Operation Objective Voice
Operation Objective Voice is an operation that strikes at the heart of violent extremist efforts: ideology. The objective of the operation is to harness and orient all information operations and influence related activities in theatre to counter violent extremist organization ideology. Operation Objective Force is a proactive effort where multiple agencies partner with African governments to broadcast messages to counter extremist propaganda. Military Information Support Teams, in conjunction with Department of State public diplomacy activities, work several countries including Nigeria, Mali, and Kenya. Military Information Support Teams worked with Embassy Country Teams, the Department of State, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to enhance the program. The operation has made use of the internet and social media.
Operation Objective Voice began in 2009, taking over from what had been Operation Assured Voice - Africa, which had been started by US European Command (EUCOM) prior to the creation of US Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007. In some instances, the operation was also referred to as Operation Objective Voice - Africa, though this appeared to be incorrect.
During a confirmation hearing on 18 November 2010 for General Carter Ham, who eventually succeeded General William E. Ward as commander of AFRICOM, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee said they remained supportive of efforts to counter violent extremism, but continued to be concerned about the lack of measures of effectiveness of programs associated with Operation Objective Voice. While testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on 9 March 2010, General Ward, then commander of AFRICOM, had said that anecdotal evidence suggested that the enhanced dialogue had been having a positive impact, but that baseline data was still being collected to develop assessments to quantify the overall effects. As of 2010, Operation Objective Voice employed a variety of messaging platforms, such as the African Web Initiative, to challenge the views of terrorist groups and provide a forum for the expression of alternative points of view. Operation Objective Voice also supported local outreach efforts to foster peace, tolerance, and understanding. Examples included a 'youth peace games' in Mali and a film project in northern Nigeria.
On 25 February 2011, General Ward elaborated on the efforts being made as part of Operation Objective Voice during a Foreign Press Center Briefing. General Ward stated that Objective Voice received AFRICOM support, but was largely operated by partners in the region. Local contributors would produce material on topics that were important to those local regions, rather than on topics dictated to them by AFRICOM or the Department of State. AFRICOM saw itself as providing a forum, and those who contributed to it were local contributors who addressed topics that were relevant to them in their local environment. General Ward said he felt the program was effective because, based on the survey data, Objective Voice programs were being referenced in other social media outlets, indicating that it was providing a relevant source of information and a useful forum to share ideas and concerns.
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