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CALL Newsletter 04-13
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Chapter 1: Information Operations
Topic F: IO at the Brigade and Below

One brigade combat team (BCT) north of Baghdad conducts a weekly Information Operations Working Group (IOWG) or what they call the IO/CA targeting group. The IO/CA targeting group consists of the FSO, PSYOP, PAO, CA, COMCAM, S2, and S3. The FSO has the additional duty of IOCOORD and chairs the group. They go over the Intel summary and any needs for existing operations. The BCT started a weekly IO/CA targeting group after transitioning to a stability operations and support operations (SASO) environment, but no longer do it due to shift in operational tempo (OPTEMPO). The focused shifted to IO only after they shifted to the SASO effort. In addition, the IOCOORD was the FSO during the initial combat phase of operations. His focus during combat operations was primarily on delivering lethal fires for the brigade commander. No one was working IO for the brigade during this phase.

Operations tend to dictate that planning is more short-term, and operations tend to be dictated by available intelligence. A human intelligence (HUMINT) source will give the BCT a target. If determined to be a legitimate target, then 24 to 48 hours later the BCT will go after that target. So, they quickly change whatever they are doing and shift to that mission. That is the battle rhythm they have. As a result, the IO/CA targeting group focuses mainly on short-term planning and reactionary planning on targets of opportunity. There is not any doctrinal guidance on conduct of an IOWG. FM 3-13, Information Operations, does not give any information on the subject of an IOWG. The manual mostly focuses on planning and execution at the corps level and above. This is a good TTP on the planning, targeting, and conduct of a maneuver brigade IO cell.

The brigades are not staffed with IO personnel, and have limited IO assets, with the core capability of PSYOP (five TPTs) and related elements of CA and PA. They are also not authorized a PAO, but most commanders have designated one. IO in the division is mainly decentralized. The guidance they receive from division is the weekly talking points. This has been a common thread with all the BCTs. They use these as general guidance in developing their own talking points specific to their AOR, as well as their engagement plan. The talking points are used at all levels of command, from brigade to company, in their engagements with tribal and local leaders and Imams. The CA teams use them as well. Again, the most effective means of getting the message out seems to be with face-to-face and word of mouth. Leaders have found that sometimes they are at an advantage when engaging some of the local leaders, such as the tribal sheiks. The sheiks want to maintain their power base, so often they cooperate with the Coalition, although sometimes grudgingly. Some brigades also have newspapers that they use for IO purposes. Most of the papers are funded through the CERP, but the brigade tries to keep it balanced because they do not want it to have too heavy a Coalition flavor (creditability).

When the brigades began conducting CMO in conjunction with peace enforcement operations, there were virtually no newspapers or radio stations operating within their AORs. In some areas, the brigades lack the resources to win the IO fight. There are limited newspapers in their AO. The ones that exist were established or reinforced by the units on the ground and their distribution is also limited. There is no radio available in most areas. In those areas, the only means of delivering PSYOP and command messages is through face-to-face meetings, PSYOP leaflets, and minimal newspaper coverage. The television capability in these areas is from Al Jazeera and Al Arabia. These stations provide only negative content with regards to U.S. presence in Iraq. This is the best medium for distributing messages in the area, just as it is in the United States, but is only available in limited areas. During the previous regime, satellite TV was prohibited amongst the local populace. Now that they are liberated, nearly every household has a TV and satellite dish. This provides the Former Regime Loyalists (FRL) with a great method for delivering negative information messages to the public. The best deception is reinforcement of an already preconceived perception. An overwhelming number of Iraqis/Arabs believe that the U.S. is there to steal oil and Iraq's resources and has no intention of leaving. Since this is the mind set of the average Arab, this is what the media presents in TV coverage. The media selectively pursues only stories that support this angle. You will not find local media portraying stories of Coalition forces re-building schools, hospitals, or other infrastructure improvements. These stories do not reinforce the understood perception. Without the capability to present information in this medium, it is very difficult to counter their campaign messages. Units have had to aggressively pursue the use of leaflets to counter FRLs information. However, this cannot match the distribution of TV.

One brigade does have a radio and TV station in its sector. The commander has taken a proactive approach in getting his message out. The brigade has their own Iraqi version of "CSPAN" and the commander holds government council meetings where they talk about all the positive things that are being done for the local populace. The staff persuades the local media to participate. They have procured funding to purchase TV cameras and equipment, which they use to record the events. This empowers the locals to hold their government officials responsible for their civic duties. In addition, the unit is very cautious about what and how much information is presented over this medium. The less involvement the Coalition has with it, the more credible it becomes as an information source. Otherwise, it would be viewed simply as another Coalition propaganda vehicle.

There is no doctrinal requirement for a PAO or S1 to conduct media analysis, but it is being done in a couple of different brigades. One PAO maintained every news piece that was written about his unit, a useful tool for dealing with future visits from organizations that report either positively or negatively. For example, on the positive side, the unit may want to maintain a relationship with the media and leverage them when they need to get a story out. There was an example in one particular unit in which the reporter really embraced the unit which led to future benefits. On the negative side, they can see who the unfriendly or hostile organizations are, or the ones that tend to report false information. That gives the unit an advantage in developing courses of action (COAs) for dealing with them in the future. For example, they can simply deny them access to embed or be prepared to debunk any false information they put out.

One armor battalion uses its S-3 (Air) to coordinate its IO plan. Some others use the FSO or S2 to coordinate IO. One battalion assesses targets and determines effects desired through the commander's intent, specified tasks from the military decision-making process (MDMP), and specified tasks from brigade. Products are crafted to achieve the effects and desired end state. Products may include, but are not limited to, flyers, posters, messages published in newspapers, messages broadcast on the radio, and messages broadcast on the television. One battalion found measuring the effectiveness of products extremely difficult. The only intelligence gathering tools available are the companies operating in their assigned AOs. Their brigade hosts a weekly IO meeting to pass information to subordinate units. Recently, this meeting has been cancelled due to Relief in Place (RIP) and re-deployment preparation. The battalion does not conduct IO meetings because there is only one IO representative (the S-3 [Air] in this case).

The availability of intelligence and fluid nature of kinetic operations in a low intensity conflict produce a situation in which most IO planning at the battalion level is focused on near term events. IO is planned based off specified tasks from brigade and the battalion and brigade commander's intents. The fluid situation in Iraq does not allow a battalion to conduct long-term IO planning. Most IO messages are planned, developed, and distributed within one week. The only long term planning the unit can accomplish is for events that are scheduled and cannot be adjusted, such as Ramadan. The overwatch for the IO campaign at battalion level is usually the executive officer or the operations officer, and ultimately the battalion commander.

Junior officers need a more rounded and unconventional education in order to prepare for stability operations. Some maneuver battalions pointed out that a key lesson learned was the use of officers in non-conventional roles. One battalion is using its FSO to do IO and S5. They know that the FSO understands D3A (decide, detect, deliver, assess) and effects-based targeting, but the FSO has to be able to do many things other than targeting. These officers who are schooled in their basic branches come here and have to conduct on-the-job training (OJT) for most of these tasks. They are doing IO, project management, construction engineering, IO interface, etc. (all of the things that you learn as you get higher in rank). For example, at brigade you have an S5 to deal with these things. This young group of officers has assisted in the recruiting and training of the Iraqi Fixed Protection Service (FPS). They have also overseen and managed the FPS. They have supervised the construction of critical infrastructure needs such as sewage, water, trash removal, and electricity. They worked with NGO and IOs to get resources and take care of these projects when CERP money is not available or has dried up. They have worked with Neighborhood Advisory Councils (NACs) and District Advisory Councils (DACs) to prioritize projects and CERP allocations. They have worked on the bid process to ensure there is some kind of equity and transparency in a society that does not understand this process. The Iraqis have always conducted these things by family or political connections or bribes. The officers have helped and assisted in neighborhoods to establish democratic councils where there has never been anything like it in the past.

One battalion in Baghdad has observed significant problems with expectation management. Two key problem areas were with CERP funds and Relief in Place (RIP). In the first area, the battalion had spent considerable time building trust and faith with the local interim government. This had been constructed with many face-to-face meetings and prioritization of projects to be completed. Much of this "good faith" was destroyed when the CERP funds were no longer available to the battalion commander. Some of this trust is now being restored, but only through significant effort by the command and the availability of funding. In the second area, the locals have demonstrated anxiety of the impending RIP. They fear that the incoming command will not be as understanding of their situation and may have other priorities. Plus, in their society, most things are accomplished through relationships, trust and "good faith." They fear the loss of these relationships. Therefore, the current command has attempted to build "quick wins" for the incoming command. They have purposely delayed the completion of several projects. As part of their IO campaign, they place banners on all infrastructure projects to highlight the construction that took place courtesy of the NAC and the unit itself. So, by delaying the completion of several of these projects, they will be allowing the incoming command to place their name on these grand openings. As result, the unit will build credibility with the NAC and "good faith" with the locals in that neighborhood. The unit will not have to wait weeks into its rotation to have success and build trust with the people in its AOR. There are no authorized slots in a maneuver brigade or battalion for information officers. Therefore, commanders assigned other staff officers to function as their elements IO officer. In most cases it was the fire support officer, because this officer's role was greatly diminished in the stability operations and support operations role. He was also the likely choice because of his understanding of the targeting process. However, most of the targeting at the battalion and brigade level is directed at Former Regime Entities and not at traditional influence type targeting found in the Balkans scenarios.

In all situations, the FSOs were not trained in IO before deployment. They learned as they went along. They were not planning for IO or preparing for IO until major combat operations were declared complete. All officers are subject to assignment as IO officers in battalion and brigade assignments as an additional duty. IO needs to be incorporated into the POI for all officer education system (OES) courses, such as the officer basic course (OBC), captain's career course (CCC), and intermediate level education (ILE). This provides all officers with a broader base of knowledge about IO to utilize when called upon to perform IO as an additional duty.

Lessons Learned

  • Officers assigned the additional duty of IO officer were not be able to effectively execute those duties during combat operations because they were primarily focused on their designated specialty.
  • One brigade's IO/CA targeting group focuses on short-term planning due to the fluid and reactionary IOE. This provides them with the flexibility to react to available intelligence and current operations.
  • Most commanders in Iraq have designated an officer as the PAO; most have had little or no PA training or education.
  • The satellite television stations in the region provide mostly negative information regarding the Coalition's efforts in Iraq. Commanders are using local newspapers to counter this information. In places where they did not exist, they have assisted Iraqis in establishing, writing, and distributing newspapers.
  • The local populace has developed considerable trust and a bond with OIF I units. The local populace is significantly concerned about the current transition of forces and the impact it will have on the relationships that have been built with our departing forces.
  • The Coalition has limited television capability, mostly in the Baghdad region. This makes it very difficult to counter adversary campaign messages.
  • Junior officers are not prepared to operate in unconventional roles outside their branch specialty.
  • The OES does not appear to have adequately incorporated civil affairs, media relations, public relations and information operations into its POI.
  • Although not resourced with IO personnel, some brigade staffs were still able to effectively conduct IO and synchronize with the higher and lower echelons.
  • Units appointed someone on their staff an additional duty appointment as the IO officer.
  • An effective IO campaign estimate should include a complete assessment of the entire country's ability to provide media information in order to be prepared to counter negative news stories and adversary propaganda.
  • Use of a senior member of the staff to supervise the IO campaign is critical to the legitimacy and success of the process.
  • Junior officers are helping establish democratic councils, equity in contract bidding, and project management in their neighborhoods. Some of these concepts are completely alien to a culture which has traditionally accomplished these things through family, tribal, or political connections and bribes.
  • One battalion is assisting his relieving unit by developing "quick wins," which help with trust amongst the locals during the transition. Completion of certain infrastructure projects will be purposefully delayed in order for the incoming unit to claim responsibility.

DOTMLPF Implications

Organization/Materiel: Add IO personnel and equipment to applicable unit organizations/MTOEs in order to plan and execute IO at all levels.

Doctrine: Incorporate the concept of "transitional trust" into the IO planning process for TOAs and RIPs. Include the concept of "quick wins" and other successful TTPs.

Doctrine/Materiel/Organization/Training: Incorporate the concept of a comprehensive media analysis, of the local/host country, into the IO planning process; proper analysis will help the Coalition/U.S. prepare to counter negative news stories and adversary propaganda. It will also identify national, regional, and local media shortcomings so that the Coalition/U.S. can project resources to execute effective IO. Incorporate this into training scenarios and events.

Doctrine: Incorporate the concept of tactical unit commanders and leaders as facilitators of democratic concepts and processes into cultures where these concepts do not exist. Leadership and Education: Incorporate the concept of IO integration into the Army's education systems.

Materiel: Develop and resource units with capability to provide immediate IO overmatch (television, radio, and other appropriate media) in accordance with the commander's IO intent.

Table of Supporting Observations


Observation Title CALLCOMS
File Number
Brigade Media Analysis 10000-09139
Brigade IO 10000-34560
Brigade IOWG 10000-18576
Customizing Messages 10000-11109
Shortfalls in IO 10000-53147
Battalion IO 10000-81780
IO Planning 10000-33389
IOWG 10000-11449
IO Themes and Messages 10000-04224
Junior Officer Education 10000-71995
Staffing2 10000-72556
Linguist3 10000-52668
IPB Process 10001-05468

Table of Contents
Chapter 1-Topic E: IO at the Division
Chapter 2: Civil Military Operations - Civil Affairs




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