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'Unprecedented' Challenge in
Countering Adversarial Propaganda, Official Says
By Lisa Ferdinando. DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. — (DoD
News) — October 23, 2015 — The United States is
facing an unprecedented challenge in countering the propaganda of adversaries
who recruit and easily spread misinformation through the Internet, a top defense
official told a House panel yesterday.
While there are many benefits to being in a cyber-connected
world, there is also a "dark side" that adversaries are taking advantage of,
according to Michael D. Lumpkin, the assistant secretary of defense for special
operations and low-intensity conflict.
"The scope of our current challenge in the informational
space is unprecedented," Lumpkin told the House Armed Services Emerging Threats
and Capabilities Subcommittee.
Joining Lumpkin at the hearing were Army Maj. Gen.
Christopher K. Haas, director of the force management and development
directorate for U.S. Special Operations Command, and Air Force Brig. Gen.
Charles Moore, deputy director for global operations on the Joint Staff.
Immediacy, Wide Reach of Social Media
The military has a critical role to play in countering
adversarial messages, Lumpkin said, noting it is a contributor of unique
capabilities and a partner to the whole-of-government effort led by the State
The U.S. Special Operations Command's Military Information
Support Operations, or MISO, force provides a critical capability in supporting
the needs of the military and the overall strategic messaging effort of the
State Department, Lumpkin said.
"The rise of [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] and
the ability for other state and non-state actors to conduct recruitment
operations and spread propaganda almost certainly and with minimal cost
highlights the dark side, one that requires the whole-of-government response,"
Unlike television or radio broadcasts, social media and other
Internet communications allow for interactive discussions "anytime and in almost
any location with virtually unlimited reach," Lumpkin said. "Social media and
other communications technologies have enabled the virtual and, in some cases,
actual mobilization of dispersed and demographically varied audiences around the
world," Lumpkin said.
The communications allow non-state actors to "reach across
the globe with multiple, simultaneously targeted and tailored approaches to
motivate or manipulate a spectrum of audiences," he said.
Preparing the MISO forces for current and future conflict is
an important role for the U.S. Special Operations Command, Haas said.
Citing what he described as the "extensive propaganda efforts
employed by both ISIL and Russia," Haas said the role of the U.S. Special
Operations Command in manning, training and equipping is especially critical.
While significant improvements have been made over the last
decade, challenges remain, he said.
To address capability gaps, U.S. Special Operations Command
is developing a plan to expand MISO training into social media use, online
advertising, web design and other areas, he explained.
Global Military Information Efforts
MISO forces are currently deployed to 21 U.S. embassies,
working with country teams and interagency partners to challenge adversary
information and support broader U.S. government goals, Moore said.
The military information forces use existing web and social
media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to support military
objectives by shaping perceptions while highlighting ISIL atrocities, coalition
responses to ISIL activities, and coalition successes, he said.
MISO personnel have the training and cultural understanding
to assess enemy propaganda activities and propose unique solutions that support
U.S. military objectives, he said.
Moore said MISO efforts in the Central Command area of
responsibility are focused on challenging violent extremists. In the European
Command's area of responsibility, he said, the efforts of military information
forces include "exposing Russian mistruths and their concerted efforts to
mislead European audiences as to their true intentions."
Also at the hearing was Matthew Armstrong of the Broadcasting
Board of Governors, the independent federal entity that oversees government
broadcasting including the Voice of America.
Moore said European Command is looking to expand its
engagement with the Broadcasting Board of Governors to further improve
information dissemination capabilities.
Related Biographies :
Michael D. Lumpkin