Why RAND missed the point on the effectiveness of US Military Information Operations

The authors of Behavioural Conflict have just published an important new article examining the effectiveness of US Military Information Operations in Afghanistan.

Responding to the Arturo Munoz’s 2012 RAND report (which is available here) they lay out a powerful critique of that approach to Information Operations. It is an approach, they argue, erroneously founded in the principles of advertising, designed for attitudinal change in benign environments – not halting IED placement in Helmand. They call for innovation in Information Operations to match the vast technological progress achieved by other arms of Western militaries since WW2.

In doing so, they cover many of the major debates and challenges that have hampered Information Operations, and ISAF operations in general, including: (mis)understanding types of communication; the role of overarching narratives (and their absence in Afghanistan); measuring effectiveness in communication (and the severe challenges of doing so in a warzone); weak corporate knowledge, and a lack of understanding of communication among commanders; the failure of quantitative surveys to provide the necessary understanding of the audience; and the failure to craft effective bureaucratic structures for command and control.

Read the full paper at the Defence Academy site.

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