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September 11, 2007


Cannoneer No. 4

Presidential executive order. DOD implementation policies of Executive Order S-12333, United States Intelligence Activities; DOD Instructions S-3321.1, (S) Overt Psychological Operations Conducted by the Military Services in Peacetime and in Contingencies Short of Declared War (U); and National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 130, U.S. International Information Policy, direct that U.S. PSYOP forces will not target U.S. citizens at any time, in any location globally, or under any circumstances. However, commanders may use PSYOP forces to provide public information to U.S. audiences during times of disaster or crisis.


IO in Iraq

A few comments. As an IO officer currently operating in Iraq, it is clear to me that Mr. Garfield's comments are both outdated and ill-informed. He has seized a platform to advance his own personal agenda while providing erroneously inaccurate details that clearly demonstrate his lack of information. While the details of what IO (specifically, PSYOP) is occurring throughout Iraq is classified, Mr. Garfield should realize that times have changed from his days of conducting IO. It is a shame that individuals such as him have garnered such attention. This current posting is strongly written, but is based on the premise that Mr. Garfield's article was accurate, which is sadly just not the case. Whle there is some merit in a few of his comments, Garfield would have been best served spending some more time in Iraq actually talking to the folks conducting IO before making his claims.

J Michael Waller

Thanks for the interesting comment, "IO in Iraq," but surely there are some non-classfied areas that you can cite to support your argument. I'll certainly be glad to post them. This is an important discussion.

andrew garfield

As the author of the article in question, no one would be more delighted than I, to be able to retract my critique, having had it proven to me that the systemic faults I identified have all or even mostly been corrected. I certainly understand that some IO and PSYOP professionals may be aggrieved at my comments, especially if their own programs are having success. Remember however, that in my article I describe what I believe are strategic failures and I do acknowledge that tactical successes are being achieved especially by PSYOP and IO staffs at the battalion level and below. Unfortunately tactical successes do not necessarily translate into strategic victory, if the overall effort is undermined by systemic failures and shortcomings.
It is perhaps worth noting that for every negative comment I have received, I have had twice that number supporting my assertions. By far the largest percentage of those who have supported my position, are individuals with an overview of our IO effort in Iraq. I would also like to point out that my comments were not simply based on my own experiences but from interviews with many involved in the current IO effort and by a detailed examination of the Requests for Proposals issued this year. From that review, I concluded that the systemic failures I identified last year still exist.
It is not however my intention to criticize those who serve so diligently and bravely for personal aggrandizement. As General Stone pointed out in his interview for the Washington Post on Tuesday, we are fighting on the “Battlefield of the Mind”. The intention of my article is to highlight systemic shortcomings that I believe must be addressed if we are to prevail over a highly competent adversary who retains the strategic initiative in the psychological domain. That said, I more than anyone would be delighted if the shortcomings I identified have been rectified. I therefore make this offer to anyone who does not hide behind the usual excuse that “everything has been fixed it’s just that I can’t tell you about it because it’s classified”. I will happily write a full retraction and publish it by any and all means possible, if anyone with proper knowledge of our overall IO effort in Iraq can demonstrate that my assertions are wrong or that the shortcomings identified have been rectified. If you feel unable to go on the record then write to me directly and I will use your comments but not your name.
The specific shortcomings I am most concerned about and would be delighted to know have been fixed include the following; the continued lack of an effective command and control process for the overall IO effort; the pedestrian IO approval process; the shortage of well qualified staff; the undue focus on generic audiences; campaigns still based too much on issues that mean little to ordinary Iraqis; the continued development of IO products by staff who do not speak Arabic let alone share a similar ethnic or religious identity; the isolation from ordinary Iraqis of IO staffs particularly at the higher levels; continued overreliance on expensive nationally and internationally broadcast 30 and 60 second advertisements; the award of IO contracts to the lowest bidder; the lack of due diligence in the contractor selection process; and the overreliance on measures of performance rather than effectiveness.
I am certain that an informed unclassified response can be provided that would address these concerns. The description of individual tactical success is not however an indication of the rectification of systemic shortcomings.
With regard to the more personal nature of the anonymous respondent's comments, I am in indeed advancing a personal agenda, which I believe is shared by many others. That agenda is simple – to significantly improve and promote our IO effort in order to defeat this highly effective adversary, whom I believe is still winning the battle for the hearts and minds of vulnerable and disaffected Muslims in Iraq and right across the globe. I make this comment notwithstanding the success that has been achieved recently in al Anbar and Baghdad. This is because as David Kilcullen pointed out in his article ‘Anatomy of a Tribal Revolt’ the uprising in these areas is “motivated primarily by self interest”. We have, in my view, still to demonstrate that we can effectively contest the psychological as well as the physical domain to ensure that the hard one success of the last six months is consolidated and so that we can preempt or at least respond effectively to the propaganda counter offensive that will surely come.
I would also like to point out that I promote this agenda very publically including at lectures to deploying commanders and their staffs and PSYOP units and officers – forums where they have the opportunity to challenge my perspectives. I do not hide behind classification or anonymity. And anyone who knows me knows that I would be delighted to be proven wrong. Not only would this bring me peace of mind but also becasue it would unashamedly offer my company and all other competent contractors operating in this space a deluge of well paid high quality work, as we with our Government colleagues take the fight to our enemies. I look forward to your responses.

J Michael Waller

I know you well, Andrew. Based on my own personal experiences, I have to agree fully with the points in your article and with your above comments.

Note to those who would like to post on this blog: You're free to say what you wish as long as it isn't slanderous, indecent, phony or classified. Keep the discussions constructive. You may question people's judgment or analysis, but don't question their motives.

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