Adding to the Armoury: Why Strategic Communication is a key weapon in both conventional and asymmetric military operations
The extremely successful Lebanese Armed Forces operation against Daesh in summer 2017 highlighted areas of great capability, and demonstrated that the non-traditional fields of military activity can be just as powerful as artillery and infantry. Media engagement and international reporting of the events internationally have shown that the effect of military action can extend well beyond those directly involved in the hostilities. This wider effect is necessarily facilitated through the information environment and supports the narrative of the conflict from the perspective of those who exploit it most successfully. Military activity within the information environment is therefore contributory to physical activity and as such must be properly coordinated to achieve maximum effect.
The UK military definition of Strategic Communication (StratCom) is ‘advancing national interests by using all Defence means of communication to influence the attitudes and behaviours of people’. It’s broadly in line with the NATO definition of Strategic Communications: ‘the coordinated and appropriate use of NATO communications activities and capabilities in support of Alliance policies, operations and activities, and in order to advance NATO’s aims’. Both of these definitions include reference to means of communication. So, what are Defence’s means of communication? They obviously include traditional and digital media: newspapers, radio, television, blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc., but also includes everything people see us do. Physical actions often tell people more about our intent than our words ever could, and with significantly more potency. It could be said therefore that both definitions include superfluous words. If all our activities communicate to those that experience them, then all our activities are ‘means of communication’. The key is that all these means are integrated to ensure that one coherent message is told by all levers of defence. Therefore, perhaps the definition should more accurately state that StratCom is:
Advancing national interests through cohering use of all Defence means to influence the attitudes and behaviours of people
Another thing to consider is how to influence behaviours… Behaviour, that is what human or group of humans do, is based upon a whole range of both internal and external factors, be they physical, mental or environmental. There are numerous models that attempt to explain the decision-making processes behind human behaviour; but the agreed underlying psychological components of it are perception, learning, attitudes and motives.
In order to show that StratCom is a key weapon for the military in both conventional and asymmetric operations, this paper will outline the enormous benefit of an integrated StratCom approach to military operations. It will therefore consider the ability of StratCom to change the behaviours of people, including the risks of getting it wrong; the most critical concepts in the employment of StratCom in both conventional and asymmetric operations, with supporting vignettes and counter arguments; before outlining the principle steps in the application of StratCom to any military operation.
Some would argue that it is not the military place to be conducting any form of communication activity, that the military’s purpose is to fight and therefore diplomacy and military activity should be well separated. But that would be misunderstanding the role of the military. The more Clausewitzian approach is to state that war is a natural extension of politics. The military is not there simply to fight once our interests are threatened, but to protect our interests from being threatened. On an international stage of continuous conflict, often below the threshold of NATO Article 5 or a UN Security Council mandate, the military must be constantly vigilant and prepared to protect a nation and ally’s sovereignty, integrity and, most importantly, its people, against a myriad of threats that traditionally were not its concern. To do so it must utilise every lever at its disposal.
We cannot, not communicate…
Everything is StratCom: ‘One cannot not communicate.’ That is not the same as ‘we must communicate’. The latter implies we have a choice. We do not. Everything we do and do not do, everything we say and do not say, tells the audience something. If we do not engage on a topic we are telling the world we do not care about them. If we move forces from one place to another, we are signalling intent. We are telling the new location’s friendly population that we are there to protect them, and we are telling the hostile population that we are there to oppose them. Equally, we are telling the friendly population of the area from where we withdrew our force something, and dependent on how we do it, that message might be that they are now safe and no longer need us. Or it may be that we no longer care. Our actions speak louder than our words. With that declaration, it becomes clear that what we do and say must communicate a coherent message and be tailored to its audience. The narrative of our actions must be consistent. Any ‘say-do’ gap will undermine our credibility as a trusted source.
Importantly if we do not consider the use of StratCom, we will lose the battle of narratives, because our enemies are using it against us. “We use information to explain what we’re doing on the ground. The enemy does the opposite – they decide what message they would send, and then design an operation to send that message.” Organisations such as Daesh have become masters of combining media operations and physical activity for maximum effect, and have proven its success and worth on the battlefield.
StratCom has long been an integral part of conventional operations. All militaries use it, perhaps without even knowing they are doing it. Let us consider an artillery strike: those effected are not limited to those within the fragmentation radius. All those who witness the strike, see its aftermath or hear of its effects are affected. They may choose to lay down their weapons and surrender, or flee. They may experience increased fear in the face of additional bombardment. We may be able to assume that message will be passed among the enemy ranks freely. If not we can help that through firepower demonstrations, a show of force, leaflets or broadcasts. Conversely, not all reactions will be ones we would hope for. Such bombardment may cement their resolve, particularly when facing a more fanatical foe. There will equally be an effect on our own troops. They may see our overwhelming firepower or surgical precision and be emboldened to fight the enemy. Equally our supporters at home may consider the violence unnecessary and their support for our efforts may fade.
All those who witness, feel the effects of, or are influenced by our statements and actions (collectively called “activity”) are the audience. Some of those will not react to our activity, they may be disinterested, or undecided, but whatever their reason, they do not act based on that action. They are still relevant to the attainment of our objectives by virtue of their ability to act even if they choose not to. Our aim may be to ensure they choose not to. Within the audience will be a smaller group who do decide to act – the actors. That action may be physical, or purely in the information domain. It may be supportive of our efforts; it may be against them. It may be totally agnostic of our aims such as criminal activity and influential journalistic reporting – that is not to imply that those groups have anything else in common… Some of those actors will want to see us succeed, they are the supporters; some will want to see us fail, they are the adversaries. They may provide propaganda, funding, logistical or other support short of combatants. Those involved in direct hostilities are either allies or enemies. And it is more complicated yet, as each of those groups is made up of many sub-groups that may have differing aims, influences and capabilities. Each of these will respond differently to a message, and therefore require a message tailored to them. These groups are also not fixed into position. It can be very easy for an individual or a group to cross those divisions and move from one area to another. Arguably this is our primary aim: to move those on the right of the above diagram as far to the left as we can push them.
But it is not enough to simply identify the audiences, we must understand them and their intent. Once we do, and we understand the nature of StratCom, we can learn much more from their actions and words. What are they giving away through their actions that they try to hide with their words? As a recent example, a Russian General told a western liberal newspaper that Russia’s military is more afraid of British light infantry troops than of nuclear weapons. While it is possible that he let slip something he should not, it is more credible, given Russia’s media savvy military and the chosen newspaper’s leaning on the UK’s nuclear deterrent, that the Russian General was commanded to tell a western newspaper exactly what they wanted to hear. Russia’s actions tell us more. It is likely we can learn more from what threat they prepare to face through training and capability procurement and development. The Russians are training with tanks and heavy long-range artillery, they maintain a large submarine fleet and their own very expensive nuclear weapons... In a world of discretionary conflicts and highly constrained economies, where our opponents are spending their money is often the most telling. Follow the money!
The finest example of a StratCom effect is that of deterrence. Deterrence is a change in behaviour of a targeted group of people through military activity that communicates an intent and a credible capability. As such deterrence is a communication effect that can only be achieved by the military. It could be argued that deterrence could be achieved even if the threat of military force was unfounded in capability. But many behavioural scientists would disagree. Known as Information Asymmetry, because the defender knows that the threat of force is not supported by physical capability, the behaviour of the defender would be affected. That behavioural change will be recognised by the opponent (consciously or not), and will alter their perceptions and in turn their behaviour.
There are two types of deterrence: that which aims to influence through fear of punishment, and that which attempts to deny the coveted object from the aggressor. The first relies on the threat of retribution being credible in the eyes of the aggressor. That retaliation need not be military, it could also be economic such as the sanctions applied to Iraq prior the 2003 US led invasion. Either way, the aggressor must believe that the defender has both the capability and intent to carry out a retaliation against either their people or their economy so severe as to make the aggression too painful. It is therefore very difficult to apply deterrence through punishment to a non-state actor as they rarely have legitimate financial backing or a recognised populous, and their forces are often fanatical. In this case the intent must be clearly demonstrated by all representing that nation. When President Obama came into office after President Bush, he stated clearly “I will not send our troops into harm’s way unless it is truly necessary, nor will I allow our sons and daughters to be mired in open-ended conflicts”. This was seen by some to indicate that his threshold for conducting military action would be much higher than that of his predecessor. Some might argue that this gave freedoms to a few international actors to push the boundaries, safe in the knowledge that the US would not intervene. It has also been argued that this lack of early intervention is a contributory factor for the current situation in Syria. This undermined the US’s tough stance on defence and made the US military’s job harder over all. At a human level, the actions of nations within the international rules based system can be compared to those of individuals within society. Studies conducted into the effectiveness of tougher sentencing on crime rates indicate that harder sentences do not feature in a criminal’s thought process or rationale for committing crimes. This assumes that this is a rational decision to be made, but often the conduct of the crime is the result of a series of previous decisions that have led to an inevitable choice. Since these criminals are acting on short term drivers, any future punishment is not relevant, even ones as extreme as the death penalty. But rational decisions are still made. Burglars will usually avoid properties that are occupied to avoid conflict as the outcome of such an encounter is undeterminable. The criminal avoids the conflict, not the punishment. This theory can be elevated to consider the conflict of military action. Therefore, deterrence by punishment is undermined as a concept.
The second method of deterrence is through denial: making the seizing of the coveted object too painful to the aggressor. This is often the better option for smaller nations, thanks to the lack of a requirement to conduct expeditionary operations, or those with weaker economies where sanctions would not be painful enough to the aggressor. Any cost/benefit analysis requires an in depth understanding of the aggressor’s rationale for acting. Ultimately understanding what the ‘benefit’ is. In some cases, the benefit may be simply to be seen as the aggressor. After Israel’s victory in the 1967 Yom Kippur war, many Arab nations felt their reputations on the international stage had been damaged. A joint offensive between Syria and Egypt against Israel was designed less to defeat Israel, but to demonstrate military strength and intent. In this case the “benefit” is not in a victory, but in conducting the battle and therefore denying Israel the reputation of the region’s most capable military power, deterring them from future aggression. Despite losing the war (albeit gaining the Sinai) Egypt’s standing on the international stage did benefit from the conflict. Denial is therefore predicated on a thorough understanding of our adversary’s threshold for acceptable losses. Where those losses may be physical, through the destruction of forces; economic, through the cost of such an assault; or reputational, through undermining the attacker’s intended status gains. These, like all, effects are more powerful when combined and as such a multifaceted approach to tackling the aggressors.
By employing deterrence a nation can use StratCom to reduce the number of times that physical intervention is required, preserving its forces for more critical battles. In order to maximise impact, all activities need to be integrated and coordinated in time and space, while contradictory messages must be avoided.
It must be remembered that physical activity, including lethal acts, have a huge information effect. In 1863 the US Civil War was raging; the Confederate Armies of the South were marching north defeating the Northern Union Armies time and again. The Union Armies made a stand at Chancellorsville in Virginia to stop their advance. The Unionists lined up their 134000 men in well prepared defensive positions in front of the advancing 60000 Confederate troops. The Confederate troops had suffered a difficult winter and their commander, General Lee, had been forced to split his troops and sent some foraging for supplies. When faced with this overwhelming number of soldiers Lee decided to again split his troops. He remained in front of his enemies while his second in command, General Jackson, took half his forces on a bold flanking manoeuvre to the end of the defensive line. From an oblique angle, he attached the end of the defensive line. The orientation of the defensive positions afforded the Union forces no protection and the first division was overcome in minutes. The speed and ferocity of the attack was such that the second division broke and fled before being decisively engaged. This triggered a chain reaction and many of the Union formations followed suit and fled the battle field. The physical act of destruction had a clear information effect on those that witnessed it.
These examples show that the military can have a significant effect in both defensive and offensive action through its ability to wield force and communicate. That effect is significantly enhanced through the combination of methods. However, they must be carefully coordinated to ensure they are understood by our opponent and therefore gain maximum effect.
Use of StratCom in counter-terrorism operations can be equally effective, although the nuances of the target audiences make the process more complex. It is not just the fighting forces, or the political backers we must now consider, but also the individuals caught in the middle. Those individuals who the violent extremist organisations are trying to recruit into their ranks are the new key terrain.
The most obvious current example of the use of StratCom in this environment is the Counter Daesh Communication Cell, part of the Global Coalition against Daesh, who have worked tirelessly to defeat Daesh in the information space and to reduce their ability to recruit and gain support through their propaganda. In the early days, the Daesh tactic of “weaponizing the media”, along with their promises to create a caliphate and their military successes, turned them into a globally recognised brand. Videos of their military successes against Iraqi Security Forces provided a significant boost to Daesh’s online recruitment campaign.
That brand was based on the concept of providing a physical caliphate within which they care for their people who would live peaceful lives under Sharia Law, using the themes of Success (Military), Statehood (Caliphate) and Supremacy (Champion of all Sunnis).
Reports emerging from within their brutal regime showed that to be a false claim. Their subjects were starving, exposed to intense brutality and violence, and constantly living in fear. Rather than amplify Daesh violence, atrocities and brutality, the Coalition used the media to demonstrate the gap between what Daesh had promised through its propaganda and the reality of what life was truly like under their rule. This was the Coalition’s primary tactic. They focused on amplifying first hand testimonies from those fighters and supporters disillusioned with Daesh based on their front-line experience to demonstrate Daesh failure: failure to win battles and keep territory; failure to provide basic necessities such as food and water; failure to act in the interests of the Sunni communities it claimed to protect. “The narrative has, indeed, changed. Following the fall of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, Daesh has, for some time now, been seen globally as a failing, disintegrating organisation.” Demonstrated not least by the disappearance of their flagship magazine ‘Dabiq’ since the loss of the town.
Organisations such as Daesh need a strong presence and brand in order to recruit more followers to their cause. Activity within the information domain will attract some, but it must be supported by successes in the physical world; people will want to support a winning team. While there is no one single profile for a supporter of an organisation like Daesh, there are commonly identified drivers of radicalisation: “Ideas, Violence, People, Needs, and Grievance”. Ideas refers to an extremist’s or an extremist organisation’s specific and unique ideology. Use of such a “single narrative” to justify, recruit and motivate is near universal among extremist groups. Al Qaeda for example, claim that the historic and continued oppression of Muslims by the West, termed the “War on Islam”, is their motivation for attacking Western targets. Many would suggest this is the single greatest driver of radicalisation, while other research shows that an exposure to violence is of greater significance. Exposure to violence can cause individuals to become “brutalised” and often leads to complicit involvement in violence. While this factor is most associated with those living within a violent conflict, it is not always the case. Children raised within the ISIS proto-state are routinely subjected to intense violence and increasing levels of subjugation to ensure loyalty and reduce resistance to authority before being trained for specific roles. Conversely, some extremists are self-radicalised and may have searched for videos of violence on the internet or other sources. Hussain Osman, one of those convicted for the July 2007 bombings in London, claimed to have been radicalised by video footage of the conflict in Iraq and reading online propaganda.
The individuals and networks that surround and influence the radicalised individual are referred to as People. Critically the radicalised individual must identify the source of the radicalising information as having innate authority by being an individual and/or a spokesperson for a larger authoritative organisation therefore giving that individual derived authority. This is often completed by entrepreneurial leader-types rather than as an organisational effort. In turn this allows the recruiter’s authority to be undermined by separation from the organisation, but risks the increase of cellular constructs. Needs refers to the radicalised individual’s personal vulnerabilities, exploited by isolation from those the individual identifies with, either through geography or socially acceptable behavioural norms. Search for individual identity, “identity formation”, is a normal and psychologically verified process in which an individual understands and solidifies a self-image. This process can be hijacked by vulnerable individuals who are then driven to extremism by external influence. Finally, Grievances embedded within the community or demographic show themselves as localised but societal vulnerabilities. Those vulnerabilities are then exposed and played upon by the narrative, furthering the social divide and sense of isolation from the norm and inclusion into the extremist organisation. By understanding these drivers and how they are exploited by the organisation, counter arguments can be created and communicated, exposing a gap between propaganda claims and reality, for example. This will ensure that the right message is conveyed to the right people in the target audience at the right point to affect behavioural change.
Employing StratCom – Identifying Audiences and defining the strategy
Setting out a requirement for military activity to affect the perceptions and behaviours of humans is the easy part. The difficult bit is becoming a practitioner. But as professional military officers, we must all understand the tools of our trade and the capabilities available to us. So how do we implement the processes described here?
The first step is always to understand who is out there, how they get their information, and how they use it to make decisions. In some cases, we may believe we already know that, experience tells us that invariably we do not. An Information Environment Assessment considers the methods of passing information to and from the target audience. It also determines which of those methods carries most weight with the target audience and who that message should originate from. As humans evolved into social creatures, we developed the ability and need to identify people we know and trust. The size of our social group is limited by our brains ability to remember distinct individuals. An individual will believe information from one of these trusted sources, so information coming into the group second hand must be delivered through a trusted source. In the modern era, these trusted individuals outside our social group may well be Twitter handles, social media sites or news broadcasters. Therefore, the delivery mechanism of any message must be considered against the target audience. A thorough understanding of the target audience, through Target Audience Analysis, is vital. For the messages to create perception or behavioural change, they must link to the information the audience uses to make decisions. Their values, motivations and requirements must be considered. A useful tool is to consider each grouping against Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. What is it they are trying to gain, and how can we offer them what they need? While some commentators would suggest that the “psychological needs” are more important to humans than “safety” and some other “basic needs”, Maslow’s model still has great merit. It intrinsically feels right. There are some things that we require that are essential to our survival. Humans will try to achieve/procure those things before they move onto more sophisticated desires. These essentials for survival may well change for different demographics based on religion, race, culture, gender etc. In order to appeal to those things deemed most important by the audience, the audience must be properly understood, further reinforcing the requirement for a proper target audience analysis.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
It is also worth considering why a society is fighting. Is it an existential war? Is the society fighting for it’s very survival? In which case the individuals’ motivations in question are why they have chosen to be part of that society, rather than why have they chosen to fight. The example of Daesh is again relevant. People travelled from across the world to join their manufactured society and were then flung into a fight for its survival. In a discretionary war the society engages because it believes it is the right thing to do. In this case the motivations of the individual fighters are much more relevant. In Homeric literacy tradition, the hero is one who fights on behalf of his society, and is therefore influenced by the choices of his society. The “complete” hero however is one who fights for the expression of fighting, for the mastery of his trade, and is therefore less concerned for the motive of his society. Each of these groups can be influenced by well targeted messaging, but neither are likely to succumb to messages aimed at the other.
Once the audience is properly understood, and the desired end state has been determined, the difference between those two positions can be assessed. The Effects that are required to be achieved in order to move the audience from their current perception to the one desired can be found. Activity can then be designed to achieve those Effects. Since we started with a thorough understanding of the audience in their current state, the effect of that activity can be measured against the starting conditions. That “Measure of Effect” can be considered against the amount of effort it required which gives a Measure of Effectiveness and thus a method to steer future efforts and activity to ensure we are having the maximum Effect with our limited resources.
That all sounds very simple… The reality of measuring that Effect, however, can be very difficult! Measuring the number of Tweets produced (measure of activity), or how many people read them (measure of reach) is not enough when trying to assess if people’s perceptions have really changed. But it is possible. A layered approach including both quantitative (numbers of people who have done or said something) and qualitative (the sentiment of Tweets, interactions and high level engagements) measures should be employed. At all times these measurements should be related to the Effect we are trying to have and the end state we are trying to achieve.
Constructing an argument
If we want to persuade someone to agree with us, we must focus on the things they value, not on what we do. This is true when trying to sell a car, sway a voter, or deter an aggressor. We must frame the argument in such a way that it is reinforced by already accepted knowledge and in line with current beliefs. In an experiment conducted in the US, a group of liberals and conservatives were presented with one of two arguments for increased military spending. The first message stated that they should be proud of their military as it “unifies us at home and abroad”. The second argument focussed on the militaries ability to provide opportunities to the poor and disadvantaged giving them equal standing by ensuring “a reliable salary and a future apart from the challenges of poverty and inequality”. For the conservatives in the group it did not matter which argument they were given, their support for the military was the same. They focussed on the military itself as the worthy cause. For the liberals, those that received the argument based on fairness showed significantly higher support for increased military spending than those who received the patriotism argument. The argument that resonated with their already established beliefs and understanding had much more traction. This only goes to reinforce the critical requirement to fully understand the audiences when attempting to change behaviours. We must understand their reasons for acting and the values upon which they are making decisions.
In order to achieve consistency across acts, words and images, in line with the argument we are making and the existing values of the audience, our intentions and reasons should be constructed into a story. Humans are social creatures, we have evolved to need a society, a network of other humans around us. In the early days of what we now call society, people would tell stories in order to deliver a message. The story is more memorable than the moral and so it would be packaged up to ensure its understanding. As such we evolved to favour this method of communication, and today we, as humans, still react positively to message delivered through storytelling. Some studies have shown that a message delivered as part of a story releases chemical in the brain to allow the message to be more permanently engrained. The Actant Narrative model is a simple mechanism for constructing a basic hero narrative. It requires the identification of six elements. A sender – the authority on which the action is taken. An object – those on whose behalf the action is to take place. A subject – the person(s) or organisation taking the action. A helper – the thing that will allow the subject to complete their task. An opponent – the thing to be overcome. And the Receiver – the positive outcome of completing the task. By way of an example, lets tell a story: A King’s daughter is held captive by a troll. He gives a Knight a magic sword and tells him to free the princess. He does and they all live happily ever after! A very simple example, but the principle works at all levels. Let’s try one closer to reality: There was due to be major flooding in the UK and people were at risk of being stranded without food or clean water. The Government (King) sent the Army (Knight) to help the stranded people (Princess), they had engineers and boats to help them (Sword) to protect the people from the flood (Troll) so their homes were not destroyed (Happy Kingdom).
Actant Narrative Model
Once the story has been completed, it should be delivered in a structure to ensure it is presented in a simple and understandable fashion. The British Military uses the “POSH” framework. By setting out the Problem, Opportunity, Strategy and Happy Ending, the receiver is walked through the story of the current problem, who will fix it and how, and what improvement they will experience. The Problem states what the current or impending situation is, why it is bad and what the adverse effects might be – it describes the Opponent and the Object. The Opportunity lays out why this is the right time to do something about that, describes the Subject and the Sender. The Strategy describes what will be done to address the problem and the tools to be used – the Helper. Finally, the Happy Ending describes the Receiver and the positive change that has occurred thanks to the Subject’s actions.
By using clear, simple and structured arguments or stories that are tailored to the target audience, you are more likely to have the desired effect. Messaging should be like a sniper: one shot one kill. Messaging should not be a GPMG suppressing a target. We should consider that message as a bullet. Every bullet that misses its target becomes ammunition in the pocket of our enemy, for him to fire back at us at the time and location of his choosing. We must be clinical with our information weapons.
Military use of the information environment to communicate to audiences and affect behaviours is achievable. It can be less costly than other forms of military activity in terms of both blood and treasure, but it is not free. It takes understanding and a detailed approach to planning, but its effects can be significant.
Strategic Communication is a key weapon
Any national response to threat must be a fully coordinated “whole of government” or “Full Spectrum approach”. This must therefore include all the available levers of power: economic, diplomatic and physical force. This theory works for both conventional threats, such as hostile nation-states; and non-conventional threats, such as terrorism. As the sole actor with physical capability, the military necessarily operates in the information as well as the physical environment. It must harness the possibilities the information environment provides to reinforce its physical activity. Physical and informational activity must be coordinated across actions, words and images. Coordination must therefore be planned in advance, like any other military activity, and executed alongside it. Success is based on a thorough understanding of the information environment – who will ‘see’ it and how – and the audience’s perceptions of the information they receive and, how they act upon it. Behavioural change through perception change is the aim.
We, as military professionals, must ensure we are therefore utilising this lever of power for maximum effect. It will ultimately make us more successful on the battlefield, reduce the frequency with which we must engage in physical combat, and keep our soldiers and societies safer.
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- (Lemmon 2014)
- (von Clausewitz 1908)
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سلاحٌ آخر: لمَ يُعتبر الاتصال الاستراتيجي سلاحًا رئيسيًّا في العمليات العسكرية التقليدية وغير المتماثلة؟
لا يمكن للمرء الإحجام عن التواصل سواء في محاربة داعش في صيف العام 2017، أو الأشخاص المشتبه بارتكابهم أعمالًا إرهابية، أو جائحة فيروس كورونا والكارثة الإنسانية في العام 2020؛ اكتشف الجيش اللبناني الحاجات المتعلقة بالأنشطة الإعلامية واهتمَّ بها. مع اقتران هذه الأنشطة بالأنشطة العملانيّة، يُنتِج أسلوب "الاتصال الاستراتيجي" (ستراتكوم) أثرًا كبيرًا يُعتبر أعظم بكثير من مجموع أجزائه. في هذا المقال نناقش ماهية الاتصال الاستراتيجي وأفضل السبل لاستخدامه.
ستراتكوم: هو تعزيز المصالح الوطنية من خلال استخدام جميع وسائل الدفاع بشكل متناسق للتأثير في مواقف الناس وسلوكهم.
هناك عنصران رئيسيان لتحقيق ذلك: الاستخدام المنسَّق لجميع القدرات، والغاية المرجوة هي إحداث تغيّر في السلوك. فسلوك الناس هو المفتاح إذ إنّهم من يخوضون الحروب، حتى في أكثر المقاربات كلاسيكيّةً (على نهج كلاوسفيتز) حيث الحرب استمرار للسياسة، والناس هم من يقررون تلك السياسة. على المستوى التكتي، الجنود بشر ويمكن إقناعهم على هذا الأساس. إنّ تركيز قدراتنا في التأثير على تلك السلوكيات يؤدي إلى تحجيم صراع مكلف أو حتى تجنّبه.
يكون تأثيرنا أكبر في مواقف الآخرين وسلوكهم إذا كانت أفعالنا وكلماتنا تحمل المعنى نفسه. لا يلزمنا التحدث لإرسال رسالة. إنّ تركيز دبّابات عند الحدود مع دولة أخرى يوصِل رسالةً بالغة القوة مفادُها "لا تقترب"، بفاعليّة تتجاوز أي بيان شفهي. لذلك، يجب أن يكون استخدام جميع قدراتنا متزامنًا ومتناسقًا.
في كل ما نقوم به، كعسكريين محترفين، يجب أن نتأكد من أنّنا نتعامل مع كل قضية بجميع الإمكانات المتاحة لنا. على المستوى الوطني، لا تقتصر هذه القدرات على القوة العسكرية، بل تشمل القدرات الاقتصادية والدبلوماسية والإعلامية والمادية التي تمثّل "روافع" القوة الوطنية. يجب استخدام هذه الروافع بتنسيق النشاطَين العملاني والمعلوماتي عبر الأفعال والكلمات والصور.
وبالتالي، فإن نجاح هذه الأساليب يعتمد على الفهم الشامل للأشخاص الذين نحاول التأثير عليهم، وعلى فاعلية أساليبنا في تغيير سلوكهم. نقوم بذلك من خلال دراسة بيئة المعلومات التي يعيشون ضمنها - من سيتلقّى رسالتنا وكيف – ومدى قدرة الجمهور على تلقي المعلومات التي ترده وكيف يتصرف بناءً عليها. الهدف هو التغير السلوكي من خلال الإدراك. هناك عبء كبير على القسم الثاني (قسم الأمن والتوجيه) وعلاقة وثيقة بين أولئك الذين يخططون وينفذون هذا النشاط، والاطلاع على النشاط هو أمر ضروري.
نحن، كعسكريين محترفين، يجب أن نتأكد من أننا نستخدم جميع روافع القوة بشكل متناسق، لتحقيق التأثير الأقوى. ذلك يجعلنا في نهاية المطاف أكثر نجاحًا في ساحة المعركة، ويحدّ من الحاجة إلى الاشتباك الميداني، ويحفظ أمن جنودنا ومجتمعاتنا.