The PSYOP/MISO Warrior: Soldiers do more than man loudspeakers and distribute leaflets.
While PSYOP is in the process of changing its name to Military Information Support Operations (MISO), other profound changes have been under way for some time. PSYOP is defined as the art and science of influencing diverse audiences with the purpose of achieving tactical, operational, and strategic goals. The branch dates back centuries, but even in the modern era of U.S. Army PSYOP (now MISO), changes to doctrine, equipment, and training have been constant. Today's MISO Warriors continue to evolve and enhance their skills to successfully meet the challenges of the current operating environment. The very rapidity of the recent changes within MISO may have contributed to some misconceptions about the capabilities and the employment of one of the most effective non-kinetic weapons in our arsenal.
Many members of the armed forces, inside and outside the Special Operations Forces (SOF) community, still identify MISO Warriors as those who carry a loudspeaker, perform leaflet drops, or distribute handbills in support of a Civil Affairs Medical Civilian Assistance Program (MEDCAP). Often they also have used the terms PSYOP and Information Operations (IO) interchangeably; hopefully MISO will not suffer the same fate. Although MISO Soldiers do sometimes engage in traditional tactical "loudspeaker and leaflet" types of activities, these are a small part of MISO capabilities. The range and sophistication of today's MISO capabilities put MISO Warriors at a level of expertise that most people remain unaware of. Contrary to the stereotypes and misconceptions, MISO Warriors support a broad range of missions and force structure in environments ranging from austere to highly sophisticated; these operations are planned, coordinated, and executed before, during, and after conflicts, and must be integrated at all echelons to achieve full force-multiplier potential. MISO units may be employed to conduct missions in support of combatant commanders and their subordinate joint task forces (JTFs), theater special operations commands, component commanders, and U.S. embassies. MISO forces also support U.S. ambassadors, allies, alliance and coalition partners, and other government agencies (OGAs). MISO has the ability to support many types of missions across the range of military operations. MISO Warriors can operate in small autonomous teams or with other SOF, conventional or multinational units, or OGAs. MISOS are designed to meet the needs of conventional and other SOF commanders.
MISO Warriors are the best trained in influencing foreign target audiences and are a unique asset within the Department of Defense and the U.S. government. Such training goes beyond Army doctrine and the identified tactics, techniques, and procedures. Today's MISO Warriors receive training in cultural awareness, media operations, public and mass communications, marketing, advertising, and public relations from some of the most competitive civilian organizations. They also utilize cutting-edge technology to research, communicate, design, produce, and disseminate MISO products.
Since 11 September 2001, MISO Soldiers have been heavily engaged in the Global War on Terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa, the Philippines and other areas around the globe. - Some tactical MISO units have supported ongoing operations in Afghanistan continuously since 2001, rotating forces without degrading capabilities. In addition, there are more than 30 MISO teams providing defense support in various U.S. Embassies. The MISO Warrior works in a variety of environments supporting different entities: from support to a U.S. Marine platoon in an Iraqi desert, to engaging key tribal leaders in Afghanistan with an SF ODA, or in the Amazon jungle supporting a humanitarian mission with the U.S. Air Force. It is common for MISO Warriors, regardless of rank, to find themselves briefing a U.S. Ambassador, a U.S. commanding general, or a government minister of a partner nation, according to COL (Retired) Curtis D. Boyd.
Today, MISO Warriors influence neutral and hostile target audiences while engaged in supporting the U.S. goals of enforcing democracy, counterterrorism, human trafficking, and fighting drug trafficking. In addition, MISO Warriors are a force multiplier at the disposal of the combatant commander or a U.S. ambassador when analyzing and countering adversarial information. They constantly work in an interagency environment in order to create a favorable image of United States and coalition forces among the local populace of a foreign partner nation. The MISO Warrior receives valuable support from the strategic studies sections that are part of the regional battalions within the 4th MISO Group. These Ph.D.-level analysts are regional subject matter experts in political, cultural, and security affairs, providing an essential contribution to the success of the mission.
One recent operational success story involving MISO Warriors was a rescue operation for captured defense contract employees in Colombia. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) held three defense contract employees captive for more than five years. The tip lines promoted by MISO Soldiers furnished actionable intelligence that facilitated the rescue. Once their ordeal was over, all three former hostages recounted how the leaflets and messages that MISO Soldiers produced kept their hopes up. MISO Warriors also played a significant role when a top FARC rebel commander, Jorge Briceno (better known as Mono Jojoy), was killed in a Colombian military raid in September 2010. This operation, supported by MISO, was a particularly severe blow to Latin America's oldest and most formidable guerrilla insurgency.
MISO Warriors also have an important role in planning and supporting Noncombatant Evacuation and Repatriation Operations (NEO). NEO are conducted to assist the U.S. Department of State in evacuating noncombatants, nonessential military personnel, select host-nation citizens, and third country nationals whose lives are in danger from locations in a host foreign nation to an appropriate safe haven. MISO Warriors provide information to evacuees, assist in crowd control, and greatly augment the success and speedy execution of the mission by providing necessary' information to the evacuees. MISO Warriors provide similar support during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Recent examples include support following Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
In order to augment the capability and scope of MISO anywhere in the world, the Media Operations Center (MOC) at Fort Bragg provides reach-back support. The MOC facility, manned by 3rd MISO Battalion Soldiers, matches, and in some aspects, surpasses commercial civilian standards of production. The 3rd MISO Battalion is task-organized for print, audio/visual, and broadcast support, and it is able to provide organic maintenance for its equipment. The MISO Warriors in 3rd Battalion are effectively trained in the cutting-edge technology of media communications.
MISO Soldiers must be technically and tactically proficient in order to perform their mission. In addition, they must understand the supported unit's mission to fully integrate MISO capabilities. This aspect is a well-defined characteristic of the tactical military information support team (T-MIST). These Soldiers currently support operational detachments-alpha (ODAs), the 75th Ranger Regiment, and U.S. Navy SEAL teams in Afghanistan and are an integral part of the village stability operations executed there. A T-MIST engages in face-to-face communication with key Afghan leaders, disseminates messages and information favorable to the Government of Afghanistan, and disrupts Taliban and al-Qaeda networks. These teams also fight alongside their supported units and react to the same enemy. A T-MIST is not only trained in MISO but also receives advanced marksmanship and medical training. MISO Warriors train with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Ga., and also participate in the pre-deployment training of the supported unit, in which they are expected to understand urban operations, unconventional warfare, and foreign internal defense.
According to COL Reginald Bostick, who recently took command of the 4th Military Information Support Group (Airborne), MISO is not only experiencing fundamental changes in terms of doctrine as it adapts to today's contingency operations, but also in the quality of Soldiers and training required to execute its unique mission. MISO Warriors are intellectual and physical fighters who constantly perform above their pay grade and bring innovation to the task at hand. In the near future, the MISO command will stand up with two groups in order to meet the ever-growing demand for MISO capabilities. The information realm continues to expand and must be taken into consideration in order to achieve U.S. objectives. Information dominance starts with the MISO Warrior.
MAJ Luis A. Cubillan recently graduated from the Joint Forces Staff College and is currently assigned to the U.S. Southern Command J3. He previously served as the PSYOP course manager and instructor. His other assignments include serving as a company commander with the 1st Battalion, 4th PSYOP Group; a PSYOP advisor to the Counter Terrorist Bureau in Iraq; operations advisor for the Marine Colombian Counter Guerilla Brigade; and military information support team OIC in Bolivia and Peru. The author thanks SGM Harold King, current Senior Military Advisor for Special Forces; Kirk P. Hylton, USASOC G35 Plans; and CPT Israel Guzman, 9th PSYOP BN, 4TH POG for their assistance with this article.
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|Title Annotation:||Professional Forum|
|Author:||Cubillan, Maj Luis A.|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2011|
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