Information Warfare: Post-Modern Psyops In The Philippines

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September 20, 2011: Military information support operations (formerly psyops, or psychological warfare) are enjoying some success in the southern Philippines. The first target of the American Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) was the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Yes, they are on the same side. But the AFP’s traditional methods of dealing with terrorism and insurgency were counter-productive. So the JSOTF-P convinced the AFP to stop kicking down doors and treating scared villagers like a bunch of terrorists. That’s turned out to be their easiest mission.

    Mission two is to mitigate the actions of the three anti-government groups down there, the Islamic MILF and Abu Sayyaf, plus the communist NPA. A kinder and gentler AFP has created an environment where people might be willing to cooperate with the government. Money is the prime motivator through a variety of rewards programs. Methods can be simple. Boys remembering a poster pointed out IEDs targeting a joint American/AFP convoy to authorities for a $4,000 reward. The program has given away about $100,000 year to date.

    JSOTF-P is working to get not only the right message, but the right medium. The Internet does not work here, people are too poor. Television does not either, too many villages are remote from electrical power. Radio works here, but only if you use local talent. Cell phone texting also works here for now. But this is a “dynamic” environment and those who do not constantly look for the right medium and message will find their efforts unheeded.

    Information support has its limits, particularly among the rank and file of the insurgent and terrorist groups. The matrices are mixed, attacks are down, but their membership is up. It is recognized that even the best information support and civil actions will only deal with 80 percent of the war and that 20 percent lethal action will be required to deal with the rest. -- Hans Johnson

 


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