Today's Article
The Pentagton's
psychological
operations units
suffer from an
'overall lack of
resources,' says a
gov't study.
The American Spark
U.S. Army Lacks Resources To Change 'Hearts And Minds', Says
Report

By Cliff Montgomery - Oct. 6th, 2007

Anyone outside of the Bush White House knows that the U.S. Army failed to "win hearts and minds" in Iraq.
The reasons for that failure--and how to eliminate those problems--was the subject of the position paper,
Review of Psychological Operations: Lessons Learned from Recent Operational Experience.

The paper, written by Dr. Christopher J. Lamb and Paris Genalis and published by the National Defense
University Press in Washington, DC, may not express "the views of the Defense Department or any other
agency of the Federal Government," but its findings surely deserve consideration.

We quote from the paper below:

"Extant lessons learned and guidance are correct but inadequate. Currently, psychological operations
(PSYOP) are able to produce modest effects, particularly at the tactical level, with minimum resources.

"The Joint Staff, Joint Forces Command, and the 4th Psychological Operations Group (POG) produced joint
lessons learned about PSYOP from recent operations that identify factors constraining its ability to produce
greater effects.

"These lessons learned are accurate and consistent with the four lessons repeatedly revealed in post-
operational assessments of PSYOP—namely, that PSYOP performance suffers from:

  • a lack of national-level themes to guide message formulation
  • slow product approval process that renders some products irrelevant
  • questionable product quality with uncertain effects
  • an overall lack of resources, including insufficient force structure.

"However, these official lessons learned are not sufficiently comprehensive or detailed to form the basis for
remedial action to improve PSYOP performance.

"The Information Operations (IO) Roadmap, published in late 2003, made a series of recommendations to
improve PSYOP and its ability to produce effects. However, the conclusion of this report is that the IO
Roadmap recommendations also are helpful but insufficient to make a substantial difference in the ability of
PSYOP to produce greater effects for commanders.

"There are shortfalls in both capabilities and resources. PSYOP is currently overextended and conducts neither
theater nor tactical operations at peak effectiveness.

"Theater PSYOP does not have sufficient target audience analysis and feedback sources. Forces cannot
really do theater broadcasts to general audiences, but substantial resources are poured into a marginal
capability for that mission (no around-the-clock radio/television content and limited dissemination capability).

"PSYOP has a more comprehensive ability to conduct tactical missions but cannot meet the demands of
maneuver commanders for timely, tailored products.

"Tactical PSYOP forces have insufficient intelligence, production, and dissemination capability to support fast-
moving maneuver commanders well.

"The lack of cooperation between theater and tactical PSYOP forces further reduces the effectiveness of the
overall campaign.

"Finally, in both theater and tactical areas, the community is falling behind the technological trends. A
promising advanced concept technology demonstration (ACTD) could correct this deficiency, but ACTDs
typically do not transition to major acquisition programs.

"Given that PSYOP investment is already significantly under-resourced, expecting the ACTD to produce major
operational capability when it comes to fruition at the end of the decade looks like a poor bet. Therefore,
absent a major infusion of resources, PSYOP will continue to compensate poorly by buying off-the-shelf
solutions to its materiel needs.

"The imbalance between theater and tactical PSYOP exacerbates resource shortfalls. Currently, PSYOP
expends considerable effort in areas where it lacks a comparative advantage.

"To illustrate this point, the report makes a distinction between PSYOP requests to narrow target audiences
for specific behaviors (largely but not exclusively conducted by tactical forces) and PSYOP messages to broad
audiences that attempt to change attitudes or beliefs as a prelude to behavioral changes (largely but not
exclusively the focus of theater-level PSYOP forces).

"PSYOP has a comparative advantage at the tactical level against specific target audiences when it leverages
the ability of the U.S. military to compel compliance with behaviors that appear in the narrow self-interest of the
target audience (such as surrender, safety instructions, and so forth).

"Yet the bulk of limited PSYOP resources go into theater-level efforts to shape attitudes and beliefs about
broad issues, an area in which PSYOP can make a valued contribution but often operates at a comparative
disadvantage because target audiences do not consider the American military a credible source and because
PSYOP receives such limited national-level support for this endeavor.

"In short, and contrary to the opinion of many PSYOP professionals...this report emphasizes that PSYOP can
not compensate for an admittedly weak U.S. public diplomacy effort by absorbing more of that mission; it
simply is not competitive in that arena, and the politics of strategic communications in the United States will not
permit it in any case.

"Any attempt to upgrade either theater- or tactical-level PYSOP must begin with some fundamental
improvements, such as more resources and greater attention to target audience analysis and linguistic
support."



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