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Strategic Communication in the Military Context – some lessons from the recent past Colonel Jon Hazel Strategic Studies Cell, Royal College of Defence Studies 1
Military strategy and strategic communication The relationship between strategy-making and strategic communication. The search for the compelling strategic narrative. Knowledge and insight in support of strategy-making. The role of junior military voices in strategic communication. 2
On Afghanistan “The UK Armed Forces have yet to incorporate fully strategic communications and ‘information and influence’ operations into their campaigns….” “We have found that the Government’s description of the nature of the mission and its importance to UK interests have varied throughout the campaign, lacking a consistent narrative.” House of Commons Defence Committee, Operations in Afghanistan, Fourth Report of Session 2010-12, Vol I, 17 Jul 2011.
On Iraq “It is disappointing that the coalition is widely perceived to have come “second” in perception management.”House of Commons Defence Committee, Lessons of Iraq – Third Report Session 2003-2004 “The absence of a coherent strategic narrative and the increasing unpopularity of the war created a very challenging environment…”Op Telic (June 2005-June 2009) General Staff Analysis. [Iraq has highlighted that] “the possession and communication of the more convincing narrative can become a key instrument of ‘victory’.”Lt Gen Brown, MOD Iraq Study Team Observations, May 2010.
The relationship between strategy-making and strategic communication Do EUMISOM’s strategic communication staff serve strategic planning or drive it? “If we understand strategy to be a course of action that integrates ends, ways and means to meet policy goals, then strategic communication, by words and deeds, must now be understood as a means with influence as its product.”MODEnhancing Strategic Capability Study, August 2011. MOD Joint Doctrine Note: Strategic Communication: the Defence Contribution (www.mod.uk/dcdc). We must place strategic communication expertise permanently at the heart of our planning and execution.
The search for the compelling strategic narrative ‘‘Only the compelling national story, consistently supported by action, will survive the test of the contemporary information environment.”Royal College of Defence Studies booklet, Thinking Strategically, October 2011. Compelling story lines, which can explain events convincingly and from which inferences can be drawn. Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, The Transformation of Strategic Affairs, 2006. “A statement of identity, cause and intent around which government, people and armed forces (and perhaps even some allies) can unite. It must be convincing, transparent, adaptive and above all attractive. “Professor Paul Cornish, The US and Counterinsurgency, International Affairs, 2009.
UK strategic narrative for Afghanistan 2005/2006 “A stable and secure Afghanistan returned to its rightful place in the community of nations and enjoying mature relations with its neighbours: with a self-sustaining economy, strong institutions and a broad-based, multi-ethnic regime committed to eradicating terrorism and eliminating opium production; reducing poverty; respecting human rights, especially those of women and minority groups; and honouring Afghanistan’s other international obligations.”MOD Top Level Messages.
UK strategic narrative for Afghanistan 2010/2011 “British Forces are in Afghanistan to prevent Afghan territory from again being used by Al Qaeda as a base from which to plan attacks on the UK and it allies. The presence of NATO forces is preventing AQ or the Taliban regime from returning while Afghanistan’s security forces are trained to take over the tasks for themselves. We do not seek a perfect Afghanistan, but a stable and Afghanistan, able to maintain its own security and prevent AQ from returning.” MOD Top Level Messages.
The search for the compelling strategic narrative • “Strategies are stories told in the future tense…”Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman. • We need an early appreciation of what strategic narrative is likely to provide campaign success, domestically as well as internationally, and an estimation of how and whether we can sustain such a narrative by our actions. • Narratives need to address: • macro mentalities of resentment, appetite and fear. Tzvetal Todorov, Fear of the Barbarian. • logos, pathos and ethos. Aristotle, Rhetoric. • winning an argument at the local level; “not a philosophical argument, but a practical one”. General McChrystal.
Knowledge and insight in support of strategy • What do we really know of Somalia? • The requirements of “Fast Strategy”. Professor Hew Strachan • A Strategic Analysis and Assessment Network (SAAN) fit for the unknown unknowns. • Military and government strategy-making needs to listen closely to the noise of local realities.
The role of junior military voices in strategic communication • “To compete whole-heartedly in the global information environment requires the use of collective voices, each telling their part, using a wide variety of traditional and new media. One consequence is that we need not just a compelling narrative, but one that is accompanied by the delegation of authority for decentralised execution.” • “Commanders and their people must be confident to use all means of communication in pursuit of objectives at their level and through training and example are emboldened to do so. Individual discipline to the narrative is required.” MOD Joint Doctrine Note, Strategic Communication: the Military Contribution
The role of junior military voices in strategic communication • “Really smart organisations are able to decentralise and communicate effectively not only because they are brought together by a philosophy…., but because they have the judgement and discipline to practise it.”MOD Joint Doctrine Note, Strategic Communication: the Military Contribution • How do we empower all military and civilian staff in EUMISOM to compete, with discipline, in the information environment against those who oppose us?