing tactical targets. Winning the battle has always been important, but in the pervasive and instantaneous communications environment expected in future decades, it will be absolutely crucial. For commanders not to recognize that fact could result in risking the lives of young Americans to no purpose.
- Rumsfeld speech to Council on Foreign Relations, 17 Feb 06, DoD transcript
- We meet today in the sixth year in which our nation has been engaged in what promises to be a long struggle against an enemy that in many ways is unlike any our country has ever faced. And in this war, some of the most critical battles may not be in the mountains of Afghanistan or the streets of Iraq, but in newsrooms -- in places like New York, London, Cairo, and elsewhere.
- I mention this because I want to talk today about something that at first might seem obvious -- but it isn’t. Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today’s media age, but for the most part we -- our country -- has not -- whether our government, the media or our society generally.
- Consider that the violent extremist have established “media relations committees” -- and have proven to be highly successful at manipulating opinion elites. They plan and design their headline-grabbing attacks using every means of communications to intimidate and break the collective will of free people.
- They know that communications transcend borders -- and that a single news story, handled skillfully, can be as damaging to our cause and as helpful to theirs, as any other method of military attack. And they are doing it.
- They are able to act quickly with relatively few people, and with modest resources compared to the vast -- and expensive -- bureaucracies of western governments.
- Our federal government is only beginning to adapt our operations for the 21st Century. For the most part, the U.S. Government still functions as a “five and dime” store in an E-Bay world.
- We must get a great deal better at:
- Engaging experts from both within and outside of government to help to communicate;
- Rapidly deploying the best military communications capabilities to new theaters of operation; and
- Developing and executing multifaceted media campaigns -- print, radio, television and Internet.
- Let there be no doubt -- the longer it takes to put a strategic communications framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by news informers, that most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place.
- The Role of Media in Democracy: A Strategic Approach, Center for Democracy and Governance, U.S. Agency for International Development, June 1999
- The strategic approach presented in this paper offers guidance to USAID missions, rather than any blueprint, for making choices about which media activities might be most appropriate in a given context.