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General Boykin gets it ... we’re losing the information war in the WoT
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Now the question is, will anyone listen to him:
“If we look at is as terrorism, we have a tendency to think that the solution is to kill or capture all the terrorists. That’s a never-ending process,” Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, undersecretary of defense for intelligence and warfighting support, said.

“We’ll never be successful, we’ll never get there, if we think that’s the primary solution,” he said. “But if we approach it from the perspective of an insurgency, we use the seven elements of national power.”
The seven elements he's referencing are diplomacy, military, economy, finance, law enforcement, information and intelligence. Boykin continues:
“In the information age,” he said, “information should be something we’re good at, … and I do not believe that to be the case.

“It is my view that one of the most underutilized elements of national power is information,” he said. “It should be something we are applying robustly, with a great deal of coordination and synergy.

“The question is ‘on a day-to-day basis, who in this country is responsible for information operations?’” he said. “The answer is ‘nobody.’”
Bingo! Wham! On target! Yes, yes, yes! Promote this man, immediately.

In the War on Terror (or whatever you prefer to call it) I think this is one of the most glaring deficiencies we have. And I've talked about it before here and here. A country with the vast resources, technology and talent like the US is being consistently outpreformed by a bunch of jihadis with cheap digital cameras, web sites and the internet. As Boykin says, there is "nobody" in charge here. And that's just amazing.

As much as we understand the power of information and the various ways of purveying it, we sit around with our thumbs up our third point of contact and cede the field to the enemy.

Says Boykin:
If U.S. efforts in the war on terror mirrored counterinsurgency measures, then “information becomes a key component of winning the hearts and minds,” he said.

Boykin defined such strategic communications as “the informational instrument of national power in an era of globalization.” Establishing its “unity of effort,” he said, is an evolving process.

The Defense Department’s vision is to synchronize lines of information operations and establish it as a core capability for the combatant commands, Boykin said.
But after reading that and yelling "yahoo for our side" and "its about time", you realize that his ideas are only part of the solution. Not only does DoD need to be doing a much, much, much better job in this area, so does the entire US government.

However, as Boykin notes, we are AWOL in the fight at this moment and we need to fix that problem immediately.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

The Defense Department’s vision is to synchronize lines of information operations and establish it as a core capability for the combatant commands...
Yikes, when did English stop being the official language of the US Armed Forces?

Seriously, I’m glad that someone other than Karen Hughes is going to do something to rethink our approach to Middle East PR (Heck of a job, Karen!) but you do realize this is the same General Boykin as:
"Boykin achieved wide-spread media coverage for his statements that appeared to frame the War on Terror in religious terms, first broadcast on NBC News, October 15 2003. William Arkin, military analyst for NBC-TV News, was the source of the video and audiotapes of Boykin. The following day the LATimes ran a piece on Boykin. Amongst several quotes, the LATimes article revealed Boykin giving a speech about hunting down Osman Atto in Mogadishu: "He went on CNN and he laughed at us, and he said, ’They’ll never get me because Allah will protect me. Allah will protect me.’ Well, you know what? I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.’ "
I hope that Boykin will focus his efforts on the methods and leave the message to others.
Written By: Badger
URL: http://
I hope that Boykin will focus his efforts on the methods and leave the message to others.
I know who Boykin is. But he’s right about this.

Oh, and I know who William Arkin is as well.
Written By: McQ
It would help if we had a slightly more objective media too. Instead we’ve got cheerleaders on one side (albeit very few) and nay-sayers on the other.

And I doubt Boykin was speaking from deep, religious conviction. Sounds more like a "I can so kick your a$$" type of statement to me.

Granted, being that Arkin wrote it I’m not sure I totally believe it. Arkin could write copy for a sale at JC Penny’s and I’d still call the store to check.
Written By: Robb Allen
I guess I’m a little tired of reading how the so-called failure to communicate is all Bush’s fault, or all the Pentagon’s for that matter. This ignores the dominate role the mainstream media plays in orchestrating the “news” that comes out of the GWOT. What should the Pentagon do? Censor the press? If not, how do you suggest that the media’s liberal biases be countered? I very much appreciate what bloggers like you do to get alternative points of view across, but honestly, how would you measure your success versus the MSM? Have you done any better than Bush and the Pentagon?
Written By: Mike
URL: http://
Good point. Boykin gets up in church in uniform and in front of video cameras says Islam is evil and Christianity is good but now he is going to talk about IO?

And it has been known for years that IO is broken.
Written By: civdiv
URL: http://
He wants a unity of effort...maybe that’s what we don’t need. Maybe we need let a thousand flowers bloom. Get more independent film crews there. More blogger embeds, etc. Why not pay the war for journalism students to spend a summer in Iraq / Afghanistan or what not?

I know I watched a clip on Jawa Report that showed an insurgent attack where they filmed it, but then we captured their camera after they all got killed, our guys added footage of the enemy bodies and a warning...
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
and wow did I not preview that comment very well. Blegh.
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Please post a link about us grabbing their camera. I know of several past films, but of course, the IO guys being asleep-at-the-switch, did nothing.

I once provided them with a video that followed an insurgent squad throughout the day in Fallujah. It showed them doing marksmanship training and them complaining about the noise from their weapons. It showed them continually missing hitting targets during target practice until they are shooting at targets the size of 50 gallon drums at roughly 75 meters. They complained about the loud noise of their weapons and they still couldn’t hit the targets.

It shows them fighting and missing several US personnel hooking up a truck for towing as they shoot at them. The US personnel are moving around as if they are not even under fire despite this squad shooting at them constantly. It shows them talking to a guy about crossing a street and then the guy they are talking to gets sniped by Marines and killed. And it culminates in the whole squad getting killed when we drop a bomb on their building; it shows them digging the dead bodies of the squad out of the rubble.

Obviously it didn’t end up in their propaganda videos. We captured the raw video tape and the camera but IO did nothing with it.
Written By: civdiv
URL: http://
Boykin? General Boykin? The guy who was filmed in uniform, in a church, saying seemingly disparaging comments about Muslims? The General who was filmed by Arkin. William Arkin paid military analyst of both the WaPo and NBC? William Arkin, the same guy who thinks US soldiers in combat theaters are pampered? Bill Arkin, the guy that called US soldiers mercenaries?

I wonder why Arkin hasn’t released all the footage of that fateful talk given by Gen. Boykin.

No way Arkin had (has)an agenda...

Written By: bains
URL: http://
"The Defense Department’s vision is to synchronize lines of information operations and establish it as a core capability for the combatant commands, Boykin said."

As Badger notes, this is one reason improvement in "strategic communication" is problematic. For one thing, why on earth is such an important task decentralized and placed under control of the combatant commands, whose expertise in that area is questionable, and whose interest in it is probably nonexistant. Military commanders have historically, with some exceptions, have not done well by "strategic communication".

As far as I can tell, the Republican party has the same problem; they think of communicating their message, or call it "strategic communication" , as an event, not as a process. Win one election, and the job, so they think, is done, and it is time to reap the rewards of victory. Win big in 1994, then slide back into minority status because they thought the job was finished.

We could take a lesson from the Communists. They may have lost the cold war, but it was not from a failure to engage in "strategic communication" or "agitprop", to use the Russian term. Even the US put more effort into it then. At one time, the USIA was headed by Edward R. Murrow, a world reknowned journalist. Who heads it now? How long has it been since you have heard of, or thought of, USIA or any of its components? At one time, Voice of America or another of our propaganda organs(lets be honest) were in the news quite frequently. There used to be reading rooms in our embassies where news and information about the US and the world was freely available to foreign nationals. My guess is that these no longer exist, probably for security reasons.

Written By: timactual
URL: http://

I think most videojournalists don’t release all of the footage they shoot any more than most regular journalists convert their notes to pdf’s and post them on their homepage. Unless there is a part of the speech where Boykin said "Oh, and I didn’t really mean any of that stuff I just said." then the point that Boykin is a serious PR problem for the US Military due to his in-uniform comments casting the GWOT as a fundamentally religious war stands.
Written By: Badger
URL: http://
how do you suggest that the media’s liberal biases be countered?
They shouldn’t be countered, exactly. Instead, we should apeal to their biases. We (libertarians, classical-liberals, neos, etc.) ought to be able to make a case for and sway public opinion in a direction that says, for example, that tolerating Bush and his policies is more rational and a better course of action, even for liberals, than say, defending a culture that tolerates stoning girls to death after being raped.

I mean with comparisons like this, how can we be losing?

Of course no one is surprised when Democrats say unflattering things about Bush to get elected but that doesn’t mean ordinary liberals must be led in a reactionary direction always opposed to Republicans/conservatives/war, etc. ( see ).
Written By: snafurious
URL: http://
...defending a culture that tolerates stoning girls to death after being raped
Mind citing even one example of such a defense?
Written By: Badger
URL: http://
Did you miss Things That Make You Go "Hmmm"?
Islam as a religion is no more inherently incompatible with modernity, minority rights, women’s rights, or democratic pluralism than most religions.
Sounds like defense of a culture to me. Heck, I wish it were true. I have Muslim friends. (I also have friends that vote Democrat and belong to the ACLU. Maybe I’m just a poor judge of character.)

If you’re unfamiliar with Honor-Killing click the link.
The practice of honor killing is over-whelmingly associated with certain Muslim cultures and the peoples influenced by those cultures.
Googling for honor-killing+rape, the first link tells us that in "certain cultures"
When a woman’s chastity is in question, her family feels the shame, even if she is raped
I realize you’re asking me to prove me earlier remarks because, of course, no liberal condones these sorts of things. But that’s really my point. When we put two and two together we ought to come out on the same side.
Written By: snafurious
URL: http://

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