ANTIMEDIA Op-Ed) PSYOP/MISOC targets foreign governments, groups, and individuals. The government program is similar to journalism, a mode of communication that spreads information, but often spins the narrative, according to Colonel Curtis D. Boyd, Chief of Staff of the JFK Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, who gave a lecture on “The MISTRY* of PSYOP: Putting MISO in Perspective” in 2011.
The mission of the Military Information Support Operations Command (MISOC) is to influence enemy, neutral, and friendly nations and forces into holding favorable opinions and/or taking complementary actions regarding ongoing operations by the United States and its allies.
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“Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the U.S. Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable, ” Lt. Col. Daniel Davis told Democracy Now! in 2012.
Before his death, Michael Hastings was one of the first to obtain Lt. Col. Davis’s 84-page report and published it in Rolling Stone magazine.
In February 2012, Hastings was quoted in regard to the report:
“I think it’s one of the most significant documents that we’ve seen from an active-duty Army officer in terms of how they view the war in Afghanistan, even the war in Iraq. You can look at this as a significant document about the last 10 years of conflict in America. And it’s not so much as what Colonel Davis is saying, though that’s very important, too. It’s the fact that you have a 17-year Army veteran, who’s done four tours—two in Afghanistan and two in Iraq—who has decided to risk his entire career—because he has two-and-a-half more years left before he gets a pension—because he feels that he has a moral obligation to do so.”
MISO manipulates their targets into distributing information using logic, fear, desire, and other mental factors to trigger desired emotions, attitudes, or behaviors. It is vital for MISO communicators to fully comprehend how the target population acts, thinks, and communicates.
In 2010, the unpopular Psychological Operations field was rebranded as Military Information Support and Operations. PSYOP = MISO. The unit, which currently operates under U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), is comprised of less than 3,000 members. MISO activities are built upon the idea that human will is shaped by information, beliefs, and perceptions.
While speaking to Business Insider about the enactment of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, Lt. Col. Daniel Davis described MISOC’s overall objective of influencing target audiences to hold favorable opinions of the U.S. and its allies by using modes of communication similar to journalism:
“In context, Colonel Leap is implying we ought to change the law to enable Public Affairs officers to influence American public opinion when they deem it necessary to ‘protect a key friendly center of gravity, to wit US national will.’”
In the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, the use of psychological operations through propaganda on U.S. civilian populations was legalized. This type of information warfare comes in the form of propaganda approved by the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
Per the SF Gate:
“The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 appears to serve this purpose by allowing for the American public to be a target audience of U.S. government-funded information campaigns.
“Lt. Col. Davis also quotes Brigadier General Ralph O. Baker — the Pentagon officer responsible for the Department of Defense’s Joint Force Development — who defines Information Operations (IO) as activities undertaken to ‘shape the essential narrative of a conflict or situation and thus affect the attitudes and behaviors of the targeted audience.’“
Last month, a pair of Military Information Support Operations (MISO) instructors from Special Operations Command Forward Northwest Africa provided training to a small group of Moroccans in Tifnit, Morocco. This opportunity was only possible because of Exercise Flintlock 2017, which involved more than 2,000 military personnel from 24 African and western nations.
“To conduct good [information operations], good MISO, you need an overall end state for what you’re trying to accomplish,” said the MISO element leader to Joel Harding. “Engaging the people — getting them the proper amount of information, the right information, through whatever means they receive the information from—showing them we’ll back up what we say with what we’ll do, they’ll, in turn, trust us or the host nation government.”
A MISO communicator must understand exactly what they are trying to communicate before engaging with a target they seek a connection to, in addition to where and how that information exchange should take place. An optimized audience analysis is critical for successful MISO actions. In order to be effective, MISO-trained personnel must be experts when it comes to current events, history, culture, linguistics, and socio-political characteristics of their intended audience.